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Tips On Fitting A Swimsuit To Your Bodytype From A Philadelphia Expert

The calendar may say spring, but summer is right around the corner. And with the carefree days of sun and sand comes -- let's face it, ladies -- some angst, particularly when it comes to swimsuit shopping. But Jan Wolkov, owner of Cameo Water Wear for over 25 years, has a few helpful tips to not only make shopping for a bathing suit more pleasant, but to help ensure that you find the perfect fit for your own body type.
Jan Wolkov
Cameo Water Wear
1420 Walnut St., Suite 606
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 545-1330

Cameo Water Wear has been in business for over 60 years, but Jan Wolkov and her husband, Ed, bought the business over 25 years ago. Their two sons, Alan and Kevin, also work in the store. Cameo has four year-round locations in Jenkintown, Haverford, Chaddsford and Marlton, NJ and four seasonal settings which are located in the Shops at Liberty Place, Ardmore, Margate and Ocean City, NJ. Wolkov says swimsuit shopping is one of the hardest things for a woman to do because it's the most revealing thing that she wears. She understands that women are not all skinny-minis, nor are they all plus-sized. And because women come in all shapes and sizes, many think that if they aren't super thin that they will not be able to find a suit to, well, suit them. Untrue, says Walkov. Each and every figure can be fit to a tee with some simple guidelines.

Small Bust

Although it's not a steadfast formula, it's generally thinner woman who are smaller busted. For them, the bikini is the way to go. It's more flattering for this body type because it brings attention to the top. To "cheat" some more, make the bust look even fuller by getting a bra that's padded or has visual interest -- like shirring or ruffles on it. Walkov warns this body type to stay away from bandeau tops because they make the body look wider, which isn't particularly flattering.

Full Bust

Full-busted women should look for two things - support and coverage. If you're fuller busted and want a bikini, try mixing and matching separates, like a triangle top or one with lingerie straps (just like a bra) and underwire. Halter tops can come with underwire too, but can often be a pain in the neck - literally. If you prefer a one-piece suit, go for a v-neck or a surplice (which is similar to a "cross-your-heart" bra, only with push up). Unlike for a smaller-busted gal, bandeaus actually work here, as they have a higher back and more coverage under the arms for better support.

Pear Shaped

Pear shapes are those that are slimmer at the shoulders and wider at the hips and thighs. For this shape, you'll want to bring attention to the top by incorporating bright color or prints to pull the eye upward. Again, think separates and keep the bottom dark and solid. If a one-piece is more your style, it can be a solid color, but make sure there's an embellishment, like beading, close to the neckline to draw the eye up. Another tip: wear a swimsuit that's cut high at the thigh. It will make your legs look longer and create an overall lengthening effect.

Related: 3-On Your Side: Slimming Swimwear

Boy Shaped

If your shape seems to lack shape (i.e., you're straight as a board), Wolkov suggests you try a monokini, which is a one-piece suit with side cutouts. The little piece on the tummy "creates" a waistline. Or you can try a suit with shirring or diagonal stripes across the tummy. Padding at the top (if you're also small busted) helps as well.

Full Figured

Wolkov's best tip for the full-figured female is the Miracle Suit, which consists of 33 percent spandex/lycra (most are about 12 percent). It has a great control fabric that claims to make you look 10 pounds lighter almost instantly. Best of all, it's comfy.

If you'd rather try a two-piece, again, go the separates route, like a tankini top with a skirted bottom to cover thighs. Steer clear of one-piece skirted suits though, says Walkov, as they're too grandmotherly. Separates will give you a more youthful look.

All in all, says Wolkov, no matter what figure type you are, comfort and fit are the two key factors. If your swimsuit isn't comfortable, it will never be worn. In other words, it not only needs to look good, but feel good too!

Related: Top Swimwear Shops in Philadelphia

 Head to Philadelphia's Best Of pages for more local tips on family fun, shopping, nightlife, food, culture and more!

Pamela Dollak is a freelance writer covering all things Philadelphia. Her work can be found on

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