Civility: Choose swimsuits wisely

As I have mentioned earlier, there may be nothing wrong with your body, but only in your choice of bathing suits. Educate yourself about your body so that you can make the best decisions. In 1935 swimwear covered 35% of the body; in l942, 24% was covered; and in 2010, only 14% covered our bodies. Companies are now creating more choices for body-slimming suits. Finally, they are listening to women. The following are suggestions for different body types:

Long torso (longest area from nape of neck to break-of-leg)

Wear a solid color on the bottom with a lighter color or print on the top. Horizontal details, high-cut legs, empire waists and high necklines visually shorten the torso. Square-neck tanks, tankinis with sports bras, high waistline with little torso showing, contrast horizontal belts, hip-covering briefs and underwire push-up bras shorten torso.

Short torso (Short area from nape of neck to break-of-leg):

Vertical lines, overall small prints, deep necklines, curved/ diagonal lines, dropped waistlines, longer skirts, and low-ride bottoms elongate torso.

Small busted

To enhance the bust, wear ruffles on bust, jog-bra style, pleats/larger prints, halter tops, gathers on underwire/padded bras, and bust/shoulder accessories. Wearing V-necks, boy-legs, strapless, tankinis, ruching and molded cups will visually enhance bust.

Low bust

Raise bra straps and wear pleated patterns, beading or details on bust.

Large busted

Wear a Miraclesuit, tankini, medium-thick straps, built-in bras, slimming tankinis, and one-piece underwires. Wearing one-piece crisscross back straps, high necklines, sweetheart necklines, one-piece wrap maillot, or DD cups in one-piece suits is flattering. Or, wear Spandex-wide straps with dense double-layered fabric, two-piece tummy control panels, skirted bottoms, and halter straps with criss-cross fronts.

Full hips

Wear open-wide necklines, built-in skirts, bathing suit and pareos in same colors, tankinis w/skirted pants, ruffles/sequins on bust, horizontal stripes across bust and midriff, empire waists, built-in padded bras, color blocking, and two-piece bathing suits.


Wear two-piece suits, horizontal stripes and lines at waist will shorten waist. Wear belt the color of pants to visually shorten waist.


Wear low ruffled waists, belts the color of dress or blouse, lower waist line, low belt, and deep necklines.

Full tummy

Super- hold fabric, tummy control panels, double knit fabrics, and bust enhancements with padding or larger prints, tunic tops, and dark color on hips are flattering and deflect attention to a full tummy.

Full bodied

Plus-size bodies can wear sheer insets at midriff, a dark suit with light color down sides, high-cut legs, one color, vertical stripes down sides, looser-fitting suits, or a corset-style maillot. Smaller prints can minimize fullness.

Full waists

Wear two-piece tankinis, bust emphasis with larger print or lighter color, wide-set straps, or a deep V-neck halters that visually slims waists.

Straight boyish figure

Goal is to visually create a waist with a deep V-neckline, wide neckline, cross-over halters, knots at waist, sheer insets at waist, side ties and curves with diagonal strips.

By knowing your body shapes, personal colors and figure challenges, you will be better educated and will feel more comfortable wearing the perfect suit for you. Go, girls!

DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, is an image/etiquette & civility specialist who conducts seminars, and private consultations. Contact her at (626) 584-9761 or through

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