When it comes to picking a swimsuit, most women run screaming. Let's face it, evaluating yourself in a three-way mirror while standing half naked in a tiny, tight-fitting outfit does not instill confidence. That said, there are some things you can do to make the process a little easier and less stressful.
"It's most important to find something you're comfortable in," says Lisa Erickson, a spokesperson for Eddie Bauer, which recently launched a swim line in its retail stores (the line already existed online). "It's about finding the right support and making you feel good."
Erickson offers the dos and don'ts of shopping for a suit by body shape:
DO: Choose the right neckline to hold you in and keep you up. Try a V-neck and a tight-fitting bra if you want to show off your assets, or go for a solid top with some ruching to detract. If you like the look of a print, choose one in which the bulk of the pattern lies around the waist to draw the eye down. Wide straps, regardless of whether you want to flaunt or hide, are essential for support. Also, look for suits made for a larger bust -- Eddie Bauer carries D and DD cups.
DON'T: Skip straps and cupping. A bandeau and some halters will leave you hanging.
DO: Maximize your shape by selecting a suit that enhances your waistline, such as one with ruching on the sides. Ornamentation like jewelry and fringe as well as a padded top can all give the illusion of a larger bust. Prints can also make you look fuller, but stick to a smaller pattern so as not to overwhelm.
DON'T: Select a suit that flattens your breasts or makes them look even smaller -- such as floating in moulded cups.
DO: Minimize the area by enhancing your waistline. Look for a suit that offers shape and visual interest to your midsection, as with ruching or shirring, as well as wide straps that sit away from the neck to balance out the shoulders.
DON'T: Go with skinny straps, no straps or halter tops, all of which only make your shoulders look wider. And skip triangle tops – they point directly to the problem area.
Big waist/wide hips
DO: Buy a Miraclesuit swimsuit, which claims to help you lose 10 pounds in 10 minutes just by putting one on. Try a fauxkini, which resembles a tankini but offers full coverage all the way through, pulling you in and still providing visual interest. If you prefer a two-piece, opt for a high-waist bottom to hold in your belly, preferably in a solid colour paired with a printed or colourful top to draw the eye away from your lower half. You can also match that top to a skirted bottom to hide the parts you don't want on display.
DON'T: Choose a suit with boy-cut bottoms -- they look terrible on almost everyone and will only accentuate your waist and hips.
DO: Try a tankini, which provides a sharp contrast at the waist and adds definition. Racer stripes also add the illusion of shape. Further, you can pull attention towards your shoulders -- and up and away from the waist -- by going strapless or choosing a halter or wide-strapped top.
DON'T: Go with low-rise bottoms, which only serve to attract attention.
Need more help finding a great bathing suit? Read our 10 swimwear survival tips.