16:43 27 July 2006
At this time of year magazines are filled with gorgeously expensive swimwear - you know the kind, three inches of Lycra and a 200 price tag.
It might seem like a conspiracy by swimwear companies to get us to spend outrageous amounts of money, but actually they do have a point.
A swimming costume will almost certainly be the most revealing thing you wear this summer, so it's worth ensuring you find one that flatters your shape.
How to pick the right shape
If you have short legs: Choose a swimsuit or bikini with high-cut legs. This will make yours look longer and slimmer.
If you have large breasts:
Don't be afraid to show them off. Some women will pay thousands to get assets like yours. Make sure you pick a costume that offers plenty of support. Halternecks work well as they focus on your cleavage while holding everything in place. Costumes with bandeau tops are an absolute no-no as they make everything look larger, as do patterned.
If you have broad shoulders:
Choose a costume cut to balance shoulders and hips and emphasise your waist. Plain colours work well and avoid costumes that finish in a line under your arms - it's the wrestler look.
If you are pear-shaped: Pretty feminine costumes work well. You need one that balances out your top and bottom, so go for patterns, bandeau bikinis or swimsuits.
If you are slim and boyish: Bikinis are perfect for you. Go for boy shorts and pretty tops or high-cut bottoms and bandeau tops.
If you have a tummy: Costumes with little skirts are pretty if you feel self-conscious, otherwise high-cut legs are flattering as they nip in your waist, making you look a little slimmer.
From the beach to the bar
A matching sarong is the perfect accessory. It's cool, simple to wear, looks stunning and flatters everyone. Kaftans are also high-fashion again this summer and are pretty, slimming and elegant. Choose plain, soft cotton or more dramatic chiffon and sequins. Monsoon has a great selection, as does H&M.
Carry a matching pair of flip-flops, wedges or sandals and a pretty floral hair accessory in your beach bag to complete your outfit.
Out and about
Long shorts and cropped trousers are huge this summer. They're cool, fun but practical and look great with little T-shirts, kaftans or pretty white blouses. Together they make the perfect outfit for a stroll, a spot of cycling or a day's sightseeing. Choose a well-cut pair that fit perfectly across the rear and finish either just above or just below the knee.
If you buy one thing this summer, make it a dress. White broderie anglaise sundresses. Linen shift and cotton jersey wraparounds are in.
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