The survey, carried out by Tesco, claims that 28 per cent of women feel that wearing a swimsuit is what they dread most about their holiday. And is it any great surprise… we hibernate all winter; that health kick fuelled by the good weather is abandoned in favour of comfort food (is there anything better than stew and dumplings when it’s frosty outside) and a relationship with our duvet.
Then boom, summer comes along, holidays are booked and swimwear must be bought – and worn – on the beach in front of, well, everyone!
So naturally shopping for swimwear can be a source of anxiety for a lot of women. Swimsuits are revealing, and if the wrong type or style is chosen, then the features we’re perhaps not as proud of will be on display; the same survey revealed that almost a third (of women surveyed) resort to wearing a t-shirt over their swimwear – sound familiar?
The figure of the average British woman is now more likely to resemble a classic apple or a pear, research by Nuffield Health shows. Pears are bigger on the bottom than they are up top. Whereas Apples have the opposite problem of pears, while pears want to make their shoulders and busts bigger, apples may want to reduce the appearance of their bust while highlighting their hips and waist.
Knowing about each type of swimsuit and how it accentuates aspects of your figure can go a long way to ensuring a more enjoyable swimwear shopping experience and help you find a swimsuit that is not only comfortable, but also enhances your best bits and celebrates your natural body shape.
If you are a pear consider styles that diminish the size of the hips and waist but that accentuate the bust; avoid high-waist shorts-style briefs instead look for low cut bottoms, and flirty skirt detail is great for balancing out wide hips. Halter-neck and tankini styles will maximise the bust and broaden the shoulders and you can mix and match plain darker bottoms with a light coloured top, this will slim your lower half and add volume to your upper body. Retro style one-piece swimsuits with support around the bust and design elements around the waist are also excellent choices for this body shape. Images: (top left) Maryan Mehlhorn ‘Masterpiece’ swimsuit, £189. (top right) Roidal ‘Nadia’ swimsuit, £179 – both See-Saw Lingerie in Hale.
Apples should do the opposite, select bottoms with a high cut like the shortini to make the hips look bigger and the stomach smaller, and try to stay away from low waist bottoms and styles that end right at the hip, this will only make your waist look narrower. One-pieces with hidden support panels or ruched detailing will help create a streamlined silhouette, and as a general rule avoid fussy detail; instead opt for simple styles and plain colours (although we can’t help but love this retro floral print, left, from Reger at Debenhams, Bikini Top £30, Bottoms £24).
Women with an hourglass figure should go for a classic bikini with a bra style top (underwired and moulded cups for added support), a well-structured bandeau-style top with a sweetheart neckline also works well and will keep your cleavage under control. Full briefs cut high on the leg will lengthen the leg and slim thighs. Because of the curves characteristic to this body type, don’t mix and match patterns with tops and bottoms, it can make you look disproportional.
Images: (right) Roidal ‘Luxor’ bikini with Swarovski crystals, £219 – See-Saw Lingerie in Hale.
If you have an athletic body shape (a sporty, strong body with few curves) look for ruffles, bold prints and cut-out detail (perhaps not all at once) which will add curves to your top half, and V-shape briefs will give the illusion of curvy hips.
So now you know what to look for but what about about sizing?
Penny English, owner of See-Saw Lingerie in Hale village, Cheshire said: “A size too small and the skin will bulge around the swimsuit for an unflattering look. A size too large and the swimsuit will look baggy. A lot will depend on the brand as some are very well designed and true to size. With Roidal bandeau swimsuits, for example, we often suggest going up a size because they can come up narrow and the next size will also give more length in the body so it doesn’t slip down The most important is not getting one too small in the bust because if you are bulging out there then it can look awful.”
Penny continues: “Also look at the fabric composition, Lycra is ideal as it’s a slightly stretchable but supporting fabric, and it will help the swimsuit hold its shape. If you are large busted then you do need extra support, look for wider straps on your swimsuit, thin straps just won’t work, or a very well structured bandeau bikini from specialist brands such as Prima Donna. And if you fee really self-conscious then buy a large pareo that can be tied above the bust and flow down which will skim the silhouette and also look elegant. If you like your top half then go for a shorter sarong or fold one in half to tie around your hips. If you like your legs but not body then a floaty kaftan like the Seafolly, Prima Donna or Profile is great.”