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By Elizabeth Wellington

Inquirer Fashion Writer

After a long, cold winter filled with comfort food, wine and cheese, it’s not hard to understand why our pooches are poking out.

And that means a torturous time of bathing suit shopping and a spring subsisting on little more than salad – sans dressing.

The fact is, you can keep eating, because help is on the way.

For summer, a handful of companies have lightened the load by introducing swimwear with built-in shapewear.

Labels sensitive to the plights of our expanding (and wiggly) bodies include Spanx, Newport News and Sewell, N.J.-based M’Chic, each touting its own special compression fabric concocted of spandex and cotton. With these fibers worked into the midsections of a variety of styles and colors of one-pieces or bikini bottoms, everything gets held together. That’s high-fashion, built-in suck-ins.

“People wanted to wear Spanx under their regular swimsuits,” said Maggie Adams, manager of public relations for the Atlanta-based shapewear company. “We wanted to give them a more stylish option.”

Spanx, the most high-profile company to provide the body-shaping swimwear, has 12 one-piece styles, two of them dresslike, with a slimming liner built in around the tummy. A black one-shoulder is trimmed with white ruffles across the top. A strapless teal suit features six layers of ruffles at the bustline.

Spanx has a line of bikinis, too. And these are even more forgiving, featuring four types of bottoms: bikini, full coverage, a high-rise bottom, and a skirtini – a skirt on a bikini bottom (fashion has a thing for inventing new words). Each of the bottoms can be matched with any of the tops. Some are push-up bikinis and others are traditional tankini tops.

Don’t worry, pear-shaped beauties. There’s no compression in the tops.

Sound like your kind of shapewear? Well, it’s not cheap. Spanx suits are available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales and for $170 to $226.

If these price points are too high for you, here’s another option. Local fashionista Cheryl Williams, who created a muffin-top disguise with her M’Chic jeans, worked this spandex into bathing suit bottoms and skirts and will launch a simple line of black tankinis this season on her website, The suits are $100, including the top and bottom.

“Our tops have an A-line flowy feel,” Williams said. “We have breast support, and it doesn’t give you the straight up-and-down look.”

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