The Best Swimsuit Guide (In All the Land)

by KATHERINE KAPNICK · May 26, 2010


Bathing suits are a summer tradition and a Hamptons staple. They whisper of days spent lying around on warm beaches or beside azure pools, cold Rum Punch in hand.  Get a real-life guide to the Do's and Don'ts of swim shopping from a resident GofG bathing beauty.

So why is it the prospect of shopping for these little devils consistently turn sane women mad? I have no idea. But, like it or not, swim season is upon us again; so unless you’re partial to those “if you’re avacado-shaped, start here…” manuals that sell so many fashion mags, I suggest you take a gander at our fabulous guide to swimsuit success…and disgrace.

DO: Get the Right Size

My most important “Do” may seem obvious, yet it’s consistently violated on beaches worldwide. I don’t care if you just wolfed down a hamburger at Fred’s, buying your bottoms two sizes too big will not make you look skinnier. It will make you look like you need a diaper. And just because you can squeeze into a size smaller than usual doesn’t mean you should. It’s two strips of stretchy cloth: of course you can pour yourself get into the size down. That doesn’t mean it fits.

DO: Ask for Help

Most sales-assistants know more about flattering styles than the girl who wrote the “if you’re grape-shaped” guide. So ask for help. And try stuff on! In the store! Nobody likes staring at their half naked body under fluorescent lights while surrounded by mirrors. Like stepping in poop, it is an unavoidable fact of life. Do not try to avoid it.

DO: Go for Elegance

Bright crazy patterns are fun, but can quickly look dated. Plus, in particularly skimpy styles, they may end up getting you confused for Heidi Montag (never a complement). Stock up on bright solids and timeless patterns.

DO: Splurge

It’s better (and cheaper) to buy one $300 stunner than four $80 duds. I still wear my black strapless Tomas Maier from high school (my cost-per-wear is like 8 cents…nbd), and it's still the most flattering bikini I own. If you take care of your swimsuits (which basically involves washing them in the shower with you after you go in the pool, life’s hard), they'll last for a long friggin’ time.

DON'T: Choose White

Unless you’re feeling seriously good about yourself. White swimwear is really, really hard to pull off. It is for the very young, the very tan, the very toned and no one else. Just take my word for it.

DON'T: Buy Your Suits at American Apparel

The triangle tops and string bottoms you find in those little plastic bags on the walls of American Apparel may look like bathing suits, but they are not. The fabric is too skimpy (also, not waterproof), the cuts are too…ugly fragile. These weird unique garments work as underwear I guess, but that’s it. If you want plain styles in plain solids, check out J.Crew for some real, all-American swimwear at similar prices.

Where to Shop:

Calypso, Eres, Heidi Klein*, J.Crew, Mallia Mills,, Rosa Cha, Sirene Collection Online, Tomas Maier, Victoria's Secret, Zimmermann, not American Apparel...

*This is an English-based store so ordering from them is a little diva and arguabley unworth it, but I’m addicted.

[Photo Via Pink Bicyclette]

[Bikinis, from left to right: Melissa Odabash Lydia Triangle Bikini, $87.50; Ralph Lauren Ricky Striped Bikini, $95;Victoria's Secret BeachSexy Twist Bandeau Top and Double String Bottom, $36.50; Calypso Alpina String Top and Marsa String Bikini, $49 each; J.Crew Heritage Solid Wrap Tank, $80; Ondademar Zingara Twist Front Bandeau Bikini, $168; Heidi Klein Grenadine Print Bikini, $211]