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Ten tips for your perfect swimsuit

Michael Kors shows classic tank suits and trendy monokinis for summer
Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images for Michael Kors

With the spike in temperatures comes swimsuit season. Here are some tips and tricks to help you feel your best at the pool, on the beach and on vacation!

1. Know your measurements. As fit models change from brand to brand, swimsuit sizes vary from one manufacturer to another. Two measurements that will take you a long way: dress size and vertical body type (VBT). Go down one size from your dress size for a good fit. If your dress size is an 8, your swimsuit size is usually a 6. VBT tells you if you have an average, short or long torso which makes it easier to choose the right suit for your body type. You may need to buy a petite or tall suit, even if you are of average height.

2. Choose your activities. In Austin, will you be doing cannonballs into Barton Springs, lounging by the pool at the W or watching flicks at Deep Eddy? Or instead will you take a trip to the coast to long board? Choose your suit based on your activity. The more lounging you'll be doing, the trendier your suit can be.

3. Support the girls. What are your bra preferences? Do you prefer tie straps, regular bra-type straps, or a halter-style strap? If you need to minimize broad shoulders, use regular type bra straps. Also avoid halter top styles if you have neck problems. Jump up and down in the dressing room to make sure the suit is secure.

4. Tankinis (like this one from Kenneth Cole) look good on no one. The tops ride up and the compression is nil, so they make most women look heavier than they actually are. If you're not quite brave enough to wear a bikini try a monokini or a tank suit with cutouts for an on trend look.

5. Want the functionality of a traditional racing suit, but not the boredom it induces? Try mixing and matching. Stylish options include boy short or Capri bottoms with bikini or bra tops, like those available at Athleta. Consider wearing a rash guard over your bikini top so you can stay in the sun without worrying about getting burned.

6. Protect yourself while trying on suits! Wear a skimpy pair of underwear or a thong when trying on swimsuits. While specialty stores offer paper thongs as an option, they come in only one size: small. Those paper liners "for safety" have probably been worn against a number of bodies, so wash your suit before wearing it for the first time.

7. Spend money on your suit, not your cover up! Cover ups are overpriced and aren't often worn. Here are some cute cover up options. Try throwing on a pair of jorts and a gauzy peasant top from Forever 21 over your suit. You can just wear the top or bottom with flip flops as you cruise the beach or pool. For a more sophisticated option, try a flowy ankle length skirt from H&M with an open knit sweater from Macys that shows your bikini top through it. For an easy swim to dinner option, consider using a strapless sundress from SOMA as your cover up.

8. Do wash your suit to remove chlorine, sand, sunscreen and sweat, which can break down the fibers in your suit. Wash your suit by hand with your regular liquid laundry detergent or a swimsuit soap, not Woolite. Woolite will break down the fibers in your suit more quickly than regular detergent.

9. There are great inexpensive options in Austin for finding the perfect suit. For budget suits try retail outlets such as Target or Costco. Costco usually has a one piece and a bikini option available to size 18, but these styles will not be listed on their website. Buy a couple of suits and try them on in the bathroom afterwards so you don't have to make the trip back to the store for a return.

10. For higher end, longer lasting suits, try Everything But Water or East Side Bikinis in Austin. Everything But Water has options to size 16 (so dress size 18). They carry both trendy, fun suits as well as slimming options such as the Miraclesuit brand. If you don't quite know what you want, their staff is helpful and knowledgeable, regardless of where you fall on the size spectrum. East Side Bikinis will design your dream suit or recreate an old favorite suit. Their available fabrics are varied, with over 40 solids and 200 prints from which to choose. Note that it can take awhile to get custom suits made during summer time, so act earlier rather than later for a custom creation.

Whatever suit you choose, make sure it's in a color that makes you happy and brings a smile to your face. as there are so many styles available, you will be able to find swimwear that suits your body and your budget. Happy Summer!

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