Swimsuit Body Types

Getting a new swimsuit can be intimidating because you might want to hide a few flaws, but all the bikinis on the racks won't help. However, some swimsuits look good on every type of body and maximize your unique beauty. Rather than starting off with no clue in the fitting room and getting frustrated, or buying dozens of suits online and then having to return most of them, first learn about the various swimsuit body types, and know what to look for the next time you need to buy a swimsuit.

Hourglass figures have a bust and hips that are the same size with a smallish waist. Women with hourglass figures are lucky because they can wear almost any kind of swimsuit, but the swimsuits that look best on them are those that emphasize the waist. This can include two-piece suits with bare waists or one-piece suits with cinched waists, ruched waists or color blocking. This is the ideal figure for swimsuit models so women with hourglass figures have the most choices.

Full-Figured women, or women with large chests, want to make the most of their assets without spilling out. The first step in making a heavy bust look good is support. Buy a swimsuit with molded cups at the very least; shopping specialty stores for an underwire suit with an actual cup size is worthwhile. As for swimwear shape, any shape with chest support will do-bikini, tankini, monokini or maillot will all work for you as long as they provide decent coverage and prevent sagging. Remember to check side coverage of breasts as well, or you may have some nasty surprises on the beach. Nothing is more embarrassing than a bathing suit that doesn't fit properly.

Pear-shaped women need swimwear that minimizes their hips. The trend towards two-piece swimsuits sold as separates is excellent for bottom-heavy women, as you can pick an eye-catching top and a plain solid bottom in order to draw the eye upwards.

Tops that visually balance out your smaller bust include halters, push-ups, padded tops and strapless styles. Bottoms that minimize include high-cut bottoms, which visually lengthen the leg, and boy shorts, especially if you have a decent waistline. One-piece swimsuits with color blocking can work well, too, if the bright or printed material is on top. Avoid side strings or printed bottoms, which drag the eye down to your wider hips.

Athletic, or Stick-Shaped, figures, meaning shapes that are more straight up and down, need to create the illusion of curves by emphasizing busts and hips. Bikini tops with ruffles, prints or halter necks plus boy shorts or tie sides will create the illusion of an hourglass figure. Tankinis and one-pieces with straight lines are not good for women with athletic figures, though, as they make you look even more straight up and down than you are. Also avoid extremely sporty-looking swimsuits unless you're racing; it's worth the effort for you to find a girlier shape.

Plus-Sized women need to avoid the assumption that just because they're larger, they're all the same shape. Plus-sized women do best shopping on a site that's dedicated especially to them, such as SwimSuitsJustForUs.com, which divides its swimsuits into styles that are suitable for particular plus-sized body shapes. Body shapes specific to plus-sized women include the following:

Triangle: Hips are wider than the bust. Swim dresses and skirted two pieces that hide wide hips and thighs are recommended for this shape, but make sure there is visual interest at the neckline, such as a deep v-neck or pattern.

Hourglass: You can be a plus-sized hourglass, which is the same as regular-sized hourglass, just larger. Allover prints with defined waistlines are recommended for this body shape, and don't avoid two pieces just because you're larger; they can look amazing if your body is well proportioned.

Top-Heavy: Plus-sized top-heavy women need to be even more careful about support, and wider, skirted bottoms are recommended for them to balance out their figure. Two-piece skirted suits look the best on top-heavy plus-sized women.

Rectangle: Rectangle is like the athletic or stick shape, but wider. Detailing around the waist is recommended for this body type to make it appear curvier.

Circle: Circles, also known as apple shapes, are widest at the waist. Detailing at the neckline and hem are also recommended. Circle-shaped women do not look good in boy shorts that make their waistline bulge out into the dreaded muffin top, but they frequently have great legs and should call attention to them by wearing short sarongs tied at the waist.

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Full-figured women can look as stylish as anyone else. Just remember that oversized clothes don't hide your size; they add to it instead. Try fun, fitted garments to show off and enhance your natural beauty.

Dressing for your body type means accentuating your positives and shifting attention away from your negatives. Men usually dress for their basic human body type, known as endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. Women usually dress for their basic human body shape, known as hourglass, apple, pear and stick.

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