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 to 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.
The Absolute Most Flattering Swimsuits for Women Who Carry Their Weight in Their Tummy, According to the Experts
PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.
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 midsection.” Andie’s Havana one-piece (above) is a perfect example, with the added bonus of subtle seaming down the front that also works to draw the eye inward to fake more of a waist. Empire styles work particularly well if you opt for a large-scale print or a solid hue that features ruching or a textured fabric.
There are plenty of solid color combos to choose from, but we’re partial to this cheery boho print. It might even make your community pool feel a bit more like Palm Springs.
Size range: 2 to 18, also Long Torso
Combine two of summer’s most iconic fabrics—eyelet lace and blue-and-white gingham—into one super-chic suit that will stay in style for years to come.
Size range: 0 to 12
If you’re more of a two-piece kind of gal, try an Empire-waist tankini. The extra material of the top will flow beautifully over your figure, and on a practical note it’ll make hitting the restroom infinitely easier.
Size range: 8 to 26
This deep-blue patterned swimsuit has a gorgeous open back with crisscrossed straps you can adjust to provide more or less support as needed. It also has a tummy-shaping panel in the bodice to smooth you out without feeling constrictive.
Size range: 4 to 16
6. 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 terry cloth.” While horizontal stripes typically aren’t that flattering, vertical lines will draw the eye in and up, even with a two-piece like this Lively bikini top and bottom. 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.
You don’t have to stick with just the usual nautical color options. This sunset-inspired combination is equally as fun. It also has an adjustable lace-up back that you can knot in lots of different ways, including by looping and knotting it in front like a belt, as seen above.
Size range: XS to XXL
Your stripes don’t have to be overt to give you all the same torso-lengthening benefits. The subtle seersucker material of this classic J.Crew swimsuit are every bit as flattering, but have a more timeless feel than, say, mismatched rainbow stripes.
Size range: 0 to 24, also Long Torso
This suit has a lot going for it, starting with those flattering, colorful stripes. The colorblocking and removable belt will also help create an hourglass shape, making this one-piece (and you, in turn) a true triple-threat.
Size range: XS to XL
10. swimsuits 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-waist bikini bottoms that can hold in the tummy and add support are 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. Case in point, the Aerie wrap one-piece above, which has all the same waist-cinching power as a belted suit. So long as your suit features some kind of definition at your waistline, you should be good to go.
No need to futz with complicated buckles here, because the belt is sewn right onto the suit. Better than that, however, is the fact that the bust has a built-in underwire to give your gals maximum support.
Size range: XS to XL
This belted suit is all at once retro and modern, thanks to that removable, ‘50s-inspired belt and the sexy Baywatch red. (P.S. The straps are also adjustable for a better overall fit.)
Size range: XS to XL
“The Mykonos suit 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. As a bonus, it also comes in a Long Torso length.
Size range: XS to XXXL, also Long Torso
14. Tie-front Bottoms
“A lot of Kitty & Vibe customers love the High Hip Bottoms because they offer 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.
There are so many reasons to love this suit (you know, other than simply because it’s adorable‚. The vertical stripe bottom and waist tie are great for minimizing your middle, but so is the mismatched print. Plus, now you can mix and match both separates with all your other favorite two pieces.
Size range: 0X to 4X
OK, so this isn’t a true tie-waist design, however, the twisted waistband plus the colorblocking has all the same waist-cinching power as an actual knot.
Size range: XXS to XXL
Size range: XXS to 3X
This vibrant tropical print will make any pool, lake or beach feel like a fabulous getaway. And the high-cut legs on the bottom are phenomenal both for lengthening your stems and for minimizing your belly.
Size range: XS to L
18. colorblocking Or Mixed Patterns
Using blocks of color or pattern to 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, like the above Marina suit from Summersalt, 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.
Combine all the flattering effects of colorblocking with an adjustable belt and you’ve got yourself a total must-have suit.
Size range: XS to XL
Darker colors are often more slimming than light, which is why navy panels at your hips with an off-white hue in the middle works so well for minimizing a wider middle. And a wide, contrasting belt only helps to emphasize your new hourglass figure.
Size range: 32A to 38DD
Size range: 2 to 18
This neon two-piece is a fun, unexpected twist on the colorblocking trend. Plus, the high-waist bottom and thicker straps up top both offer lots of support so you can feel free to enjoy an active pool day.
Size range: XS to XL
22. 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 camouflaging bumps. “Any suit with shirring will also work well,” says Gruss, as will ribbed materials, terry cloth or other interesting textures. Doubly so if you opt for a print, like the floral J.Crew bandeau above. Plus, as an added bonus, these stretchy texture effects are often more comfortable than flat spandex.
A ruched bodice + an abstract print = our new favorite suit.
Size range: 8 to 26W, also Long Torso
All the sex appeal of a Baywatch one-piece, just with a big more support and coverage. P.S. There is a power mesh panel built into the bodice to work in conjunction with the ruching for a supremely sleek overall effect.
Size range: 6 to 24
Why You Should Trust Us
PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.