The Style Guru: How to choose the best swimsuit for your body

Find your most flattering fit in the bathing suit department


Beach bumming can be, well, a bummer. Things don’t curve where they used to or lie flat where we want them to anymore, making swimsuit shopping a veritable nightmare. My personal relationship with shopping for swimear = Love + Hate.

For example, I absolutely adore meandering about, selecting the funkiest pieces. I love to imagine basking away on my imaginary yacht’s deck.

The loathe: trying them all on! Yes, in those horribly lit dressing rooms, too. If the sunshine were anything like those awful flourescent fitting-room lights, we’d all be in trouble.

Swimwear is anything but a tool to protect yourself from chlorine anymore. It’s all about the presentation. And it is possible to survive–and even enjoy–swimsuit shopping, with a little smile and positive thinking. Here’s how to select the right style for your style. Deep breaths–you can do it!

   Go for white. I double-dog dare you! Simply select a white suit that has texturing with a thick nude lining. The texture gives you substance and coverage without color and the lining, well, common sense.


Marilyn Monroe white bathing suitProof that white bathing suits can look great. Image via Little Gray Pixel

   Watch what you are emphasizing. If you think that boyshorts will cover up those hips you don’t like, you’re heading for disaster. They will only squeeze and exaggerate the excess skin. Instead, try for a string bikini, which will fall flat on your flesh. Plenty of string styles have ample back coverage, so don’t shy away just because it ties on the sides. Lucky for all of us, swimsuit trends are super diverse right now–retro one-pieces, high-waisted bottoms or skirted bottoms are all fair game. Look for styles with hidden support panels, ruching or other slimming tools. By no means are you limited to bikinis and sporty Speedos!


flattering full-figured swimsuitString bikini style flatters hipsString bikinis lie flat on hips, and retro high-waisted bottoms accentuate the waist.
Top image via Vintage Dancer, bottom via Bloomingdale’s.

   Break away from black. If you think that’s the only slimming color choice, you might want to try navy, plum, brown and dark gemstone hues. If you want to add pizazz while still slimming, choose small prints over large graphics.


patterned swimsuits flatter and slimMara Hoffman does small patterns fabulously. Image via Beauty Board Blog.

   Mind your size. Swimsuits have been constructed to be worn smaller than your average clothing size because no one likes to walk about the deck sporting a wet diaper look! Still, focus on the fit. A great suit is about how you feel in it and how it rocks your body, not about some arbitrary number.


 Bathing suit size matters.Don’t be a swimwear “don’t.” Size and fit matter! Image via Fashion Therapy.


When you’re trying on swimwear, perform “The Swimsuit Shake.” This is how you’ll be certain the contraption will stay put! Consider:

1.     Does the top rise up when you lift your arms overhead?

2.     Does your chest spill out when you bend over? How’s the booty?

3.     With arms at your side, check if your breasts fall out of the sides of the cups.

4.     Do the straps fall off when you relax your shoulders?

5.     Do the bottoms ride up when you take a lunge or two?


Finally, here are some of my favorite local places to find great suits:

-  Swimwear Solution

-  Under The Palm Tree

-  SwimQwik

- To top everything off, head to Birdies, which carries fabulous Mara Hoffman coverups.

The sun is calling! See you out there.


 Katherine Brown is the owner of Chanari, a personal-styling and life-coaching company. She received her professional degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Her style inspirations include the spunk of Audrey Hepburn, the classic chicness of Jackie O., and the flair to be daring of Sarah Jessica Parker. She lets KC Magazine readers shop her wisdom in the exclusive “Style Guru” blog.