In the Swim: Everything But Water Galleria Grand Opening Saturday, April 14

If you had told me a few days ago that I was about to have the best swimsuit-buying experience of my life, I would have laughed; if you had told me it would come just 12 hours after attending a seven-course tasting dinner at Philippe, I might have fainted dead away. Who shops for bikinis after seven courses of rich, French food? I do, apparently. Butter and truffles aside, I really must rave about Everything But Water's new Galleria location.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I received the invitation to the media day event which promised a tour and personal fit consultation. Prior to this, my swimsuit-buying strategy had been "Hit Target on the way to the beach/pool" every spring. So what difference would a professional consultation make?

As it turns out, a big one.

First, I was asked about styles and colors I felt most comfortable in, and several swimsuits were chosen for me; a few were paired with coordinating cover-ups. I tried on one suit after the other, with input from the staff on cuts and styles that best suited me. After I tried on one two-piece with a high-waisted bottom, we decided the cut was overwhelming and I tried a coordinating bottom in a different style -- it was much more flattering for my body type. I tried on at least seven swimsuits, and three or four coverups, and finally found one that I really loved -- like, "can't go home without it" loved. Not only can I not remember the last time I had that much fun shopping for swimsuits, I can't remember the last time I had that much fun shopping period.

President and CEO of Everything But Water, Sheila Arnold is in town for the big opening, and was present during my fitting. She told me the Galleria location is number 60 for the company, which specializes in swim and resortwear. "The new store format is an opportunity to show women we can provide a whole swim wardrobe. Houston women take their swim wardrobe seriously; pool parties are an important part of summer here. Houston is a dream come true for us, and has the kinds of women we want to satisfy."

One hardly knows where to look when entering the store. Two-piece and one-piece suits hang from walls and long racks on the sales floor, with tables displaying total outfits from suit to cover-up to bag and jewelry. Arnold enthused about swim's increased prominence in the fashion world. "Swim is starting to follow other fashion trends out there." Layering and accessorizing, she explained, turn a swimsuit into a complete outfit.

Everything But Water is open for business today, but stop in tomorrow, Saturday, April 14, to enjoy a day of tropical-inspired play while you shop for the hottest, most on-trend swimsuits for summer. Between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, customers can shop while having their hair styled (with fresh flowers!), enjoy island-inspired tropical drinks and take home a "getaway souvenir" -- a custom-designed threaded bracelet. If you get there early, you will also receive a free gift with every purchase while supplies last.

Among the designer names you will find at Everything But Water are Robin Piccone, La Blanca, Vitamin A, Espi, Seafolly, Karla Colletto, Trina Turk, Betsey Johnson, L*Space and Becca. To get an idea of your perfect fit, check out the Perfect Fit guide at

Everything But Water has two other Houston-area locations: Town & Country and Rice Village.

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Christina Uticone