Getting In The Swim

By Sharon Mosley

March 5, 2010 4 min read

Come on, dive in. It's time to strip away the cold, hard facts that our bodies aren't perfect and get down to some fun in the sun. Yes, it's time to shop for swimwear. So put on your best self-tanner, and get out there! Life's too short to be stuck underneath baggy gym shorts and oversize T-shirts.

And no, one size does not fit all, says Suzanne Bryant, vice president of design at Lands' End. "Many women have the wrong approach when it comes to shopping for a suit," she says. "The key to finding the perfect-fitting swimsuit starts with taking body measurements and identifying your body shape. Once you have your personal information, finding your perfect-fitting suit is simple."

Here are some measuring tips from Bryant for women of all sizes and shapes:

*Torso: For the crucial torso measurement, run a tape measure diagonally across your body, starting at your shoulders and then between your legs and back around.

*Bust: With arms relaxed at your sides, measure the fullest part of your bust, keeping the tape measure parallel to the floor.

*Waist: Measure around your waist at the narrowest point. Add 1/2 inch for comfort.

*Hips: Stand with your heels together and measure around the fullest part of your hips, keeping the tape parallel to the floor.

Now, Bryant says, you're ready to shop. But before you take the final plunge of buying a swimsuit this spring, address some of these "anxiety zones":

Minimize or Enhance Waist and Tummy

Strategy: Define a waistline; create some curves.

*Find great waist-defining details -- such as princess seams, draping and shirring.

*Suits for this shape will feature shirred waists, lines and prints and special detailing that will help to define a waistline.

*These same details draw attention to the waistline and can create the illusion of a smaller middle.

Minimize Hips and Thighs

Strategy: Draw eyes up and away from hips.

*Triangle shapes should focus on drawing eyes up and away from hips. Look for suits that slim the lower torso and draw attention to the upper torso with shapely necklines, bust detailing and shirring.

*Details to look for include: surplice neckline or V-neck, empire-style waist, darker colors on bottom and patterns on top.

Enhance Bust Area

Strategy: Create a fuller-looking top half.

*Find supportive built-in bras to offer support and bust enhancement.

*Flattering styles include halter, V-neck, scoop-neck and shirred tops.

Minimize Bust Area

Strategy: Provide bust support with good coverage.

*Higher necks are a must when trying to minimize the bust.

*Look for back straps and supportive bras built into swimsuits.

*Quality fabrics also will aid in coverage and in camouflaging top areas.

Lengthen Legs

Strategy: Higher leg openings to create the illusion of longer legs.

*Choosing a suit with a 2-inch leg opening will lengthen legs instantly.

*Side-tie bottoms are great for adjusting the leg openings to a desired height.

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