I first dealt with Lifestyles Direct in the spring of 2000 when planning a trip to Virginia Beach (one of the more uptight seaside communities). I found some styles I liked on their catalog web site, and I also called their 800 number to verify whether my selections were in stock (the online catalog doesn't display real-time in-stock status) and ask some questions; they were very friendly and helpful. During my inital browsing of the catalog I was disappointed that as the "coverage" of the suit styles got smaller, so did the available waist sizes. My waist is officially 38" as the tape measure flies. My experience has been that some styles of suit can be worn a bit small, however, especially with good stretch fabric, so I decided to try a 1" side, modified-Brazil-back in size XL (35-37") and a thong/t-back in size L (33-34") and found the fit to be quite good in both cases. Hope this helps your ordering!
My first observations of the tan-thru suits was that they do allow light to penetrate, while appearing completely opaque when worn against the skin, as advertised. I also found that the fabric is very light, breathable and seems to dry more quickly than other swimsuit fabrics. During my trip to Virginia Beach, I probably spent 5 or 6 hours in the sun non-continuously over several days, during which time I consistently used the 1" side suit and 8 SPF sunscreen in non-suit areas. The result after the trip was a (very) subtle, hardly noticeable, light tanline area in the suit region, but (based on my previous experiences with non-tanthru gear) this light spot was much less than would have resulted with a regular suit. This seems to be consistent with the statements from Lifestyles Direct that the suits have an effective average "SPF" of 10. (The next time I travel to a "textile" beach, I will probably experiment with using 15 SPF sunscreen on non-suit body areas, and see if this results in "negative" tanlines, i.e. the suit areas slightly darker than everything else!)
In addition to the tan-thru suits, Lifestyles Direct also carries other sun and beach products including sunscreens and lotions, so do check them out.
I appreciate your comments, positive and negative, on any of the products and companies listed on my pages. --JMF
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