Shopping: How to pick the best swimsuit for your body

From the April 12, 2012 edition

Gals in the market for a swimsuit have a lot of bold options this season, said Elizabeth Bean Smith, founder of styling company Wardrobe Therapy. Suits awash in orange and tangerine dreams abound, as do glamorous tribal and safari prints and feminine details like ruffles and polka dots. Kitschy-cute high-waisted numbers hearken back to the 1940s.

But when you’re shopping for a swimsuit, remember that fit should always come first, Bean Smith said. Here are her tips for doing just that.

Shape: Hourglass

Spot it: Shoulders and hips that are about the same width, small waist

What to try: “These women really can wear anything. They have a lot of options,” Bean Smith said. Hourglasses can pull off the high-waisted retro bottom trend we’re seeing this spring, she added. “High waists work on a woman who is confident with her stomach. They really highlight your stomach and waist, so if you have a bulge, they’re going to draw attention there.”

Shape: Inverted pyramid

Spot it: Broad shoulders, narrow hips

What to try: “She’ll want to emphasize her hips. Try a low-rise bikini to help your hips stand out more.”

Shape: Triangle

Spot it: Narrow shoulders, broad hips

What to try: “Here you want to draw attention away from the hips,” Bean Smith said. “Try a top with a lot of details — a print, a brighter color or ruffles. A wrap at the hip, like a sarong or a skirt in a solid color, is great for these shapes, too.”

Shape: Rectangle

Spot it: Athletic, straight up and down, minimal curves

What to try: “Something with details on the top, like ruffles, enhances flat chests. A halter top works; it draws the eye in and up. A swimsuit with some ruching, like a one-piece with ruching on the sides, helps give the illusion that she has this tight little pulled waist,” Bean Smith said. “Boy shorts will help balance her out. Boy shorts are great for a woman who doesn’t have much of a bottom; they will really show off curves.”

Shape: Apple

Spot it: Weight carried in the middle section

What to try: “Ruching on a one-piece can hide a tummy and create the illusion of curves. Or try a cute tankini or fuller top.”