Secrets to a Swimsuit that Flatters Your Figure

Being in a bathing suit is weird. You're, like, almost naked. I don't care how comfortable you are in your skin, it's kind of bizarre that it's socially acceptable to wear so little clothes in public, right?

Meanwhile, with so little fabric and so little diversity in shape, it's very hard to apply a lot of the style principles I teach: how to be empowered over a garment, change the shape, the silhouette, the style chemistry, where the eye goes. A few strips of lycra don't give a girl much to be empowered over!

So I confess finding a suit I feel utterly comfortable in has been perhaps the last bastion to tackle. This summer, I finally succeeded.

Here's the truth: This isn't a post on how to dress every shape. {But if you're a different shape than me read on to draw your own takeaways and see my discovery about separates below!}

It's a deeply personal post if you share my shape struggles: namely your stomach {feeling like your stomach is your "problem area"} and/or feeling larger on the bottom than you are on the top.

Secret 1: Your magic word is balance, or more specifically, volume.

The science of style here is that in a flat two piece, with the same amount of fabric on both ends, my bottom half reads as larger than my top. I don't have an ample bosom and any weight I carry is in my stomach.

This means that high-waisted bottoms alone were NOT the answer for me: they only made my bottom half appear larger. Ditto one-pieces because they do nothing to change my shape -- they just show it as it is.

To balance out my shape, I need not just more fabric on top {nope, a tankini doesn't help either} but more volume. This could be ruffles, a swing top or in this case, peplum, but I need to use the top of my bikini to change my shape and create balance.


The moment I saw Kortni Jeane's suits on Instagram I gasped. Might this be the answer?!

I put on the suit timidly, preparing to be disappointed yet again, and wanted to squeal I was so happy with what I saw in the mirror. I could walk down the beach and NOT SUCK IN wearing this! It was a Christmas in July miracle!

The other aha moment I had looking around Kortni's shop was to consider my very small bathing suit drawer {unless you walk to the beach daily, how many suits does a girl need?} the way I do my closet:

Secret 2: Choose re-mixable possibilities to play with.

So I chose two suits, four separates, that all played or paired together. Which means I bought two suits, but have four options every time I head to the shore. I also love this because it means when you find a bikini that you LOVE the way it fits you: buy two versions!

Goodness knows you don't want to have to hunt anew, so just pick different prints and patterns from the same designer and style. And one last thing:

Secret 3: Guide the eye intentionally

Knowing that I want more balance or emphasis up top, I chose more bold and bright tops that would pull the eye upward. Squint your eyes at the photo below. What stands out the most?

One final way you're empowered is in choosing a 2-piece with two different prints or colors to direct the eye to where you want.

P.S. Of course if you're busty with teeny legs, you know you can just invert this whole equation. {wink}

Kortni Jeane Bathing Suits, Dean Street Society

Shop these styles { Swim separates : c/o KortniJeane | Beach hat : Betmar | Sunglasses : Cole Haan from TJ Maxx : Similar } + Photography by Michelle Kim 

And because you know Dean Street Society is style for the smart and savvy betty, you might take a moment to watch this Q Talk on The Evolution of the Bikini.

For me, my bathing suit woes have not been about modesty, but a lack of empowerment to change my shape to the silhouettes I know in real clothes are most flattering on my figure. Therefore, a one piece wasn't the answer, but could even make me feel more pregnant perhaps.

So whatever your swimwear struggle is, I encourage you to take back the power.

Look for suits that allow you to control where you want the eye to go and balance out your shape. Try on a ton of different styles in the dressing room and play detective.

Because there is a style that's most flattering on you, and that joy makes the beach oh so much more divine!


P.S. Oh and consider buying them now when you're tanned and they're on sale. After all, a Dean St betty should be prepared to be whisked away on a beach vacation this winter. {wink}

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