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The Best Bathing Suit For Your Body & Summer 2010 Bathing Suit Trends

Once upon a time there was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini. And once upon a time there was a girl who was afraid to wear it. If you’re anything like her, the thought of wearing a bathing suit may cause you to cringe in fear. And having to shop for and try on a million different styles has been known to turn off even the most avid of shoppers. 

As we all know, a good bathing suit, like a good pair of jeans or a good guy, is hard to find. And when it comes to bathing suits, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. That being said, the type of suit you should wear depends on your body type and what features you’re trying to enhance or hide. After all, just like the right bra or pair of heels, the right bathing suit can make you feel more confident and sexy in your own skin, and who wouldn’t want that?

Her Campus spoke with Boston-based stylist and trend analyst Sarah McManus to find the right bathing suit for your body, and to learn about the latest in this season’s swimwear trends. McManus says a lot of her clients ask for swimwear advice: “People are self conscious in general about wardrobe so I think swimwear is definitely one of those issues that people are afraid of and don’t know what shape to go with [or what style] will make them look best.”

Shopping and beach days were meant to be fun, not stressful. And with a little help, you’ll find the perfect swimsuit for your body type. The only thing you possibly have to fear is the dent your shopping trip will make in your wallet after you see all these adorable styles. 

Pick a size, any size

Curvy Tummy 

Your best bet: If you’re a bit self conscious about your tummy, McManus recommends a one piece to provide the coverage you need in your middle area. For added support, opt for a Spanx one piece. And remember to always choose a lighter color on top and a darker one on bottom if you’re wearing a two-tone suit.

As far as colors go, as a general rule black is always a slimming option, but if you’re afraid of fading away in a sea of tired black one pieces, try a dramatic neckline to make yourself stand out in a good way. McManus says a striking neckline will help draw people’s attention away from the stomach and instead pull it upward to your suit’s stylish neck details, and your lovely face!  Cut-out one pieces with cut-out details on the collar or bust will also do the trick, giving you a youthful look while still hiding your stomach.

What to avoid: Bikinis, which provide less coverage and expose your insecurities. 

“Retro one-piece” from Victoria’s Secret, $125  

Large chest

Your best bet: For busty gals, halter tops are always a wise choice since they provide the support you need. “It’s also flattering on most women,” McManus says. “It gives that kind of perfect neckline that [women] desire instead of focusing on the cleavage or the chest size.”

For added support, look for suits with underwire or wider bands. Victoria’s Secret has a great line of tops built just for girls with large chests, so peruse their online Style Finder to find the one that’s right for you.

What to avoid: Avoid triangle-shaped tops with strings because they won’t give you the necessary support. As far as colors go, busty gals—and anyone else looking to avoid appearing bigger in a swimsuit— should avoid whites and metallics.

“Retro push-up halter top,” Victoria’s Secret, $38.50

Flat chest

Your best bet: To enhance your smaller chest, McManus recommends opting for a padded top or a top with large or small print to distract the eye. Opting for a bright color, like a coral or a yellow, also helps you to stand out in a good way. There are advantages to having a smaller chest, McManus says: “You can do any other kind of top that girls with bigger chests can’t do like a triangle top. Or something like a strapless is always flattering for girls with a smaller chest.” Ruched, ruffled or bandeau tops are all good choices for you ladies, as well!

What to avoid: While many girls complain about being flat-chested, these ladies can rock a versatile selection of tops without worrying about added support and in general have nothing to avoid when looking for the perfect suit! However, McManus recommends staying away from halter tops, since those are best suited for chestier gals.

Flower Trimmed Seersucker Bikini Top from Charlotte Russe, $16.50  

Athletic build/Pear shaped

Your best bet: Square cut bottoms are good for those of you trying to avoid overexposure of your athletic thighs. McManus says boy shorts and other bottoms that cut lower on the sides are always a good option. Cover-ups and sarongs are also a stylish and practical way to draw attention away from your lower half and emphasize your upper body instead.

What to avoid: Steer clear of string or triangle bottoms if you’re self conscious of your thicker thighs—tiny bottoms will only make what’s next to them look bigger.

Women’s Boyshort Swim Bottoms from Old Navy, $16.50  

Plus size/Curvy

Your best bet: For more curvy girls, a one piece is always a nice choice because it provides extra coverage and can enhance curves in a good way. The one piece is also very en vogue right now, McManus says: “I think right now it’s really trendy. I think everyone saw Katie Holmes in her one piece last summer and I think it’s a very flattering look.”  One piece bathing suits are not just for moms—we promise!

What to avoid: While cute and feminine, ruffles can add extra weight to your appearance, so if you’re going for a sleeker, slimmer look, McManus recommends staying away from ruffled bathing suits.

Women’s Plus-Size Merona®  Purple One Piece Swimsuit, Target, $44.99

Every body type

How to prepare for wearing a bathing suit: To gear yourself up for trying on bathing suits, McManus recommends self-tanning. The added color will lessen the pastiness of your skin and make you less afraid to wear that bathing suit. (To find the best self-tanner, check out this HC article!) 

What to avoid: There is one type of bathing suit McManus says doesn’t really flatter any body type: the tankini. Because it cuts off at a strange point on your body, the tankini doesn’t flatter many people: “Honestly, I don’t really like tankinis and I don’t think that they really flatter anyone… So I would avoid those, I think it’s kind of a passing trend.”

A little something extra: Accessorize. Accessorize. Accessorize. To distract from any part of your body or to simply add a little extra spice to your ensemble, grab a big hat and some bangles to wear over your sarong or tunic.

What’s in right now?

The hottest trends for this season:

So now that you know what type of swimsuit is best for your body type, what are some trends you can follow to stay in style this summer?

  • Animal prints like leopard, zebra and snakeskin  
  • Polka dots  
  • Bright colors like coral or yellow—the more vibrant, the better

So now you see, ladies, it’s all about finding the right suit for you, not wearing what everyone else says is “in” or “out.” If it looks and feels good, then wear it. And next time you’re out shopping for a new swimsuit, fear not the many options, ladies. Embrace the decision to choose, but choose fast so you can get out there and soak up the sun in style and with confidence!


Sarah McManus, owner and head stylist at Sarah McManus





Chrissy Callahan is a double major in journalism and media studies (self-designed) and French and Francophone studies at Brandeis University, graduating December 2010. A Medford, Mass. native, she works in Brandeis' Department of Creative Services, helping edit and maintain the Brandeis website. Before writing and interning for Her Campus, Chrissy was features editor for the student newspaper the Brandeis Hoot for three years. When she's not hard at work, you're most likely going to find Chrissy indulging her passion for shopping, wearing way too much pink, or eating cookie dough ice cream. She also enjoys traveling, and dreams of traveling to Paris frequently for her future career. After graduating, Chrissy hopes to get a job in beauty or fashion journalism.