Cool Savings : You can get in the swim fashionably without getting soaked. Kirkpatrick Sales offers options in discounted beachwear.

Whoever said childbirth was one of the most painful experiences in a woman's life has obviously never shopped for a swimsuit. That can drive a person to seek therapy.

But at least the sting can be softened by deep discounts on the often-ridiculous prices. At Kirkpatrick Sales, you'll find one of the largest inventories of swimwear for men and women in Southern California, and it's all discounted.

If labels are important to you, try these: Jantzen, Elizabeth Stewart, De Weese, Daffy, Baja Blue, The Swim, Mainstream, Flojo, Sassafras, Rebel Beach, Amber Bay and Swim Systems. Those are some of the names you'll find on the racks.

In the very large women's swimsuit room, the first rack you encounter is for Swim Systems. Its whole concept is mix and match. You can buy the top in one size and the bottom in another, which is great, because very few women are equally proportioned both places. The tags on these separates read $14.50, which already reflects a discount of 20%, but a sign on the rack says to deduct another 20%. So we end up with $11.60--almost a 50% savings--for each piece.

The much more conservative Elizabeth Stewart suits are discounted about 40%, and Jantzen, around 50%. The Sassafras suits, which at many stores run about $50, are all marked $29.75, and an additional 10% is taken off at the register. Charming small floral prints with a delightful crisscross back treatment are $29.75. A further 10% off brings them to $26.75, representing a savings of $23.25.

An Amber Bay puckered maillot, a one-piece suit in navy with a just-right touch of gold, will appeal to the more sophisticated shopper. Many have paid $85 for this little number, but at Kirkpatrick Sales it's marked $53--with an additional 10% off. Sizes for women's swimwear start at 3 and go up to 52; there's a good selection up to Size 44.

There weren't as many cover-up sets as usual, but owner Tom Turquand is expecting a new shipment any day. Those in stock the day of my visit were drastically reduced. One nylon print retailing at $88 is selling for $20. Many of the new arrivals will be about 70% off the original price, or $10.75. Some generic cover-ups--white or black netting--were only $9.

When you enter the store, you are immediately in the men's department, where we found labels like Duck Head and Baja Blue. Some very sharp Baja Blue trunks that generally sell for $35 to $40 were priced at $17. T-shirts by Fruit of the Loom that retail for $10 to $14 were marked $5.75.

In another room is an assortment of sportswear for women, ranging from rompers to tank dresses. Some great-looking long tank dresses that sell elsewhere for $65 and up were all going for $19.75, as were the quirky Amber Bay rompers (retail $40).

So even if a swimsuit isn't the target, the inventory for men or women offers good buys in beach or Southern California summer street wear.

* Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life! Questions about shopping may be sent to her, in care of Valley Life!, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Letters will not be answered individually, but topics of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Geri Cook can be heard from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on KIEV 870-AM.



What: Kirkpatrick Sales.

Location: 8592 Washington Blvd., Culver City.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Cards: MasterCard, Visa.

Call: (310) 839-6455.

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