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.
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.
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.
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.
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!