Amelie’s Follies’ guide to painless swimwear shopping

Last Updated on : 4th May 2018

For most of us it is that time of year when we start thinking about our beach holiday and the dreaded swimwear shopping that goes with it. The majority of women will wait until the very last minute to go looking for that elusive perfect swimsuit or bikini, very often leaving a shop either deflated or with the least badly fitting of the small selection we were allowed to take in the changing room. But it doesn’t have to be this way!


First of all, don’t leave it until the last minute. Even in shops where you can find swimwear all year round, their selection will be the greatest from March to May. From May until September, retailers get very little new swimwear stock, and with summer sales usually taking place in July, stock only gets smaller the closer you get to that beach break.

Go swimwear shopping on a day you feel like it and with some time to spare! Maybe just after booking your holiday? There is nothing worse than looking at your pale body on a day you feel down or if you have to rush on somewhere. You should think about buying a bikini the same way you would buy an outfit for a special occasion. After all, your bikini/swimsuit will be your outfit for the majority of your holiday. It may be a small piece of fabric compared to a dress, but unlike a dress, you can’t hide under a pashmina or wear lots of accessories. The bikini/swimsuit has to fit well and make you feel as confident as possible whilst you probably feel at your most exposed. How much would you spend on an outfit to attend a wedding – an outfit you will probably only wear a few times? Why not think of your swimwear the same way; after all you will wear it every day of your holiday, making it already a more cost efficient purchase than that wedding outfit.

Take advantage of the ever-growing selection of beachwear that is out there. Most swimwear brands now also do wraps and kaftans to go with your bikini/swimsuit. So whilst you are trying on bikinis, look at dresses and pareos to go with it. It will save you a trip to another shop, and regardless of whether you like a matchy matchy or a more thrown together look, you are bound to find that beach to bar outfit there and then.

The second and probably most important rule of swimwear buying is: buy for your shape and colouring. You may have seen a beautiful suit in a magazine, but would it work for your shape and size? It’s good to go shopping with an idea, but it is better to keep an open mind. Trust your sales assistant. Whilst she may not know you personally, she knows her job and more importantly she will know her stock.

Swimwear shopping isn’t as straight forward as shopping for a dress. Some swimwear is labelled small/medium/large or 10, 12, 14, regardless of what kind of chest size it was designed to accommodate; some will be cup sized. Going bigger in dress size to get more space for the bust isn’t always the way forward as a bikini designed for a small cup will still only take a small chest in a size 14 or 16. That is why you want the help of someone who knows how the stock was designed. It will make for a more painless shopping experience and save you having to try an entire shop floor before you find that special piece.

Remember you are shopping for something you will wear in bright sunshine and whilst you are having fun and relaxing, so try and think colour! Although black tends to be the go to/safe colour choice, this is not an outfit for the office. Black can be draining on paler skin tone and it will also accentuate your fair skin. Bright punchy colours on the other hand, will lift you and give your skin tone a more healthy golden hue. Reds and oranges work on practically everyone.

As much as we all would like to emulate a model’s body or plan on going on a diet before we go away, it doesn’t always happen and we have to work with what we have. What looks good on a hanger, will not necessarily look good on you.

If you are an APPLE: In a bikini, try and balance out the amount of fabric on your top and on your bottom. Bottoms can look bigger when covered too much! Beware of pants that are high-waisted. Although they cover a multitude of sins, they also shorten your torso and put an emphasis on your tummy. In a swimsuit, find a shape that creates a waist to give a more curvy illusion.


If you are a PEAR: In a bikini go for as skimpy a bottom as you feel comfortable with. Tie side are usually best. Since your chest is smaller than your bottom, we don’t want to cover the bottom too much, or the balance of fabric will attract more attention to it. On top, a halter neck brings attention back to your smaller bust creating a pleasing curve up top. In a swimsuit, go for halter neck or a V neckline, again to make more of a feature of your bust. Square or scooped necklines can swallow up your chest, bringing the eye to your bottom. Don’t be afraid to go for a trikini (cut-out swimsuit).


If you are an HOURGLASS: In a bikini, make sure you go for a supportive top. Support doesn’t come from underwires. Support comes from a tight fitting back band. Make sure you choose something small enough on your back to stay firm when wet, so as not to lose all that lift once you are in the water. If you have a big chest, go for wider band and wider straps, as this will spread the weight of your breasts on a bigger area, resulting in less bulges and digging in. In a swimsuit, make sure you choose a style that has been designed to accommodate your curves. Not all swimsuits are made equal when it comes to cup sizes. And remember, the lower the back of your suit, the least amount of support for your chest.

If you are ATHLETIC: In a bikini, a bandeau/strapless top usually helps create curves and is ideal for your toned frame. In a swimsuit, again, strapless is great for tanning, but don’t be afraid to go for more revealing suits as these are perfect to show off your figure.


When it comes to bikini versus swimsuit, there are no rules. Wear what makes you feel confident and comfortable, not forgetting what you will be doing in them. Swimsuit and tankinis are still best suited to water sports as they minimize exposure and protect your skin against the sun and harsh surfaces. If you have little ones, maybe avoid strapless styles are they are easily pulled down by small hands. If you favour tinted suntan lotion, stay away from white or pale colour swimwear as they will stain and get ruined.

If you can’t decide between plain coloured or prints, remember that prints tend to camouflage lumps and bumps better than a plain colour, with some of the more expensive suits featuring placed prints (print designed and placed in a way that will make your waist appear smaller, or your legs longer). A lot of shapewear swimsuits come in plain colours though, as they usually use clever ruching and panelling to control those unwanted soft spots.

If you are pregnant, tell us. You shouldn’t be wearing shapewear swimwear, and we will take into account how far along you are to accommodate your bigger heavier bust, and allow for room to grow into. And don’t be afraid to show off that tummy. It is nice and taut, and no swimsuit will hide the fact that you’re pregnant!

At Amelie’s Follies, we make your swimwear shopping a personal shopping experience. We will do the running around, and even though we may push you outside of your comfort zone sometimes, we will endeavour to only make you try styles we are confident will suit your size, shape and lifestyle. And most of all, we’ll make sure you don’t dread swimwear-buying next time!

Keeping your swimwear happy and glorious! 

Once you’ve invested in a stunning piece of swimwear or two for your holidays, it’s important to treat it well as it’ll be faced with all sorts, from chlorine to salt water and sunshine.  Here are our top tips:

  1. ♦  Avoid tinted suntan lotion and try not to apply lotion directly onto the fabric
  2. ♦  Avoid sitting on harsh or abrasive surfaces
  3. ♦  Rinse – or even better – wash after each use (even if you didn’t get wet) as you will still perspire and suntan lotion will rub off on the fabric
  4. ♦  Wash with mild detergent (we recommend Soak) and no higher than 30˚C
  5. ♦  Do not store wet for longer than necessary, do not rub or wring as this may damage the fabric
  6. ♦  Do not dry in a tumble dryer or on a radiator

We sell Soak – £9 for a travel size bottle with up to 18 washes and £15 for a bottle with up to 75 washes.

Amelie’s Follies, 34 Webbs Road, SW11 6SF Tel: 020 7924 3826

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