EWW, The Swimsuit: A Guide

by Sue

Summer time… and the living is easy…

That’s actually one of my favourite songs to sing, but this post is obviously not about a song. I know for the northern hemisphere, it’s been summer for a couple of months already, but it doesn’t officially end until mid-September, so there’s still plenty of time for you folks to go sunbathe and lounge around a pool or beach somewhere. Now, I also know some of you may not have gotten a swimsuit yet because you are currently or always have been self-conscious about your body or because shopping for these damn things is always a pain in the arse.

Now to address the former reason for you not to purchase a suit: beach cover-ups are for sale for a reason. Actual clothing, like t-shirts and shorts, are appropriate for when you leave the house/ hotel room, get in the car/ take the elevator down, and first enter the area with water. They are also appropriate for when you enter a store or a restaurant as you come from the beach or the pool. They are NEVER appropriate when you’re lounging around for a while or actually ENTERING into the water.

oh my gosh, hellz naw.

I understand your “logic,” to an extent. (This logic does not include the people who follow religions and cultural traditions that require them to cover up.) You would feel just so embarrassed if you revealed anything! You would be less noticeable than the other women parading around in their swimsuit and beach cover ups! Well… I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but you stick out like a sore thumb when you walk around with sand sticking to your wet clothes as you walk to and from your spot on the beach and into the ocean. And you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb when you’re fully dressed while everyone else is partially undressed.

just say no!

Just say no, okay? Let’s help you find something that you’d feel good in, okay? And let’s make this as easy and stress-free as possible with these few things to keep in mind, mmkay?

1. Be patient. You’re just going to have to give it time to find that perfect swimsuit. Find a day when don’t feel like a Fatty McFatterson (because we all have those days, ladies.), or when you’re not going to be rushed because you have the kid and she’s screaming her head off because she wants ice cream, or when you don’t have a deadline to find something before your big tropical paradise vacation. You may have to spend a big chunk of time to find something perfect for you.

2. Be open-minded. There may be a particular suit or style you saw online or in a catalogue that you absolutely adore. You may already think a certain style looks good on you, so you’re focused on finding that style again. But if you abandon these thoughts, your shopping trip will shorten and become less stressful.

3. Go big first. A majority of suits run small; it’s not because the designers hate you or that cinnamon bun you ate in between store browsing made you miraculously gain weight. So, knowing this, start with one or two dress sizes larger than your actual size. However, also know that some particular cuts or style will just simply not work for your body shape. As cute as it looks on the mannequin or model in the picture, just cut your losses and accept that it won’t work for you. For those of you who think that going up a size is the way to go for ‘full coverage,’ don’t even think about it. You’ll look ridiculous with a wrinkly and saggy behind after you get out of the water.

4. Texture. Feel the suit; rub the fabric in between your fingers. Pull and tug at the fabric. Lycra has outstanding stretch and support; the more Lycra is used, the better control the suit has to offer. However, too much control creates a sausage effect around your bust or around the legs, so be aware of that.

5. Color. Analyze your skin tone. Are you a little on the pale side? Go for darker colors like navy, dark brown or black. Do you have a yellow or red-dish undertone? Stay away from those colors. I have a yellow undertone, so I stay away from every shade of yellow or else I end up looking jaundiced. Are you a little more tan? Try something pastel or with a brighter hue. Metallic fabrics are nice; I mean, who doesn’t love shiny things? I love shiny things, but a lot of the time, metallic colors only enhance what you don’t want enhanced. They’re not very slimming.

6. Comfort. This is the most important thing to consider. If you’re not comfortable with it initially, don’t bother because you won’t feel comfortable later either.

The following pictures are mostly from Victoria’s Secret because they have a swim sale going on, and they seem to have almost every style of suit I want to discuss.  So, click the links to the pictures; they’ll bring you to their respected pages.  Um, so the models look ridiculously stunning, but I make myself feel better by telling myself these pictures are photoshopped and most of these models are wearing ‘Miracle Bra’ suits, which are sometimes not so awesome. Anyway

We’ll start with the one-piece suits, which are the most comfortable for everyone, and I think with a gentle v-neck (not necessarily the deep-v plunge like in this suit) is universally flattering. They show off your collar bones (yay!) and elongate the neck. The cut at the legs in this suit is pretty standard, but if you’re self-conscious about your thighs (‘omgz I haz thunder thighs!’), opt for slightly higher-cut legs to downplay that.

This one has a cute sweetheart neckline which works for almost every size (unless you’re chest-less) because it accentuates the bosom quite nicely, and it’s not too revealing like a v-neck most times. You can also notice that this suit has an interesting, almost tankini-like feel, with its cut at the bottom/ leg opening.

One-piece plunge suits help create an illusion of an hour-glass figure. The combination of the high neck, which broadens the shoulders, and the cut, which distracts from wider hips, slims waists. Additionally, the plunge accentuates the chest, which works for those who are on the smaller side.

The rest of these are 2-pieces and I think these are generally more fun because you can do more with them. But I dunno, Victoria’s Secret plunge one-pieces are pretty… well, you can see what I mean.

Alright… onto the tops!

Tankinis work for people who have longer torsos. It gives you the opportunity to cover up when you want, but when you want to tan your stomach, you can simply roll it up. They won’t offer as much control or shaping as the one-piece for those with fuller or straighter waists, but they still disguise the ‘problem area’ if you carry more weight in the middle.

Halter tops enhance a smaller bust and minimize a short torso because the deep-v draws the eyes up to one’s face while also creating the illusion of width. There’s enough fabric and structure in a halter top for women with larger chests to show off their assets. However, if you have wide shoulders, halters will accentuate the width and you might end up looking like a line backer.

Wooo, itty bitty! If you can get extra Lycra for support without the sausage effect, it cane be wearable for those with bigger busts, but this shape is perfect for those with a smaller / more athletic bust. Ruching or a keyhole in the middle, ruffles, or even the crisscross pattern in this particular suit will give the appearance of a fuller bust.

The least coverage offered out of all suits. This is best for average-sized busts; the small triangles covering your chest are not going to give you enough support for you fuller-up-top ladies. Not for all the Lycra in the world. However, if you’re on the smaller side, this style can work for you with the help of molded cups.

Now the bottoms..

Boy shorts work best for women with athletic body shapes, who are slender, or have boyish figures because they draw the eye to the hips and create curves. Pear shaped women should stay away from these because again, the extra fabric draws the eyes downward. And honestly, if you are already self-conscious about a body part, the last thing you want is to bring attention to that body part. The extra fabric doesn’t help in elongating the legs, so if you have a longer torso or if you have short legs (like me :-() you should stay away from these too.

Just as I explained in the first one-piece suit, the higher-cut leg makes legs look longer and leaner, so if you’re pear-shaped or have long torsos, these are perfect for you because everyone wants to be proportional, right?

Hipster bottoms work great for pear shaped women because once again, they elongate not only the legs but also the torso. But because they hit right under the hipbones/ elongates the torso, women with long torsos should stay away. And inversely, you can gather that they work great for women with short torsos!

These side-tie bottoms generally have moderate back coverage, a low waist cut, and narrow ties at both sides. However, recently, there are suits that have come out with two strings. They’re great for athletic physiques and women with small busts or hour-glass figures.

Now for some random tips to play up your figure. I’ve already done a little bit of that in some of the categories above, but I’ll just state them again.

For one-piece suits, ruching/ shirring in the middle of the torso or at the side will downplay thicker waists. It reduces the appearance of bulges and creates the illusion of a more defined waist. Also, try diagonal stripes or side cutouts to slim and define the waist.

Patterns are also something to really consider, but just be aware that some patterns are more slimming than others. However, in general, big bold prints with movement (such as a large all-over floral pattern like the ones below) will offer distraction from any problem areas you may have.

Again, ruffles in the bikini top and/ or bottom works well for those with more boyish/ slender figures. They make you look fuller, and this of course is great for women with smaller chests as well.

Finally, my favourite ‘trick’ of all is to mix and match colors and patterns with your two-piece suit. I think it’s my favourite because it works best for pear shapes as well as women with smaller busts. A suit with a darker bottom and a lighter/ printed top will bring the eyes upward. And if you add special touches, such as that crisscross pattern in the bandeau top above, will really help frame up top and create or accentuate cleavage.

And there you have it.  I realise this is rather lengthy, but I hope it’ll help you somehow, someway and ease your fear of swimsuit shopping. Have fun!