High heels have made Susan Juarez's feet ache to their soles, and she even sprained her ankle once while dancing in stiletto boots. But soaring, slimming heels remain the 24-year-old Californian's favorite fashion vice. "I like that they make me taller, and they just look a lot sleeker," she says.
Like Juarez, legions of women have suffered in the name of painful fashion. How many of us have endured strappy sandals that cut into our feet, oversize designer bags that hurt our shoulders, too-tight...
But, experts say, there are ways to minimize the pain and maximize the
First off, take comfort in the fact that so many different swimsuit styles
are available today.
"No matter your shape or size, you can find the right suit to
fit and flatter," says Michele Weston, editor-in-chief of online fashion
And keeping a positive frame of mind, experts say, is a necessary step in
successful swimsuit shopping.
"Go shopping on a day when you are feeling confident about yourself, or
at least when you are in good spirits," advises Anne-Marie Blondeau,
marketing director for Maillot-Baltex swimsuits.
7 Tips for Shopping Success
Once you've got your confidence in place, follow this expert advice on
getting through swimsuit shopping season with your sanity intact:
Give your body what it needs. You'll cut down on the
number of times you cringe when gazing in that full-length mirror if you use
your lingerie as a guide to what to look for in a swimsuit.
"If, for example, you always wear an underwire bra and you know that your
bustline needs that kind of support, then you should definitely be looking for
swimsuits with an underwire bra," says Andy Paige, beauty and style expert
on the Emmy-nominated NBC show Starting Over.
The same is true for your bathing suit bottom, Paige says: Look for a cut and
style that mimics the undies you feel most confident wearing.
"If you're just not comfortable with your body unless you're wearing some
kind of shapewear, if you hate the way your body looks in anything but a
high-cut panty, then you've got to look for swimsuits with these same
features," says Paige.
Prioritize your assets. Do you have a fabulous bustline,
but not such a great tummy? Or a terrific waistline, but jiggly thighs?
Silhouettes.com merchandising director Fran Kauchner advises making a list of
your best assets before you hit the stores, then looking for suit
features that flatter the top three things on your list.
"If you know ahead of time what you're looking for, it's going to minimize
the number of 'bad choices' you try on," says Kauchner, "and that, in
turn, is going to keep you from getting down on yourself and ending up
Size up. Found a promising suit and can't wait to try it
on? Before you hit the dressing room, take two: one in the size you think you
are, and one a size larger, Paige says. And, she says, try on the larger one
"There is nothing more depressing than trying on that suit we love, only to
find out we have to squish and squirm just to pull it on," says
Swimsuit sizes vary dramatically from line to line, and even style to style.
And, says Paige you'll feel a lot better if you have to go down a size than if
you go up.
"That first look in the mirror is always less of shock when what you're
wearing is little bit big than a little bit snug," she says.
Bring sandals. No matter what the weather outside, when
you're shopping for a swimsuit, bring a pair of sandals, Paige advises.
"Nothing looks worse than a bathing suit paired with winter shoes and
socks," she says. "You won't get a true sense of how the suit looks and
you will shudder in the mirror."
Choose a store where you feel comfortable. If you love the
styles a store carries but find its sales help (or even the other customers)
intimidating, you're less likely to come home with a suit you love, says
Also important, she says, is to "avoid heavily trafficked shopping periods
– with weekdays better than weekends, and mornings better than afternoon or
evening." This is particularly important if the dressing rooms are
communal: The fewer people around, the less likely you are to feel intimated.
Never underestimate the power of mail order. Whether
you're shopping online or in a catalog, nothing beats having your suits
delivered right to your door.
"You can try it on in the privacy of your own home, you can bend and
stretch and sit and move and look at yourself from all angles," says
Kauchner. "And if you buy at least two or three suits in different sizes,
you can find the perfect fit, return the ones you don't like, and do it all on
your own timetable."
Wear a thong. Because nearly all stores require you to
wear underwear when trying on swimsuits, wear the skimpiest undies possible.
"There's nothing more distracting that trying on a swimsuit over loose,
bagging panties that are going to crumple and bunch under the suit," says
Paige. Wearing a thong, or at least bikini panties, will give you a cleaner
line that makes any suit look better.
Get a faux tan. The lighter your complexion, says Paige,
the worse you're going to look in that first glance in the full-length mirror.
"It's all that flesh coming into view all at once that shocks the eye,"
she says. The antidote: Slather on some self-tanner the night before you go
shopping."Being tan not only makes you look slimmer, it also puts you in a
kind of summer frame of mind," says Paige. "Plus it allows you to see
how your suit is going to look once you do pick up a little summer color, even
the kind in a bottle."
"Being tan not only makes you look slimmer, it also puts you in a kind
of summer frame of mind," says Paige. "Plus it allows you to see how
your suit is going to look once you do pick up a little summer color, even the
kind in a bottle."