By: Nada Manly, Beauty Mommy
Are you feeling glum that swimsuit season is here? Well, here’s something that will cheer you right up: You are not me! Not that I want you to feel all sorry for me or anything, but I did just spend the last couple of months studying swimwear trends, perusing lookbooks and websites to research swimwear stories for magazines and posts on my site, BeautyMommy.com. Endless pictures of bikini-clad 18-year-old models can warp anyone’s perspective. Seriously. But it also taught/reminded me of a thing or two… including the following:
Swimsuit models are young.
- Seriously young. I just did a shoot a couple of weeks ago, and my very sweet models were in high school and brought their mamas with them. Sure, I could use older models, but they don’t model bathing suits, for the most part. It’s sad, but true! Whose skin isn’t tight at dewy at 18? Exactly. When I look back on my 18-year-old pictures and think of how critical I was back then, I want to say to my skinny little 18-year-old self: “Why are you complaining? I mean, besides your hair, with its unfortunate bangs, that you dyed red for that boy, but otherwise, why are you complaining? Just stop it. And eat a hamburger.”
Swimsuit models wear makeup.
- And I don’t mean a little makeup. I mean body makeup and face makeup and contouring, and then they contort themselves into uncomfortable poses and lay beguilingly on beaches and rocks and even in the ocean, and they freeze because bathing suit photos are shot in winter. Their hair is tousled just so, which takes hours, and their makeup is applied to perfection, which takes more hours, and before that, for weeks, they don’t eat or even sip water, in some cases. I have watched and directed hair and makeup for swim shoots many, many times, and trust me, it’s a lot of work. So next time I head to the beach with my girls, we are going to take a detour at the MAC counter for full face and body makeup, and then a quick stop at the salon for perfectly tousled hair. I’m sure they won’t mind.
Swimsuit models don’t really look like that.
- I know this, of course, because I spent years working at magazines, and I’ve seen art directors and graphic designers erase pounds and pimples with the click of a mouse. But sometimes, when flipping through the pages of the Victoria’s Secret catalog, I forget. While working on this story, though, I got a reminder when a brand sent me the still-unretouched images from their new swim collection. There was this beautiful, 20-something model looking, well, normal. Yes, she was still curvy and pouty and tousle-haired, but she also had human proportions and a couple of scrapes and bruises and even a tiny bit of cellulite. I was so excited I almost dropped my ice cream bar on my computer.
The only job of a swimsuit model on a shoot is to look good. The only job. I have a bajillion jobs, including running my business, homeschooling my kids and complaining about the ravages of 2 C-sections in 2 years. (Clearly kidding about the last one, but seriously, though, it does take up about 15% of my time). I also spend a lot of time filling water bottles with water that I don’t drink and running the wash a second time because I forgot about it. So, like I said, I’m super busy. Anyhow, I told you all of this not to depress you. Oh, I did depress you? Sorry. Seriously, though, there’s a silver lining. And here it is.
God doesn’t expect us to look like swimsuit models. And neither do our husbands. Or our kids. Or our friends. The pressure comes from one place — us. And once we learn to let go of the idea that we’re supposed to be 20-and-airbrushed perfect, we can enjoy all of the fun things to do in our bathing suits. Things like chasing littles at the beach or stand-up paddleboarding or boating or just sitting, with a good book, for a few quiet moments and letting the sunshine soak into your bones. (But not your skin, of course, because you’re wearing sunscreen!). But first, you have to find that suit.
All week, I will be sharing my tips on how to pick the right bathing suit for your body type, painlessly. But first, a few basics.
Find Your Best Swimsuit Ever!
3 Rules of Swimsuit Shopping
1. Skip the Store
No offense to swimwear stores, but trying on a suit in a small dressing room with unflattering lighting can be torturous. Instead, find a site with free shipping and returns, like Zappo’s, and order a few suits to try on in the comfort of your home.
2.Pick the Right Time
Not during your period. Or after that second cheeseburger. The best time is usually in the morning. Next, choose your lighting carefully. I like a dimly lit room. Sometimes, I even try on bathing suits in the dark. To each his own, right?
3. Consider a Coverup
Listen, there’s no good reason to be parading around the pool or the beach half dressed, so remind yourself that, when you’re up and about, you can slip on a super-cute coverup. Plus, if your bathing suit is only viewed when you’re lying down, your tummy will look its flattest.
And now, for the suits.
How to Pick the Best One-Piece Swimsuits for Your Body Type
Still don’t know your body type? CLICK HERE. Why would you wait? It’s free!
Suits above, top row, left to right: Zaful, Seafolly “Goddess”, Lenny Niemeyer; Bottom row: Topshop (Nordstrom), Araks “Harlow”, Kenneth Cole
The Best Suit for Your Proportional Body Type (Style Dial 1)
Look For: Vertical necklines, consistent pattern, “quiet” bottoms with minimal details for a 1, or interesting details at the lower part for a 1 (3). Check out the following catalogs for more Style Dial 1 and Style Dial 1 (3) swimsuit ideas.
The Best Suit for Your Curvy Body Type (Style Dial 2)
Look For: Horizontal necklines with detail at the top, a quiet bottom with minimal details; empire detail or seam. Keep the top especially bold and exciting if you are a Style Dial 2 (3). Check out my list for more Style Dial 2 swimsuits. And for Style Dial 2 (3) swim ideas, check this catalog.
The Best Suit for Your Straight Body Type (Style Dial 3)
Look For: Vertical necklines or horizontal necklines (if your shoulders aren’t wider than your hips), ruching, gathering or draping; detail at the top and the hip, waist-defining details. Check out my catalog for more Style Dial 3 swimsuit ideas.
That’s all you need to know to start finding the best one-piece swimsuit for your body type this season. So, what are you waiting for? Find your best swimsuit ever by ditching the bikini and embracing the subtle appeal of the season’s hottest swimsuit style!