"I think every woman is self conscious about how her body looks in general, and then to have to compromise that feeling by putting on something that shows a lot of skin, it's extra, extra challenging," says celebrity stylist and "My Body, My Style" host Sam Saboura. "I think there is a way to feel good in a bathing suit, but 70 percent of it is confidence and 30 percent of it is getting the right fit."
It's tricky: We can hardly wait to get to our summer vacations and start spending weekends lounging poolside, but the thought of stuffing our winter worn, pudgy and pasty bodies into bathing suits? Consider the panic button pushed. But there are ways to lessen the pain of donning a swimsuit in public. No, these tips won't instantly give you gams like Gisele, but they will help you look a little leaner, and, really, what woman doesn't want that?
Big bottom girls:
- "For a bottom-heavy person, you want to keep it dark on the bottom," Saboura tells StyleList. "If you're comfortable with your thighs, a higher cut is going to elongate your legs and create more balance. If you're not comfortable with your thighs, a square-cut bottom will balance your curves and give you more coverage."
- Milena Joy, a Denver-based wardrobe stylist, says to avoid skirted suits, which typically hit at your widest part, drawing more attention to the area. "Instead, choose a sweetheart or other dramatic neckline to create the focus on your top half, rather than your bottom half." And, she says, avoid the boy short. "Boy shorts visually take up more surface area, so they create the illusion that you are larger."
- "The biggest question I get asked as a style expert is how do I conceal my tummy," Saboura says. He says a tankini lends a bit of freedom of movement, and newer, longer styles let you "ruche them yourself, the way you would a longer tank top." He's also a fan of the Miraclesuit. "They have wonderful built-in components and design details to camouflage the tummy, like ruching, draping, asymmetrical details. Those things are going to cut the curviness of the tummy and fool the eye."
- "I think we should wear swimsuits, but we should wear styles that really makes us look good," Charla Krupp, author of "How to Never Look Fat Again," tells StyleList. "And now that swimsuits are built with shapewear, it's kind of the best of both worlds."
- She urges women to try the new line of swimwear from Spanx that has shapewear built into it. "You would never know because they're so cute and they're so stylish, and they come in all these fun colors with strategically placed color blocks around the sides or around the stomach that really are designed to make you look thinner."
- "I don't believe in tankinis or bikinis after you have reached a certain age and you have a muffin top or a Buddah belly or back fat," Krupp says, discussing how not to look fat in swimsuits. "You need to hide the fat, not let it all hang out there. A one-piece halter top is the way to go. For most women, it's the most flattering. I think the tankini is neither here nor there because your stomach is still going to pop out."
- Saboura says halter styles are universally flattering. "They're good for large busts because they give you lift and a little bit of cleavage, but they're also good for smaller busts because they kind of accommodate what you have and maximize it at the same time."
- "A lot of women don't put very much effort into their cover up," Krupp says. "They just wear an old blouse or a big white shirt or an oversize T-shirt that says the name of their local team. These are going to make you look fat." Krupp recommends a sundress or a sarong. And, if you're going to a pool party, ditch the flip flops for a sandal with a little bit of a heel. "Any little height will make you walk better, stand sexier, put a little spring in your step and make you look a little bit taller and leaner," she says.
- A key mistake women make when they're uncomfortable about their bodies is hiding them behind too much clothing and fabric, Saboura adds. "Showing the best part of your arms, showing skin at your neck and showing skin at your leg is a great way to elongate your body and make you look slimmer."
- And our experts agree that board shorts are not flattering for older and full-figured women, instead, Joy says, try a maxi dress, or a semi-sheer cover-up to give "the illusion of a flawless figure."
- "A lot of women forget about their legs because they haven't thought about them all winter long," Krupp says. "But if your skin is moisturized and looks tan, it will look thinner." And here's another reason to go bronze: "A self tan is also good to cover up cellulite."
- Saboura likens swimsuit shopping to trying on jeans. "You try on seven to 10 pairs of jeans before you find the right one," he says. "You can't get discouraged about your bathing suit because it's going to take trial and error to find the right style for you and the style you love."
- Surprisingly, our swat team of stylists agree that ditching the dressing room is the way to go.
- "I think going into a dressing room with those lying mirrors and horrible lighting is one of the most devastating experiences for women," Krupp says. She suggests ordering several styles and sizes online, and trying them on in the privacy of your own home. "That way you can run in them, jump in them, lie down in them, make sure that you're not falling out anywhere. It's just a much better way to swimsuit shop."
- Krupp says a belted suit, where the belt hits right under the bust line, can help fake a thinner waist line, and Saboura adds that a bathing suit with a wider waistband or belt, ruching or a sash detail, acts the same way a wide waistband works for a curvy woman. "That's going to do wonders to balance out your hips," he says.
- "Black is going to be the slimmest color," Krupp says, "but also try navy or brown. And if you get the right shape, you might even be able to get away with a red or a burgundy." But stick with solids, she says. "Forget dizzy patterns -- they're just going to pack on the pounds."
- Also watch out for white and metallics. "They can really make you look fatter than you are," she says. "White is going to show everything. And I made the mistake of buying a metallic suit once. It really reflects the sun and gives you a spotlight all over your body in places you don't want it. And those big patterned Pucci-style suits? They look so cute on the hanger, but wearing a big pattern on your belly or rear end is really tricky for most of us. A solid in a dark color is going to be so much better."
- Saboura says the one-piece cutout bathing suit trend is blazing, but while it can work on someone with a fuller bust, your tummy needs to be long and lean.
- Krupp says most women should just steer clear: "If you're cutting out in an area where you have major rolls and flab, the suit's not going to be good, because the whole idea is to hide the fat. My opinion is swimsuits are small enough as they are, who needs them to be getting cut out and smaller?"
Here's more on How Not to Look Fat in Swimsuits.