THE BLOG
06/28/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Confidence Shopping for a Bathing Suit

Polls show most gals dread the search for a new bathing suit as much as having to wear one in public. And that's not just the case with ladies who have extra weight on them. Every woman out there seems to agonize over one thing or another -- small breasts, big breasts, full legs, stick legs, belly's, short torsos, long torsos -- you name it. Now you might not be able to change the things that really bug you about yourself, but here are 15 things you can do to make the process of buying a swimsuit less painful, so you can move on to more important things like having fun and enjoying yourself.

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1. Several weeks before you go shopping or sunning, start dancing around your house in your bra and panties. That's right, you heard me. Get used to looking at yourself in as little clothing as possible. Vacuum, do laundry, sit at the table, look at your body when it's not covered up. This will either help you accept yourself for what you are or motivate you to make a change. If you can't do this in your underwear, do it in last year's bathing suit.

2. Put on your favorite bra and panties and stare in the mirror. What is it about the cut of the bra and panties that you like? If it's the coverage and support, bring them with you to the bathing suit store and ask the experts to find similarly structured bathing suit tops and bottoms. The same goes for trying to replace an old favorite swim suit -- bring it shopping with you.

3. You might not have the time or the desire to go on a crash diet, but you can prime yourself a few days before you shop. Even just 2 days of avoiding sugar, alcohol, carbs and salt can get rid of a lot of bloat, and you'll feel thinner on the day you shop for that new suit.

4. Self-Tanner is your friend. You know how great pantyhose can make your legs look? Well, putting on self-tanner is like covering your body with pantyhose. It makes you look thinner, gives you healthy-looking color, and hides spider veins, blotches and bruises. It's worth taking the time to practice and get good at applying. Or you can always go to the experts for a pro spray tan a day or two before your shopping day as well.

5. Shave and moisturize everywhere the night before or the morning of your shopping trip. Nothing makes you feel better than soft smooth skin, with no stubble or alligator dryness.

6. Wear a thong. If you are not a daily thong wearer, today is the day to wear one. It's much easier to try on bathing suits when you're not in your granny panties. You'll have a much better idea of how the suit will actually look.

7. Don't get hung up on numbers. Universal sizing is a myth! One company's size 8 is another company's size 10 and so on. Try on different sizes and pick the one that fits and feels comfortable. Cut off the label when you get home.

8. Find out about the store's return policy. Unfortunately, many stores have the most awful, florescent lighting in their dressing rooms. You're better off buying several suits, trying them on at home, and returning the ones you don't like.

9. Shop online or through mail order. Most of these stores have no problem with returns. You can order 10 suits, have your own private try-on party in your favorite mirror, then keep the one that works best and ship the rest back -- no questions asked.

10. Focus on balancing your proportions with color and coverage. If you're bigger on the bottom, draw the eye up with colors and patterns on top and keep your lower half dark and solid. Flip it if you're the opposite.

11. Seek out suits with tops and bottoms sold separately so you can mix sizes. A tankini works well on most figures and hides a lot of flaws.

12. Black is always slimming, but remember so is hunter green, purple, wine, and navy. You don't have to always do black.

13. Bring sandals and cover up with you and see how it all works together.

14. You get what you pay for! More expensive suits cost more because they are made with better materials, and constructed better. They will fit you more securely, and will simply look better on you.

15. Focus on your best parts, not what you don't like. Remember that most gals feel the same way you do. People are worrying about how they look, not how you look!

Patricia Stark is the host of Craving Confidence, a weekly show about confidence, life, and business skills. To subscribe to the show or the monthly newsletter, visit www.cravingconfidence.com

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