While we’ve already learned some tips for how to choose the best bathing suits to slim your figure, it’s not really that helpful if you can’t even get yourself to the store to start trying them on. This isn’t a scare tactic; for many women, it’s reality. The prospect of trying on teeny bikinis in front of a full-length mirror under fluorescent lights—and perhaps the prying eyes of the circling sales attendants—is enough to make even the bravest among us run for cover.
But, contrary to popular opinion, the experience doesn’t have to be a horrifying one. It can be pleasant, and—dare we say it!—even fun.
We, too, were skeptical, but an expert convinced us it’s possible. Audrey Jimenez, a style and fit expert at New York’s Upper East Side location of chic swim store Everything But Water, shared with us her tried-and-true tips for making a trip to the suit aisle a delightful experience. Check out her wisdom below!
1. Pick the right store.
“Shop where there’s good dressing room lighting, and where the fitting rooms are comfortable. Seek out stores that have sales associates who are truly experts in fit, which is much more likely at a store that offers swimwear year-round. Pick a shop where you will have access to a wide variety of brands and styles, and therefore a greater likelihood of finding a number of suits you love and work well for you. It’s most important that you feel confident. Your preferences should be your first thought, rather than those of your friend/boyfriend/husband or the latest fashion magazines.”
2. Carve out a good chunk of time.
“Most important is to choose a time to shop when you are not rushed and can really spend time finding the best fit. Plan to make swim shopping a luxurious investment in yourself, have patience, and be willing to spend the amount of time it takes to find the best suit for you. Think of it as an investment in comfort and style for the summer or your vacation. Expect to try on a number of suits, styles, and brands to get to the best suits for you, and allow a knowledgeable sales associate offer advice and guidance. Make time for swimsuit shopping when you can enjoy the experience. Think of it as a mini-break before your vacation or beach time.”
3. Don’t skimp on the undies.
“It should go without saying, but wear underwear–ideally a thin pair–or use a disposable pair provided by the store so that you can really gauge the fit of the bottom of the suit and the look of the legline.”
4. Give the suits a miniature test run.
“Move around the fitting area or take a walk through the store. Do the straps stay in the correct place? Are the legs riding up? Is it still comfortable after you’ve worn it for a few minutes? To make sure the top fits properly, lean over. Everything should stay in place. If not, try a larger size or different style.”
5. Consciously focus on stepping outside your comfort zone.
“Don’t get stuck in a style rut. Many women don’t veer once they have found a style that works. There are great styles for every body type, and swimwear evolves with new trends and styles. If you like to wear a one piece, try a tankini. If you like boy shorts, try a shirred skirted bottom. If you like black swimsuits, add a splash of color. The best fit for you might be different from what it was a few years ago or what you have in your mind’s eye, so have an open mind to what may work best for you now.”
6. You will wear a size larger in swimsuits than in dresses, so don’t flip out.
“Swimsuit sizing does not strictly correlate to dress size. You will likely wear a size larger than your typical dress size.”
7. When in doubt, go smaller.
“If choosing between a suit that fits more snugly or loosely, select the smaller size. Swimsuits expand when wet and the smaller size will hold you in better and provide additional support.”