Behind the Story  June 20, 2017

How to Find a Bathing Suit That Fits Like a Glove

by Larkin Clark

When Well+Good connected me with Mali Sananikone Gaw, the co-founder of luxe swimwear line Via Eden, for a recent article on common swimsuit shopping mistakes, my first thought was, “Cool! … But I still probably won’t find a suit that looks perfect on my body.”

It took me years to feel comfortable wearing bathing suits and, to be honest, I still get a little nervous when I shop for them. Though I can finally wear a bikini and feel appreciative of my real-girl ripples and curves, my swimwear shopping process has remained a tedious ritual that usually concludes with me settling for something that’s “Eh, good enough.”

Interviewing Gaw, however, made me realize finding the right suit isn’t a game of chance or just something women with a certain body type can pull off. My frustrations shopping, she explained, likely occur for two main reasons: The fashion industry doesn’t always cater to diverse body shapes (not my fault), and I’m not looking at the right details when I shop (totally my fault – but easily fixable).

Below, a few more eye-opening excerpts from our interview on how to find the perfect fit. Time to suit up.

Don’t look at the size on the tag.

“It might sound obvious, but pay attention to the actual fit, rather than what a tag says. ‘Sizing in swimwear varies so widely between brands and countries that we always tell our customers to ignore the numbers and focus on how a garment fits,’ Gaw says. Also consider buying from brands that sell their bikinis as separates, and always try on at least two sizes to see which feels best. ‘It’s really easy to get caught up in size discrepancies, especially when buying non-American brands, as they don’t vanity size like we do in the US,’ she notes.”

Show as much of your butt as possible.

“While at first, you may feel uncomfortable baring a bit of your backside, Gaw says it’s actually more flattering to wear the cheekiest bottom you’re comfortable with. That said, if you’re not willing to go full-on Brazilian with your suit’s cut, the designer recommends color blocking or contrasting bands around the waist and leg openings (which create the appearance of a skimpier bottom without actually showing more skin) or bikini bottoms that have pin-tucking, ruching, or a dipped-back waistline (which give your bum a visual lift).”

Look for an adjustable underbust.

“You wouldn’t leave the house (or hey, get out of bed) with an ill-fitting bra—but when it comes to swimsuits, many women don’t give support a second thought. Needless to say, you probably should. Gaw recommends looking for options with an adjustable underbust seam for one-pieces or bikinis with underbust ties (which allow you to customize the fit without the stiffness of an underwire). ‘Make sure the underbust band or strap is as tight as you can comfortably tolerate,’ she says. ‘It should fit snugly but allow for movement—and be parallel to the ground, not angled down, which compromises the support.'”

Ready to put those tips to the test? Here are some Via Eden pieces I’ve got my eye on. Read the full article and all of Gaw’s tips over at Well+Good.


Wayfarer Perforated Double Triangle One Piece, $395

Dunes VE Back Bralette, $180


Straits Perforated Tipped Bias Bottom, $185


Tides Wrap Top, $180

Words and interview: Larkin Clark 
Product photos: Courtesy of Via Eden
Photo of Larkin: Sarah Wendell

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  • Jenny Kawa

    Finding the perfect suit has been the bane of my existence. I finally found one I love and then I lost weight… which is great because I feel better in my clothes but still not confident enough to rock a bikini. Have you seen Robyn Lawley swimwear? She has an amazing skull print suit I’m dying to have. Thanks for the tips!

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