Though holidays abroad might be off the table for many people this year, staycations, day trips and sunbathing in the park are all still good alternatives. Either way, swimwear season is upon us, and it’s time to get prepared for the summer sun.
The problem is, without knowing what type of body you have, finding the perfect swimwear for your body shape is easier said than done.
Women’s bodies are so wonderfully diverse and between the 10 main body types — each with their own variations — there’s a style to suit everyone.
Which Body Shape Are You?
Firstly, it sounds obvious, but to find the best swimwear for your body shape, you’ll need to know what your body type is!
From bone structure and height to ageing and genetics, there are a number of factors that can affect your body shape and determine how your body stores fat. This means that while you might accumulate weight in your legs, your friend may be more top-heavy.
Even how high your levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone are can affect your body shape. And if you suffer from stress, the hormone cortisol can cause fat to build up in your mid-section around your vital organs.
Put simply, there’s just no one size fits all.
The 10 Standard Female Body Types
It’s important to note that categorising body shapes isn’t an exact science. There can be dramatic variation from person to person even within one specific shape.
Even so, there are 10 typical body shapes for the female form.
- Hourglass: Your shoulders and hips are of around the same size, and you have a very defined waistline. In fact, your waist will be at least 25% smaller than your hips and shoulders.
- Rectangle: Your shoulder, bust and hip measurements are all very similar. That said, your waistline is not defined (meaning it is less than 25% smaller than your shoulder or bust).
- Triangle: Your hips are at least 5% wider than your shoulder measurement, giving your body a triangle shape.
- Inverted Triangle: The opposite of above – your shoulders or bust are more than 5% bigger than your hips.
- Diamond: Your hips are broader than your shoulders and you may have a fuller waistline and a narrow bust.
- Oval: Your bust is your largest measurement and you likely also have narrower hips and a fuller midsection.
- Spoon: You have a body shape that’s similar to the triangle. Your hips are larger than the rest of your body and you may also have a clearly defined waist.
- Top Hourglass: This is similar to the hourglass body shape, but your bust measurements are slightly larger than that of your hips.
- Bottom Hourglass: Unsurprisingly, the exact opposite of a top hourglass. You have the general hourglass shape, but your hip measurements are slightly larger than your bust.
- Athletic: Your body is muscular and not especially curvy. Your shoulder and hip measurements are about the same. Then your waist, while narrower, is not overly defined.
For most, it will take more than a glance in the mirror to work out which shape you are. Taking some quick and easy measurements is the best way to do this.
Measuring yourself is also handy when you’re online shopping for clothes online and you need to refer to the size chart to get the right size.
How to Choose the Right Swimwear for Your Body Shape
Every woman deserves to feel confident on the beach, in the pool or even just in their own back garden. Right?
Whatever your body type, the key is creating a balanced silhouette by strategically choosing swimwear styles that highlight the right areas.
From triangles to rectangles, spoons to ovals, our guide will help you find the swimwear that’s best suited to your shape so that you can feel confident and happy in the sunshine.
Firstly, if you have an hourglass figure, your silhouette is already naturally balanced and well-proportioned. (Lucky you!)
When it comes to swimwear, you should aim to accentuate your waist and legs by opting for high-waisted bottoms or a one-piece with a wrap waist.
- As an hourglass, it’s best to keep it classic and avoid swimwear with any excess fuss or frills. Basic cuts and colours like these ISAWITFIRST bikini bottoms (*) are straightforward but stylish.
- You can’t go wrong with M&S for high-quality basics, and swimwear is no different. We’re big fans of this Monochrome Wrap Plunge Swimsuit (*).
- With a retro silhouette and on-trend pattern, Accessorize’s Retro Ditsy Floral Bandeau Swimsuit (*) will also flatter your figure.
If you have a rectangle shape, your body is beautifully proportional already. Any swimwear you buy should focus on accentuating the waist. To achieve this, add volume to both your upper and lower body while keeping it tight around the waist.
- The criss-cross straps on these Missguided High Leg Bikini Bottoms (*) are a good way to add volume to your bottom half while emphasising your waist.
- If you want swimwear with a higher level of coverage, H&M’s High Leg One-Shoulder Swimsuit (*) is the one for you. Plus, it has a well-placed waist-boosting cut-out section!
- Monochrome will always provide a flattering fit. However, the plunging neckline and high leg make this H&M High Leg Swimsuit (*) especially suitable for those with a rectangle body.
As a triangle, the trick is to draw attention to your upper body, while keeping it understated for the lower body.
Pair darker bottoms with a strapless bandeau bikini top. Alternatively, try a tankini with a light or ruffled bust to allow this to take centre stage.
- This Teerfu Ruffle Bikini Top from Amazon (*) is perfect for accentuating your upper body.
- Likewise, ASOS has a good selection of bandeau tops, but we recommend this one (*) for its low-key ruffle.
- If you want the support of straps, Boohoo’s Halter Neck Frill Triangle Bikini Top (*) would be perfect with some plain bottoms.
4. Inverted Triangle
The opposite is true for an inverted triangle body.
The best swimwear for your body shape will take the emphasis away from your bust area, and instead highlight your lower body.
- One-piece bathing suits with cut-outs and plunging necklines can help you achieve the effect of a balanced hourglass shape. Try this gorgeous gingham one (*) from Nasty Gal.
- Don’t be afraid to go bold with prints. (Step forward, the ISAWITFIRST Zebra Print Swimsuit.) As long as you stick to the right cut, you won’t go wrong.
- When paired with a plain top, the tassels on these neutral Missguided Lettuce Edge Tie Side Bikini Bottoms (*) are an effortless way to highlight your lower body.
Do you have a diamond shape? If so, the goal is to highlight your upper torso and waist area.
A chic belted one-piece will do the job nicely. On the other hand, you could opt for a two-piece with a strapless top and high-cut bottoms.
- For a universally flattering fit, choose earthy tones like this Cupshe Pleated Swimsuit, which also nicely draws in just above the waist.
- It’s also a good idea to draw the eyes to the shoulders. Try showing them off by choosing this ASOS Recycled One-Shoulder Swimsuit (*) with a cute tie-dye print.
- For a simple but effective bandeau, choose one like ISAWITFIRST’s White and Brown Zebra Print Bandeau Top.
Newsflash: all body types are perfectly valid and wonderful in their natural shapes. You should never feel that you need to minimise the space your body takes up.
Even so, if you want a little extra support for your tummy to feel comfortable and self-assured this summer, we get it. In this case, look for a silhouette-shaping one-piece.
- With tummy support and a twisted front, this multiway M&S Padded Swimsuit (*) is complimentary for any oval body shape.
- Sweetheart necklines and cinched waists are two things you should look for in a one-piece. This H&M Shaping Swimsuit (*) has all of this and more, with added support.
- This M&S Zebra Print Halterneck Tankini Top (*) is perfect for long summer days by the pool (fingers crossed!) and has a fun animal print pattern.
As a spoon, the idea is to pick bikinis and swimsuits that minimise the attention to your midsection. To do this successfully, draw the eye to your legs and upper body with key details.
- Push-up or ruffled top halves are a great option. Here’s a primary example (*) from H&M of both elements in one swimsuit. Win-win.
- You could also go for a tankini with a plunge neck and ruched waist like this monochrome Tummy Control Plunge Tankini Top (*) from M&S.
- If you want to give cut-outs a go, start small. Opt for one-pieces like this Nasty Gal number (*) with top details that draw the eye upwards.
8. Top Hourglass
The trick when finding swimwear for your body shape as a top hourglass? Search for styles that emphasise your waist and bring more balance to your top and bottom.
- Simple solid-colour halterneck bikini tops like this one from M&S (*) are the way forward as a top hourglass. Triangle tops work just as well too!
- The general rule of thumb is to pair plain dark-coloured bikini tops like this Nasty Gal one (*) with lighter bottoms to optically balance out your hips and bust.
- The printed fabric ties and criss-cross detailing on River Island’s Wraparound Bikini Top (*) will help to highlight your waist.
9. Bottom Hourglass
If you have a bottom hourglass figure, go for swimwear that keeps the bottom half simple but adds volume to your upper body.
As with the top hourglass, emphasise your waist to maintain a balanced silhouette.
- For the top, embellishments and ruffles are your friends, meaning Missguided’s Red Frill Tie Front Bikini Top (*) is too.
- These MissGuided Black Crinkle High-Waisted High Leg Bikini Bottoms (*) are perfect, taking inspiration from the embellishments on the top half.
- Push-up tops are a good way to add volume to your upper body, like this one from Missguided (*). Likewise, wide-set straps can draw the eye to this area instead of your hips.
Lastly, the beauty of having an athletic body type is that the world really is your oyster when it comes to choosing swimwear.
We recommend you try out a bandeau top. Having said that, you could also experiment with plunging necklines, frills, cut-outs and prints – the bolder, the better!
- If you’re feeling brave, give Nasty Gal’s Bandeau High Leg Bikini Set (*) with cut-out detailing a go.
- Haven’t you heard, gingham is back? In other words, check out this sixties-inspired print with M&S’ Red and White Bikini Set (*) this season.
- Polka dots are another key pattern for SS21, so give a nod to the trend with this Missguided White Polka Dot Bikini Top (*).
The Importance of Finding the Right Swimwear for Your Body Shape
Finding the right swimwear for your body shape doesn’t have to be difficult. Armed with this guide you’re sure to find some new styles for Summer 2021 that make you look and feel great.
Remember that though we’ve presented the best options for your body type, you can — and should — wear anything you feel like you can conquer the world in.
Now all that’s left to do is to grab some sunscreen and get yourself outside while the good weather lasts!
Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded Trendy Tourist. Since 2017, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.