From digital prints to cutaways, vintage styles to the ultra-modern: there’s no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a show-stopping piece of swimwear in 2012 and beyond. But if ever there was an occasion to consider carefully not just what’s in but what’s right for you, then this would have to be it. For most of us, heading out in a bikini is the most we ever show in public, so it’s not surprising that we want to take the time to get it right. And while confidence is surely the number one key to rocking any swimsuit – regardless of your figure type – sometimes having that confidence comes down to finding that particular piece that pushes, pulls, shows and hides in all the right places.

So to help on your quest, here are a few points to keep in mind when you search for swimwear to suit your figure.

Swimwear for a small bust

  • Choose a top with ruffles, frills or draping at the bust to add volume and balance out a flatter chest
  • Avoid simple string bikinis. Instead look for structured underwire bikini tops with padding
  • For something different try a retro-inspired one piece with inbuilt cups or a halterneck that draws in the waist and adds oomph to the bust, creating the illusion of an hourglass fuller figure
  • If you have a straight up-and-down figure why not rejoice in the season’s love of all things sporty and try slick, modern, cutaway pieces

swimwear for a small bust

  1. Halterneck tie-front bikini by Old Navy
  2. Karla Colletto twisted underwire bikini top and bottoms from Net-a-porter
  3. Zimmermann ruffle swimsuit at Net-a-porter

Swimwear for a large bust

  • Halternecks are great for creating a vintage pin-up look and just generally for supporting a larger bust
  • Look for cupped underwire bikinis with fuller cups
  • Keep it sleek: too much additional embellishment or ruffling at the bust will only unbalance you
  • On the contrary you can try a peplum or frill at the hips to balance out the volume on top, and visually create a smaller waistline

swimwear for a large bust

  1. Purple halterneck bikini at Old Navy
  2. Sunseeker ’50s style one piece at ASOS.com
  3. Eda halterneck bikini at Net-a-porter

Swimwear for bigger hips

  • If your hips are wide look for bottoms that sit across, not below, them
  • Be careful of boy-short cuts as they can actually make the hips look bigger
  • Try dark coloured bottoms and a lighter top to draw attention upwards

swimwear for big hips

  1. KARL tape-print swimsuit at Net-a-porter.com
  2. Norma Kamali ruched bikini at Net-a-porter
  3. Colour block monokini at ASOS.com

Swimwear to slim down a stomach

  • Swimsuits with shirring or gathering at the torso help to disguise lumps and bumps
  • Try a tankini – they cover the stomach but also allow a bit of breathing space unlike clingy one-piece swimsuits
  • A monokini that cuts in at the sides can also give the illusion of smaller waist and stomach
  • If you opt for a one-piece try a dark colour or all-over print so it doesn’t show every contour underneath

swimwear for hiding tummy

  1. Norma Kamali ruched swimsuit at Net-a-porter
  2. Ruched swimsuit with frill at Old Navy
  3. Melissa Odabash ruched one-piece at Net-a-porter
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