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5 Ways to Make Bikini Shopping Less Miserable


After spending the past month in oversized sweatshirts eating Girl Scout cookies, trying on a bikini is probably right up there with calculus homework and getting your wisdom teeth removed on the list of things you least want to do—and we don’t blame you.

But spring break is right around the corner, which means you can’t avoid the cramped dressing rooms and department stores much longer. Bikini shopping can be downright dreadful, but there are steps you can take to make the experience a little less miserable.​

1. Come prepared

Before you embark on the search for the bikini of your dreams, make sure you bring along these key accessories:

  • A pair of flip-flops—because no swimsuit is going to look right when you’re rocking your UGG boots and wool socks.
  • A thong—because trying to fit bikini bottoms over your underwear will be nearly impossible, and you don’t want to violate any of the store’s hygiene policies.
  • Your best friend—because she will offer sound advice and suggestions after you’ve tried on your fifteenth bikini and are starting to act delusional.
  • Self-tanning lotion—this isn’t a must, but it’s a safe alternative to tanning beds and may make you feel more confident about trying on a bikini in the winter. 

There are also steps to take to ensure that you’re maintaining a positive body image throughout the bikini shopping process. “Before I go shopping or to try on bikinis, I take a shower, wear my favorite underwear, and put on a little makeup,” says Sarah Dilick, a freshman at New York University. “I do whatever makes me feel best because I know I’ll need it that day.”

2. Know what you want

Once you’re equipped with the necessities listed above, it’s time to determine what exactly you’re looking for in a bikini.

Although bikini styles are constantly evolving, there are certain looks that are tried and true. Think back to bikinis you’ve had in the past, and which ones you’ve felt the most confident in. Do you like the look of bandeaus? Do you need the support of an underwire top? Setting out with your preferences in mind will make it much easier to narrow down your choices.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that not every store or every bikini you try on is going to look or feel good on you,” Sarah says. “It takes time and shopping around to find what you feel best in, but you can’t expect everything to work.”

3. Follow these bikini rules

You’ve probably heard of some bikini myths before, and while some of them may be true, others may be holding you back from your ultimate bikini. While we can speculate, it’s up to you to determine what you prefer and what you feel the most comfortable in. That being said, we’ve come up with a few rules to help you with the process.

Rule #1: White can work

If you’ve shopped for bikinis before, you’ve probably been told at one point or another to steer clear of white swimsuits, as white fabric and water don’t often mix too well. While this may be true of thinner bikinis, white bikinis with a thick, nude-colored padding or liner don’t pose this problem. If you fall in love with a white bikini, be sure to try it on and check how thick it is before leaving it behind.

Rule #2: Look for patterns and colors that slim

As a general rule, vertical stripes, as well as darker colors such as black, plum and navy create a visually slimming effect.

Rule #3: Embrace the small-chested struggle

If you’re a collegiette with a smaller chest, trying a bikini with ruffles can help to accentuate your shape. It’s all about what works for you!

4. Try on your size and another one (and another one)

It goes without saying that trying on a bikini before you buy it is essential, but be sure to try on a variety of different sizes before making your final decision. When you find a bikini you like, head to the dressing room with one in your size and one in the next size up. Start with the largest size and work your way down until you find a fit that’s just right.

Also, don’t be alarmed if the top size of your bikini is different from the bottom size that you need. It’s completely normal to wear different sizes in the two pieces.

5. Jump around (literally) 

Once you’ve found a bikini that you’re confident feels just right, it’s time to put it to the test. After all, you’re not going to spend every day at the pool or beach just basking in the sun (although there’s nothing wrong with that!). Try a few different moves in the dressing room to ensure a perfect fit, such as bending over, lifting your arms above your head, or sitting cross-legged. This will give you a better idea of just how good of a fit the bikini is for you.

If you’re worried about testing out a bikini in the dressing room, you may want to try ordering your next one from a website. Although ordering a piece such as a bikini online may be risky, trying it on at home allows you more freedom for moving around and testing it out. If you opt for online shopping, look for a store with a flexible return policy, and consider ordering the suit you like in two different sizes. After you determine which size is perfect for you, you can mail the others back.

Although bikini shopping will never be as fun as spring break itself, there are plenty of ways to make it less miserable. Step out to the stores with an open mind but a certain idea of what you’re looking for, and you’re guaranteed to find the bikini that’s best for you. Good luck collegiettes, and let the countdown to spring break begin!

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