On the plus side
Rest assured, there are plenty of options for the real women out there -- yes, figure-flattering plus size swimsuits that give your shape extra support while providing a slimming look.
Where to begin
Play it up or cool it down
Hate your hips and thighs? Send the attention upward, with a tankini top and high-cut leg bottoms.
If you have great legs, lengthen and accent them with some nice hip detail.
A flared swimdress will hide hips and downplay thighs.
If you have belly bulge, go for a longer tankini top that will meet the bottoms of your suit.
Strategically placed cut-outs or intricate necklines can draw attention away from your middle.
Try to stick to dark colors, and avoid whites or neon shades.
Big breasts may be a hassle to haul around sometimes, but swim season is a great time to turn them into one of your most attractive assets!
Some suits to check out
If you are feeling like a fun splurge, Christina Swimwear's Fantasizer collection has a slimmer power fabric that takes inches off your figure. We love the Fantasizer swim tank with center ring in orange black (shown to the left).
Another option is the Miraclesuit (miraclesuit.com) -- their styles are specifically designed to flatter plus-sized figures with a fabric that offers three times the control of the average suit. (They say their swimsuits "will make a woman look 10 pounds lighter in 10 seconds.")
What to look out for
Finally, no matter how tempting it may be, don't try to squeeze into something that is just too small (and this goes for everyone, not just plus-sized gals). If it's too tight, even the most amazing swimsuit in the world will not make you look sexy and shapely -- all of the attention will be on the bulges, and they will look bigger than they actually are.