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Get Swimsuit Sexy: How to Rock a Bikini (With Photos)
If You Own the Suit, Then You Own the Whole Beach
Time to Stop Hiding
Good-bye, one-piece swimsuit! And hello, sun-seeking stringy bikini!
This year, you won't be hiding behind an oversized cover-up. Or bypassing the surf and sand altogether to flee for the mountains. No, sir-ree! The sun, sand, and waves are just waiting for you to swap that one-piece for a teeny bikini.
You've decided you're going to be toned, tanned and taut. And this year, you're going to totally own the beach. If this is your goal, then here are some tips and inspirational photos to help you in your quest for summertime fun.
Surf's Up, Girls! Wear Your Bikini with Confidence
I Hope You're Here for the Right Reasons
I hope you're here for some tips on how to select the right bikini. (You're not a dude, are you, simply doing a drive by looking at the photos?)
Bikinis are fabulous choices if you have the body and confidence to compliment them. When I was younger, I rocked a string bikini myself. Pick out a bikini that best suits you by following the tips below. They're the same ones I've shared with my own daughter. It's all about fit, flatter, and function. Good luck, girls!
Reader Poll: Tell It To Us Straight
Be honest. What's your objective for being here?
Life Guards on Duty: Function MattersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tip 1: Select a Swimsuit That Fits and Flatters Your Shape
If you want to look great in a swimsuit, then you have to have the right size, cut, color, and fabric. Select your next bikini by taking your best friend with you when swimsuit shopping. (It's always best to have another opinion.)
For the best experience
- Remove unwanted body hair before shopping. This will provide a more realistic preview of what you'll look like in the suit.
- Work on your self-tan so that you know what color of bikini will look best with your summer skin tone. It's difficult to select a flattering bikini color if you'll be three shades darker by the time you actually wear it.
- Stop obsessively self-scrutinizing! Remember that the harsh lighting and triple mirrors of the dressing room will detract. Everyone looks better in natural beach lighting. Your friend will tell you if you need to rethink your decision for a two-piece.
- Never—as in ever—skip the underwear while trying on suits. While it may give you a more realistic idea of what you'll look like on the beach, that's just nasty hygiene. (Yeah, you know why.) And after you buy that bikini, wash it before wearing for the same reason.
The Bikini: Wearing It WellClick thumbnail to view full-size
Find a Bikini That's the Right Cut, Color, Size and Fabric
Keep these points in mind when selecting a suit:
- Bikinis are often not the best choice of bathing suit if you have a thick waist.
- High cut bikinis are an excellent choice for shorter girls, as they help elongate legs.
- Use triangle tops and halters if you want to draw attention to your bust.
- Details such as ruffles, ties, and bows also draw attention to a particular area.
- Consider whether you can actually swim and move about on the beach in your suit. Strapless bikinis have a way of accidentally falling down in the waves. Avoid the embarrassment.
- Be tasteful and age appropriate. For example, thongs tend to be unflattering even on toned and tanned bodies. Leave something for the imagination. You don't want to be a walking example of "too much information," do you?
- You can often purchase bikini tops and bottoms separately, thus you don't need to be "matchy-matchy." For example, choose a bright color for the top and black for the bottoms.
- Use bright colors and patterns to accentuate (e.g., your bust, hips) and darker, solid colors to downplay.
- If you're fair-skinned, avoid pastels, white and earth tones. These colors are often too close to your skin tone and can make you look "washed out."
- If you have dark skin, consider selecting vibrant colors to provide high visual contrast. Hot pink and jewel tones can make a big impact, for example.
Swimsuit Choice Communicates a Message About Who You Are
Reader Poll: Tell the Truth
How well do you rock your swimsuit?
Fabric - Pay attention to the thickness and quality of your bikini fabric. For example:
- crocheted fabrics can become heavy when water-logged -- not a good look or feel.
- Avoid shiny, reflective fabrics and metallic-colored accents. Sharks can mistake the glittery effect for that of fish scales. (Shark attacks are an exceedingly rare occurrence, but why take the chance?)1
- Some fabrics may be thin or become nearly see through when wet. Make sure your swimsuit has sufficient lining. I've seen examples on the beach of dark pubic hair showing through wet swimsuits due to insufficient lining. Gross.
Size - It's so easy to buy the wrong size, as bikini sizing can differ from that of other clothing. (It often runs smaller.) Be sure the size is right. Don't hesitate to choose a larger size. Only you will really know.
- Consider what activities you'll be engaged in while wearing your bikini. Are you simply wanting to stroll on the beach? Will you be playing volleyball, lifeguarding, running, or engaged in other active water sports? The more active you'll be on a regular basis, the more coverage and support you'll likely want (i.e., think sports bra, tankini style bikinis).
Other helpful hints:
- To create the illusion of a bigger bust, consider padded tops, tie fronts, and under-wire push ups.
- If you want to add the look of volume, ruffles make an area look bigger.
- Bigger busted ladies (larger than a C cup) need to pay extra attention to "security" and coverage issues. Consider an under-wire, wide straps, and a thick chest band to minimize jiggling and fallout. You don't want "the girls" breaking free.
Tip 2: Tan Your Body Safely
The look of a tan can give you an attractive, sun-kissed appearance. Being a bronzed beauty, however, can come at a high price.2
While sunshine confers the natural benefit of increased Vitamin D levels, a suntan is the skin's sign that your body has been exposed to ultraviolet radiation. That is, suntans are signs of skin damage, and over time they may result in DNA damage to your skin and an increased risk of melanoma. Tanning beds can result in additional risks, such as the increased risk for cataracts and corneal burns.
Used in moderation, self-tanning products are a healthier option. Research has found the use of self-tanning products to be associated with
- reduced sunbathing
- fewer sunburns
- a greater willingness to wear protective clothing in the sun.
For information on how to achieve a great DIY tan, click here.
Exude Confidence With Eye Contact, a Smile, and Good Posture
Tip 3: Confidence Counts
Have you ever listened to the lyrics of the oldies song, "Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie, Weenie, Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini?" Don't be that girl. Wearing a bikini is like wearing your bra and panties in public, but face it: if you're going to wear a bikini, then rock it confidently.
Avoid Arm Barriers
Confidence matters, whether you're on the beach, in the classroom, or at work. If you can't believe in yourself—not only how great you look but how awesome you are as a person—who else can?
Communicate your self-assuredness with good posture, appropriate eye contact, and smiling:
- Walk tall with your shoulders back and your back straight. Slouching communicates low self-esteem and low energy.
- Don't cast your eyes on the ground.
- Using "arm barrier" positions can also communicate a lack of confidence, although you will certainly claim you're doing so because the position is simply "comfortable."3 Examples of arm barrier positions: adopting the "brozen zipper" position (hands cupped across the genital area), crossing your arms over your chest, the "self-hug" stance, and using an object such as a large bag or beach blanket as a type of security blanket.
Be Proud Of Your Body, and Have A Body To Be Proud Of
Common Body Concerns and What You Can Do
What You Can Do
Muffin Top or Spare Tire
A roll of fat around one's middle section
Selecting processed and fast-food meals over healthier options. Declining estrogen levels. Increases in adrenaline and cortisol. Cheating yourself out of 7 or more hours of sleep.
Increase physical activity, especially through cardio training and weightlifting. Reduce carbohydrates. Choose meals that are balanced and portion controlled. Manage stress levels. Get adequate sleep.
Streaked or striped scarring of the skin, often located on the abdomen, thigh or breast.
Genetics. Rapid growth or weight gain, as with puberty or pregnancy.
Laser treatment. Camoflague the marks with self-tanner. Apply vitamin E oil or a skin cream containing retinol to pink, purplish or inflamed stretch marks. Accept the silvery ones as a rite of passage.
Intestinal gas that creates swelling and a feeling of fullness.
A diet of rich, salty, and fatty foods. Eating gas-producing foods (e.g., broccoli, salads, beans). Swallowing air.
Stay well hydrated. Choose healthy, low-sugar foods. Minimize salt. Don't gulp beverages or eat too quickly. Avoid using straws and chewing gum. Reduce your stress level. Get moving.
Cellulite (or Orange Peel Syndrome, Cottage Cheese Skin)
Skin that looks dimpled and lumpy.
Lifestyle factors like smoking. A diet high in fat, salt and carbohydrates and low in fiber. High levels of estrogen, insulin and other hormones. Genetics.
Reduce the fat content in cells using exercise and a healthy diet. Use 0.3% retinol cream. Treatments via laser and radiofrequency systems.
Bat Wings (or Bye-Byes)
Jiggly upper arms that lack muscular definition.
Loose skin and loss of muscle tone, often age related.
Bicep and tricep exercises using 5 to 8 pound dumbells.
Cankles (or Calf-Ankles)
Chunky ankles that give the appearance that one's calf extends directly into the foot.
Fluid retention. Genetics.
Chew on parsley, a natural diuretic, or take a supplement of horse chestnut. Engage in calf muscle exercises to add definition. Select wedge shoes rather than ankle-strappy sandals. Opt for laser surgery if you must.
Get Fit & Look Hot This Summer Using This Bikini Workout
Tip 4: Ultimately, It's NOT About the Swimsuit
Americans -- particular American women -- often struggle with how they perceive their bodies. Your choice to wear a bikini puts you in a minority, and although being in that minority could make you feel uncomfortable at times, the reality is that you may not always be able to rock a bikini. (So enjoy being young.)
Consider these statistics related to body image:
- According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 1 in 4 American women is obese.4
- The average American woman is size 14.5
- The U.S. Department of Commerce abandoned the uniform sizing system in the 1980s so that manufacturers could stroke the egos of the American public (and line their own pocketbooks with our vanity). Consequently, what had been a size 16-18 in the 1950s is now about equal to today's size 8. Sizes can vary substantially from one brand to another.
- Less than 1 in 5 women opt for a bikini.6
- A survey of 1,000 women by Fitness magazine found that 89% of women who wear bikinis feel most harshly judged by other females.7
While wearing a bikini is guaranteed to get you some attention, keep in mind that ultimately, what really counts is your heart and mind. Are you a good person? What qualities do you have to offer the world? Most certainly, it's more than a sexy body.
Reiterate to yourself your positive features, from intelligence to a sense of humor to your empathy. Hopefully, being healthy and looking and feeling your best should be part of a larger positive self-view. Every bikini-clad beach bunny is someone's daughter.
Got Mush in Your Tush? Know When the Thong Is Wrong
VIDEO: Body Image and The Media
Beauty, Brains and Personality, Too: Love Who You AreClick thumbnail to view full-size
Top Beaches in the Continental United States
Enjoy the Beach!
Make These Fancy Flip Flops To Match Your Swimsuit
- How To Make Fancy Flowered Flip Flops for About $10
Summer is the time for sliding on the flip flops! Learn how to spruce up a pair of plain flip flops even if you're on a budget. It's easy, fun, and most of all, your art is wearable!
1Oceana. "Tips for Avoiding Shark Attacks." Oceana. Last modified 2012. http://oceana.org/en/our-work/protect-marine-wildlife/sharks/learn-act/tips-for-avoiding-shark-attacks.
2Evans, Susan. "The Dangers of Tanning Beds." The Dr. Oz Show. Accessed January 19, 2014. http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/susan-evans-md/dangers-tanning-beds.
3Westside Toastmasters. "Arm Signals." Accessed January 19, 2014. http://westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/book_of_body_language/chap4.html.
4Gallup.Com - Daily News, Polls, Public Opinion on Politics, Economy, Wellbeing, and World. "In U.S., Obesity Rate Stable in 2012." Accessed January 19, 2014. http://www.gallup.com/poll/160061/obesity-rate-stable-2012.aspx.
5Brown, Alyssa. "In U.S., Obesity Rate Stable in 2012." Gallup.Com - Daily News, Polls, Public Opinion on Politics, Economy, Wellbeing, and World. Last modified January 23, 2013. http://www.gallup.com/poll/160061/obesity-rate-stable-2012.aspx.
6Women’s Issues, Advice and Personal Stories. "Women Feel Judged Most by Other Women When They Wear a Bikini." Last modified May 27, 2011. http://www.mydaily.com/2011/05/27/women-feel-judged-most-by-other-women-when-they-wear-a-bikini/.
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