Southern Style

Swimsuits with a Southern Twist

Karla Colletto’s retro inspired swimwear

Sometimes the best break from oppressive Southern heat is a refreshing dip—in the pool, lake, river, or beach. So it’s fitting that some of the most stylish, flattering, and feminine swimwear in the world is dreamed up in the Vienna, Virginia, studio of veteran designer Karla Colletto.

Colletto founded her business 30 years ago after a successful career in custom apparel when she saw a gap in the market for well-tailored swimwear. In 1987, she sold her first collection to Saks Fifth Avenue. Since then her suits have appeared in magazines from Vogue to Sports Illustrated and Colletto continues to garner accolades for her pioneering use of technical fabrics. This season she drew inspiration from a very hardworking Southern material: denim. Colletto’s take is feather-light and elegant (read: you won’t be weighed down by an actual jean swimsuit). “I like to recall the past for some of my styles but in an inventive, modern way,” she says. “The fabric we use is an Italian microfiber digitally printed to capture the look and texture of denim,” she says.

The retro one-piece silhouettes in the collection (shown below, from $228) are currently available through Everything But Water and Neiman Marcus.


Her next collection, which will debut in stores when the heat hits next year, launched this week at Miami Swim Week and feature even more old-school Southern femininity in the form of delicate pleating and ruffles. We’re fans of the Josephine, Palazzo, and Fiorenza (pictured below) since they could easily double as tops for high-waisted skirts and shorts.