Pear, apples, beans… when it comes to buying a swimsuit we’re not created equal. Finding the right style for your body is all about enhancing the bits you love and minimising the parts you’re less fond of. Here’s a guide to finding the perfect fit for your shape.
Problem: Make a small bust look bigger
Solution: The easiest way to add curves to a smaller bust line is with padding and print. Try a demi-cup or halter style top with under wire and removable padding to create volume and cleavage. Frills, ruffles, stripes and over-sized prints all work well to create the illusion of a fuller cup size. Avoid dark colours, string bikini tops and strapless styles which will flatten your bust even more. The same rules apply when choosing a one piece - look for suits with exaggerated ruffles or draping with a halter or scoop neckline.
Problem: Balance a curvy bottom with a smaller bust
Solution: If you prefer a two piece suit, the easiest way to balance your top and bottom half is with colour-blocking. Try darker shades on the bottom and clash it with a stripe, spot or print on the top. This creates the illusion of a smaller bottom (and hips) and a fuller bust. For one piece styles, choose a scooped or square neckline that emphasises cleavage and exaggerates your shoulder width – you want them to look broader – this will visually balance out your shoulders and hips. Whittle your waist further with panels, ruching or pleats to make your figure more hour glass and take the emphasis away from above and below the waist.
Problem: Add curves to a petite frame
Solution: Prints, polka dots, stripes and ruffles will make even the tiniest derriere look bigger. Opt for a bikini with wide side straps and a half-cut or Brazillian bottom – the more cheek you show the higher and rounder your bottom will appear. If you prefer a one piece, try a cut-out suit that slashes across the stomach or a multi-panel, multi-colour style that creates the illusion of curves by clashing prints with panels - both styles will fill out your shape.
Problem: Support and shape a fuller bust
Solution: Whether it's a bikini or a one piece you want a suit with thick straps in a moulded, reinforced fabric that provides proper support both in and out of the water. Look for styles with an under-band or built in shelf bra to provide support without enhancement - avoid styles with under wire as they will only make your bust appear bigger. In both one and two piece suits the key to a great shape is in the neckline - choose halter or wide strap styles (no shoe-strings) with a subtle 'V" scoop that curves and covers your bust. Avoid big prints, polka dots and horizontal stripes which add width. Stick to block colours - navy, black, chocolate - to give your bust a sleeker look.
Problem: Shape and cinch a curvy tummy
Solution: Choose a one piece in black or navy with front, back and side panels that will cinch your waist from every angle. Avoid styles with scooped out backs - the more coverage you have the smoother the line around your middle will be. Another great tummy minimiser is ruching, pleats or draping on the front of the suit. Avoid boy leg and low hipster styles which will visually shrink your torso making it appear longer and wider. Thin tie-side or high-cut leg lines will do the opposite to create the illusion of a smaller waist.
Shapewear for the surf
The ever-growing popularity of shape wear has created a demand for swimwear that lifts, sucks and separates just like a girdle. The main players in the under-garment market have now added swimsuits to their lines and if you need extra support - post pregnancy, post mastectomy - then these suits really work like magic to add and subtract volume where it's needed.
The change room test
Key to a great swimsuit is a good fit – here's what to look for before you leave the change room.
Size: Swimsuits are often cut smaller than clothing and nothing is worse than a suit that’s too tight or small – cue muffin top. Always try on the size bigger than you normally wear – you’ll often find it’s more comfortable and gives your body a smooth, bulge free line.
Slide: You do not want to give yourself a wedgie or lose your suit in the surf. While you're in the change room sit down, jump around, bend over to check that the suit doesn’t ride up when you move.
Squeeze: Do the straps dig in? Create underarm bulges? Slip your thumb under the strap and lift it off the shoulder about 2.5cms – there should be just enough room to create a clean line without compromising on support.
Separates: Very few bodies are perfectly proportioned so when you’re buying a two piece suit, look for brands that offer separates – this way you can choose the right size for your bust and your bottom.