Shopping for a swimsuit? Don't panic yet. Finding the perfect swimsuit may be one of the most dreaded shopping experiences there is, but before you spend another weekend locked behind those dressing room doors, check out these tips on the good, the bad and the ugly side of buying swimwear.

Let's start with the bad news. Yes, it can get a little ugly out there when you schlepp through dozens of swimsuits that leave you feeling stripped bare of any small amount of confidence you ever had. So instead of scouring through racks and racks, take a few minutes and dive into the latest swimwear options available right at your fingertips before you head to the stores.

Some of us prefer to order swimwear online and try multiple sizes on in the comfort of our own home. And there are lots of digital advancements to ensure the correct fit. Lands' End has one of the best mobile friendly "Swim Finder" personalization tools.

However, if you're really serious about getting outside your bathing beauty box and finding a whole new world to explore, then braving the swimwear shark tank in person may be your best bet. And don't take your best buddy with you. Unless you have to go with your mom, you don't need a chatty chaperone. Let's just say choosing a swimsuit is more of a personal matter.

Shopping solo will also give you a chance to get inspired. There are so many mix-and-match choices now, especially if you are looking for a two-piece suit. You don't have to worry if you're not the same size on the top as the bottom. Separates are the way to go. You can easily build a custom swim wardrobe just by adding a few coordinating pieces in different prints and solids.

Try on all kinds of swimwear. Even if you know you want a one-piece, you may love a tankini (a two-piece long tank over bikini bottoms) rather than a standard tank. You also may discover you like several suits - a zip-front maillot for swimming, a sexy crochet two-piece for lounging by the pool and a floral halter teamed with a matching sarong skirt for beachside cocktails.

When you do find swimsuits that work for you, remember the brand/and or designer. Chances are when you need another suit, you'll be able to go back to the same label and size.

The good news? Once you do find a suit that hopefully looks as good as it fits, you're well on your way to beach blanket bingo! The trends this year offer lots of possibilities whether you're a surfer girl or a pool poser. Here are the best swimwear trends to dive into this year:

>> The one-piece continues to be a favorite, but the simple tank has morphed into a major trendsetter. Think lots of extra details: tassels, side lacing, mesh insets, sheer cut-outs, halters, plunging V-necks and asymmetrical one shoulder tops. There are even one-piece swim dresses for the ultimate coverage.

>> Two-piece swimwear has been revived with the explosion of mixing and matching separates. The focus is on the top: crop tops, high neck halters, triangle tops, bandeaus, ruffles and lace. With pattern mixing on the rise in ready-to-wear, expect to see creative combinations in swimwear: pairing a striped bottom with a floral top, for example.

>> The athletic suit is another must-have in many swimwear wardrobes. After all, some of us do actually swim in our suits, right? The surf's up this summer in wetsuit-inspired neoprene tanks and long or short sleeved crop tops with high-waisted bottoms. Rash guards and tee shirts protect skin from harsh sun, and may be one of the best updates you can buy. Look for UPF sun protection on labels.

>> Color is also heating up the swim scene. Yellow is a sunny favorite, followed by orange, coral and teal. The new neutrals to wade into the water? White and blush tone nudes. Metallics are still shimmering in swimwear as well as old classics: animal prints, ombre and tie-dye.

>> Cover-ups are always necessities, and this season, they cross in and out of swimwear and ready-to-wear territory. Don't be afraid to wear those wrap sarongs and pareos, bolero jackets, caftans and palazzo pants on and off the beach.

To find out more about Sharon Mosley, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.