These Women Have Spent Hundreds of Hours in Swimsuits—Here Are Their Tips for Getting the Perfect Fit

It can be difficult, time-consuming and mentally draining to shop for swimsuits, especially in this age of excess. It can be overwhelming to think of all the styles, shapes and trends available, as well as the prices, in-store or online. Imagine if you were actually required to wear a bathing suit. This would make it much easier. If it’s any consolation…apparently, no.

We asked this question of some of the most experienced, on-the-front-lines–or more accurately, on-gorgeous-white-sand-beaches–professionals: a bunch of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models (mic drop). They might also find it difficult to shop for a bikini.

“Honestly, swimwear is one the most difficult things to do,” Kate Upton told Glamour at the Sports Illustrated Swimming suit on Location Miami event, which celebrated its 2019 issue. “I always say that jeans and swimwear are the most difficult things to wear emotionally.”

Danielle Herrington, Swimsuit Issue cover star last year, says “Just go in without a set mind.” “Be kind to yourself!” Tara Lynn, a body-positivity advocate, swim designer and model, agrees that it’s important to be comfortable in what you love and to try as many different things as possible. You may be surprised at what you feel most beautiful in.

Sports Illustrated‘s 2019 swimsuit models include a variety of sizes, shapes, and backgrounds. Halima Aden was the first model to wear modest swimwear in the issue. Tyra Banks also appeared on the cover. They have spent hundreds of hours in swimwear, including one-pieces and bikinis. We asked them for their advice on how to find the right fit and style that will make you look your best, and most importantly, feel confident.

Next time you are out shopping for bathing suit, and feel overwhelmed by too many choices or indecisiveness, ask yourself this question: What would Upton or Banks do? Continue reading to learn more.

Your suit can be made or broken by the right straps

In 1997, Banks became the first African American solo covermodel. Over the years, she has developed a preference to wear a swim shirt with strong shoulder straps. She says, “I’m a busty so if there’s a string at my neck it’s digging and sometimes it creates chafing.” A wider tie at the neck is also possible. Three-time Swimsuit Issue covermodel Upton suggests a tieless top. “So I can enjoy the beach day. I can swim; I can snorkel; and I can be with my child.

ASOS Design Fuller Bust Exclusive Ruched Crop Bikini Top

The same applies to the edges of a swimming suit.

Lynn suggests paying attention to the material and position of your one- or 2-piece. She says, “Anything that has a very rigid edge will cut into any soft areas and cause some discomfort.”

Swimsuits for All Idol Periwinkle Ribbed Tied Front Underwire Bikini

All one-pieces may not be created equal.

Banks says, “I believe I look better in one-pieces than in two-pieces.” A one-piece …. has something that makes you feel stronger. A one-piece makes me feel more powerful. Not all one-piece styles–strapless, low back, and super strappy-–will suit all body types. Upton warns that “cute one-pieces with open backs are for big-boobed women…that doesn’t roll with us.” There are many options. Banks suggests that you find a one-piece that has a high-back or covered-back detail in order to balance the support at the front. If you have a large bust, straps on the shoulders are a better option than a tie around your neck. To emphasize the waist, Kelsey Merritt (the first Filipina model to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway) recommends suits with a belt, or wrap tie at the waist.

Shoshanna Black Tide Jacquard One-piece Swimsuit With High Neck

An underwire can be beneficial for everyone, regardless of their bust size.

An underwire-lined top, no matter what your bra size is, can provide some extra support and maybe even a boost. Herrington also likes to wear light padding, “just because I boobs get all the time.” Also, visible underwires are a big trend in swim right this moment. Merritt recommends “trying a corset style with small straps.”

Solid and Striped Top and Bottom of the Ginger Top and Bottom

Try different sizes with separates.

Banks insists on “finding a bottom that is slightly larger than I need, because I have hips, and I am not super muscular, and suits that are too tight dig into my flesh, and cut off my blood flow,” she said. Banks suggests a bikini with ties at the sides, so you can adjust it to fit your hips.

Aerie Pique Ruffled Cheeky Bikini Bottom

To cover up more than SPF, consider modest swimwear.

You may be able to wear modest swimwear, or a variation of it, for cultural reasons as well as because you are concerned about sun damage. Aden suggests that you “really treat it as a bikini”, choosing colors and prints and other styling elements that suit your preferences and needs. Aden recommends choosing a flexible, stretchier material that doesn’t shrink in the water. Don’t be afraid to add accessories. Layer on colorful scarves, over-alls or covers, wear jewelry and hats, and go all out with the sunglasses. Aden states that they will make it a bodysuit and then transform it into a playsuit.

Mikoh Paneled Rash Guard Long-Sleeve Top

Fear not the high-cut leg…

In recent years, the hipbone-revealing silhouette of the eighties has been making a comeback. Banks says the look makes her think of Elle Macpherson. “That is everything and it makes my legs longer,” she says. Merritt, who is petite, suggests that you get one that’s “not very high, but has a lowback” to achieve the elongating effect.

Simply Be Bandeau Bikini Set

Or the neon trend.

Victoria’s Secret Angel Ribeiro says neon is the swimwear trend that she’s most excited about this summer. It makes your skin pop and it looks like you’ve been out in the sun for a while.” Upton said that she loves the neon trend. Merritt also wants to wear green and pink, with leopard print to add some fire.

Victoria’s Secret Cutout Shoulder 1-piece

Pay attention to the details.

They are open to all the trends in swimwear that have been introduced over the years. They aren’t afraid to embrace the playful, fun elements now found in bikinis and onepieces. You shouldn’t be. Winnie Harlow’s recommendation? She says that rubbing always makes the butt look cute.

Red Carter Ruched Bikini Bottoms

Swimsuit shopping can be done as a group activity.

Lynn suggests that you bring along one of your closest girlfriends if you plan to buy a swimsuit in person. She can help you get excited and encourage you to try things outside the box. Herrington says that she should be someone you can trust to give honest feedback.

Violeta Bicolor Bow Swimsuit

It is important to be patient if you shop online.

Lynn says that online shopping is often underrated. Online-only swim brands have provided more options for shoppers who felt that they were not being taken care of, either because of their budget or their size. However, it can be difficult to determine what size will work for you. Lynn recommends “finding a retailer that uses models with your body [online] so that you can visualize yourself in the suit.” Upton usually “gets a million sizes [to try]” she said. Upton will “start with the largest size and work her way down,” and she recommends that you always read the fine print and understand the return policy.

Andie the Wynwood Ribbed

Time your beach ‘grams.

There are certain windows that are perfect for #OOTDs. Banks says: “Before 10:00 AM and after 2:00 PM, when the sun shines lower in the sky.”