How to Find a Flattering Swimsuit

You may not have the body of a celebrity, but that should never let that stop you from hitting the beach.
You may not have the body of a celebrity, but that should never let that stop you from hitting the beach.
Digital Vision/Getty Images

It's a simple equation: Take one celebrity, add a swimsuit and the paparazzi's long camera lenses. Multiply that by tabloid writers and editors who highlight every bit of cellulite and fat on the celeb's body, and the result makes you feel insecure about your own figure. After all, if a celebrity doesn't look good in a swimsuit, how can you?

Never fear – all you need is a small change in perspective. You can look celebrity-beautiful in a swimsuit, but not necessarily beautiful in the suits you see most celebrities wearing. You might discover that all you need is a different look.


The real key to looking great in swimwear is to find a style that suits you best. Different people have different body types, so it's important to find a suit that highlights your assets and deemphasizes parts of your body you may not feel so comfortable about.

The first step in finding the right swimsuit is to know your body type. Do you have an hourglass figure, with a curvy chest and hips? Perhaps you're a pear-shaped woman who's small chested but has larger hips. Round or apple-shaped women have a larger tummy that's usually larger than their bust and hips.

Curves aren't the only feature that can dictate your body type. Some women have no curves. If you're a straight-bodied woman, you should look for styles that play up your assets as well. Those with athletic bodies also need to be aware of their size, because even though you may be lean, with your muscles you may not be able to pull off the same cut of suit than someone who has a straighter figure.

Shopping for body type isn't just for women. Men should also be aware of their frame and size when shopping for swimsuits, because not everyone can --or should-- pull off a Speedo.

So what styles of swimsuits should you look for? Take a look at some of these ultra-flattering styles.


Flattering Swimsuits for Your Body Type

Swimsuits come in a variety of styles, which makes it easy to find the best one for you. Whether you get a one-piece or two-piece suit, you should find something that can suit your body.

When you think two-piece suit, don't necessarily think "string bikini." While a tiny, sexy bikini is great for curvy, slender women, it doesn't work for everyone. Don't worry though -- there are other two-piece styles for the rest of us. If you have a larger bust, look for a top that provides more coverage and thicker straps that provide better support. Some bikini tops also come with underwire built in to give you that extra lift. Other two-piece suits have high-waisted bottoms, which helps hide larger tummies while providing a chic retro look.


The tankini hasn't been around as long as the bikini, but it's certainly made a splash in terms of its wearability. The long top provides good coverage for plus-size women, yet it still has the feel of a two-piece suit. Tankinis are also great for those with long torsos because they enhance the long lines of the body.

One-piece swimsuits are great for those who like to swim laps. If you're more the splash-around type, the one piece is still a good option because it provides full coverage to your torso.

Sometimes design features can make or break the look of a swimsuit. If you have a smaller bust, try a suit with a bandeau tops or ruffles. They can make your chest look fuller and can help balance out larger hips. Ruffles also work in reverse -- if you have small hips and a large bust, the ruffles will add a little more oomph to your derriere. High cut legs and V-necks perform a similar function: The high cut on the thighs elongates the legs, and a V-neck gives the illusion of a waist to those who have straighter figures.

Color can also help you accentuate the positive. Solid colors and color blocking can be slimming. Geometric patterns can also hide imperfections and have a slimming effect because the eye has a difficult time focusing on one area.

Men don't have as many types of suits to choose from, but board shorts are more fitting for taller, younger men. Volley shorts are shorter, looser and a little more forgiving. Patterned fabric works as a slenderizing camouflage on men's bodies too.

Taller men should look for longer suits that can accentuate their height, rather than make them seem awkwardly tall. Shorter men should also keep the proportion of their legs to body in mind and choose shorter swim trunks that won't cut off their legs and make them seem shorter. Finally, any guy who's carrying around a few extra pounds should look for a suit that doesn't accentuate their midsection.


Swimsuit Design Innovations

New styles have made it easy for you to find swimsuits that flatter your body.
New styles have made it easy for you to find swimsuits that flatter your body.
K-King Media Co. Ltd/Getty Images

The number of swimsuit styles has exploded, and so have the number of design innovations. These added features have helped make swimsuit shopping a little bit less of a chore because now you have an easier time finding a suit that looks good on you.

Rather than just putting out a piece of flimsy fabric, manufacturers have realized that women of all body types need to own a swimsuit, so they've added extra support in areas that could use the help. Wider straps and built-in bras give those with larger chests more support in ways that accentuate and lift the bust. Silicon edging helps keep underwires in place.


Extra fabric can help and hide problem areas. Ruching, a sewing technique that creates a pleated or ruffled look, can help skinny girls add some curves. Shirring the sides of a swimsuit creates volume with either small gathers along the side seams, or by pulling some strings sewn into the layers of fabric to cinch it. This can help disguise your stomach, if it's not as flat as you'd like it to be.

Less fabric can also work in some women's favor. A one-piece suit with cut outs in it can prevent the "muffin top" effect that you might get with a bikini. Conversely, if you've worked hard for that body, cut outs can also show off your most sculpted areas.

Swimsuit fabric itself has also gotten high-tech. It's well known that springy nylon and spandex fabric is great for swimsuits because it can stretch as you move. The Spanx swimsuit, named for its gut-compressing undergarment counterpart, has a compression mesh liner that sucks it all in for you. Slendertex fabric also helps create a more toned look along your torso.

Even though men's suits aren't as varied as women's, theirs also have design features that can be more flattering. Flat waistbands create a slimmer profile and can look more forgiving than a bunchy elastic waistband. Adding snap fronts, Velcro and buttons also helps maintain clean lines.

All of these features can help you look your best at the beach. The hard part now may be figuring out how many swimsuits your closet can handle.


Lots More Information

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  • Fox News Magazine. "Find Your Most Flattering Bathing Suit." June 22, 2012. (Aug. 10, 2012)
  • Glassman, Adam. "Swimsuit Advice for Every Size." June 2009. (Aug. 10, 2012)
  • Janjigian, Robert. "Swim styles at fashion week go for the bold." Palm Beach Daily News. July 22, 2012. (Aug. 10, 2012)
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