How to Rock That Plus-Size Bikini!

Are you hearing a “should” echo?

(The sentence would be: “Should I rock a plus-size bikini?”)

We at Shine passionately believe there’s no “should” or “could,” about who sports the iconic beachwear. This is no swimsuit contest. It’s more important how a bikini fits your personality style than your figure.

“A bigger body can look fabulous in a bikini, especially if you’re fit,” says Charla Krupp, author of How to Never Look Fat Again. “But pulling it off is really about confidence, no matter what size you are. It’s really up to every woman to decide how much flesh she wants to expose. And when you go to the beach, the point is to relax, not worry about how you look.”

Whether you want to go itsy-bitsy, or almost there, Krupp has some great pointers on how to make the most out of the least.

8 Ways to Sass Your Suit

1. Separates But Equal. When possible buy your top and bottom independently. That way you can get the best fit for your particular body. “Swimwear is so small,” Krupp says, “everything has to work right. It’s a feat of engineering.”

2. Color IQ. By the time we can read, most of us know that black is the most slimming color (well, practically). But that doesn’t mean you have to dress for a funeral at the beach. Krupp says any solid, dense hue—purple, blue, orange, red—can be flattering. What you really want to avoid is white or metallics, which highlight your body’s topography. Also bold, busy patterns add chaos where you want calm. (If you’re crazy for horizontal strips, proceed at your own risk.) With good color-blocking, however, you can have both worlds: For example, a suit with burgundy down the center and a wild print or stripes on the sides.

3. Your Cups Runneth Over. The top is where many women can really work it. If you’ve got cleavage to show off, an underwire bra with a band at the bottom will give you the best boost. A deep-V halter that ties at the top is another nice option. You’re probably wise to stay away from a strapless bandeau and “you definitely don’t want those triangle pockets with the skinny little strings,” Krupp says.

4. Best Bottom Line: It may sound counter-intuitive, but the higher the cut and the snugger the fit, the better your hips and thighs will look—as long as the elastic doesn’t dig in at the edges. Krupp nixes boy shorts because they lie across your thigh at the widest point of the leg, calling attention to it. And for anyone feeling iffy, Krupp says, “I love the little swim skirts.”

5. Extra Frou-Frous. Ruffles, says Krupp, are too fussy. But rouching is pure styling genius. Whether it’s on the top or bottom, a little gathering can hug your body where it deserves to be loved, while playing up your curves.

6. Technical support: Check out the new suits with built-in shapewear (Spanx has a great line.) “They are designed to make you look 10 times thinner,” Krupps says, “so why not?”

7. Doll it up. “Accessories can’t be minimized,” she says. “A great hat, sunglasses, bangles, little heels, maybe a sarong—tie it on the low on the side—and you’re going to look great.” Self-tan and moisturize your legs so they’ll look more toned.

8. Flaunt it. On NPR, Gary Dakin, head of Ford’s plus-size model division was asked what the most important thing hopefuls could do when they meet him. “Come in owning it,” he said. You don’t have to be a model to walk the beach like it’s your runway. When you’re convinced this is your shining moment, everyone else will be, too.

Hey, have you discovered any great tips on scoring bikinis that rock your curves?