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Swimwear is definitely up there with bras and jeans as one of the most frustrating clothing items to shop for. By their very nature bathing suits expose so much of our bodies, making it harder to disguise areas we’d rather not highlight or fake an hourglass silhouette. But that’s not to say it’s impossible. So in order to make it easier to find swimwear that flatters a fuller middle (or an “apple” body shape, if you like), we went straight to the experts at four of our favorite swim brands—Shoshanna, Andie, Kitty & Vibe and Aerie—to get their advice on the best tips and tricks for finding bathing suits that will be comfortable and give us confidence. Here are the six styles they recommend.

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1. Empire Waist One-Pieces

Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss, founder and creative director of Shoshanna,, says “Find a suit where the waistline begins just below the bust. This will give you more of an hourglass figure and distract from your mid-section.” This style works particularly well if you opt for a large-scale print or a solid hue that features ruching or a textured fabric.

Shop similar styles: Aerie ($55, $22); Andie ($95); Swimsuits for All tankini set ($125; $104); La Blanca ($124); Shoshanna ($235)

best swim for fuller belly area aerie stripe

2. Vertical Stripes

“Opt for slimming vertical stripes,” suggests Erin Collins-Rittling, director of Aerie styling. “Even better if they’re in a novel texture, like our Terry Striped Scoop One-Piece.” While horizontal stripes typically aren’t that flattering, vertical lines will draw the eye in and up. Another pro tip: Designs that feature stripes of multiple widths and those with thinner lines are less likely to look wonky or draw attention to bumps, rather than wider stripes or those of equal width.

Shop similar styles: Kona Sol ($35); Cupshe ($40); Aerie ($55, $41); Swimsuits for All tankini top ($74, $44); Andie ($95; $74); ModCloth ($79)

best swim for fuller belly area andie

3. Styles with Waist Detailing

Using artfully placed seams, colorblocking or even Bond-girl style belts can help fake the illusion of a more hourglass silhouette. “High-waisted bikini bottoms that can hold in the tummy and add support is a great and comfortable option,” says Cameron Armstrong, founder and CEO of Kitty & Vibe. But you don’t need to sport a two piece or even a multi-colored or ruched swimsuit to take advantage of this styling trick. “The Mykonos suit (above) in ribbed fabric option provides compression, texture and belly support, but has a super-flattering middle seam that cinches at the waist,” says Michelle Copelman, vice president of design at Andie. So long as your suit features some kind of definition at your waistline, you should be good to go.

Shop similar styles: Cotton On ($26); Aerie ($50, $38); New Look Curve ($45); Sea Level ($110); Andie ($115); Bleu by Rod Beattie ($129); Solid & Striped ($198)

best swim for fuller belly area kitty and vibe
Kitty & Vibe

4. Tie-Front Bottoms

“A lot of Kitty & Vibe customers love the High Hip Bottoms because it offers a tie right in front of the belly, which can add some distraction detail,” says Armstrong. As you may already know, not all high-waist bikinis are flattering on apple silhouettes, but those with some additional detailing—like a tie at the waist or to the side—adds interest and helps disguise any lumps or bumps you’d rather not have on display.

Shop similar styles: Cupshe ($37); Andie ($45); Summersalt ($45); Kitty & Vibe ($46); Norma Kamali ($75)

best swim for fuller belly area summersalt

5. Colorblocking or Mixed Patterns

Using blocks of color or pattern to trick the eye and distort your silhouette is a trick that can benefit literally every body type. For those who carry their weight in their middle, diagonal lines that cut across your midsection are most successful at minimizing the look of your tummy. Look for styles that feature three or more colors or patterns, but be wary of striped patterns—some vertical designs will have a slimming effect but not all horizontal or diagonal patterns will be quite as flattering.

Shop similar styles: Cupshe ($30); Lands’ End ($50); Swimsuits for All ($102; $51); Summersalt ($95); Beach Riot ($148)


6. Shirring, Ruching and Textured Materials

You’ve likely heard it time and time again, but ruching is really a gal’s best friend when it comes to faking a smoother silhouette. “Any suit with shirring will also work well,” says Gruss, as will ribbed materials, terry cloth or other interesting textures. Plus, as an added bonus, these stretchy texture effects are often more comfortable than flat spandex.

Shop similar styles: Old Navy bikini top ($30) and bottom ($30); J.Crew ($98); Sea Level ($110); MinkPink ($99); La Blanca ($124); Bleu by Rod Beattie ($129); Shoshanna ($265)

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