Q. Panic stations. I'm due to fly to Malta next week and the elastic of my favourite bikini has finally gone. No problem, you might think. Just go and buy a new one. But finding swimwear that flatters is not that simple when you have curves like mine. I am a size 16 with a very large bust. What’s the best style to flatter my figure?
A. The good news is that regardless of your size or body type, there's a swimsuit out there this season that will not only support your shape, but actually flatter it. You just have to know what to look for and what questions to ask. You also must try the suit on. Buying any clothing item without fitting it on first is just asking for unpleasant surprises.
A large bust may sound like an asset, but it can make you self-conscious and be a problem when it comes to finding a swimsuit that fits and flatters. You need a style that gives support without making your bust appear even larger. Choose underwiring, not padding, and substantial fabrics with lots of stretch. Wide straps and cross-over backs also give extra support.
If it's a bikini you're after, look for one where the top and bottoms come in separate sizes. Steer clear of high fronts which can emphasise a large chest. A soft scoop or V-shaped neck giving a hint of cleavage is more flattering.
Colour-wise, a darker panel at the top with a lighter shade at the bottom will help balance your figure – but try to avoid styles with ruffles or embellishment around the neckline as this will only draw attention to your bust.
Because your figure is womanly, you want a swimsuit fabric that isn't flimsy, but has the control and support to help pull in your tummy and rear. Wraps, side-shirring, or draping can help you look sleek and trim without losing sight of your curviness. Avoid large floral prints and stripes and remember that matte fabrics are the most flattering most body types.
WHERE TO SHOP:
Heavenly Bodice (heavenlybodice.com) has a plus-size category that goes up to a JJ, and 56 back widths, in some styles. Also features some swimwear. The Undercover Experience website (020-8293 5995, undercoverexperience.co.uk) may be hard to navigate but it has some deliciously tempting swimsuits. Sizes go from AAA to L and up to a back width of 52. There‘s a huge range of swimwear, and cunning insert-type things for the less well-endowed. Aphrodisia (01892 523023, aphrodisiauk.com) has bras up to 50FF, and swimwear with underwired cups. On the high street, department stores such as Arnotts and Clerys stock a surprisingly good selection of swimwear aimed at fuller figures but there’s also a wonderful range at Debenhams - with cup sizes right up to DD.