The Right Bathing Suit for your Figure

By Carli S. Timpson

The winter chill is finally beginning to subside as the warmer spring weather rolls into the Lehigh Valley. With the new season is the renewed promise of being in the outdoors once more – for picnics, barbeques and of course, the beach.

The prospect of lounging on the beach, hearing the waves lap up against the sand and soaking in the sun is something we look forward to all year. But after you reel yourself back from the magnificence of this daydream, some dread starts to set in as you realize that beach time equals bathing suit time.

Choosing the perfect suit can be a daunting proposition, even for those who did not hit the holiday treats hard. Fear not, for finding your best bathing suit is easier than you think when you follow these simple tips.

The first and most important thing to figure out is your body type. The necessity of this cannot be understated. Once you have that determined, you can begin to find a suit that accentuates your assets and downplays problem areas.


You carry most of your weight in your hips and thighs. Chances are that you run a size larger or more in pants and skirts than you do in tops.

Swimsuit Problem: Your bottom half always looks heavier than your upper half.

Swimsuit Solution: Choose a suit with a lighter color on your upper half. This will help to draw attention away from your hips and pull the eye upward, creating the illusion of balance while elongating your figure. Opt for an eye-catching neckline, such as a sweetheart, that will create a focal point on your upper half.  Avoid any suit that has ruching, ties, ruffles or details at the hips. This can only serve to add width to your bottom half.


Your upper half is wider than your hips. You usually purchase larger tops than bottoms.

Swimsuit Problem: Your wide shoulders and larger chest make you appear top heavy.

Swimsuit Solution: Choose a suit that balances your top with a printed or bold colored bottom to draw the eye downward. If you have a larger chest, make sure you are getting the proper support by opting for formed cups and larger shoulder straps that improve posture and create a clean vertical line for your shape. Do not choose a suit that has a plunging v-neck or a lot of detailing or frills on top as this will further draw attention to your shape in all of the wrong ways.


Your shoulders, waist and hips are in alignment. You purchase consistently sized tops and bottoms.

Swimsuit Problem: Your figure has no clearly defined waist or focal point.

Swimsuit Solution: Give your shape some definition by choosing a suit with high or medium cut style bikini bottoms or, if you prefer a one-piece, go for one with a belted waist. These tricks will help create the appearance of curves and help you to look less boxy. You should also incorporate some accents, such as a subtle ruffle or bold pattern, which can enhance your shape’s femininity. Steer clear of horizontal lines, boy shorts or any suit that has a blocky pattern or fit as this will just make you look more rectangular.


Your shoulder and hips are in balance and you have a smaller waist.

Swimsuit Problem: Many styles fall in the wrong places on your body making you look either pear or apple shaped.

Swimsuit Solution: The goal for your shape is to maintain the balance already inherent to your figure. This is best achieved with once piece suits that have features like a deep halter neckline or are a solid color. Try to avoid any suit that cuts straight across your hips, as this will draw attention away from your strongest feature—your waist.

For women who are curvier, the best thing you can do is to play it up. Retro, high-waisted styles are making a serious swimsuit comeback, and really have the potential to not only help trim your problem areas, but also help to create a unique and flattering silhouette.

Anyone carrying around a little extra belly weight can also benefit greatly from tankinis and suits with control panels. These different styles and added features really help in slimming the stomach and cutting down on “pooch.”

Women who are pregnant have the flexibility to wear a suit in which they feel most comfortable. Bikinis are an excellent option as they allow for the use of a single suit throughout the duration of your pregnancy, and help you keep the costs of buying multiple suits to a minimum.

Post-mastectomy women will also find that there is a fairly large selection of suits available online to fit their unique shape needs. These suits are generally either tankinis or one-pieces and come in a range of different sizes, shapes and colors.

In addition to considering how your shape plays a role in finding an appropriate bathing suit, women should also consider the quality of the suit they are purchasing. While it may be tempting to pick up a suit from your nearest bargain store, this often leads to limited selection and chintzy fabrics. Choose a retailer who will offer you high quality nylon and spandex fabrics that will be more durable against the chemicals and salts found in pools and the ocean. A high quality suit is worth the investment, and with proper care, may even last you multiple summer seasons.

Also pay close attention to the fabric that lines the suit. Above all else you want to be comfortable, but a sturdy lining will also prevent unfortunate see-through accidents, that can happen especially with lighter colored garments.

Color plays an important role in the overall appeal of your suit, as well. Women with fair to medium complexions will really stand out in dark blues, green and maroons, while women with deeper complexions should lean towards brighter, bolder colors.

If you are planning a vacation, make sure to purchase your bathing suit well in advance of your departure, particularly if you are going overseas. Each country has its own unique system for clothing measurement and standard. The last thing you need on your vacation is the stress of not being able to find a flattering suit for your size and shape.

Remember that no two women are exactly alike in shape and size, so it is of the utmost importance that you choose a suit that fits you. Above all else, remember that the most alluring feature of your bathing suit is confidence, and armed with these tips you are certain to find a suit that is flattering and comfortable for this summer season.


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