The Best Bathing Suit for Your Body Type

bathing suit body type

bathing suit body type

Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before. Not every trend was made for every body. And its close cousin: No one looks good in everything. No one. Not even Miranda Kerr. Okay, maybe her, but that’s it. 😉

I came to this realization years ago, when a well-meaning friend told me that I was short-waisted. I looked down, like I was seeing my body for the first time, and thought: So that’s what’s wrong with me. Back in the day, waistlines were high, hovering somewhere between the belly button and the neck. Not a good look for a short waist on a short person. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this changed my life forever.

Understanding what flatters your body type will help you pick a suit that makes you look your best, and makes it a little easier to skip some tempting trends. Here, the best suit for your body type, from daring bikinis to classic maillots.


The classic definition of this classic body type is that it’s proportional, with balanced hips and shoulders and a defined waist (Style Dial™ #1). Maintain the balance by choosing a suit with a minimal fussy details and a long vertical line, such as a v-neckline. If there’s a pattern or embellishment of some sort, keep it consistent throughout the suit.

1. The Classic Triangle Bikini

The vertical lines and minimal detail of this classic style is perfect for an hourglass frame.

Ted Baker landscape printed bikini top, $70, and bottom, $63, ASOS

Ted Baker landscape printed bikini top, $70, and bottom, $63, ASOS

2. The Sleek Tankini

A simple v-neck fitted tankini top and bikini brief in a matching pattern will flatter your body.

LOFT Beach Daisy tankini top, $54.50, and bottom, $44.50,

LOFT Beach Daisy tankini top, $54.50, and bottom, $44.50,

3. The V-Neck Maillot

A v-neck, consistent pattern and belting at the natural waist all make this style a great choice for a proportional body type.

Ruffled halter maillot, $98, Anthropologie

Ruffled halter maillot, $98, Anthropologie

Curvy Hips

Blessed with a classically feminine shape, including curvy hips and bottom, a small (or small-ish) waist and narrow shoulders? Then you probably have a Style Dial™ #2 body type. Balance your body by drawing the eye upwards with details at the top of the suit and a strong horizontal line. Keep the bottom of the suit simple and “quiet.” Here, 3 option to flatter your body, and what makes them work.

1. Bandeau Bikini

Why It Works: This suit has a strong horizontal line at the top, created by the bandeau style, and the ruffles and pattern do more to draw the eye upwards. The bottom is simple and unembellished.

Zimmermann Lacquer mixed frill bikini, $63 (sale!), Amazon

Zimmermann Lacquer mixed frill bikini, $63 (sale!), Amazon

2. Bustier Bikini

Why It Works: This suit features a strong horizontal line across the top and simple printed bikini bottoms.

Maaji "Diamond Stallion" bustier top, $70, and bottom, about $38, Nordstrom

Maaji “Diamond Stallion” bustier top, $70, and bottom, about $38, Nordstrom

3. High Necked Maillot

Any maillot with top interest, a halter neckline, or other embellishments from the bust up will do, but the trendy new high-waisted suits seem made for curvy-hipped girls. Just make sure there isn’t anything fussy happening on the bottom half of the suit.

Lenny Niemeyer "Purple Bloom" halter swimsuit, $253,

Lenny Niemeyer “Purple Bloom” halter swimsuit, $253,

Boyish Shape

If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with a straight, relatively curveless frame (a Style Dial™ #3), like most models, then you’ll find that you can dramatically change the way that you look with your clothes. Look for a bathing suit that has fun details at the top and the bottom, to emphasize these areas and create the illusion of a waist, and a v-neckline. Monokinis with dramatic cutout sides are ideal, as are panels along the sides that accentuate the hips. Also look for ruching, embroidery and any other details to play up the bum.

1. Embellished Bikini

A racerback style plays up an athletic body type, while the crochet details at the sides of the bottoms build out the hip area and create the illusion of curves. Tassels, fringe or string ties can have the same effect.

L Space crochet racerback bikini top, $88, and bottom, $79, Club Monaco

L Space crochet racerback bikini top, $88, and bottom, $79, Club Monaco

2. The Monokini

The dramatic cutouts on the side of this suit, and the shiny trim, all add dimension and shape to a straighter body type. (I also found a $63 version of this suit, in white).

Karla Coletto Hologram monokini, $276, ShopBop

Karla Coletto Hologram monokini, $276, ShopBop.

3. The Fancy One-Piece

Peplum, ruffles and other fun details create curves, while a v-neckline flatters your frame. Ruching, draping and gathering are also flattering details for you.

Mix and Match Peplum tankini top, $78, and bottom, $44, Anthropologie

Mix and Match Peplum tankini top, $78, and bottom, $44, Anthropologie

Small Bust

One word – ruffles. Ruffled or embroidered detail at the top of any suit add volume for an instant bust. If ruffles aren’t your thing, look for padded and push-up styles from lines like Voda Swim, which is designed for small busts.

1. The Ruffle Bandeau

Frills add dimension to a small bust, and the V in the middle make the most of your cleavage.

BooHoo Tuscany bikini, $25.

BooHoo Tuscany bikini, $35.

2. The Pushup Bikini

A padded, pushup style adds serious volume that still looks natural.

Voda Swim Envy push-up bikini, $107.95,

Voda Swim Envy push-up bikini, $107.95,

Large Bust

Lingerie sites like carry a wide-range of suits for fuller busts from brands like Curvy Kate, and ASOS also carries trendy styles in “fuller bust” sizes. And these suits come in a variety of sizes, not just plus sizes, as is the case with many full busted styles.

1. Classic Underwire Top

You’l get all the support you need in this top designed for a fuller bust.

Midnight Grace "Rita" top, $45, and bottom, $29,

Midnight Grace “Rita” top, $45, and bottom, $29,

2. Trendy Bikini Top

ASOS has an assortment of trendy styles sized for fuller busts.

ASOS Fuller Bust wrap bikini top, $33, and brief, $22.

ASOS Fuller Bust wrap bikini top, $33, and brief, $22.

Tummy Control

Depending on the amount of control you need, you can opt for a sleek suit in a thicker fabric or a suit with control built in. A shirred or ruched style is very flatering, and if you more coverage than control, look for a tankini or monokini with a sheer or crochet panel across the tummy.

1. Tummy Trimming Bandeau Suit

I loved this suit for its sleek modern style before I knew it had tummy control. The black panels on the sides whittle the waist.

River Island zip Virginia tummy control swimsuit with mesh panels, $63,

River Island zip Virginia tummy control swimsuit with mesh panels, $63,

2. Shirred Maillot

The ruching at the sides of this suit disguises lumps and bumps without offering true tummy control.

Beach Candy "Elysia" shirred one piece, $164,

Beach Candy “Elysia” shirred one piece, $164,

Curvy Bum

Control suits have come a long way, with sleeks sophisticated styles available in all sizes. Look for a thicker material designed for control, in a sleek maillot or add a very small skirt for extra coverage.

1. Slimming Maillot

MiracleSuit bating suits are designed with a fabric that sucks everything in, and this sleek black bathing suit will flatter almost every curvy girl.

Miraclesuit Sandra D maillot, $156,

Miraclesuit Sandra D maillot, $156,

2. Skirted Style

This dramatic, high-fashion suit makes a serious statement, but the flattering draping and subtle bum coverage are perfect for downplaying a curvy bum.

Norma Kamali "Diana" draped bikini top, $235, and bottom, $225,

Norma Kamali “Diana” draped bikini top, $235, and bottom, $225,

With a little understanding of your body type, and an awareness of the different bathing suit options, shopping for one becomes a little less daunting. And while this list of pointers may not turn buying a suit into your favorite activity ever, I hope that it helps point you towards a suit that is pretty and flattering and brings out your inner bombshell!


  1. says

    Highly informative post about bikinis. It is really important to wear the correct fit of bikinis depending on the shape of your body if you wish to look good. Most of the times women get confused on the type of bikini they should buy and end up with a badly fitting one that doesn’t suit their body. It is really important to understand the body shape and make a purchase accordingly.

  2. Kay says

    I’m confused… I am a 1 (3)… I would be a 1 if it weren’t for my abs which tend to push forwards from working out. So what is my best bet? I have found that strap-bandeau tops look alright with a more flashy bottom (less fabric, not more frills). I wish my body type were more on-point with one or the other 🙁

  3. says

    Hmmm… now I’m curious! I’d love the opportunity to help you be certain of your body type. I just got your body type submission, but do you think you could also either do the measurements or send me a full length picture. 🙂 I can help you figure that out. From your description, you do sound like a 1 (3) but I’d love to know for sure. 🙂

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