You spend months looking forward to summer, right? The sun, the sand, the surf… The only problem: You could spend just as long shopping for a swimsuit that fits exactly the way you want it too. No matter who you are, shopping for a piece of clothing that bares more skin than you’ve likely shown all year can be more than a little-anxiety inducing. It’s not just about finding one that looks flattering, it’s about finding one that you feel amazing in.
The right bathing suit for your body will depend on your body shape, style preferences, and activity levels. And, obviously, sizing will vary between brands, styles, and even between tops and bottoms—so don’t get too caught up in the numbers or letters on the clothing tag. Instead, keep in mind that swim fabrics stretch a bit when wet. If you spend hours in the pool or ocean, you may want to sizing down or stay true to size. But if you’re more of a sunbather, sizing up might help you feel more comfortable.
Swimsuit fit is actually an exercise in geometry. Start with your torso: Is it short or long? Those with a short torso might lean towards bathing suits that appear to lengthen their midsection. One-piece swimsuits, especially if they feature asymmetrical or vertical blocks of color, help convey a longer look, as do high-neck swimsuits that draw the eye upward. If your torso is long, you can use swimwear to produce the illusion of a shorter silhouette. Look for styles that naturally shorten the length of your midsection, like a tankini top or bikini bottoms in vibrant colors; asymmetrical styles and higher-cut bottoms can also help shorten the look of your torso.
Swimsuits can also highlight areas you love and cover up areas you might not be as psyched about. If your body is more of an inverted triangle—in that your upper body is wider than your hips—swimsuit bottoms with eye-catching details will draw the eye downward and even out your proportions. Look for bottoms with knots or bows on the side, which add volume to your hips, or a peplum top or swim skirt that flares at the waist to enhance that same area. Features that create a contrast between your waist and hips add curves, while barely-there bottoms—like thongs, Brazilian cuts, or cheeky bikinis—will make your butt look fuller (as long as you’re comfortable with exposing a little more skin; otherwise, a simple high-cut, high-waisted bottom maintains coverage while still flattering your lower body).
On the flip side, pear-shaped bodies—where your hips are wider than your upper body—can be balanced by bringing the attention upward with some type of noticeable feature on the top of a swimsuit. Details like ruffles, beading, and pleating add bulk to small busts, while a plunging neckline or underwire design keeps interest up top. When you don’t need as much support, less is generally more; go for minimal coverage with tiny triangle or scoop tops (just don’t opt for bandeaus, which will flatten small chests even further). But bra tops, padded push-up tops, and some halter tops can add lift and boost cleavage, if that’s the vibe you want.
People with apple-shaped bodies might feel more comfortable with extra coverage around the stomach. Wrap-style silhouettes that cross over the waist are super flattering, while retro, high-waisted bottoms are still trending. Play with showing skin elsewhere, via a high-cut leg or low-cut top, to draw attention from your middle.
If you’re curvy all over, highlight those curves! Just make sure you’re giving them enough support and coverage. Asymmetrical suits lead to flattering lines, as do color-blocked designs. Have a more straight up and down body type? Create curves where they may be none with less coverage (think: monokinis, one-pieces with cutouts, or smaller bikini pieces), bold prints that add dimension, and embellishments like belts or draping at the waistline.
The perfect fit can feel elusive, but so many styles today allow for slight tweaks and adjustments. Lacing, wrap ties, tie strings, and more allow you to personalize a bathing suit. Swimsuit shopping can be a process—but it shouldn’t be one that makes you feel bad about your body! Plan ahead, try on as many options as possible, and go with the one that makes you feel most comfortable in your skin.