Now that I’ve booked my trip to Costa Rica, I’ve been dreading the big, bad bathing suit shop. Just thinking about stripping down and staring at my bare essentials is enough to make me delay the inevitable. How do I find a suit that will hug the right curves while hiding the wrong ones? Where do I start?

According to Marnie Heenan, a fit expert at Melmira Bra & Swimsuits in Toronto, bathing suit shopping can be easy – if you know what to look for. Here are a few tips to take along with you to the store.

What to look for when you’re bathing suit shopping

Calm the Fear

Trying on swimsuits is intimidating no matter your size, age or confidence level. So try to think less about how you look in the change room and more about where you’ll be wearing it. On the beach? At the pool? By the lake? Just visualizing yourself in the hot spot, breathing in the warm air, will take you on a mental vacation that helps you get started.

Think Coverage

For many women 35+, retro-inspired looks are a great option. Not only are they very on trend (thank you, Mad Men!) but they also help to mask certain areas. High-waisted bikini bottoms or ruching (gathered fabric) give the illusion of a slimmer tummy while halter necklines direct attention up towards the face. Underwire and bra-style tops give a larger bust lift, separation and coverage, while also elongating your torso and making you look taller. And don’t say no a one-piece suit so fast. This style is back in full force, with many slimming, sexy suits to choose from.

Shape Up

Certain styles fit many shapes – such as tops with tie-backs or removable padding – and keep in mind that more than one style will complement your figure. But every woman does have a different body type, and there are styles that will fit yours best.

PETITE: Take a less-is-more approach. Wear moulded cups, smaller prints, and skimpier tops and bottoms. Too much coverage can overwhelm your figure.

LARGE-BUSTED: Cup-sized swimwear works best. That means sticking with tops with underwire or banded halters. For balance, choose fuller cuts on the bottom.

APPLE-SHAPED: Halter necklines add the illusion of shape to your bust and hips. Wearing a higher neckline will elongate your torso.

PEAR-SHAPED: The best way to achieve balance is to wear a bandeau on top and French-cut bottoms. Avoid halters, which maximize a “triangle” shape.

ATHLETIC:  Add curve to your boyish shape by incorporating halters and hipsters, but avoid bandeaus and boy shorts, which can flatten you out.

Take A Chance

The fact is, every body is as unique as a woman’s fingerprint. So when choosing the right suit for you, think beyond shape and consider your own personal style, too. Your personality is what makes a suit feel like you, giving you that extra boost of confidence. And remember: Some suits may not look like much on the hanger, but trying on what you might not typically gravitate towards can lead to a wonderful surprise. In the end, keeping an open mind is the secret to swimsuit success.

Photo Credit: Bikini by Shan

About the author

Randi Chapnik Myers

Randi Chapnik Myers is Co-Founder and Content Editor of, the only lifestyle site by women 35+ for women 35+. A journalist, blogger, editor and marketer, she specializes in custom content creation for publications, companies, brands and authors at Proud to call herself a social media addict, Randi is never far from a screen—even when she's out hunting for designer bargains.

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