Memorial Day is just around the corner and that can only mean one thing: swimsuit season. This year my family is joining the neighborhood pool, so I’ll be wearing a swimsuit more in one summer than I have in a very long time–and I need to expand my swimwear wardrobe accordingly.
Time to go swimsuit shopping! But what kind to buy? Susan of the Working Closet recently wrote a post on TLC’s Parentables blog in which she explained why she was buying–and wearing–bikinis this year. A mom! In a bikini! Brave woman, I thought. But she made good points about why they were a practical option for her.
So I got inspired; if another mom north of 40 (cough cough) could do it, so could I! And then I tried several on and remembered why I wear one pieces in the first place. I may be in decent shape overall, but there are parts of my abdomen I’m just not interested in sharing with the world. So long, bikini dream.
The important thing, and I think Susan would agree, is to buy and wear swimsuits that make you look good and feel good. And if that translates to a one-piece or a tankini, then ladies, that’s OK.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you must go to the pool or to the beach looking more grandma than Hot Mama. In fact, it’s absolutely possible to look sexy in a swimsuit without wearing a bikini. Here’s how.
5 ways to look great in a swimsuit with coverage
Last May, I put together a list of the 5 S’s of summer dressing, from sundresses to swimsuits. One year later, these sunny items are still the go-to staples of my warm-weather wardrobe.
Take another look at these favorites, and then let me know in the comments what your summer must-have items are.
Our series on shopping by shape continues. This week: the inverted triangle shape — that is, a body with wide shoulders and slim hips.
Wide-set straps and a little skirt flatter the inverted triangle shape
As with the pear shape, the goal is to balance out the body and even the proportions.
In this case, it is the top that is heavier, not the bottom. You are blessed with an ample bosom, ladies; the trick is not to look too top-heavy. In addition, we want to make wide shoulders appear narrower in relation to hips.
- Balance the bust. In the case of the bustline, first make sure you’re well supported — not just for aesthetics, but also for comfort. look for a well-constructed, built-in bra and a sufficient degree of spandex or other supportive fabric. Avoid busy patterns, ruffles or deep V necklines that will draw unwelcome attention up top.
- Build up the bottom. Try a little skirt or other embellishments on the bottom part of your suit to give the illusion of wider hips.
- Shape the shoulders. Skip the halter tops — they’ll only make your shoulders look wider. Instead try a boatneck or wide-set straps.
Ladies, if this is your body type: what suit styles have worked best for you?
Swimsuit season is here, but never fear, my dears!
Last week, we started with the 5 Secrets of Swimsuit Shopping; secret #1 was to choose the best style for your frame.
LandsEnd Penelope print tankini top
This week, we begin a series that solves swimsuit shopping by identifying features that work best for a variety of body types. And we start with the so-called “pear shape” or triangle: wider on the bottom than on the top.
Following our mantra of accentuating the positive, our goal here is not so much to cover you up, but to balance your overall proportions. So we look for ways to draw attention to the top portion of your body, in order to give it equal weight to your bottom. And we also want to make sure your hips are flattered, too.
Because while no suit can transform you into a supermodel, the right swimwear can go a long way to making your beach body more beautiful.
Here are a few points to look for when shopping for your ideal suit:
- Draw the eye upwards. Look for decorative necklines, such as halters (if you have wide shoulders) or boat necks (if you have narrow shoulders). Because a pear-shaped woman is often smaller-busted, ruching or other decoration around the upper body can also maximize this feature.
- Use color. Try a two-toned suit; keep the bottom half a solid, dark color and look for bright patterns and colors on top. The dark colors will recede and look smaller, and the colorful pattern will seem larger and thus more balanced overall.
- Watch the leg line. A high leg opening is often recommended to lengthen the leg line. But be careful: while your curves may be gorgeous, a high cut leg opening can also be in danger of showing off too much of them. Try a slighly lower cut, or even a flirty swim skirt — as long as that skirted bottom doesn’t make you look even bigger, thus defeating the purpose!
- Stick to a one-piece or tankini. Unless you’re in Brazil, the bikini is not your friend. So make sure that tankini top overlaps the bottom!
Of course, when trying on any garment, whether swim or not, be sure to take a good look in a 3-way mirror. What may flatter from the front may be less so from the rear.
(And here’s an extra tip: Lands’ End has an entire section of its swimwear catalog for the triangle shape.)
Ladies, if this is your body type: what suit styles have worked best for you?
Summer is upon us and that means one thing: the dreaded swimsuit season has arrived! Unless you are blessed to be 16 and/or a supermodel, that is.
Vintage '50s swimsuit
For the rest of us, the prospect of shopping for the smallest piece of clothing we will ever wear in public is daunting at best, dreadful at worst. But must it really be this way?
Not at all! Now, I can’t promise to help you find a suit so magical it will transform you into the next Gisele; after all, the parts of you not covered in fabric will remain the same. (And we all lament some little part of ourselves, don’t we? But curing that is another story altogether — and perhaps a job for a good therapist!)
But you can find a suit that, well, suits you. Because a swimsuit is just a specialized variation on any other type of clothing, and the rules of style apply here equally.
So how to shop for a swimsuit that fits? Follow these 5 secrets — or rules – of swimsuit shopping:
5 secrets of swimsuit shopping
- Choose the right features for your frame. This drives the style to seek. V-neck or boatneck? High-cut leg or lower? Halter straps or straight? Every body demands a different combination of features; I’ll be exploring which ones work best for particular body shapes all month long. Meanwhile, whatever you do, don’t buy a bikini. No, really. Women who look good in bikinis are few and far between, and certainly don’t need suit shopping advice. So if you are here, my dears, a bikini is not for you.
- Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. (And don’t mess with Mr. In Between.) Like the words in the old song lyric, work with what you have. We none of us are perfect, so why not employ a little camouflage? To make an area look smaller: solid, dark colors and small prints. To make an area look larger: solid, light colors and large prints. The aforementioned features play a part here, too.
- Don’t worry about the size. I’ve said it before: it’s the fit, not the number on the tag. Don’t restrict yourself to what your size “should” be. Try a size up or down until you find a garment that fits right: no gapping in the bust or seat, no pinching in at the waist, no straining at the middle. If you’re larger on top than on the bottom, or vice versa, consider buying a suit consisting of separates, and buy different sizes for each piece. And when trying your suit on, look at yourself in a three-way mirror; it’s the only way to confirm that the fit is right all the way ’round.
- Pay attention to the fabric. Be wary of thin materials with little flexibility — or too much. A solidly made fabric with enough stretch to provide some give, but overall support is best. In addition to cut and size, the fabric helps determine whether your suit will slide around and bulge out, or stay obligingly in place, thus helping your less firm areas do so, too.
- Don’t be afraid to cover up. All of this advice, after all, is for suits that are more for beach and poolside waterproof lounging than actual swimming; if your goal is the latter, get a Speedo one-piece racerback and call it a day. So in cases of the former, no-one says you must do said lounging in just your suit. If you cannot feel comfortable with just a bit of spandex between you and the world, then by all means toss a pareo or little knit dress on top. If you want to get wet, it can be slipped off just before slipping into the water.
Yes, there are several things to consider. But once you’ve reviewed the rules and determined which elements apply to your particular body shape, you can focus in on that suit style alone and your quest becomes easier — even if it may take a little longer.
The good news? There are more styles available — and more places to find them — than ever before. Your perfect swimsuit awaits!
Also in this series, Swimsuit Shopping Solved: