Swimsuit Central: The Perfect Bathing Suits for All Budgets & Bodies

By Erin Donnelly

Forget finding the perfect man—finding the perfect bathing suit is a challenge on par with digging up the Holy Grail and Jimmy Hoffa. Or at least that’s how it feels when you’re holed up in a 3′ X 5′ cell—er, dressing room—with a pile of discarded bikinis, a horrendously unflattering fluorescent light bulb, and a depressing close-up of every little dimple of fat on your figure. 

There, there. While there’s nothing to be done about crummy, poorly lit dressing rooms, finding a swimsuit that scores the lofty hat trick of flattering your body, filling you with confidence and comfort, and coming in within budget isn’t as impossible as it might seem. To make your shopping a little easier, we’ve rounded up our top picks for stylish bathing suits that work for a diverse range of tastes, bodies, and bank accounts. From organic bikinis to tummy-toning suits and more, this guide will bring you one giant step closer to the swimsuit of your dreams. Bonus: Swimsuits under $50 are highlighted in pink, so you can make a big splash on a small budget. 

Bikinis for Small Busts

If your dream bikini isn’t the only thing that’s itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie, consider yourself lucky. Small-busted gals are the only ones who can really pull off a number of bikini styles, including bandeaus, ruffled tops, and those sexy triangle tops that make anyone with a C cup or above look like a porn star. A few to try: Ella Moss’s floral-embroidered, coral Poppy two-piece (shown), ANK by Mirla Sabino’s turquoise-accented Heart Bandeau set, Rachel Pally’s ultra-girly ruffled Maui Bandeau Top, and the Jacie Triangle Bikini, a European-chic black and white striped two-piece adorned with glam gold links. Another option is to find a top with an underwire or slight padding to create the illusion of curves. 


Bikinis for Big Busts

If your cup runneth over, steer clear of unflattering bandeaus (which will squeeze your breasts into one big blob) and too-skimpy string bikinis (which are begging for a wardrobe malfunction). As with lingerie, a large bust calls for strong support, so keep your girls happy with a halter top or an underwire. Mossimo Black’s striped halter bikini in nautical navy will have you looking ship-shape without leaving your boobs below deck. Cia Maritima’s pretty paisley Kashmir Bikini (shown) provides underwire support and comes in the cut of your choice: US-style or the more revealing Brazilian. Want to flaunt those assets? The Miracle Bra swim collection from Victoria’s Secret lifts and highlights cleavage for a sexy beach look.



Tummy Trimmers
If your washboard abs haven’t quite, er, completed their rinse cycle, don’t just call it a day and hide in a caftan. Tankinis and one-pieces will help you cinch in that belly bulge so you enjoy the sun without worrying about hearing reports of a beached whale. Newport-News’s Shape fx Wrap-Around Suit (shown) features a fashionable, Diane von Furstenberg-style sash that hides the stomach, and the sleek silver design is fetching to boot. The cheerful Floral Print Tankini from Ann Taylor Loft provides plenty of coverage yet still retains the fun look of a bikini. Or, dive into this season’s hot color-block trend in this Trimshaper Colorblock Tank Swimsuit from Kohl’s, which features ruched details to flatter the figure. What to avoid: body-baring bikinis and solid one-pieces that don’t feature some sort of slimming detail (like ruching, wraps, control panels, etc.). 


Want to show a little love for Mother Nature this summer? Look for eco swimsuits that are sustainable without compromising on style. Meadow’s Braided Bikini (shown) in cream is 60% cotton and 40% bamboo, with braided ties that add a bohemian touch. The classic (yet so sexy) halter gets a green update with the 90% organic cotton Amanda Swimsuit, available in black or white. Want to shake things up? Go with this handmade organic cotton swimsuit from Mociun, which features a plunging halter top and a funky zigzag print. 

One-Pieces We Love

Thanks to revealing cut-outs and fashion-forward details, one-pieces are giving bikinis a run for their money in the sexy department. Old Navy’s one-piece Cross-Back Swimsuit (in brown, black or turquoise) is a classic suit with a chic twist, while Lux’s Retro Solid One Piece (in black, plum or slate grey) charms with its vintage aesthetic. Robin Piccone’s Mandalay One-Piece turns heads thanks to its side cut-outs, and DKNY’s Draped Swimdress screams “va va voom.” 

Now all you need is some SPF and a juicy beach read!


More SMW Summer Beauty & Fashion Tips:

Summer’s Fabulous Beach Cover-ups

Some Like it Hot: SMW’s Sizzling Guide to Summer Beauty

Summer Whites for All Ages