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Tips for trauma-free swimsuit shopping

Find the suit that best fits your figure with the help of fashion expert Charla Krupp, and the Internet.
/ Source: TODAY

Shopping for a swimsuit can be an ego-crushing experience. We've all been there: The too-small dressing room with the skimpy curtain, the hideous florescent lighting, bad mirrors and the lack of help when you need another size. But swimsuit shopping doesn't have to be traumatic. Charla Krupp, executive editor of Shop Etc. magazine and “Today” contributor, shares advice on how to find the best swimsuit for your body without the anxiety of the department store dressing room.

How can you avoid dressing rooms?
Find the best suit for your body by mail or Internet, with the help of Shop Etc magazine. We've made it radically simple by providing the phone numbers and Web sites. After all, no one can see your cellulite in cyberspace!

How can I find the best fit?
Order one or two sizes and return what doesn't fit. It's so much more civilized to try everything on in the privacy of your own full-length mirror. Walk around the house, lie down; sit down. Ask your husband or boyfriend or girlfriend what they think.

Don't we have to be concerned about hygiene?
Always try swimsuits on with a thong. It's the honor system. Every suit has a removable panty shield. Don't take it off until you're sure you want the suit.

Swimsuit suggestions
All-over slimming
The winner for overall slimming of the tummy and butt is Carol Wior's Perfect Travel Swimsuit in black, $69 (sizes 6-16). It comes with a paper tape measure and the claim that the suit will reduce your waist and hips by one inch just by putting it on — and it appears to be true. I was skeptical but it worked on me. The Lycra lining and patented construction works like a girdle to smooth bulges, lift your butt and slim your hips. It comes only in black, which is the most slimming color anyway.Travel Smith catalogue, or 800-950-1600.

De-emphasize your hips
The J.Crew Tie Back Bandeau Top, $32, and Ruched Hipster Short, $34 (sizes XS-L) is a good example of a flattering boy-short. Tighten or loosen the bottom according to how much coverage you want on your hips. The bandeau top ties in the back, has boning at the sides for support and a removable halter strap so you can avoid tan lines for those strapless summer dresses. This is a brilliant buy for the top and the bottom. The latest trend is mixing colors and patterns in bottoms and tops; with these swim separates you can customize the look as well as the size of your swimsuit. J.Crew April catalogue, or 800-562-0258.

Lift breasts, lengthen torso, smooth curvesI can't rave enough about this Calvin Klein Pleated Soft Cup Tank One-Piece, $100 (sizes 4-14). It’s a new style for this spring and it fixes a number of problems by lifting breasts, lengthening torso and smoothing curves. How does it do that? A built-in bra with cup padding gives breasts an extra boost up. The genius seams down the front create a slimming vertical illusion that makes your body appear to be narrower than it really is. The side panels conceal love handles. It comes in four colors — sea breeze, black, blue and cocoa brown. Find it on the swimsuit site, or 888-796-6661.

Add curvesBebe’s one-piece suit adds curves to a boyish figure, $129 (sizes XS-L). The cutouts give the illusion of a trimmer, hourglass waistline. It comes in gold and white and is available at Bebe stores nationwide, 877-232-3777 for locations.

Maximizes cleavageFor a little boost in the bust try this best-selling classic bikini from the Venus USA catalog. It has removable cleavage-creating push-up pads. Add them to the underwire bra top and your bust will look one size larger. Buy the bra top according to your bra size (it comes in sizes 32-36 A-DD). The moderate bottom is a high, leg-lengthening French cut. The Venus Enhancer Bra Top, $41, and Moderate Bottom, $29 (sizes P-XL) comes in a range of solids and prints. Venus summer 2005 catalog, 800-366-7946, or

Hide a bellyThe Jantzen Pool Party Fauxkini, $86, is great for new moms or moms to be, and is a new style for spring. It looks like a two-piece tankini but you'll fool everyone because it's actually a one piece. It's ideal for pregnant women and post-pregnant women still shedding off the pounds, because underneath is a clever, invisible white mesh panel to comfortably hold you in. The outer layer is cut full to conceal lumps and bumps. It comes in pink and blue in sizes 8 to 16, and is available at

Show off your fabulous figureFor all of you who are really proud of your bodies, this is the suit of the summer. It's hard to find more flash than the gold coins on Banana Republic’s Gold Pailette Halter Top and Bikini Bottom. Each piece is sold separately for $129, so you can mix and match sizes (which run XS-XL). Available at Banana Republic,, or call 888-277-8953.

Final tips to make swimsuit shopping more positiveGive suits a real chance:

  • Wear skimpy thongs so you can keep them on without excessive bulging.
  • Groom, groom, groom — be bikini-ready and get waxed, self-tanned and put makeup on so you look your best.
  • The day before, watch the salt and starchy carbs that can make you retain water.

There are a lot more tips for finding a suit in the May issue of Shop Etc.