There is a Perfect Swimsuit for Every Body Type (yours too!)

a pear in a bikini

Thanks, Bub! xoxo (my lil bro makes these images for me)

It’s that time again cheekies! Time to bare our booties under a flourescent light in front of complete strangers. Sounds like hell but it’s worse than that, it’s SWIMSUIT shopping season. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know the perfect swimsuit for every body type?

I recycle my bikinis for two years – at least. I mean, they are threadbare before I’ll get rid of them. Ya wanna know why? Because shopping for swimsuits toy with my self esteem, I don’t care what shape I’m in, and I won’t put myself through it any more than I have to. Actually, I’m sure even Kate Moss becomes a little unhinged under flourescent lights – there’s no photoshop in real life, after all.

So, I’m going to spend more than the recommended 500 to 800 words to cover ALL of the tips you need to help your swimsuit shopping be a bit less frustrating, so you can weed out the NO’s without having to try them on first.

We’ll go over all of the different body types, starting with the Pear.

Pear Shaped Body

Our friend up top (featured image) has a pear shape. I have a pear shape too, which makes this category pretty familiar and close to home. Pear shaped can mean lots of things, but what it boils down to is that your body isn’t ‘proportional’, it’s narrower at the top and wider at the bottom.

And you don’t have to be overweight to have a pear shape either! There are several ways you can be pear shaped so I’m discussing ALL of them.

Narrow Shoulders

This is my issue, and since it’s my blog I get to discuss this first :). You can be relatively thin but have a pear shape if your shoulders are narrow. And I know I’m not the only one that misses the 80’s solely for their shoulder pads.

The best swimsuit style to make shoulders seem wider is to try a Racerback style:

Racerback Bikini by Acacia - $100

Racerback Bikini by Acacia (Set $100)

High Neck Bikini by Athena (Top $64, Bottom $48)

High Neck Bikini by Athena (Top $64, Bottom $48)

'Minerva' Cutout Maillot by Kore Swim

‘Minerva’ Cutout Maillot by Kore Swim  ($238)

Ok, that last one is BAD ASS (I like the way it holds in the hips too). But, at $238, it reminded me to talk about what to spend on a swimsuit. The thing is, there are no set rules – I’ve spent $40 on a suit that did well for two seasons and $200 on a suit that barely made it through one. That being said, my all time favorite suit that has lasted me 4 seasons and still looks new, cost $375.

It’s hard to judge a suit solely by the price so I’m including suits in all price ranges. Ultimately, you just have to love it. If it’s cheap and you really love it then just get one in each color, you’ll be covered no matter how long they last.

Oh, and I’m also only including places with a good return policy. If you’re ever buying a swimsuit on line, this is key. There are actually places that won’t accept returns on swimwear! You don’t want to fall in love with one of those and order by accident or just be disappointed after you get it and you can’t return it.

Case in point. My friend turned me onto RoseGal.com and I was so excited when I saw all of their cool swimwear – until I saw the fine print :  ‘Please note that items which are exempt from refunds, exchanges or replacements include all apparel listed under the underwear (women’s intimates) and swimwear categories.’  Bummer.

Moving on.

Small Breasts

Small breasts, especially coupled with narrow shoulders, can accentuate a pear shape.

My Short Story: I had both and I was so self-conscious. I was skinny but I still had a pear-shape and so I always felt overweight. Then I went and got largish breast implants and they helped out a lot in that respect. I figured ‘stripper’ was better than ‘pear shape’. But a couple of years ago (20 years later), realizing that what’s cool when you’re in your 20’s may not be cool in your 40’s, I made them smaller. Well, now I’m back to square one, if I gain even a pound, my pear shape comes back in all it’s disproportionate glory. <sigh>

But since I know that additional ‘weight’ up top makes your hips appear smaller, I’ve found lots of ways to compensate. I recommend pads, fringe, ruffles or other embellishment, (bows? nah), to add the dimension that you need to kill the pear. OR, you can go another route and be skimpy up top. The skimpier a triangle top, the bigger your breast area looks, evening out a pear shape.

A teeny Triangle Top is great for giving the illusion of larger breasts. The smaller the better:

Triangle Top by Hurley

Triangle Bikini by Hurley (Top $47, Bottom $47)

An Embellished Ruffle Top’s does a great job of diverting attention upwards:

Ruffled Crop Top Bikini by SwimSpot - (Top $41, Bottom $31)

Ruffled Crop Top Bikini by SwimSpot (Top $41, Bottom $31)

And while we’re on the subject of diverting attention upwards, you may want to consider a Plunging Neckline which does an amazing job of that:

Plunging Neckline by Luxe

Plunging Neckline by Luxe – $58

A Padded Top will make those babies bigger:

Padded Bikini with Underwire and Molding by Hurley

Padded Bikini with Underwire and Molding by Hurley – Top $41, Bottom $33

 

Heavy Hips and/or Thighs

A bottom heavy pear shaped body is a little harder to work with, but it’s way easier if you remember what we talked about:

  • Racerback tops make shoulders seem wider, hence your body more proportional, making your hips and thighs less noticeable.
  • NO BOYSHORTS. Just. No.Not if you have heavy thighs.
  • NO thick-banded bottoms (hellooooo! check out my big hips!)
  • Draw attention to your bosom by using padding or embellishments, depending on your breast size.

There are also new cool things I’n seeing a lot in the fashion rags this season called Skirtinis or Swimdresses. I know, I know, don’t kill the messenger. Let’s look at my favorite Tankini first:

Skirtini by jessica simpson

Plus Size Skirtini by Jessica Simpson  ($116.20)

Shirred Skirtini by Swim Sexy

Plus Size Shirred Skirtini by Swim Sexy  ($50.40)

Skirted Hipster bottom by tommy bahama

Skirted Hipster Bottom by Tommy Bahama ($69)

I LOVE that hipster bottom. I’m getting that ASAP!

Swimdress:

halter swindress by gottex

Halter Swimdress by Gottex ($138)

'Tutti Frutti' Swimdress by Gottex

‘Tutti Frutti’ Swimdress by Gottex  ($138)

Bandeau Swimdress by Gottex -

Bandeau Swimdress by Gottex (SALE $55.20)

The more I look at these little dresses, the more I actually like them!  Like they’re channeling Marilyn or something.

heartFYI: Marilyn was super teeny. like smaller than a size 2 but since her waist was a mere 22″ people assume she’s curvy in a big way.

 

If you’re not into the skirtini or swimdress check out this Tankini:

Bandeau Tankini by Natori

Bandeau Tankini by Natori (Set $125)

So elegant!

Big Booty

I know, I know, big booties are ‘in’. Maybe you want to accentuate that or maybe not. I’m going with not. Here are a couple of tips on what NOT to do (unless you want to spotlight your big booty):

  • NO String Bikinis
  • NO High-Cut waists

That being said, a good way to camoflauge a big butt is by choosing Solid Bottoms with Printed Tops:

Boy Shorts with Bralette Bikini Top by Splendid - Top

Boy Shorts with Bralette Bikini Top by Splendid  (Top $58, Bottom $58)

Not so bad right? You can see how that can make a difference. It’s easier to mix and match if you pick a dark colored pair of Boy Shorts and just mix and match with any colorful top.

Boy Shorts by Hurley

Boy Shorts by Hurley  ($37)

heartTIP: The smaller the bottom, the bigger the booty. So, unless you want a badonkadonk, you may want to stick to something modest.

So let’s move on to my next favorite fruit. The apple.

Apple Shaped Body

Apple shaped is when you carry your weight in the middle so you probably have a belly that you’d prefer not to display. Since I know that a lot of women think they have an issue, but it’s really not that bad, I’m going to start with the least dramatic and move on from there.

Check out this Color Blocking One Piece:

Color Block One-Piece by Robin Lawley - $196

Color Block One-Piece by Robyn Lawley  ($196)

A dark color around your mid-section can camo a stubborn belly. But if you wanna get hard core there are a couple super mid-section-covering options. Check out a Peplum Tankini:

Peplum Tankini by Tropiculture

Plus Size Peplum Tankini by Tropiculture ( $35.98)

A Peplum Tankini totally camouflages the area, if you’re super self conscious. And it’s cool and new, not old fashioned and obvious.

Then there’s the Blouson Top Tankini that’s popular this season, but timeless as well:

Blouson Tankini by Athena

Blouson Tankini by Athena (Top $64, Bottom $48)

Blouson Tankini Top by Tommy Bahama

Blouson Tankini Top by Tommy Bahama ($96)

It’s obvious how that works. I actually own the top above and wear it with jeans! Nothing like multi-tasking swimwear right? And there’s no seeing any sign of belly under that fabric.

However, if that’s too much fabric for you when hanging on the beach, another elegant choice can be a Surplice Wrap:

Surplice Wrap On-Piece by SwimsuitsForAll - $48

Plus Size Surplice Wrap On-Piece by SwimsuitsForAll  ($48)

Or a Sarong Front is cool too:

Sarong Front One-Piece by Shore Club

Plus Size Sarong Front One-Piece by Shore Club  ($40.60)

These used to be for old ladies but designers have ramped them up this season and now they’re pretty elegant, don’t ya think (we can thank Taylor Swift for that)? Finally, you may want to check out a swimsuit with a high waist and a bit of gathering like this High Waist Tankini:

Ruched High Waist Retro Bikini by Pretty-Attitude - $29

Ruched High Waist Retro Bikini by Pretty-Attitude – $29

Shirring and Ruched styles also come in one pieces:

Racerback One-Piece by Athena - $78

Racerback One-Piece by Athena – $78

Leaving the best for last, check out the Crisscross Underwire One-Piece Swimsuit by MiracleSuit. It’s like shapeware, but in a bathing suit. It has a criss-cross in the front that extends your shoulder line, Miratex fabric in the middle for flattening the belly, and thick straps to guard against any back fat too!

Criss-Cross Miracle Suit with Miratex Fabric by Miraclesuit - $170

Crisscross Miracle Suit with Miratex Fabric by Miraclesuit – $170

It’s like shapeware, but in a bathing suit. It has a criss-cross in the front that extends your shoulder line, Miratex fabric in the middle for flattening the belly, and thick straps to guard against any back fat too! MiracleSuit’s rock.

Curvy Body

kim ann curvy bikini

Me in my Curvy days

Curvy is when you’ve got a bosom and a butt, you’re not twiggy, but you’re not overweight either. Think Kate Upton, Salma Hayek, Scarlett Johansson, Christina Hendricks, Dita Von Teese, or me when my boobs were bigger and I had a few pounds on me. You get what I mean.

Let’s start with what you should steer clear of when finding a swimsuit for a curvy body:

  • NO Itsy Bitsy String Bikinis (unless you’re on call)
  • NO Monokinis (those strange one pieces with cut outs everywhere)

Since there are many types of curves, let’s address a couple different issues that go along with that.

Big Breasts

A Bandeau Top can make your breasts appear smaller

A Bandeau Top can make your breasts appear smaller (compare this shot with the one above – same vacay, different suit)

A Bandeau Top minimizes large breasts and creates a more athletic look. It’s true. Remember how I said that Triangle Tops make your breasts appear bigger, well Bandeau Tops make them look smaller. The two last images are a perfect example – one day with a triangle top (2 pics up), and another with a bandeau top (right above).

That’s the power of illusion, ladies! Crazy, huh?

Bandeau Tops come in many flavors, with a bikini, high waist bikini, or tankini:

Blues Too Bandeau Bikini by Splendid (Top $64, Bottom $48)

Blues Too Bandeau Bikini by Splendid (Top $64, Bottom $48)

Solid Bandeau Bikini by Reef (Top $37, Bottom $37)

Solid Bandeau Bikini by Reef (Top $37, Bottom $37)

Bandeau Tankini by hurley

Bandeau Tankini by Hurley (Top $45, Bottom $39)

But if you feel you need more support then check into Bra-Style Tops with adjustable straps and maybe some underwire or molded cups.

Bra Style 'Pearl' Underwire Bikini Top by Tommy Bahama

Bra Style ‘Pearl’ Underwire Bikini Top by Tommy Bahama ( $78)

The thicker the strap the better the support.

heartTIP: If you plan on wearing a blouse or dress with a low back, you may want to steer away from that, the tan lines look dastardly with an open back.

Athletic Body

Me in my 'athletic' phase.

Me in my athletic phase.

After I started doing pilates and got a breast reduction I noticed that I was losing my curviness which made shopping for swimsuits a whole other story.

Now, just because I called it ‘athletic’ I’m not referring to those body-building-ripply-muscled girls that always look shiny – you guys can wear whatever the hell you want. I’m talking about a normal, straight up and down, body.

There are lots of ways to give the illusion of curves. Let’s start with what NOT to wear:

  • NO Bandeaus
  • NO Boy cut briefs
  • NO Shapeless one pieces (Bo Derek did it but DO NOT try at home)
  • Granny Bottoms

But the list of what you CAN wear is a lot longer lucky girls! Tie-side Bikinis are great for you since they enhance your curves.

Tie-Side Triangle Top Bikini by Sheinside

Tie-Side Triangle Top Bikini by Sheinside ($28.50)

And guess what? Out of all the body types, yours in the ONLY one that can sensibly wear a Monokini:

Kelly Maillot Monokin by Tori Praver

Kelly Maillot Monokini by Tori Praver ($150)

Ruffles. Yup, this is also the best body type for ruffles and really whatever else you want:

Ruffled Halter Monokini by Sheinside - ($25)

Ruffled Halter Monokini by Sheinside – ($25)

And HELLO Crochet! You can wear Crochet too!

Yellow Lattice Monokini by sheinside

Yellow Lattice Monokini by Sheinside – $58.50

Crochet Bikini by Topshop - $60

Crochet Bikini by Topshop – $60

longer heartTIP: If you have an athletic or straight-up-and-down body with small breasts, then also consider the swimsuit rules for Small Breasts a few sections above.  Also, the smaller the bottom the bigger your behind looks.

Big Shoulder

Some girls with Athletic bodies also have big shoulders. Cool sometimes but if it bothers you the best way to camo that is with an Asymetrical Swimsuit:

Assymetrical One Piece by Miracle Suit

Assymetrical One-Piece by Miracle Suit ($154)

 

Love Handles (muffin top)

No matter how straight or fit your body becomes, you are not exempt from love handles.

Mr. BeautyBlackBook and I on a mexican vacation from hell

Mr. BeautyBlackBook and I on a mexican vacation from hell

I did my best to camo the love handles in that photo, and unless you look closely you probably won’t notice them, but if I were to magnify them you would notice that one is safely tucked under Mr. BeautyBlackBook and the other being blocked by my knee. Clever, huh?

Love Handles - my knee is up for a reason Ladies!

Love Handles – my knee is up for a reason Ladies!

What I should’ve done was just get a cool retro High-Waisted Bikini Bottom:

High Waist Bikini Bottom by Betsey Johnson

High Waist Bikini Bottom by Betsey Johnson

 

Short Torso (high waist)

An ex-boyfriend told me I had a high-waist. Keyword: ‘ex’  I personally like to think of it as having long legs but, tomatoes, tomaaaahtoes. If you tend to be a bit high-waisted or all legs, then think Low-Rise and Halter-Straps:

Low-rise Halter Top Good Karma Bikini by Next

Low-rise Halter Top Good Karma Bikini by Next (Top $58, Bottom $44)

I love that suit because you can use the top as a sports bra as well!

heartTIP: A deep neckline will shorten your torso so stay away from those!

Long Torso (low-waist)

High-Cut and High-Waisted swimsuits tend to make your legs look longer, shortening the length of your body which is good for a long torso. Learn the word ‘maillot’ which means, right away, that the style is cut a bit higher than the standard.

Vintage High Waist Retro Bikini by Pretty Attitude

Vintage High Waist Retro Bikini by Pretty Attitude ($34.90)

Another way to make your legs look longer is to wear a <ugh> thong. Check in the Flat Butts section below. I can’t bring myself to put another one up here.

Back Fat

If you feel like you have an issue with back fat, then consider a High-Back One Piece:

One Piece High Back by Athena

One Piece High Back by Athena ($98)

heartTIP: Know that the thicker the straps, the less likely the straps will dig in.

Flat Butt

As we age, gravity takes over and can turn a pert little butt into a saggy, flat one. There are a few good ways to deal with a flat butt.

  • The smaller the bikini bottom the bigger the butt – a little dimension to a flat butt can’t be bad.
  • Bright colors and loud prints help too.

Also, you should try some bikinis that tie from the sides.

Thong Tha Tha Thong Thong Thong - $49.99

Thong Tha Tha Thong Thong Thong – $49.99

Ruching and Frills are also good way to add dimension as well (and I think a bit more classy):

Ruffled Bottom by Venus

Ruffled Bottom by Venus

Cellulite

The last swimwear issue I can think of is cellulite. I’ve left it for last because it’s the most difficult to deal with. Check mine out:

Me diving in all my cellulite glory

Me diving in all my cellulite glory

I tried to make this shot as big as I could without losing the integrity and this was the best I could do. I was in the best shape of my life maybe but still, my arch nemesis cellulite, was as prominent as ever.

When shopping for a bikini, the only thing you can do to camo that cellulite is a spray tan. Boom. That’s all ya got. You may want to buy a sarong as a cover up if it bothers you (I have about 10 I can choose from when I know I’ll be in a public situation).

So, I think we’ve covered all of the issues to consider when shopping for the perfect swimsuit. If I’ve missed anything, please let me know! I hope this will help making swimsuit shopping a fun thing! Ok, may be pushing it. Regardless, I hope it helped.

kim ann mailchimp

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