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The ultimate swimsuit guide: Finding the best shape, color & style

Remember the episode of Oprah where Kirstie Alley shared her weight loss success with the world by sashaying onstage in a bikini? It was the ultimate victory for her. All women who continue to struggle with weight know that perhaps the ultimate most terrifying stage fright — with the exception of total nudity — is the bathing suit. In fact, Kirstie put it right up there with being in stirrups at the gyno.

swimsuit shopping, looking your best, summer fashion, flattering swimsuits

What’s your problem area?

Everyone has something about their body that they think looks horrible in a swimsuit. My personal suit issue is that I’m double-b-lacking: No boobs + no butt = no bikini! Some women have issues with her thighs and considers the appropriate beach cover-up to be jeans — no exceptions. Other women have large chests, are very tall, or extra petite. And all of us seek the elusive perfect suit.

When looking for the ideal swimwear, typically, what you’re going for is something that makes you look good proportionally, that creates an hourglass figure, and will mask (or draws attention from) what you consider to be your trouble spots.

Cyla Weiner, owner of Sylene of Washington, says there are swimsuits that can make all body types look great, resulting in you being able to wear them with confidence! She offers the following tips to help you choose the most flattering swimsuit:

Tummy hider: If you want to camouflage your tummy, look for a suit that flatters and firms.  Shirring should be good, color blocking, asymmetrical patterns and surplice suits are also ideal.

Large thighs: Find a suit that takes the eye away from that area. Skirted tankinis are a great option, as are swimdress suits or boy short suits (jogger style).

Hip issues: Here, you need to find a suit that flatters the leg. You should look for a suit that is cut up higher on the leg because it makes your hips look smaller. Dark bottoms are good. Also try to find a suit that has interest across the top to take your eye away from the hip area.

Long torso: Suits are available in long lengths. Tankinis and two-piece suits are great for long torsos too. Emphasis at the waist takes the focus off the length of your torso.

Full bust: Don’t despair, ladies. There are many suits, both one- and two-piece that come in D-F cups. These suits provide support and coverage and are very much in fashion. Vendors have come to realize that there are many full-busted gals out there who want great-looking suits. You can find them with and without wires and with tummy control if you desire.

Small bust: Many swimsuits will provide cleavage and fullness. To start, look for suits that have push-up cups or pads inside — that goes for one-piece and even bikinis. Shirring, ruffles and embellishments across the bust also add some fullness. (Check out the Le Doux swimwear later in this article for some great examples.)

If you’re looking for camouflage, consider an asymmetric top or busy or bold prints. Also realize that you really don’t need to stress — there are a lot of gorgeous, flat-chested women — including Kate Hudson, Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller.

Shopping advice from the pros

Not quite sure where to begin your bathing suit adventure? Here are some simple shopping tips: 

Go shopping for a swimsuit on a day you are feeling confident and are in good spirits. “Selecting a suit will be all the easier if you feel good about yourself,” explains Blondeau. 

Shop at a store where you feel comfortable. “We all have a favorite store, and this is where you should buy your swimsuit — it will be easier to ask a sales consultant for help and spend the time you need to try on different styles.”

Do not set limits — especially time limits. The more time you have, the smarter your final choice will be.

Avoid heavily-trafficked shopping periods, both to avoid the rush of crowds, but also so you have a chance to shop in relative privacy. According to the experts from Maillot Baltex, “The best time to go is on a weekday or early in the morning on the weekend.”

Play hide and sleekCarol Wior swimsuit

Every woman wants to look slim and sexy — and we know that’s not as easy as it sounds. 

Carol Wior

Genma Stringer Holmes, a fashion model turned entrepreneur, swears by the Carol Wior  line of swimwear for her “pasta-loving” middle, and says it’s perfect to fit the flaws of real women. “It took two inches off my waistline!” she says. Carol Wior’s ‘A Study in Contrast Yoke Ring Dress’ swimsuit — black with white accents — is shown at right. They say that Wior’s “Slimsuits” will slim waist and stomach by at least one inch, and lift your behind half an inch.

Two suits from Shade Clothing


FantaSizer by Christina Swimwear is a line of swimsuits that flatten the stomach and are cut to be flattering on the hips and thighs. Made from a spandex/nylon blend, this mixture tames and minimizes the tummy and can also help to enhance the bust. This suit can help you lose up to an inch at the waist and hips, getting you closer to the slim look you desire.


Another great option is Forplay’s swimwear with skirts, which can help to cover up bottoms and thighs. Their halters work well with larger breasts, and the bikini shorts can help make your butt look more flattering.

Get back to our hot weather guide - click here! “I don’t think there is a woman in this world that enjoys shopping for swimsuits because it brings attention to the areas of your body where you don’t want it,” says Chelsea Rippy, founder and CEO of Shade Clothing. “We have made a special effort to help women feel more comfortable in swimsuits with our new Shade Swim line,” she says.

“The specially-designed bottoms help tuck in your tummy and hide other trouble spots, while our flattering tops look great on any body type.” The line has four swim top styles, “each designed to flatter a woman’s body without being too revealing.”

Match the Shade extra-body-length tops with their high-waisted swim bottoms, which feature a four-inch slimmer band designed to minimize the tummy and love handles.

ON THE NEXT PAGE: Flattering bikinis, Groovy patterns & cuts, 6 swimsuit selection tips

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