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Sweet Suits

Talking style with the ladies of Beach Party Swimwear

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Kathy Wedge, who owns Beach Party Swimwear with her mother and twin sister discusses all things swim.

How did you get started?
Mom and I opened the shop in 1988. We started on Newport’s Thames Street in the Brick Market selling resort wear, which eventually turned to full-time swimwear and all related accessories. No one in the state was doing it successfully year-round.

Are you Rhode Island natives?
No, we are from Connecticut. We moved to Newport in 1986. We are all here now and call Rhode Island our home.

For many people, finding that perfect swimsuit is a chore. What advice would you give to frustrated shoppers?
For most women, swimsuit shopping always ranks near root canals. But we at Beach Party have a huge selection along with knowledgeable sales help, which you don’t get in any department store. We owe our success to the level of customer service that we provide. Swimsuit shopping definitely requires one-to-one assistance. The first thing to keep in mind when shopping for a suit is that they tend to run small, meaning that a comfortable fit usually means buying a size larger. It’s just the way the industry is.

What styles are most popular?
Separates have revolutionized swim-wear: tankinis, bikinis, skirtinis. To be able to mix and match swimsuits, where tops and bottoms are sold separately, is popular. Tops are sized from AA to very large cup sizes, and bottoms are as skimpy as you dare to full skirts or shorts.

Tell us about some trends for 2012.
Color was this season’s biggest standout. Plums, purples, pink violets – mixed with browns and greys, along with the most beautiful prints and textures. Looking forward to 2013, the fall will stay with the plums, deepening the colors and mixing them with black and glamorous fabrics for the upcoming cruise season.

What is your go-to Rhode Island summer activity?
It’s nice to get on one of the sunset sails and enjoy the tranquility of the night after a crazy, busy day in the shop.

What is it like to run a swimwear store in the winter months?
We are open seven days a week, year round. Our winters are almost as strong as our summers now. Most of us travel south for winter cruises and vacations. And, we suit about 60 swim teams now, from YMCA leagues, boys & girls clubs, high schools, private clubs and more.