With summer officially upon us, swimsuits are at the forefront of many people's fashion consciousness. And while summer 2022's swimwear trends can be enjoyed by all people, no matter what they look like, if you're anything like me, the half-naked nature of swimwear makes you think carefully about how various cuts and styles flatter your body type. Fashion stylist Sarah Nearis sympathizes. "Feeling confident in swimwear is so key, and finding suits that flatter your figure and make you feel comfortable will make all the difference," she says. "Find what works for you and flaunt it."
She also stresses the role that comfort and quality can play in fostering a positive swim experience. "For many of us, we are only in our swimwear a short amount of time a year and we want to be comfortable and feel good in it. My number one piece of advice is to shop around, find the right fabric that feels good to you and on your skin and take your time finding the right brand/cut/style and try on different options," she suggests. "I have even had clients alter their swimwear because everyone’s body type is different and a little tweaking here and there can really make a huge difference in the fit, just like it would to a dress or pair of trousers."
Furthermore, Nearis understands that donning a swimsuit can be an anxiety-inducing experience, particularly in a society that still promotes unhealthy and unrealistic beauty and size standards. "I know that for women (and men!) swimsuit season can be intimidating or uncomfortable but I promise you it doesn’t have to be," she says. "When you can find the right suit that accentuates your favorite asset, whether you full on rock it or prefer to cover up more by finding a cute sarong or tunic, remember that your body is one of a kind and a piece of art and no matter what size you are, learning to love and embrace your figure in your swimsuit and any type of clothing will make you feel confident and comfortable no matter what."
Here, we've tapped Nearis' expertise on how to identify each body type and how to shop for your best-fitting swimsuit yet. We've also included some of our favorite, most comfortable suits for each type, so you can comfortably and confidently frolic in the sun this summer with a care in the world.
For Curvy Figures
"Curvy" is often used as an umbrella-term that encompasses a number of different sizes. To make sizing more clear, Nearis distinguishes between three shapes: Apple, in which "you are all over curvaceous in the bust, waist and hips;" pear/triangle, in which "you have a smaller chest and curvier/wider bottom;" and inverted triangle, in which "you have a heavier set in the chest, with a narrower bottom."
Of course, these aren't hard and fast categories, and it's entirely possible to fall in between body types or to identify with more than one. "If you feel like you could be in more than one category, my rule of thumb is to always accentuate your favorite feature and go from there," Nearis suggests. "For example, you have great legs? Flaunt them."
But, generally speaking, there are swimsuits that do a particularly good job at flattering curvy figures. Nearis recommends that people with this body type "go for options that enhance and flatter your silhouette, like a one piece with a deep-v neckline. It will hug your curves in all the right places and the neckline will give it that sexy, fun touch."
For Athletic Figures
The athletic, also known as the rectangle, body shape pertains to women whose "proportions on your bust, waist and hips are similar or the same, causing a rectangle like shape." Nearis advises that "the key is to enhance or create an illusion of curves. Go for a high waisted bottom that will hug your lower half and accentuate the narrowest place of your waistline."
For Hourglass Figures
Hourglass figures are famously difficult to shop for. Clothing (especially one-pieces and dresses) that fit around the waist tend to be too small for the wearer's bust and hips, while clothing big enough to fit these curves can be too baggy around the waist. Hourglass figures are determine by shapes that are "curvier on both the top and the bottom, but have a narrower waist, creating almost a number eight," says Nearis.
With curves in mind, she recommends that top-heavy women "look for a top and brand that offers good support and coverage so you don’t have to worry about any slip-ups. Underwire tops are always a good idea and as someone who has a large bust, I love a halter top option too."
For Petite Figures
Nearis says that, for petite women, "the goal is to elongate your frame while still enhancing your best assets. Most petite women have shorter torsos so you’ll want to create the illusion of more leg and more torso and that can be done by choosing a top that has a cool design like one shoulder or off the shoulder and that offers less coverage and more skin."
Not into those styles? Never fear. She adds that "the same rule of thumb goes for bottoms here as well—high waisted, string bikinis tend to flatter petite women extremely well by showing off more leg and more torso, elongating the body."
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Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.