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Shop for Your Inner Swimsuit Model

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beachwearTravel Belle tips for buying a bathing suit for your summer vacation

No. I refused to title this article something inane like “Find a Bathing Suit for your Body Type,” with the usual rundown of apples, pears and celery sticks. Okay, so I made up the “celery stick” body type, but why not? The practice of comparing women’s body types to fresh produce has always been a little ridiculous.

Just so you know what you are getting into, I will not be using other familiar swimsuit buying vocabulary here. There will be no use of terms such as “trouble-spots” and “camouflage,” as these sound more like war room than dressing room talk to me.

I am assuming here that you, like most of us women, rarely have felt particularly “bikini ready,” that state of readiness that has eluded most of the female population since they were 17 years old. Nor are you interested in spending your summer relegated to a chaise lounge, no matter how chic this year’s tunic selection, pretending that you don’t really want to be ruining your fresh highlights in salt and chlorine, jumping waves or playing Marco Polo. I know I don’t.  At any age, going to the beach should be fun.

Protecting your hair from summer related damage is another story, but here I will attempt to give you some tips for buying a bathing suit that will both look good and respectable so that you can have fun in while on your well deserved summer vacation.

1. When trying on suits, take lots of styles in two or three sizes into the dressing room with you. This will help you avoid having to beckon the sales person to fetch you things, which for many reasons is undesirable. One of the best known brands of spandex is Lycra and you will find it to be the material of choice in many swimsuits. On a side note, I’m pretty sure Spandex was invented by the same dude who invented five inch heels.Yes, Lycra sucks it all in, but really, unless you are a modern day Scarlett O’Hara and have devices and people standing ready to help you into your suit, do yourself this favor in effort to avoid passing out in the middle of Dillards and take several sizes of each style in the dressing room as well. Remember you are looking for a suit that fits you, not for you, by means unnatural and sweat inducing, to fit into the suit.

2. Pick styles in your best colors, the ones that make you happy. Solid colors are fine, but don’t shy away from patterns, such as florals and polka dots, especially since there are many tasteful, small repeat patterns this season to choose from. If black is your favorite color and makes you happy – fine   – but as an alternative go a little nuts and consider a darker shade of a favorite color, such as a jewel toned purple, blue or green. My favorite jewel tone this season is deep emerald green. Retro styles featuring a little more coverage than your standard postage stamp sized bikini are popular right now, making this season’s selections both stylish and and more modest. On this note, recently I came across these pictures of beachwear from days gone by. Truth be told part of me yearns for the return of the days of the “swimming costume.”

3, As much as I know you want to run into a department store and grab a one piece and high tail your way out of there, consider going the swimsuit separates route this year, mixing and matching your way to swimsuit ready bliss. Unless you are a perfectly proportioned genetic rarity that has a standard, mannequin-like figure, separates may be the best way to enhance your favorite figure features, while leaving spots that you aren’t so crazy about covered. Additionally separates are a great way to experiment with a new color or pattern.

4.  When making your final selection, ask yourself these three questions: Does it fit me now? Is it comfortable? Am I comfortable walking around in it without a cover up?

Some final notes: Remember you are not produce meant to be sorted into different bins and sold at market and that buying a bathing suit doesn’t have to feel like warfare. Remember that you a beautiful. Now, get over yourself and go buy a bathing suit.

Today’s article was made possible by Land’s End UK.

About the author

Margo Millure lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a portrait photographer, writer and founder of Travel Belles. Learn more about her at

4 thoughts on “Shop for Your Inner Swimsuit Model”

  1. I am exactly in the stage of buying bathing suits for my upcoming vacation and I am seriously considering going the separates route, even though what I really love are the one-piece bathing suits. My problem is that I have no patience to try them all on, different sizes and all… but I realized I will have to go that route if I want to have at least one – since my vacation is just around the corner and I have to have at least something for the pool! 🙂

  2. Oh this made me laugh. 🙂 I remember a European relative of mine strutting her rather large self out onto the beach in a hot pink string bikini. I LOVED it!!! She totally rocked it and was as comfy with herself as if she were a size 2 and 17 again. I totally agree – buy what you love in the colors and patterns you love and feel gorgeous and have fun no matter what. 🙂

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