Saturday, February 16, 2008

Every Woman's Waterloo

There are a few things most women can agree on. Periods suck. A lot. Paris and Brittany should have their one of their X chromosomes revoked. Or at least detained for questioning. And no matter what your preferences, George Clooney is hot. With two T's.

But the one thing that causes universal gasping and writhing among females of the species is having to buy a bathing suit. The mere thought of walking into a public place (like a store) and looking at racks of Hawaiian-print horrors with molded breastplates ala Wonder Woman is bad enough, but then having to look at yourself nearly naked under bad fluorescent lighting is the stuff of nightmares.

Unfortunately, the suit I've had for way too long (can you say decades?) was threatening to disintegrate the next time I tried to wear it, so it was with great trepidation that I found myself walking into Popina Swimwear, a store that carries its own retro-designed swimwear as well as a few suits by makers like Tommy Bahama and Miraclesuit ("Look 10 lbs. slimmer in 10 seconds!").

This unassuming storefront in Northeast Portland masks an interior of exploding colors and dozens of different designs, and with tankinis and halters, swim skirts and more conservative one- and two-piece suits, I was a little overwhelmed. But the very nice sales clerk asked my size and proceeded to load me up with a selection of designer Pamela Levenson's (left) nicely made suits, saying that it was better to try on a variety of styles to see which "worked best" for me.

Stifling a burst of laughter, and after a couple of trips back to the racks, I actually managed to find something that would do for a price that wouldn't break the bank. If you go in, there are also sales bins of marked-down items, a decent sale rack and a Grand Reopening sale on Friday, Feb. 22, with everything marked down 15%. It's as close to a positive experience as buying a new suit can be.

Details: Popina Swimwear, 4831 NE 42nd Ave. Phone 503-282-5159.

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