Before I share my years of wisdom on choosing the right swimwear I am going to give you one piece of advice – buy early! Having carefully followed my style tips and identified my ideal costume I have now spent hours on the phone to various Marks and Spencer stores across the country trying to track down my perfect – but sold out – bikini.

The main thing to remember when choosing a costume is that nobody, absolutely nobody believes they have the perfect body. Yet 80% of women feel that others judge them when wearing swimwear. When you are on the beach or at the pool its a good chance nobody female will be looking at you as they will be too busy worrying about their own body. And as we know what most men look like in swimwear, I think we should all draw a collective sigh of relief and relax.

Swimwear should be enjoyed. Colours and patterns that wouldn’t get a look in during our every day lives can be shown off. You know confidence is key so don’t feel that buying from specialist shops like Bravissimo or Figleaves or taking a visit to a top end department store is extravagant. You may well spend more time on holiday in swimwear than anything else so give your self plenty of time, and as much money as you can afford to get it right – great swimwear is always a pleasure to wear and if it makes you look and feel good you’ll enjoy wearing it year after year. And that’s another excuse for buying that great matching kaftan or sarong – it’s never terribly comfortable wearing swimwear away from the beach or pool so cover up beautifully and make the walk to poolside a pleasure.

Bikini or one piece, patterned or plain – let’s take a look at the common body shapes and see what swimwear suits.

1. Small bust

Yours is one of the few shapes to be able to wear a bandeau top – but don’t – it will do nothing for you.  Of course you have the option of the teeny weeny polka dot bikini, but you can also enhance your dainty curves and make your swimwear work for you. Try a top with wires. They can be more comfortable than you think and will give definition to the bust. Look for padded or push up tops, gathers and a pattern can also help enhance your assets. Spaghetti straps will work for you and go for tie front tops – tie a bit tighter and as if by magic your cleavage gets bigger!


2. Bigger bust

Your choice of top will depend on whether nature or man has given you your curves. ‘Enhanced’ bosoms do tend to behave themselves in swimwear and don’t need special measures to look flattering. However the rest of us do need the definition and support that wires or shelf bras give, you could also try halter necks with wide straps which are very flattering. When looking for bikinis always go for under-wired cup sized tops for maximum support. Remember – bosoms are heavy,  a little thin halter may feel OK when you try the costume on, but an hour later when the straps are cutting into you neck and your boobs are jiggling you will wish you had gone for wide straps and good support.

3. Pear Shaped

The latest swimwear trend of buying separate tops and bottoms was made for you. Try an eye catching patterned top – maybe a halter neck – with a dark coloured bottom. You could try this years little skirts – avoid boy short styles as these tend to draw a horizontal line across your hips – making them look wider. Your best leg shape is always going to be a high-cut leg as this will make your legs look longer and your thighs thinner.

4. Long body

One pieces look best on a long body, with large patterns in bright colours and textured fabrics. Gathers and folds can help break up the line and like Cheryl Tweedy you are in the lucky category that looks great in this year’s cut-out styles. Remember, it’s especially important to check the rise on any costume before you commit. If it isn’t comfy now, imagine how it will feel after half an hour in the sea!

6. Petite


Yours is another body shape that looks good in dark bottoms and patterned tops – the eye is drawn to the top of the body and therefore this will be lengthening  – especially if you go for a plunge top. Bikinis can look great on you – cut high on the thigh for a long legged look and slung down on the waist a little to lengthen that top / bottom gap. Do try halter necks, especially with quite a high top but I’m afraid you need to avoid boy shorts, big patterns and lots of fancy details.

7. Boy Shape

You can really make your swimsuit work for you here. Accentuate and create curves with high cut legs, low necklines and gathers and ruching. Be careful though and avoid bandeau tops and plain, one piece suits in dark colours.

8. Curvier than most

Well you can’t layer or use floaty fabric in a swimsuit but you can do the next best thing. Ruching and gathers do wonders to create that hourglass figure and although the advice is to go for dark colours (not necessarily black!) I think the most colourful tropical prints can look great. And go for some of the newest innovations – many tankinis have now got longer tops and bottoms with a very high waist so there’s no glimpse of a tum and you get a little extra tummy control. There are loads of bathing costumes with some sort of body control built in from Marks and Spencer to Next but if you can afford it Miraclesuits are just that, and if you don’t like shopping online they are now being more widely stocked in some of the city department stores. You should also try high cut legs, as they do have a lengthening effect but I’m afraid bikinis really aren’t a good choice for anyone, large or small, with a wobbly tum.

9. Men

If you will be shopping for the male of the species then I will share the following. They say that Speedos are the in thing this year but think carefully about the end result walking alongside you to the pool. Poor men, they don’t have access to the fun and artifice that we do so make it easy on them.  Vibrant prints, bright colours and longer swim shorts look best on tall, lean men. For men under 5 feet 10 inches, select a shorter length in darker, solid colours to appear taller. Make sure shorts are comfortable, but not too baggy and for goodness sake throw away that stretched chlorine damaged pair that have been floating around for ages.

Well have fun – I’m back on the phone to Marks and Spencer – there’s a rumour that they might stock my bikini in their Aberdeen store!

Happy holidays!!


Choosing Swimwear to Fit and Flatter