How Not to Look Fat in a Swimsuit
After: Black always knocks off a few pounds, but this one-piece (Sirena, $37*) isn't just safe, it's positively snappy: White bands at the bust capture the eye, moving scrutiny away from her bottom half. "I want to embrace my curves," Sage says. "I don't want to think in terms of 'when I lose ten pounds' but find what looks good now."
After: The vivid tank emphasizes Thyais's narrow torso, while high-cut legs on dark brown bottoms make her thighs seem leaner (Be Creative top, $48, and bottom, $38).
Confidence trick: Bring a pair of heels when you shop for swimwear—they flatter legs and inspire better posture.
After: "No more grandma suits!" says Ann. Wide-set straps balance her proportions by visually expanding the upper body; narrow stripes add shape at the waist and moderately high-cut legs streamline her thighs (Gottex tankini, $162).
After: It's a myth that all skirt suits are dreary. This one (Carol Wior, $98) is short enough to flatter thighs, styled like a chic vintage dress, and, best of all, red. (Which brings us to another myth—that big women should avoid brights.) "I'm a plus size, but I love my hourglass shape," says Larissa. The flippy skirt gives her the allure of a 1940s pinup.
After: "There are benefits to not being full-busted," she says. "No sag." And the freedom to wear a deep, voluptuous vee: This halter-neck (Hermanny by Vix, $172) sets off superb arms and shoulders; light-colored shirring showcases her waist and draws the focus upward.
After: The stylishly open back of this underwire maillot (Keiko New York, $260) has a strap for extra uplift. "I usually go for patterns and colors because I never thought a black one-piece could be sexy. But I was blown away when I saw myself in this—even my legs looked longer."
After: Similar pattern (black backgrounds are more slenderizing than paler prints), svelter shape: This maillot (Liz Claiborne, $93) has seaming to mold Datania's torso, plus shirring and a shelf bra for a bust-minimizing effect.
After: A string bikini (Tomas Maier, $395) is spectacular on Yan, elongating her body, playing up her curves, and showing off slim, athletic legs.