13 Tips for Finding the Perfect Swimsuit this Season

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Oh, great: It's swimsuit-shopping season again. In all seriousness, we've all been there: standing in an ill-lit dressing room with a way-unflattering mirror, trying to determine if we can, in fact, rock the bikini this season, or if we'll just stay out of the sun for three months. (For the record, I'm a firm believer in both limiting your sun exposure and rocking the two-piece, regardless of your body type. Just go for it.)

When it comes to sartorial decision-making, there's really nothing like the swimsuit. It's arguably the most stress-inducing item of clothing for which to shop, with stores offering an increasingly polarizing collection of two-pieces appropriate only for teenagers and one-pieces that promise to lift, tuck and hide half your body in the process. In short, it's not fun, so I turned to local style experts to get their take on the matter. Below, they generously share their (arguably priceless) advice for finding the suit that suits you.

  1. Shop on a sunny day. Kristen White, who works in the swim department at Nordstrom at Easton, says she notices customers are more likely to be happy with the shopping process-and leave with a suit they love-on days when the sun's shining. "Weather seems to play a huge role," she says. "People like to buy a suit they can go right out and wear at the pool."
  2. If you have the opportunity, always try on the suit at home, says Lauren Cutillo, who owns LOLO PR & Events and worked previously at the Victoria's Secret corporate office. "Lights in fitting rooms can be heinous," she says, "and you'll be left feeling bad about your a**-and suit-less."
  3. Speaking of behinds, more isn't always more, Cutillo adds. "Buying bottoms that have more material to cover the bum only make it look that much larger. No bueno-and not the look I'm going for."
  4. Think about the body part you most want to accentuate. Adds Cutillo: "Go for a push-up or halter style to show off the décolletage, a strappy back to draw attention to a toned back, or bottoms that rise up higher on the hips to follow this season's trend and lengthen your legs." Says Ali Clark of Wardrobe Therapy: "Thicker straps, V-necks and high-waisted styles offer great support for fuller figures, and suits with ruching at the middle help create curves for women with a more athletic shape. Suits with halter tops are great for women with broader shoulders." And here's style blogger Maudie Lloyd' take on selecting a suit.
  5. Forget the trends, says Belinda Frazer of House of Phrase. "Wear what makes you feel sexy and confident; find a suit that highlights your favorite part(s) of yourself, and then buy it in every color. Then you can mix and match to create a bunch of different looks-awesome for a long vacation at the beach or if you're a regular at your pool."
  6. Or, conversely, try the trends. One-piece suits and high-waist bottoms are "hot, hot, hot," Cutillo says. "If you're a little self-conscious about your tummy, don't be nervous to give one of these a try. They're on-trend, and you won't look like you're trying to hide anything."
  7. Try ruching or cut-out details. La Blanca swimsuits, White notes, feature subtle ruching across the stomach area, which hides a tummy without making the wearer look like she's too covered. Not happy with the two-piece selection? Try on a suit that has cut-out details; it's fun without showing too much skin, as is a plunging neckline.
  8. Find a print you love. A suit featuring a print or pattern down the front can create the illusion of a slimmer waist; it's contouring without the extra fabric.
  9. Consider your cups, White says. An underwire is often more comfortable for busty ladies.
  10. Ignore your suit's size. Much like other less-than-exciting ensembles (I'm looking at you, bridesmaid dresses), the sizing on swimsuits won't always match up with what you wear every day. It doesn't matter, say the pros. Before heading to the fitting room, grab a size larger and a size smaller than your typical size to ensure you find the right fit.
  11. Get some color before hitting the pool. "That doesn't mean go tanning or finding time to lay out," Cutillo says. "Self-tanner is a must and will make you feel that much better in your new suit."
  12. Don't go too cheap. "Some serious lining is important to me-especially if I'm buying a lighter-colored suit," says fashion blogger Emily Brunotte. "If buying online, reach out to customer service and reach through the reviews before purchasing. And always double-check on the return policy-hopefully, returns are free. I recently bought a one-piece, and I called the customer service line before I purchased because I wanted to check on the fit of the suit and the lining ... seriously so helpful." (And the suit's super cute!)
  13. Just keep it real and be yourself. "My one piece of advice would be to buy anything you feel confident and comfortable in," says Liz Damceski of Mrs. Ladylike. "Whether it's a one-piece or two-piece, if you feel great, that will ultimately show through."

Photo courtesy Maudie Lloyd