We've all seen those articles extolling the virtues of X-Y-Z swimsuit, which--among its other super powers--will make you look slim, curvy, sexy, lean, or any other adjective you could want. The problem is, we don't all have hundreds of dollars to shell out on a wear-it-a-few-times-per-year garment.
We've hunted through fashion editors' recommendations for each body type to find the common thread (pardon the pun). The result: readable, comprehensive instructions that will guide you to the best bathing suit for your body. Plus we threw in a few of our favorite suit recommendations--all under 50 bucks!
Consult our slideshow to find the best bathing suit for you and your wallet:
If you're busty: Support is the name of the game here. Nix slips with a top that's sturdy—but that doesn't mean it has to be plain, says Real Simple. Underwire and other bra-like details (like a secure clasp in lieu of a flimsy tie) are signs of a supportive top, according to Self. Balance all that coverage with a bottom featuring a fun pattern or details. If you prefer more coverage, your one-piece still needs all the same support on top.
Recommended: Merona Women's Underwire Tankini Swim Top ($19.99- pictured above) and Mossimo Women's Mix & Match Hipster Swim Bottom ($19.99); Ambrielle Swim Top, Bra-Sized ($18, available up to 38DD) and Ambrielle Hipster ($18).
If you're pear-shaped: Self suggests side-ties and ruching for customizable coverage on the bottom (so you can show a little more on vacation, a little less around the family). Other options are a minimalist bandeau top to draw eyes up, or a swim skirt to hide hips. When mixing and matching, choose a pattern on top and solid on the bottom. Just avoid boxy boyshorts, which make your hips look wider, says Glamour.
Recommended: Old Navy Women's Mix & Match Bandeau Top ($14.94) and Merona Womens Swim Skirt with Adjustable Side-Ties ($19.99); H&M Swimsuit ($29.95-pictured above).
If you're boy-shaped: No matter the style, Self magazine suggests looking for feminine details like bows and ruffles, which add volume. Boyshorts "round out" a smaller backside. Real Simple suggests horizontal stripes, which help add curves. When going the one-piece route, a suit with an hourglass-shaped center panel creates the illusion of curves.
Recommended: Mossimo Women's Mix & Match Stripe Push-Up Swim Top in Black ($19.99) and Mossimo Women's Mix & Match Skirtini Swim Bottom with Side Tie (19.99-pictured above); Old Navy Women's Bandeau-Keyhole Swimsuit ($29.94).
If you're curvy: Curvy girls, look for mix-and-match suits in the same color or pattern, which let you choose the perfect top and bottom. On top, halters are a great bet for providing plenty of support without looking frumpy. On bottom, a high-cut bikini will help lengthen legs, says Self, while a suit with a fitted (not flouncy or voluminous), built-in skirt or boy shorts offer coverage. Keep balance in mind; for example, a covered-up bottom and showy top will draw lots of eyes to your chest, while two pieces that cover about the same amount create symmetry.
Recommended: Victoria's Secret The Liya Halter Top ($26-$28) and Victoria's Secret Side Ruched Low-Rise Hipkini Bottom ($18-$20); Bisou Bisou Twist Front Bikini Top ($18-pictured above) and Bisou Bisou Side-Tie Skirt ($18-pictured above).
If you're petite all around: Petite women will want to add volume. Bright colors and smaller prints are perfect for you, says Self, since you've got nothing to hide. Ties at the hips and chest can help create the illusion of curves. A sexy cut (think peekaboo cut-outs) paired with ruffles can help keep the look mature. Just don't overwhelm yourself with wide stripes.
Recommended: Victoria's Secret The Daisy Push-Up Triangle Top ($26-$28) and Side-Tie Bikini Bottoms ($18-$20); Old Navy Women's Printed String-Tie Swimsuit ($29.94-pictured above).
If you're plus-sized: Plus-sized gals will want to combine a few of the tips that work for other women. For example, look for support up top with thicker straps and ruching to hide a tummy. When buying two pieces, try to mix and match to create the best fit for your body, suggests Self, and there's no need to hide from pattern. Distract from any problem areas by adding detailing like ruffles or an empire waist.
Recommended: H&M+ Swimsuit ($34.95, available in sizes 14-24-pictured above); Old Navy Women's Mix & Match Ruffle Tankini Top ($24.94, available up to XXL [size 20]) and Old Navy Women's Mix & Match Bikini Bottom ($14.94, available up to size XXL).
If you have a tummy: The temptation may be to grab the suit with the most spandex you can find, but Glamour magazine says that's actually not the way to go. Instead of trying to suck it in all day, choose a suit with ruching across the tummy. Draw eyes up with a halter or other embellished top. All-over prints—both graphic and floral—can also detract from any unwanted pooch, according to Self. One-piece not for you? A tankini or flirty, feminine high-waisted bottoms with ruching both achieve the same look.
Recommended: Attention Women's Scrunched Swimsuit ($34.95-pictured above); American Apparel Nylon Tricot Criss-Cross Bikini Top ($25) and American Apparel Tricot High-Waist Swim Brief ($25-pictured above).