I don't know if there's anything more daunting (or potentially depressing) for a woman than shopping for a bathing suit. Squeezing into tiny pieces of tight fabric under unflattering lights in front of what feel like funhouse mirrors -- no thanks. But fear not, my friends, I'm here to put those anxieties to rest.
We should celebrate our bodies. Are there parts of our bodies we wish could be a little smaller or bigger or tighter? Of course! But that doesn't mean we should be covering up. Flaunt your assets!
Let's talk boobs. We all have them, and they come in all sizes. For the well-endowed who require extra support, there are plenty of brands that make suit tops in cup sizes. You can also try suits that have thicker shoulder straps. The thicker the strap, the more support you'll get. If you like to show them off, try suits that play up your cleavage, like push-up styles. If you like to downplay them, opt for a top with a more athletic feel that still has sturdy straps.
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For the "barely there" out there, you're lucky because you can rock the bandeau with cups or really any top with embellishments, be it fringe or ruffles or sequins. If you want some lift, try out a wrap-top bathing suit, which will help keep the ladies in place while giving you a natural boost.
When it comes to bottoms, things can get tricky. Think about where you carry your weight: If you're thicker in the hips, try wearing a bottom with wider sides. The wider sides are more forgiving, offering a smooth transition from skin to material to skin, instead of the uncomfortable cutting feeling of a single-string bottom.
If you're feeling daring, try a high-waisted bottom. But if you opt for this, make sure the suit comes up and over your hips with the waistband positioned just below your belly button. Another option is a one-piece suit with ruching. Ruching or "gathering," skillfully disguises bigger areas, making for a slimmer appearance.
Women with thinner figures have some other options. String bikinis are always great, but if you're looking for something a little different, try a monokini. If you're looking for a beach suit, keep in mind what you'll be doing in it: You want to keep everything in place if you're playing volleyball or getting thrown around by the waves. Try out something that's a little sturdier like neoprene-style suits. If you plan on simply lounging by the pool, you have more options: Be daring and try a cut-out suit or a plunging one-piece.
The best part about swimsuit shopping is that you can buy pieces separately. These days, there's nothing more funky and fashionable than mixing and matching. Bottoms and tops don't have to be a perfect match to be a perfect fit. Find a bottom and top that work for you individually and coordinate the colors so you can rock them together.
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Additionally, many designers do multiple styles in the same pattern for even more options. My favorites are Bettini's, L*Space and Boys and Arrows, and not only do they have the cutest prints, but they're some of the most flattering suits on the market.
I'm a big fan of sizing up when it comes to bathing suits. As long as you feel confident and happy in your suit, it doesn't matter what the label says. Sizing up, especially when it comes to the bottoms, helps relieve the dreaded "love handle" spillover. The finishing touch: Throw on a fabulous kimono and sunnies to pull your entire look together.
Bottom line: Wear what you feel best in. Don't buy something that doesn't feel right, because it'll just end up sitting in your closet collecting dust.
Readers -- Do you dread going swimsuit shopping? What types of suits work best for you? What are your tips and tricks for finding a flattering suit? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Jenna Gruttadauria is a co-owner of The Oxford Trunk, a Santa Monica-based online and brick-and-mortar women's lifestyle boutique. Specializing in health and beauty, Jenna also loves dogs, beach days, red wine and cheese.