Swimsuit season is upon us. Whether reading that sentence conjures images of playfully splashing in a pool or self-consciously tugging stretchy fabric into place, the fact is, it’s time to invest in a new suit—preferably one that you like and feel confident wearing. According to Anne Mayher, owner of the Greenville, South Carolina-based swimsuit boutique Splash on Main, the first step to finding your perfect swimsuit is putting aside your insecurity for a moment and focusing on the positive. “The secret to a great swimsuit is drawing the eye to your favorite parts of your figure,” she says. Here, Mayher shares expert advice on how to choose a swimsuit style that will fit well and highlight your best features.
Create proportional balance. To play up—or down—a particular area, consider buying separates that don’t match perfectly to even out the visual balance. By breaking up patterns and colors, you can create an illusion of a more hourglass shape. If you’re wider in the hips than your upper body, you can make your bust appear wider with a bandeau top—especially one with ruffles or busy details—while not drawing attention to your hips with a darker, solid bottom. If you want to highlight your hips and draw attention away from your bust, consider buying a top in a dark solid and a bottom that is a bright solid or pattern or has a ruffle or skirted detail.
Embrace the power of volume. A little extra material in just the right place can make all the difference. If you’re looking to enhance an area, such as the bust, choose a corresponding piece with ruffles. A tie-front bikini top will draw the eye to the chest as well. To camouflage or downplay an area, such as the waist, use shirred, gathered, or ruched fabric, which can be very forgiving in terms of fit.
Learn how to break up length. If you have a long torso, the trendy, high-waisted look is a great fit for you. A one-piece swimsuit with cut-outs is another great option, as it will break up your midsection. If you are both tall and thin, consider a swimsuit with horizontal stripes to help break up the long vertical line of your figure.
Keep it short and sweet. If you are petite, keep in mind that high-cut bottoms can make legs look longer and vertical stripes can visually lengthen the body, making these good traits to keep an eye out for in a swimsuit. You can also wear a solid bikini bottom with a printed top to draw the eye upward and give you a longer look. Avoid boy shorts and skirted bikinis as they draw the eye downward and can make you look shorter.
Look sleek and chic. While black is very slimming, it is far from your only option if you’re seeking a suit that will make you appear more svelte. A swimsuit with dark, solid panels down each side of the torso and a floral or patterned middle can create a slimming effect, as can color blocking. A combination of abstract prints and subtle ruching is another great way to mask any areas you’d like to camouflage. In terms of cut, when looking for a one-piece swimsuit, try one with a deep plunging neckline.
Think outside of the box. If you have an athletic build and want to create the illusion of curves, try swimsuits with chevron stripes angled downward toward the center front of your suit to create an optical illusion. Picking a swimsuit with ruffles or fringe can also create the appearance of a curvier figure.
Don’t stress about size. Swimsuit sizes vary tremendously depending on the manufacturer. As you’re shopping, be concerned with how the swimsuit fits when you try it on, not the number on the tag.