Bathing suit shopping is about so much more than picking what your eye is drawn to. To find the most flattering style, you’d do best to examine your bust and try the cuts likely to work best with what you’ve got. Ever since we found out that with breasts, it’s about shape, not just size, it’s been apparent that the key lies with your ladies.
For Ladies With a Large Chest
Generally, the best fit is… The extra support that comes with an underwire style makes it the wisest pick and turns drooping into a nonissue. “They should be sized by your cup size, which is how most women buy a bra. The actual underwire keeps you in place and the foam pad gives you shape,” explained Amy Romanowsky, head of technical swim design at J.Crew.
Certain straps will be more supportive than others.
“I’d look for straps that cross in the back. They keep the pressure off your neck and allow for a little less coverage in front,” Romanowsky advised women who might not like the full-coverage look that underwire styles can give. “Halters are great because it lifts you, but the common complaint is that the ties at the neck start to hurt after a while.”
“What other styles can I wear with my large bust?”
“You can definitely make other styles work!” Bikyni founder Jude Al-Khalil told us. “Our bandeau has removable pads and neck ties, so you can add support as you want. Look for styles with side boning that keeps things in place.” Rather than a tube style, shop for one with a thick tie in the back so you can tie as tightly as you feel comfortable in. Plenty of styles, including the below J.Crew option, have built-in underwire so you’ll be supported, even sans straps.
J.Crew’s floral suit.
For Ladies With a Small Chest
Generally, the best fit is… You’re fortunate enough to have your choice of tops, though Romanowsky and Al-Khalil both say the French bikini top is a particular favorite since it makes for a clean, simple line and opens up the neckline. Says Red Carter, designer of the eponymous swim label, “I prefer a padded triangle top for small busts. The less fabric, the better for enhancing the curves.”
Stellar tricks for faking size but not cleavage
Severely padded tops or push-ups can read as too synthetic. To add size to your bustline without pinup cleavage, look for tops that have something extra going on. Think ruffles, tiered fabric, cleavage, or 3-D florals that all add volume in a playful, trendy way.
“What about an underwire style for me?”
“Even though we think of it as a more supportive style for bigger busts, it can work for small-breasted women as well. Look for one with soft cups that will conform to your body—they’ll actually give you a little boost,” Al-Khalil said.
What Breasts Look Best in a String Bikini?
“Women who have firm small to midsize breasts will look best in a triangle top given the nature of it being less supportive,” Al-Khalil said.
And About Everything Cleavage…
The best bet for a sexy look is the flattering molded-cup halter. “The cup shape is complementary to all, and the adjustable neck straps let you add the lift that you want,” Al-Khalil said. Unlike string bikinis where the triangles are able to shift around, this retro-inspired shape has its cups in place…exactly where the designer intended them. “There’s a small gap between them that creates a super-flattering look,” adds Al-Khalil.
Another little touch to keep in mind is the construction of the cups themselves. Often you’ll find seamed darts, but Al-Khalil suggests a ruched style instead for a prettier look. “Darts take away the integrity of the look.”
J.Crew’s Romanowsky echoed the note about looking for “great side coverage.” It’s the area that might be the unsung hero of cleavage and is worth searching for in a suit. An underwire that ends abruptly at the side of your torso, rather than curving up toward the armpit, will keep breasts up but not together, a key placement for sexy curves.
Bikyni’s halter top.
Make Sure It Fits
“Fit tip number one is adjustability. Always look for adjustable straps, no matter what shape the suit is. Adjustability around the bra and extension of the straps is what helps provide versatility to get a proper fit,” Carter said.
When trying on different options, make sure you’re somewhere with a mirror that allows you to see how things look from behind. “Make sure the back is straight across your body, and that it doesn’t pull up toward your neck,” Romanowsky instructed.
Other Breast Conundrums
“What about boobs that sit far apart?” Go with a halter that has extended coverage on the side. The extra fabric will help to push your breasts toward the center of your chest, as does the classic neckline. “The ties help pull your ladies in and up!” Carter likes underwire since it “supports and brings things together.”
“I’m just planning on lying with a book all day. What style of top will be most flattering while horizontal?”
“Any top with pads. They’re constructed to give you shape and definitely still do the job when lying down,” Romanowsky said. Carter was practical about tan lines too, suggesting an underwire with removable straps. “It’ll keep all of your assets front and center, not in your armpits when lying down.”
“What’s that you said about different shaped breasts?”
Like we said, breasts come in different sizes, not just shapes. “It definitely affects the shape that’s best for swimwear. For instance, a triangle top doesn’t do teardrop shapes justice,” Carter told us. “Don’t be afraid to head to a speciality store and ask the staff for suggestions.” Large swim retailers will have the selection and expertise to help, and many lingerie and bra shops also stock swimsuits when we get into spring and summer.