Buying a swimsuit is on my list of fun activities somewhere between “having a cavity filled” and “spending an hour with Justin Bieber.” Swimsuit shopping forces you into a situation that can be exhausting and demoralizing, even if you like the way your body looks. So how do you make it easier?
Step 1) Buy swimsuits online. I do most of my shopping online anyway, but I would never think of going to a store to try on swimwear. At home, you can try on the suits at your leisure. You can walk around in them to see if they ride up or bunch. You can take as long as you need without being interrupted by a salesperson knocking on the door every five minutes. And because you’re already in a place where you feel comfortable, it takes some of the anxiety out of the process.
Step 2) Order lots of options. This season, I ordered eleven swimsuits to try on. I ordered different styles, different colors and different sizes. I didn’t intend on keeping more than one or two suits, so I ordered from retailers that have free shipping and free returns like Piperlime and Zappos.
I’m looking to find the best swimsuit for me, and that means trying on a lot of options. So order a few, pour yourself a cocktail, turn on some music and make an appointment with your full-length mirror.
So which swimsuits am I looking at this season?
Graphic Prints. A print on a bikini is a fun way to express yourself. I love this Trina Turk bikini with a geometric print and stripes. This lemon print from Topshop is a bright, whimsical choice. I also like this almost-tie-dye Medicine Wheel print from Madewell. Or you can keep it simple with polka dots or stripes (I own this $20 Old Navy bikini and love it.).
Fun One Pieces. If you’d prefer a one piece suit, look for one with a fun shape, a bright color or a great print. Why settle for a simple suit just because you don’t want a bikini? You can even try some side cut-outs if you want to be daring. Or if you want the coverage of a one piece with a more youthful look, try a tankini. I like this printed one and this ruffled halter.
Ruffled Tops. As a small-chested woman, I am always looking for ways to give the appearance of more cleavage as a way to balance out my pear shape. A ruffled bikini top like this one from Roxy or this one from Splendid helps me do that. I also like that they cover my bust so I don’t have to worry about a thin suit showing too much.
Bandeaus. I may be alone in this, but I love a bandeau swim top or one piece suit. If you’re looking catch some rays, they eliminate tanline, and I find them to be very comfortable. (I like the J.Crew twist bandeau best.) Should you need more support, Freya and Panache both make suits with lift and underwire.
Step 3) Choose the suit that is best for your body. I’ve read a lot of articles about choosing the best swimsuit for your body type, and I think this one from Self and this one from Real Simple are the most helpful. But no matter how many articles you read, the best suit for you is the one you feel most comfortable in and the one you want to wear.
My body has changed a lot over the past six years and thus, my taste in swimwear has changed. So don’t think you have to embrace a trend or choose what other people find sexy or cool, just choose the suit that you think looks the best on you.
Step 4) Check all the angles. When trying on a suit, look at it from the front, the side and the back. The best way to get a good angle on your rear view is with a full length mirror and a cell phone camera. Some suits look great from the front, but are a hot mess in the rear (and vice versa).
Step 5) Skip the “If Onlys”. A few weeks ago, I was in a shop when I heard a woman say to the clerk, “It’s a nice suit, if only my stomach wasn’t so round.”
When buying a swimsuit, or any piece of clothing, you are dressing the body in front of you. Not the body you want. Not the body you had. The one right in front of you. And any body can look sexy in a swimsuit if you choose the right one. We all have things about our bodies that we don’t love or would like to change, so play up the things that you like and choose to skip the monologue of “if onlys.”
So what swimsuit styles or swimsuit brands are you loving this season?