A top swimwear expert shares…The best buys for beach confidence
Swimwear season has well and truly arrived, and — if you’re anything like me — digging your saggy old cossie out of the drawer, let alone wearing it to strut your stuff poolside, isn’t sparking any joy.But the days of unflattering and uncomfortable swim togs will be a thing of the past if you heed the advice of lingerie and swimwear expert Susana Lorena.The London-based bra expert, who previously worked for top lingerie retailer Rigby & Peller and swimwear brand Eres before opening her own store in West , says we should shop for swimwear as we do lingerie, ignoring fads and putting fit, cut and comfort at the top of the list.Here, she busts some of the biggest swimwear myths and offers tips that will leave you more confident than you’ve ever been with your bikini choices . . .A BIG BOTTOMED BIKINI DOES MAKE YOUR BOTTOM LOOK BIGGER Flower-adorned bikini top, £35, and briefs, £29, stories.comThe reality is: the more you cover your bottom, the bigger it looks. Yes, big bikini bottoms are everywhere and, yes, curvy women have been told since the beginning of time to go for full coverage — but don’t! Extra fabric means extra inches. Instead, look for skimpy, high-cut bottoms and adjustable side ties which elongate your legs. Rather than constricting and concealing those curves, show them off. You have nothing to hide. The Maryan Mehlhorn Softline collection of one and two pieces is great for curvy women — it goes up to XXL or size 18. Gottex is another great option — its Onyx and Liv swimsuit ranges are excellent for full-chested and long bodies, and come in square neck, round neck and halter-neck.Or, if you’re on a budget, high street favourite & Other Stories has a pair of perfectly-cut emerald green bikini bottoms (£29, stories.com).STEER CLEAR OF PATTERNS Watercult asymmetric swimsuit, £159, maisonsl.com Texture swimsuit, £170, wolfordshop.co.ukI am partial to a print, but unless it’s delicate and small or cleverly placed, I think prints should be left to your beach cover-up. The problems with prints on a swimsuit is they can make you look bigger. Cut-out or asymmetric one pieces are a much better way of adding curves where you need them, or look for a wrap-style one piece which can create an hourglass shape by cinching in the waist. Nicole Olivier is a wonderful brand from the South of France and the cut-out, asymmetric styles like Acacia or مانومتر زینسر Alcyon create beautiful curves. Another good option is the Aubade Beach Escape collection. SMALL BREASTS DON’T REQUIRE PADDING Deep-V swimsuit, £68, boden.co.ukThirty years ago maybe, but nowadays you just need a little triangle top to get the most fashion-forward look. Another advantage of having small breasts is that you can wear a deep plunging neckline without it looking too revealing. (Head to Boden for a multitude of deep-V styles.) If you want to add a bit of shape now and again (or hide nipples!), many bikini tops and one-piece swimsuits have removable foam pads. Crocheted fabrics and ruching also give the illusion of volume in bikini tops. See And/Or’s frilled floral bikini top (£24, johnlewis.com). Crocheted fabrics and ruching also give the illusion of volume in bikini topsPush the boundaries with what you’re ‘allowed’ to wear — comfort is key. Banana Moon, Aubade, Valerie and Watercult all do triangles and removable foam pads which are good for smaller breasts.BIG BOOBS DON’T NEED SHAPEWEAR Aside from the fact that minimisers are uncomfortable, shapewear swimsuits often squish your assets down — and why would you do that?What big boobs do need, however is a cup, so buy your bikini like you buy a bra. Big boobs need a cup, so buy your bikini like you buy a bra. Choose a brand like Curvy Kate, Lise Charmel or Aubade and buy your swimsuit by your cup size, not your dress sizeChoose a brand like Curvy Kate, Lise Charmel or Aubade and buy your swimsuit by your cup size, not your dress size. If you can, get fitted for it because, trust me, you’ll look and feel better than you ever have on the beach before.BLACK ISN’T ALWAYS THE MOST SLIMMING COLOUR Navy swimsuit, £260, heidiklein.comBlack can be incredibly harsh against certain skintones. If you want to stick to dark colours then turn to softer shades such as khaki, navy, brown and burgundy. And remember: a correctly fitting swimsuit will do more for you than any colour can. You might have to try plenty on before you find something that suits, but that’s OK.A SWIMSUIT VS A BIKINI Tummy control ruched bandeau swimsuit, £40, next.co.uk Tummy control padded square neck swimsuit, £29.50, marksandspencer. comObviously a one-piece swimsuit covers your tummy, but unless you buy the right style it can have the opposite effect. You need a style that accentuates your waist. Usually that’s a wrap swimsuit style or a style with what we call pin-tuck, where the details in the tailoring make your waist look smaller. Also go for a matt fabric because shiny fabrics tend to make you look bigger. I love the Maryan Melhorn Softline collection, but for a cheaper option, Next has a glorious fuschia swimsuit with a waist-enhancing ruched detail (£30, next.co.uk), or try Marks & Spencer’s ruched waist swimsuit (£29.50, marksandspencer.com). TAKE MORE THAN ONE SWIMSUIT FOR YOUR HOLIDAYFor many of us, your swimsuit is what you’re going to be wearing all day, every day on the beach and you’d never dream of wearing the same dress every day for a week. I recommend two or three options you can mix and match. No more squeezing into damp togs the next day!