The promise of summer brings with it many long-awaited activities, from beachside rendezvous to ice-cold patio bevs. It also marks the return of a far less-anticipated event: bathing suit shopping. Perhaps it’s the fact that the selection is overwhelming, or that many guides on how to pick the right style for your shape insist on comparing women’s bodies to fruit. (Are you an apple or a pear? Are we making sangria?)
Posed with such a dilemma, we tapped Natalie Leung, designer of new Toronto-based swimwear label Waiwah for her sage advice on which bathing suit styles work best for which body types. With experience as the head of wardrobe at Canada’s National Ballet School, her knowledge of stretchwear, light-reflective colours and high-performance fabrics makes her a guru for the swim set—after all, who doesn’t want to feel like a ballerina in their bathing suit?
The Athlete “Feminine styles, like florals or pastels, can balance out a muscular body,” Natalie says. “Low-rise bottoms will show off a toned tummy, while a classic cut leg (not too high or low) will sit just right on built thighs.” She also recommends straight straps for softening shoulders and a cinched bust to highlight curves.
Floral bikini, hm.com, $35
Agent Provocateur Mazzy Cutout bikini, net-a-porter.com, $361
Faye bikini, bethrichards.com, $249
The Marilyn You’re unapologetically voluptuous with a booty that just won’t quit. You have a luscious bust, but may need some assistance keeping it contained—in this case, look for styles with a shelf bra or underwire for support. “Vintage-inspired designs like high-waisted bottoms or vertically seamed one-pieces can make for a more streamlined figure,” suggests Natalie. “Sportier looks with zipper details also make for an attractive juxtaposition on curvier body types.”
Lisa Marie Fernandez Poppy Zip High Waisted bikini, boutique1.com, $459
Sporty bikini, joefresh.com, $30
Nadia Tri-Tone Halter, waiwahlabel.com, $319
The Waif You’ve got a slender silhouette, although you may lament your lack of curves. “Avoid bandeaus as they will result in a hard, rectangular shape,” Natalie cautions. “Instead, look for deep-v one-pieces or monokinis with side cutouts to create some contours.” Sweetheart necklines and accents like ruffles around the bust and hips are also helpful for achieving a more curvaceous figure.
Melissa Odabash Naples Lizard-Print swimsuit, matchesfashion.com, $315
Blakely Beach Print bikini, ae.com, $66
Nixie Cut-Out, waiwahlabel.com, $273
The Peanut You’re pint-sized with great proportions, but could benefit from some elongating styling tricks. “A high-cut bottom sitting above the hipbone will help to lengthen the leg, while details like vertical stripes or tall necklines can make you appear longer,” advises Natalie. She also prescribes string bikinis for petite frames.
Topshop Scalloped Underwire bikini, nordstrom.com, $70
Seersucker bikini, jcrew.com, $128
Équilibre Graphique, shan.ca, $325
Waiwah Swimwear is designed and made in Canada. For more information, check out waiwahlabel.com.