It is one of those perverse, inverse relationships in nature. Women across the world wonder every summer season how something as small as a swimsuit can cause such huge amounts of grief.
You don't need a scientific survey to show that most women hate at least some portion of their bodies. So perhaps it is no surprise that the prospect of searching for new water wear drowns most women's enthusiasm.
It doesn't have to be so bad. Not if you understand a few principles of proportion. Several experts shared their fit and design secrets:
* TUMMY: Your stomach can be camouflaged with a series of gathers, called shirring, or disguised by bright prints on a one-piece suit or a contrasting waistband on a two-piece. Carol Wior, creator of the Slimsuit, a patented slenderizing design, inserts a stretch panel in her suits that helps redistribute the figure.
"I did a survey of 6,000 ladies, and the first complaint is the stomach," Wior said.
* SMALL BUST: The bustline is the second-most-common area of complaint, Wior said. She often adds ruffles or gathers. Laurie Allyn, design director for Apparel Ventures in Gardena (makers of Too Hot Brazil, Sessa, Sassafras and Citrus), suggests underwire bras and molded cups to add what nature didn't.
* LARGE BUST: Wior suggested wider straps with heavier elastic for more support, a scoop-neck tank top or a wrap front.
* LARGE HIPS: Darks go on bottom, say the swimwear experts. Bringing the visual interest to the top, either with brighter color or decoration, can work. Prints can also work to hide lumps and break up the expanse of one color.
* FULL FIGURE: Darker side panels visually narrow the body. Side-wraps and wavy stripes that lead the eye upward can slenderize, too.
* SHORT LEGS: Higher-cut legs balance the figure. Straight-across lines generally are unflattering, Allyn said.
* SHORT TORSO: If you have a short torso but long legs, Allyn said, you can wear a longer or "boy cut" leg, one that is cut nearly straight across like swim trunks. A two-piece suit can work if the bustline and waistline aren't too close together.