TODAY   |  May 27, 2013

Find the perfect bikini without leaving the house

Shopping for the perfect swimsuit can be exhausting, but what if you could find one online? TODAY puts three popular sites to the test.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning on "today's style," buying a bathing suit online . consumer reports ' janet lieberman is here to help us through it. good morning.

>> good morning. it's miserable, isn't it?

>> try to make the process more painful.

>> we tried because is there anything to make buying a bathing suit go swimmingly? we tried out three different online sites. kudos to these gals who were willing to do this on national tv .

>> reporter: most of us wish we could look like these models in our bathing suits . the heat is on

>> reporter: now the heat is on to find the perfect swimsuit that really and truly fits your body.

>> it's probably one of the hardest things a woman has to do.

>> reporter: a trip to the store dressing room can be downright nerve-racking.

>> you have to go in and try everything on. it's really convenient for a lot of women to be able to do it online .

>> reporter: according to a recent survey, 64% of women will shop online for a swimsuit. manufacturers like lands' end are trying to cash in on this growing trend, making it easier to shop online in the privacy of your own home.

>> we have a lot of tools at to help ease the shopping experience. we also have live chat where you can click and at any time ask a question and someone will respond to you.

>> reporter: but are these tools able to fix your swimsuit fashion fears? we asked three brave volunteers to bare almost all by diving right in and shopping online . game on?

>> game on.

>> game on.

>> reporter: we asked each one of our gals to shop at different websites, utilizing their online tools. let's go with the full coverage. laura who hadn't bought a bathing suit in 15 years took the plunge at cher shopped at and stacy dived right into we gathered poolside two weeks later to see how the suits measured up. okay, ladies. i want to know from each of you what you think. laura was happy with her lands' end suit and thought her online experience was easy.

>> what i liked was you don't just go in and have your size. you give the measurements.

>> reporter: is this the size you thought you were?

>> no, my size was different than i thought.

>> reporter: you look cute.

>> and it holds in i think the right places.

>> reporter: stacy , on the other hand, decided to venture out, trying something different for her on everythingbutwater. stacy , how do you like your suit?

>> well, i don't love the suit. i liked a lot of other suits on the website more. but i wanted to try something that i normally didn't have.

>> reporter: and what don't you like about this?

>> it's a lot of movement. i would order a lot of suits and then have a choice.

>> reporter: cher also chose something that she wouldn't usually wear from swimspot. but it seemed to make a splash with her. what do you think of her suit?

>> i love it. i would have never thought of wearing a tankini. i usually try on about ten of them, so i'm excited. i'm happy.

>> before you order any of these bathing suits online , make sure they're fully returnable, and to be safe, you might want to get a few different models and sizes so you can return them.

>> a little try them on and see what works for you. what should you know about returns if you do want to return?

>> first of all, you can't wear them. especially with bathing suits . they have to have that sanitary strip on. you have to have tags on. but they are very liberal. they understand it's a miserable proposition. and some of them will stay with you -- swimspot -- they'll stay and chat with you until you get it right. a lot of them have free shipping. check the site.

>> thank you. joining us is janae is a beauty and style expert. when it comes to fit, a lot of women know their sizes, but how can it be different in a bathing suit , and how important is it to make sure you have the right size?

>> you can't really shop by your dress or pants size. it's sort of like buying bras. it's that gray area . you really have to get the fit right. you really want to pay attention to the vendor's sizing chart and really follow that as closely as possible. and also, many times they will ask you for your measurements because they offer specific features like a long torso bathing suit . you really have to know these measurements. so you use a tape measure like this, the sewing kind, not the kind in your husband's toolbox.

>> and be honest, right?

>> exactly. torso measurement which most women don't think of, the waist, the bust, much like you're fitting for a bra, and then the hips. and those are kind of the key measurements that you want to be aware of.

>> and what else can you do to make sure that you get the perfect fit ?

>> well, you can also utilize the features on the site like oftentimes they have live chat so you can kind of get sales assistance while you're, you know, browsing. they have shop by your body type . they have customer reviews which are really important to look at because oftentimes another customer will tell you, this suit runs small. so it's sort of really important to kind of utilize everything that's available on the website.

>> i always look at the customer reviews. i do find that that definitely tells you if it's going to be true to size or not.

>> absolutely.

>> well, ladies, good job. good stuff. i hope the ladies overall had a good experience.