Isn’t it a little cruel that as soon as the holidays are over we’re deluged with pressure to buy swimwear? Swimsuit shopping is a chore even under the best of circumstances—in the summer, when the sun is shining, bodies are toned and skin is glowing. Shopping for a swimsuit in February, when we’re all pale and cold and still carrying a little extra Christmas “cheer”? Not exactly on top of anyone’s must-do list.
But if your winter plans include a Spring Break trip or a midwinter getaway, you’ll need a new swimsuit. Here’s how to shop for one without losing your mind or your self-esteem.
Cut—The Briefer, the Better
In these pre-bikini-bootcamp days you might be tempted to gravitate toward more modest cuts like boy shorts, high waists, tankinis—don’t. That extra fabric can actually tend to squeeze and pinch the areas that you do not want squeezed and pinched. A better solution is actually to look for a less modest cut like a string bikini with ties that can be adjusted to sit perfectly on the hips and bust without creating a muffin top. The best part is that once you’ve lost that 10 pounds (resolutions!) and are ready for summer strutting, you can cinch the strings tighter for another perfect fit.
Color—Think Jewel Tones, Not Neons
If you’re lucky enough to have a dark or olive skin tone, you can pull off any color at any time of the year, so go ahead and skip to the next section. If you’re fair, though, look for a winter suit in deep jewel tones like burgundy, violet, cobalt, and emerald green. Neons and pastels are not totally flattering to skin that hasn’t seen the sun in months and might be a little dry and flaky. Just sayin’.
Mix & Match
Buying bikini tops and bikini bottoms separately isn’t just a great way to assure you get a perfect fit—it also gives you the chance to get a perfect style. If it’s your lower half you’d like to downplay, choose a dark, simple bottom and pair it with a light-colored or embellished top. Wherever you add the interest is where the eye will go, so festoon your best assets like nobody’s business.
Shiny, reflective fabrics highlight every curve and contour, whether you want them to or not. For an option that’s a little more forgiving figure-wise, pick a suit in a matte fabric that won’t reveal what you’d rather conceal.
Know When to Go
It should go without saying, but go shopping on a day when you feel positive and optimistic about yourself, and mitigate dressing room disasters by doing a little bit of pre-shopping prep. Visit the store when you have plenty of time to browse and evaluate, and make sure to wear a seamless thong. Use a glow-inducing self-tanner a day or two in advance, or at least slather on some lotion to make sure you’re not ashy. And since nothing’s as shudder-inducing as the sight of disheveled socks, bring along a pair of sandals to conjure up a beachy look instead of a fluorescent-dressing-room one.