Before stepping into the change room limelight this season, remember that the perfect summer swimsuit is as flexible and individual as you are. “Just as our shape changes over the years, so too should the styles that complement them,” says Leah Heenan, swimsuit fit expert and owner of Melmira Bra & Swimsuits at 3319 Yonge St. in Toronto. For
swimsuit shopping tips to suit every body type (and more specifically, yours), we asked Heenan for a rundown of shopping concerns and what to expect when you’re expecting to find a singularly flattering swimsuit.
Shopping for your body type tip #1: Think location, location, location.
“Trying on swimsuits can be an intimidating process no matter your size, age or confidence level. Think less about how you may look in the change room and more about where you will be wearing your suit,” says Heenan. “Try to mentally already be on vacation and leave life’s worries behind!” Cuba, Jamaica, Bermuda—we got this.
Shopping for your body type tip #2: Act fast.
Since building up a summer wardrobe starts early on in the season, try to get in your swimsuit shopping around the same time. “Don’t fall into the habit of waiting until the last moment to begin searching for the perfect swimsuit,” Heenan advises, adding that finding the proper fit and the right style to suit your figure and lifestyle takes time. “Why not make that a priority and a reality this season?”
Shopping for your body type tip #3: Take care of business before your shopping trip.
“Having a budget is important, but keep in mind that swimwear can be expensive. Investing in one good-quality swimsuit—as opposed to numerous less expensive ones— will not only make you look and feel better, but will save you money in the long run,” says Heenan.
Shopping for your body type tip #4: Never underestimate those tiny pick-me-ups.
“Just as being fit by an expert bra fitter offers solutions that you never thought imaginable, the same magic can apply to swimwear.” Heenan’s feel-good trick for braving the change room mirror? Go for a mani-pedi combo, bikini wax or apply a self-tanner in advance. “It may help to get beach ready before your fitting.”
For more shopping tips from a swimsuit fit expert, read on…
Shopping for your body type tip #5: Don’t judge a suit by its hanger.
Just like the saying goes. “Keep in mind that some suits may not have ‘hanger appeal’ and trying things on that you might not typically gravitate towards can often lead to a pleasant surprise,” says Heenan. “Having an open mind is the secret to success, and remembering that your fitter really has seen it all—many times!—should help to ease your nerves.”
Shopping for your body type tip #6: Go for swimwear that suits your needs.
Know your swimwear intent: That itsy bitsy
Missoni bikini is great for strutting onto the beach, not so much for surfing. “We ask you the necessary questions to find you the right suit, but you can help us out by telling us the purpose of it—aqua-fit, vacation, cottage-life.” And be sure to voice preferences for colour, style as well as exposure, Heenan adds.
Shopping for your body type tip #7: When in doubt, think Marilyn.
The retro-inspired swimsuit has both pinup and coverage appeal. “High-waisted bikini bottoms or ruching can cover a tummy while halter necklines can direct the attention up towards the face,” says Heenan. Top heavy? “Underwire or bra-style tops in bikinis or full-pieces will give a larger bust lift and separation as well as coverage, elongating your torso and giving the appearance of a taller frame.” Consider yourself
Shopping for your body type tip #8: Remember, you’re going to leave looking great.
After all the primping and stressing over the swimsuit shopping trip, the fact is you’ll walk out of the store with an individually flattering suit that draws out likewise feelings of admiration. “A great fit will have you standing taller, looking better, and feeling more comfortable,” says Heenan. “The less you are tugging at your suit and worrying about falling out of it, the more you can concentrate on the fun you’re having in it.” We’ll shop to that!
Heenan’s hard-and-fast swimsuit shopping rules for your body type:
Petite: “Molded cups, smaller prints, and a less-is-more approach as too much coverage can overwhelm the figure.”
Large-busted: “Cup-sized swimwear: Underwires, banded halters, and fuller cuts on the bottom for balance.”
Apple-shaped: “Halter necklines to add the illusion of shape to the bust and hips and high-necklines to elongate the torso.”
Pear-shaped: “Bandeaus on top; French-cut legs on the bottom both help to balance a pear shape. Avoid halters as this adds to the ‘triangle’ shape.”
Athletic set: “The more boyish shape can add curve by incorporating halters and hipsters and avoiding bandeaus and boy shorts whenever possible!”
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