Monday, 9 April 2012


As the weather gets warmer and gyms become more crowded, bathing suit season begins its slow approach. If you have trouble finding a flattering bathing suit, then you are not alone. Since so many women have mixed body types, the classic apple, pear, hourglass and boyish/athletic shapes are not always effective. Therefore, I've organized my breakdown into eight different categories to cover a wider range of shapes and sizes; all you have to do is choose a 'top' and 'bottom' shape from a selection of four silhouettes and you're ready to go.

1. FULL BUST: If you have a full bust, bathing suit season brings on the inevitable challenge of finding a swim suit that supports both your chest and sense of style. However, not all large-busted women are built the same. Your frame can vary greatly depending on the size of your underbust as well. To determine the shape of your underbust, look at your ribcage and waist in the mirror. If you have a narrow waist and small ribcage, then you most likely have a small underbust. Similarly, if you have a wider ribcage and a more 'up and down' middle, then you have a larger underbust. A small underbust is the staple of the classic hourglass figure (think of an upside down triangle), while larger underbusts are usually attributed to boyish, athletic or apple-shaped silhouettes.

Now that that's out of the way, here's what you should look for in a bathing suit. The key to flattering a large bust is support. You want to be absolutely sure that your girls are lifted and supported whether you're basking in the sun or playing beach volleyball. No nip slips. Look for suits with built-in support, such as underwires, well-constructed cups and thicker straps. You'll want enough padding to round and shape your bust, but you can feel free to toss out the padded inserts that come with the top. Halters are always a good option if you get stuck.

Choose colours and patterns based on your figure goals. If you want to minimize your chest, stick to darker colours and solids, as well as small patterns. On the contrary, if you want to flaunt what you've got, then play around with colour and pattern. Just remember that support is your number one goal. Use structural details like ruching and tailoring (like in the lavender number below) to de-emphasize a larger underbust or try a string underwire (like the teal top below) that lets you adjust the width of your suit more easily.

Avoid un-supportive string bikinis and bandeau tops. While some string bikinis are reinforced to support a larger chest (check out Victoria's Secret for some more tailored options), most triangle tops don't have the gumption to hold up the girls. It's just not worth the back ache. If you're really dying to try a bandeau top but you have a full chest, try one with halter straps (like the blue and white one above). This will give you the bandeau look with a bit more support for your ta-tas.
2. SMALL BUST: If you aren't well endowed, do not fear - small breasts give you much more flexibility when it comes to bathing suits! Since you don't have to worry as much about support, feel free to play around with different shapes and cuts. Things like ruffles, horizontal stripes and bows will give you a little boost if you're trying to balance out a bigger bottom. You can also emphasize your chest by wearing light colours like blush and white on top.

If you want to de-emphasize a large underbust, look for plunging bathing suits and v-neck tops. The long, v-shape of the swimsuit will elongate your figure, making your underbust look longer and slimmer. Moreover, the plunging neckline will also accentuate your cleavage so that you don't loose the look of your bust.

It's important to rock your smaller chest with as much pride as a bustier woman would. While you may choose bathing suits that emphasize your bust, feel free to buy a bandeau or triangle top and emphasize your collar bone or waist instead. Think of Kate Hudson and Keira Knightly - both women who fearlessly flaunt their little busts!
Avoid...not much. If you're trying to exaggerate your cleavage then stay away from un-padded string bikini and bandeau tops, since they won't give you any extra help in that department. Otherwise, you can experiment with pretty much anything.
3. WIDE HIPS: Okay now for the bottom half. In order to know which bathing suits will flatter your figure, you have to return to the mirror. Firstly, stand facing the mirror and determine whether you have wide or slim hips. Wide hips will generally give you a rounder shape just below your belly button, while slim hips will give you a more 'up and down' appearance. Next, turn to the side and check out your assets. Do you have a round bum or a flatter bum? Once you've figured out your body type, then you're ready to get started.

Wide hips are a classic feature of the hourglass and pear shapes. You're gonna want to find a bathing suit that flatters your hips, without making you look too bottom heavy. Look for bottoms with little to no waistband, like string bikinis and looped attachments. This will create a higher leg line, making your legs and hips look longer and slimmer.

If you have a full derriere, try bottoms that cut up across your bum to reveal a bit more cheek than the standard bikini cut. While you would think that showing more skin would make your bum look bigger, it actually has the opposite effect. The extra fabric of a swimsuit bottom can give you 'diaper butt', making your butt look bigger than it is. If you want to minimize your bum, stick to dark colours and solid fabrics on the bottom.

If you have wide hips but you need a little boost in the butt department, look for details like ruffles and ruching which will add volume to the area. Be careful not to disturb the line of your leg and stick to the no-waistband rule above. You want ruffles and detailing on the back of the suit to boost your bum, but no added volume around the waistband of the suit, which might accentuate the width of your hips.
Avoid horizontal stripes (unless you want to boost your bum), wide waist bands and high waisted bottoms. If you are trying to downplay a larger bum, stay away from details like ruffles and ruching that add volume to your assets.
4. SLIM HIPS: If you have slim hips - a classic feature of the apple, athletic and boyish frames - you have a lot more freedom when it comes to choosing a bottom. If you are trying to balance out a bigger top half, try bathing suits with thick waistbands (like the red polka dot one below). The width of the waistband will accentuate your hips and add a bit of volume to your bum. If you have slim hips but a full bum (lucky duck!), then look for a bathing suit that shows a bit more cheek. As I mentioned above, it will help accentuate your assets without giving you diaper bum. Slim hips also allow you to get a little more creative with your one-piece swimsuits, but remember to take you bust and underbust into account when choosing a style.

For those of you with slim hips and little bums, give yourselves a boost by wearing light colours on the bottom. Since you don't have to worry about adding volume to your bottom half, try a cute pair of boy shorts. Not only will these emphasize your derriere because of their high cut across the back, they will also help balance out the bottom of your body.

Moreover, slim hips allow you a bit more freedom when it comes to colour and pattern. Play around with horizontal stripes, bold patterns and bright colours. You can also look for details like ruffles and ruching if you want to add more junk to your trunk.
Avoid ... not much. If you want to balance out a bigger top half, avoid minimizing cuts like string bikini bottoms. If you're trying to pump up your derriere, stick to styles that will add volume to your bum like boyfriend shorts and ruffled bottoms.

Hope that helps you beat the bikini heat!
Side note: I just bought some false eyelashes for the third part of our '4 in 4' challenge!
Talk soon,

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