Your Stylist: Finding the right swimsuit for a post-baby body
Resident Image stylist and market editor Melissa Magsaysay soothes your sartorial woes in the weekly Your Stylist blog column.
Having recently had a baby, I’m not in swimsuit shape, and I probably won’t be for a few months. What are your feelings about ruching? Good idea or not? DN, Los Angeles
First, for anyone unfamiliar with the term or detail of ruching, it’s when fabric is gathered evenly to create a rippling-like effect. On swimsuits it tends to add a 1940s starlet vibe as well as overall texture to the item. Ruching can be a really great thing if used properly and put in the right place of a garment.
In the case of swimwear, suits are generally ruched across the front of a suit in a horizontal pattern to create that bombshell allure, but as we all know, horizontal lines across the midsection are not really anyone’s best friend.
Stay away from ruching (or any embellishment for that matter) across the tummy area. I always think of it like tying a sweatshirt around the waist to “hide” a large backside –- it’s going to have the opposite effect by drawing attention to the area. It’s like when celebrities wear huge sunglasses and a hat to shield themselves from getting noticed -– the first thing we do is notice them.
Try going for something that has ruching on the bust or upper area of the suit to pull focus up rather than to any potential problem areas. I adore these two suits from J. Crew (top) for a couple of reasons: They are two-piece suits -- a tank top and bikini bottoms -- so the midsection has a little room and there’s still a nice clean line throughout. And they are both delicately ruched at the bust area, which adds an interesting detail that will keep eyes up, rather than draw attention toward the midsection. They also come in rich colors like this emerald green and peppy lilac. While a black suit seems like the natural choice when trying to wear something slimming, I think these solid shades are summery and vibrant while remaining understated.This va-va-voom red suit from L.L. Bean (right) also has a delicate detail at the bust to deflect attention from the midsection and draw focus up.
If you’re set on some ruching across the tummy, make sure it doesn’t add any poufiness to the area. This suit from MagicSuit (left) is designed to smooth out any lumps and bumps and stay away from adding any bulk. I would recommend getting this one in black because a ruched suit in a darker color will give you the benefit of having a little wiggle room around the midsection, but refrain from catching any light and shadow from the sun, thus highlighting the area the way a brighter colored suit with ruching at the tummy would. This suit also has a built-in bra, which could also come in handy for support and shape.
So far I’ve only recommended solid-colored suits, because prints can get really tricky and in most cases draw attention to areas you’d rather they not, as well as create kind of a dizzying effect that might make some areas look bigger than they are. If you go with a print, just make sure it flatters the right areas -– again, maybe it draws attention to an area that you do want to flaunt, this distracting from an area you don’t.
This suit from Spanx (above, right) (it’s a Spanx swimsuit, need I say more?) is two-toned with vertical white piping against a black halter-swimsuit. The vertical lines narrow the frame and draw the eye up and down instead of across and the V-neck halter adds a fun, sporty, yet retro touch to this slimming suit, which also comes with padded cups at the bust and a compression liner that runs from under the bust to the lower torso.
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Photos, from top: J Crew ruched Swing Tank ($60) and bottom ($46) at J Crew, left, and J Crew ruched Lido tank ($58) and bottom ($38) at J Crew (credit: J Crew); L.L. Bean Oceanside tank one-piece suit ($59.95) at www.llbean.com (credit: LL Bean); Magicsuit one-piece swimsuit ($146) at www.victoriassecret.com, left, and Spanx Trim V-neck one-piece swimsuit ($188) at www.victoriassecret.com (credit: Victoria's Secret); DKNY one-piece swimsuit ($72) at www.victoriassecret.com (credit: Victoria's Secret).