August 14, 2012

Bathing Suit Etiquette - And Other Tips to Swim/Live By

(from the July edition of the Family Magazine)

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the pool, the lake and on a boat this summer, and something is bugging me. Doesn’t anyone understand bathing suit etiquette?

I posed this question to a friend who works at a boat club, and she replied, “Bathing suit what?” So, I guess that answers my question.
There are appropriate bathing suits for given summer activities. Think of this just like you would about the right dress for the occasion, or the right shoe for the activity.

The first rule when it comes to bathing suit etiquette 101 is to find the right bathing suit that fits. I ask you this: do you want to see a poorly fitting, skimpy bathing suit on anyone? The truth is we simply don’t want to see that much of each other, so cover it up, especially when it comes to the bathing suit top. Make sure your top is appropriately covering…well, your top!

In an effort to make our area pools and beaches friendlier, more polite and fashionable places, I offer the following tips:


Carry a cover up with you wherever you go, and make sure that the cover up is one that dries quickly. In my opinion, there are few things more unsightly than a wet pair of shorts over a bathing suit.


We all have those “company appropriate” bathing suits as well as other suits we would only wear in the private confines of our backyard. Be honest with yourself as to which occasions your bathing suits are for.

Beach Attire off The Beach

Yes, we’ve all had a great time on the boat or at the beach. And I agree it would make for a perfect end to the day to stop for an ice cream or cocktail at that cute little bistro. However, it isn’t okay to go bikini clad into a non-beach establishment. Out of respect to others, put on that adorable cover up.

Getting a Good Fit

Now that we’ve all been schooled on the Miss Manner’s way of wearing things around the beach and pool, let’s dive in to finding the perfect swimsuit for the season! Getting a great suit is all about dealing with your situations, or as some of my friends call it, fluff – those fluffy situations that seem to sit right at our midsections and on our hips.

Conceal Midsection

  • The first thing to look for is a bathing suit with a lot of Lycra or spandex.
  • Consider finding a tankini-style with ruching and a patterned top. The pattern will act like camouflage.
  • A deep ‘V’ in the neckline will also distract away from your problem area.

Heavy Arms

  • If you fall into this category, shifting attention away from the neckline and shoulder area will be key for you.
  • Look for a suit with detail at the center.
  • Cover ups should match your bathing suits. Going monochromatic here is a good choice.

Small Bust

  • Look for suits that have a lot of detail or embellishment on the top. Things like ruffles, and maybe metal rings on the straps.
  • Contrasting colors (like pink and orange) will also make the top “pop.” Stay away from darker colors on the top, or a top that is simple.
  • Of course, always look for a little padding!

Large Bust

  • Make sure you choose a top with an underwire support. Many manufacturers offer bathing suits in bra-sizing. This makes it simple to get a very good supportive fit.
  • Darker prints without a lot of contrast will help to minimize the chest area.
  • Make sure that the coverage (in the neckline and around the underarm area) does just that…cover.

Disguise Hips

  • Skirted suits have made a comeback and are cuter than ever! Look for a skirt that is longer than the widest part of your hip.
  • Plain (without pattern) on the bottom with an interesting contrast on top will help to balance your hips and draw attention away from your hips and bring it to your face.
  • Don’t love the skirted idea? Then the opposite is best for you. A high cut leg will elongate your leg and help to minimize your hip.
  • No halter tops; choose bra-style straps. This will help to balance your hips.

Plus Size Bathing Beauties

  • Looking for suits with extra Lycra will serve you well (about 15-20% of the fabric content). Try the brand Miraclesuit. It really is a miracle!
  • Ruching and support will be important for you.
  • Try a bold print.

Other Quick Tips

No Curves? Halter tops are best!
Diamond or ‘O’ Body Shape? Find structure in the fabric and straps that will hold ‘things’ in place.
Feeling Bottom Heavy? Choose wide shoulder straps to balance your hips. Halter isn’t the best for you.

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