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Dare to bare

Too skimpy, too unflattering, too much…Kathryn Whittaker finds stylish bikini solutions.

Published on July 14th 2006.

Dare to bare

It’s that time of year again where we bid farewell to the mixed bag of British summertime weather and say helloooo to a sunnier climate. But if the thought of squeezing into an itsi bitsi teeni weenie bikini is just too much to bear, here are some stylish solutions to solve those swim suit woes, whatever your shape or size.

As a general rule, if you want to disguise any area on your body, attract the attention elsewhere. This is a great tip to put into play if you, like over 40 per cent of UK women have a pear shaped figure (larger bottom and thighs with smaller boobs). Try mixing and matching your bikinis - patterns, horizontal stripes and padding on your top half will a) make your boobs look bigger and b) detract from your bottom half.

Keep the bikini bottoms plain, in a matt fabric and a dark colour. Those shorts that we all think cover our bums up are a no no for those with fuller thighs as they cut right across your widest point making you look even wider and shorter. Opt for a high cut leg which will slim and lengthen and pick a pair that actually fit- women go up around 2 sizes with bikinis. Try styles such as this stripy number £45 from figleaves, mix it with plain bottoms and you’re away.

If you are blessed with curves now is the time to show them off! Generally busts over a C/D cup need a little support to give you the best shape possible so treat your bikini top like a bra and opt for an under wired choice. This doesn’t mean granny style boulder holders. Try this very flattering halter neck style from Bravissimo £38 which gives ample support with a stylish twist.

Dark base colours and strong prints create the illusion of slimness, so keep the shiny fabrics and tiny polka dots to a minimum if you want to look beach beautiful and body buff.

For a slimmer body with few curves, a string bikini is the perfect option. Try adding horizontal stripes and padding to the top half and belted styles or shorts for the bottom, giving the illusion of curves even when there aren’t any there! Try styles such as this multicoloured two-piece, £66 from Lidea.

For larger tummies there are the tanikni styles. Be careful to make sure these fit as they can look truly awful with bellies hanging out around them and boobs spilling over. A better option is to opt for a regular bikini and if you are conscious of your tummy have something easy to throw on when you are walking around - after all; most tummies look flatter when you are enjoying some horizontal sun worshipping! Why not opt for a stylish and comfortable kaftan or one of the many cover up tops that are springing up on the high street. This one is £32 from Monsoon, but M&S and Debenhams both have tonnes to choose from.

The key to looking good on the beach is to be comfortable. Pick swimwear that allows you to move and doesn’t cut off your circulation. It is worth investing in at least two great bikinis, you will live in them on a beach holiday so your price per wear will actually become very low.

To glam up from the beach to evening, try creative uses of sarongs and bejewelled accessories such as anklets, toe rings glitzy flip flops and hair bands. Try Accessorise, John Lewis and Top Shop for some tasty trinkets.

Kathryn Whitaker

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