Swimwear shopping can do a number on the self-esteem of almost any woman, but don't let that keep you from hitting the beach this summer. Use these smart shopping tips to help you find a suit that flatters your shape and fits your sense of style.

Two's better than one

While one-piece swimsuits generally are considered more modest, they don't fit all figures well.

If you're long in the torso, these suits can dig in at the shoulders or pull at the crotch. If you're short in the torso, one-pieces can bunch up at the bust or midsection or sag in the rear.

Two-piece suits allow for more flexibility, especially for long- and short-waisted women. They also tend to fit bettter for anyone whose top is substantially smaller or larger than her bottom. With a one-piece, you're stuck with manufacturer notions of size. With a two-piece, you can buy a medium top and extra-large bottom to suit your unique proportions.

And a two-piece doesn't mean a skimpy string bikini. With the advent of tankinis (suits with traditional bikini bottoms and tank-style tops), you can still get plenty of coverage.


Women with small busts can typically rely on well-constructed bikini tops or built-in shelf bras to flatter their figures. But women with larger busts need more support to look and feel their best. Often, a top with an underwire will do the trick, but there are also specialty suits designed to support sizable busts.

If you need more support, steer clear of unstructured one-piece suits, which can compress breasts, and halter styles, which can pull and ride up.


Swim skirts offer more coverage for women who are self-conscious about their bottoms and thighs. However, these skirts are typically quite short and can hit the thighs at their widest point, making them appear wider. Board shorts are a great alternative, especially if you favor a sporty look. The water-worthy shorts come in a variety of lengths, including some as long as a pair of Bermudas. When worn with a bikini or tankini top or over a one-piece suit, they're functional, fun and very modest.

Sally McGraw is the Minneapolis-based author of Already Pretty (www.alreadypretty.com), a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image.