Find The Perfect Swimsuit for Your Shape
What Deanna sees in the mirror: "In high school I was the tallest, skinniest girl in my class, but when I turned 40, my body changed. Now all I see are huge legs and big, fat hips," says Deanna, who works in commercial food sales. "I wish I could put my torso on someone else's bottom half, but I can't. A dressing room is the place to get honest about your body." Recently, the 59 Deanna started wearing bathing suits with skirts, which only made her feel matronly.
Adam's solution: Because it emphasizes the hips, a skirted suit is actually the worst thing Deanna could choose, says Adam. Instead, she should look for a suit like this one (Sundance, $158), which creates balance by drawing attention to her upper body. "The ruffle does a lot to detract from the weight of my hips," says Deanna. With a one-piece, choose a solid color, Adam says; with separates, go lighter on top and darker on the bottom.
If you're small up top »
What Yvonne sees in the mirror: "I find that most bathing suits are too big for my upper body," says Yvonne, a retired phys ed teacher with a 34A chest. "It comes down to finding good padding. If a suit doesn't have a lot, it ends up looking loose on top. I can't have that. I've worn only one bikini in my life." Yvonne's current suits are so old and stretched out that "they're hardly worth bringing home from vacation," she says.
Adam's solution: Soft, molded cups like the ones on this suit (Victoria's Secret, $88) provide a noticeable boost. The halter neckline also makes Yvonne's shoulders seem wider, building up her top half. "I love that this gives me cleavage!" Yvonne says. "I didn't know how to accentuate my features and camouflage the areas of my body that I find lacking. This suit revealed that I actually have a bust. I found myself peeking at the mirror and saying, 'Gee, I'm not so bad after all.'"
If you have tummy trouble »
What Nina sees in the mirror: "My stomach is the first thing I think about when I shop," says Nina, a sales executive. "Every time I put on a bathing suit, I turn sideways to see how far my tummy pooches out." Nina holds on to suits forever ("It's like I'm afraid to try to find another") and only buys them online ("Dressing room lights are horrible, jeans leave marks around your waist—there's no way it's going to be a good experience"). She wishes she could find a suit she likes as much as one she wore in the '80s: a black one-piece with white straps.
Adam's solution: Nina was on to something with that suit, says Adam. Colorblocking works, if it's in the right places. Here (Spanx, $198), Nina gets the benefits of shapewear plus a little visual trickery: The dark part is strategically placed over her stomach, bringing the eye to the lighter areas and carving a new shape. "I feel contained," she says. "I don't just look good for my age, I look good."
If you're long and lean »
What Susanna sees in the mirror: "People say things like, 'You're tall and skinny—flaunt it!'" says Susanna, a massage therapist. "It never occurred to me that string bikinis made me look like a stick figure. My boyfriend says I'm like a gangly teenager. But I hadn't considered wearing a one-piece. There are certain days I'd like to avoid my reflection; especially with bathing suit shopping, there's always an ugh moment when you see how you're sagging here or find a vein there."
Adam's solution: For a body that's straight up and down, a one-piece can create an hourglass shape in a way no two-piece can, Adam says. This strapless suit with a ruffled diagonal sash (Marc by Marc Jacobs, $173) emphasizes Susanna's chest and hips, creating a waist. "I thought I would always need to wear bikinis to show what little shape I've got," she says. "But this suit actually gives me more curves."
If you're plus size »
What Kerika sees in the mirror: "It's very hard for me to find a suit. Buying one is a wake-up call: Any denial up to that point about how much weight you gained over the winter is totally eliminated. When you're heavy, there's a lot to hold up," says Kerika, author of He's Gone...You're Back. "This is the biggest I've ever been, but I'm not going to let that stop me from wearing a bathing suit," she says.
Adam's solution: This Miraclesuit ($130) has Lycra to give Kerika's shape more support. "It drapes diagonally across the midsection, bisecting the body and playing up the waistline," says Adam. The deep V-neck and dark color are also flattering. "It makes me look good and feel comfortable," says Kerika. "My boyfriend and I planned a trip to Jamaica for my birthday. I can see myself wearing this on the beach with strands of beaded necklaces."
If you have a big chest »
What Erin sees in the mirror: "I regularly try on 25 bathing suits before I find one that works," says Erin, the owner of a marketing firm. "Since I'm a 32DD and small on the bottom, I have to shop for separates. The problem is finding tops that can accommodate my chest. It's incredibly hard to find a bikini top that fits like a bra, and I don't have the patience to sift through racks with my coat and my handbag weighing me down, getting dressed and undressed, looking for another size.... "
Adam's solution: This bikini is from Aerin Rose (top, $72; bottom, $50), a line that specializes in large cup sizes. It gives Erin a lot of support without making her look dowdy, Adam says. The built-in underwire is hidden so the top doesn't resemble a bra; the dark band operates like an Empire waist to make the bust look smaller. The result: Erin keeps some cleavage without looking over-the-top. "I feel like I look my age, the suit fits, and I'm not spilling out, so I don't have to be concerned about attracting undue attention. Plus, I love the pattern. How many plain black suits can you own?"
Still have questions? Here are 7 more ways to look slim in a swimsuit »