Skinny or Not, How to Look Hot at the Beach

Boost your body confidence to shine under the summer sun

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD

Wouldn't it be just swell if our weight-control goals always coincided with our real-life schedules, so that just as bathing suit season rolled around, we'd be the perfect size? Unfortunately, it hardly ever works out that way!

Try as we might to get in shape before having to reveal our bodies to the world (or at least our neighbors at the local pool party), it seems there are always a few more pounds to lose, jiggly thighs to tighten, and arms to tone -- not to mention a psyche in need of some serious bolstering to get us through swimsuit shopping.

If this sounds familiar, don't despair. Experts like fitness image consultanat Lisa Avellino say that with a little creative energy you can turn planning a day at the beach into a day at the beach! The goal, they say, is to accentuate your positives, beginning with selecting the right swimwear for your body type.

"You have to play up the feature you admire most about yourself -- likewise, if you're not comfortable with a certain area, don't bring attention to it," says Lisa Avellino, a fitness image consultant, celebrity personal trainer, and owner of the women-only Susan Marlowe Fitness Centers in Westchester, N.Y.

Selecting a Swimsuit

If, for example, you carry weight in your lower half -- if you're "pear" shaped -- look for a suit that is a solid color from the waist down, with a print, a bold color block, or a ruffle on the top, to draw the eye upward.

Another key element is proportion, Avellino says. By balancing the top half of your body with the bottom half, you can give your figure a more proportioned look.

"If you are top-heavy find a bathing suit that draws attention to the hip area. If your body type is straight (lacking a defined waistline), find a suit that has a pattern at the bust and hip area with a solid at the middle -- again drawing the eye to the areas you feel confident about," Avellino tells WebMD. One of this season's favorite beach silhouettes is the V-neck halter suit, a style that fashion experts say can bring out the best in almost any figure type.

"A plunging V neck, even one a little lower than you think is appropriate, really draws attention upward to your face, to your bosom and to your neckline -- and that's what people see first and the most," says Dannielle Romano, editor-at-large for DailyCandy.com, the ultimate online tip sheet on style. "Almost anyone can pull off the look."

What can also help: Getting a suit with great support. Today, that's easier than you might think. Romano says.

"There is amazing technology in swimsuit construction right now," she says. "You can get a suit that pulls you in, in all the right places, for a very reasonable price. You just have to take the time to look and try on until you find the one that's right for your body."

Check out the suit's bra insert and go for the best support you can find. The better the support in this area, the better your midriff, waist, and hips will also look, says intimate apparel design expert Colette Wong.

"If the upper half of your body is well supported, then your whole shape looks better. Your whole appearance is lifted when the bust is lifted properly," says Wong, assistant chairwoman of the fashion design-apparel department at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.

Also important, she says, is locking in on the right size. While this may sound simple enough, Wong says that wearing clothing that doesn't fit properly is one of the biggest fashion faux pas women make.

"What many of us don't realize is that our regular clothing size is really only a guideline or a starting point when shopping for a swimsuit and not the definitive way of selecting a suit," Wong tells WebMD.

Because a swimsuit fits altogether differently than clothing, experiment not only with different styles, but also different sizes, to find your best look, Wong suggests.

"Find the swimsuit you like in the size you think you are, but before you head into the dressing room also grab the same suit a size smaller and one a size larger, and try on all three before deciding if it's right or wrong for you," says Wong.

Many women, she says, are surprised at how much better a bathing suit looks when they simply change sizes.

Confidence-Building Beachwear