First thing’s first; there’s really no such thing as the perfect beach body. There are 5 common body types and every one of us carries weight in different areas on our bodies; in short, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the way people are built. Getting ‘beach ready’ really just involves turning up with a lilo and ordering yourself a piña colada on arrival. Start simplifying the holiday shop and discover the swimwear that will flatter your figure with our guide.


Hourglass figures are defined as having a chest and hips that are about the same width, and a smaller waist. Celebrities with hourglass figures include Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian and Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe.

If you’re an hourglass, you’ll want swimwear that highlights your waist and flatters your assets. Retro-inspired bikinis with high-waisted bottoms are a great option, since they’re designed to flatter a classically feminine silhouette. If you’re looking for a more contemporary bikini style, choose bottoms that aren’t too fussy; extra bows or ruffles will draw the eye downwards and make you appear bottom-heavy. Instead, opt for a matching style that’s simple and chic; a halter neck bikini top will flatter a fuller bust.

Hourglass figures are particularly suited to one-piece styles; a simple, elegant swimsuit with a deep halter neck is an elegant choice for the pool or beach (the Baywatch run is optional). Cut-out designs, or those with a little detail at the waist will draw the eye towards the smallest part of your body, making for a flattering finish.

Pear-Shaped (or Triangle)

If you’re pear-shaped, your hips will be wider than your waistline and shoulders. You’re likely to carry more weight on the lower half of your body, and have a small to average sized waist. Pear-shaped figures are thought to be the most common; pop legends Beyoncé, Rihanna and Christina Aguilera are all perfect pears – with powerhouse voices to match.

A patterned or boldly-coloured bikini top will balance out pear-shaped silhouettes by drawing the eye upwards; a triangle or halter bikini top that ties at the neck will do this too. Keep your bikini bottoms plain, and avoid high-cut bottoms which expose more skin on the hip area. Conversely, boy shorts or bottoms with excess fabric will make your hips appear fuller, so choose a classic cut and simple design instead. Mix and match bikinis are ideal for pear-shaped beauties, since it’s usual that your top and bottom halves differ in size.

When it comes to accessories, remember to keep sarongs on the plain side, and tie them asymmetrically so that they drape across your thighs, rather than cutting straight across them. A wide-brimmed hat will also help to balance out your figure by keeping the focus on your top half.

Inverted Triangle

Inverted triangles tend to be more top-heavy; if you have a large chest and smaller hips compared to your shoulders, you probably have this body type. Actresses Angelina Jolie and Renée Zellweger, and supermodel Naomi Campbell share the same figure.

Like pear-shaped ladies, the trick is to balance out your top and bottom half with colour and pattern. This time, you want to focus attention to your lower half; choose a bikini bottom that’s bolder than the top, and opt for accessories that take the focus away from your shoulders; patterned sarongs or boldly-coloured beach trousers and maxi skirts are ideal cover-ups for inverted triangles.

Avoid strapless styles and these won’t provide enough support; halter neck or underwired styles will support bigger chests, whilst string bikini tops can be adjusted at the bottom so that they appear proportional on the body.

Athletic (or Rectangle)

Athletic figures are characterised by their straightness, since the shoulders and hips are proportional, with little or no definition at the waist. This is a common body type for athletes (hence the name), as these body types are often toned, lean and muscular. Stars with athletic figures include Cameron Diaz, Tilda Swinton and Kate Hudson.

If you’ve got an athletic figure, look for swimwear that’s going to create the illusion of curves. A bikini that comes with ultra-feminine details like ruffles, ties or bows will add volume to the chest and hips; if you’re on the slender side, a padded bikini top will add a touch of curvature to your frame too.

Printed and textural swimwear will balance out a rectangle body type, so go matchy-matchy with head-to-toe prints, ruffles or crochet fabrics; a streamline frame can handle bold designs with ease.

One-piece swimsuits with cut-out sections on either side will help to create curves by making the waist appear even smaller. If you’re on the petite side, choose a higher leg opening to elongate your frame; a curved leg opening will also create the illusion of fuller hips, whether you go for a one or two-piece.

Apple (or Oval)

Apple body types have a more rounded torso with little definition at the waist and smaller hips. If you tend to carry more weight on the stomach but have slender legs, it’s likely that you’re an apple. Famous fellow apples include actresses Drew Barrymore, Lena Dunham and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The key to flattering your apple figure is to define the waist; a tummy control swimsuit will help to streamline your shape, whilst ruched or belted details are feminine touches that have the added benefit of de-emphasising a rounded stomach – and defining the waistline. Darker colours always have a slimming effect, so look to nautical navy blues and deep jewel tones, or keep things classic with chic black swimwear.

Choosing a swimsuit or bikini top that has thicker straps will make your shoulders appear more narrow, whilst underwired styles will support an ample chest. Always go for a high cut leg opening to show off your slim pins.

When it comes to cover-ups, look to empire-lined maxi dresses or tunic tops; draping across the torso, you’ll look every inch the Grecian goddess.

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