Finding a bathing suit can be a daunting task, but it does not have to be. There is nothing more satisfying than finding a perfectly fitting suit that stretches in all the right ways and covers all the right places. If there is one person who has done their swimsuit research, it is Mali Sananikone Gaw, co-founder, and CEO of the new performance-luxe swimwear line Via Eden. In her personal collection, she has more than 300 bathing suits, starting with the ones she collected growing up in Hawaii as a teenager. "The sheer volume of my personal collection can be partially attributed to the fact that it was hard to find swimsuits that I could wear to paddleboard or surf that were also stylish, luxurious, and made me look great,” Gaw says. This was how Via Eden was born after she and her co-founder spent 18 months traveling the world to search out fabrics to test on real women before coming up with their own swim line. Gaw shares the six mistakes we are making when we are looking for the perfect swimsuit and how to do it differently.
Look Beyond Size
Depending on the store, fabric and swimsuit style, the sizing will vary, so instead of focusing on what’s written on the tags, pay attention to the actual fit. “Sizing in swimwear varies so widely between brands and countries that we always tell our customers to ignore the numbers and focus on how a garment fits,” Gaw says. If you are looking for a bikini, buy from a store that sells separate tops and bottoms so you can customize the pieces to your body shape. Trying on a few different sizes is a good way to see fit which you feel and look your best in. “It’s really easy to get caught up in size discrepancies, especially when buying non-American brands, as they don’t vanity size like we do in the US,” Gaw notes.
Do Not Hide Your Butt
Even though it may feel counter-intuitive and uncomfortable to bare your backside, Gaw says it is actually more flattering to show off more of your bottom when rocking your swimsuit. Visually your eyes are drawn to the areas that are covered by fabric, thus the more fabric, the more likely eyes will settle on that area. However if you are willing to cut back on coverage on your bottoms, Gaw suggests color blocking or contrast around the waist and leg openings, which can create the appearance of more skin showing without actually having to bare more. Also consider bikini bottoms that have pin-tucking ruching or dipped back waistlines that can give the appearance of a bum lift.
Women spend a lot of time and money on the right, supportive bra for all outfits, so why not give the same attention to your swimsuit? For many women, support is an afterthought, which is a mistake. Gaw recommends looking for options with an adjustable underbust seam or with ties which will give you the option to customize the fit. Ties are much less stiff and more durable than an underwire. “Make sure the underbust band or strap is as tight as you can comfortably tolerate,” Gaw says. “It should fit snugly but allow for movement—and be parallel to the ground, not angled down, which compromises the support.”
Avoid The Bra Cup Pads The Suit Came With
Flimsy, thin and not very supportive describes the standard bra cup pads that the average swimsuit comes with. If you have a larger bust, the included cups simply do not offer the support needed. “Replace them with removable bra cup pads that you can buy from companies like bravo which sells its pads online or at fine department and specialty swim stores,” Gaw suggests. “They’re ultra-thin, light, and natural looking, but still offer great support [and] nipple coverage.” Make sure to remove them when washing your swimsuit in order to keep their shape. If it is not support that you need, and perhaps extra cleavage, do not shy away from padded cups for that extra boost. Not one body is the same, so customizing the fit of your swimsuit is a no-brainer. Your beach body will thank you.
Do Not Shop Alone
Women often have an expectation of how swimwear should look on their bodies, which limits them in finding the right suit. Gaw suggests shopping with a friend who can offer a different perspective on what they think would look great on you. They may choose different colors, shapes, and styles that were not on your radar. Your friend can also take photos of you in your favorite options so you can see how things actually fit. It may surprise you to see how things look when you can view them from a different angle, or when compared to other suits you have tried on. Lastly, a friend can be good for moral support if you’ve tried on an endless amount of bathing suits with little success.
Avoid Cheaply Made Options
“Sometimes [poor fit is] the result of a garment that’s too small—but more often than not, pinching, cinching, or spillage is caused by unflattering construction techniques,” says Gaw. How swimsuits are constructed vary widely so avoid pieces that have the elastic exposed or hidden under wonky stitching. Unfortunately these are common construction techniques that contribute to an uncomfortable and unflattering fit. Instead, look for super thin and flat elastic seams with a clean-finished construction where the elastic or stretchy materials are fitted between layers of fabric away from your skin.