Diving Into Swimwear

Find the Right Fit Your Bodytype


Before you even step into that dressing room ... or slip into the virtual realm of online shopping, take a deep breath and dive into a new swimsuit season. It may not be one of your favorite ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, but shopping for swimwear is the best way to find the perfect swimsuit. Here are some tips to get you in the swim of things:

First, know the best style suit for your body shape. This may sound elementary, my dear Watsons, but we all tend to get caught up in the frills and thrills of the latest fads (That slinky silver metallic number still tucked away in your closet from two years ago?), and we miss the most important tip of all: To look your best, the swimsuit you choose has to flatter your own unique shape.

There are four main body shapes: Straight (bust, hips and waist are basically the same measurement), Hourglass (bust and hips are same size and waist is well defined), Pear (bust is smaller than hips), and Inverted Triangle (large bust and smaller hips and waist). Many swimwear manufacturers now make it easy to find flattering suits with the help of online style guides and in-store tags.

Experiment with multiple styles. Don’t be afraid to try on lots of swimsuits. Just because you don’t have washboard abs and have worn a one-piece for the past 10 years doesn’t mean that you can’t make a splash in a tankini, which is a suit with a tank-style top layered over your choice of bottoms. There are so many more options to choose from now. Explore mixing and matching tops and bottoms—one of the best ways to find the right sizes.

Go up a size ... or two. Buying a swimsuit is not an exact science when it comes to sizing. It’s all about fit. So take your time and set aside some time to shop for the suit that enhances your assets and minimizes figure flaws. Letting it all hang out is not the look you want ... ever ... unless you’re at a nude beach and then all bets are off... including shopping for a swimsuit.

Think about function ... or not. Obviously if you’re snorkeling in the Caymans, you will want a different kind of suit than a lounge lizard who sits by the pool sipping cocktails. And then there are those suits that do double duty, in and out of the water. So before you fall in love with all the bells and whistles — the beads, the belts, the bows — think about exactly what you want this suit to do for you and where you want to wear it.

Get beyond black. Black may be your go-to basic, but with all the colors and prints swirling around now, think about stepping out of the dark ages. You can still draw attention away from problem areas by wearing all-over prints or suits with graphic panels. And just remember that suits in shiny metallic fabrics do tend to make you look larger. Just saying.

To cover up or not cover up? It’s not all about the baggy T-shirts anymore. The new cover-ups have indoor-outdoor appeal. From “dress-kinis” to caftan maxis to board shorts to miniskirts, rash guard tees and beach pants, there’s a huge wave of novelty separates that will stretch your swimwear wardrobe. While we may want to cover-up just for modesty’s sake, it’s also critical to protect skin from sun damaging rays. Don’t forget to check out the SPF protection in the fabric of the swimwear you buy — a standard feature now incorporated into many brands.

Update with trends. When you know the best swimsuit style for your body shape, then you can easily dive into fun trends. The big trends you’ll see this summer? Athletic-inspired looks—Think surfer suits that really do function with high-neck crop tops, long-sleeves, racerbacks and stripes galore. Feminine details also abound—Think touches of crochet, lace-up straps, wrap tops and keyhole cutouts. Then there is the color news—Think splashes of hot colors, tropical florals and geometric prints. On the flip side, the earth tones are a minimalist’s dream in sandy nudes and creamy beiges and whites. Time to dive in!

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.

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