Don't let those stretch marks get in the way of a relaxing time at the beach or pool. Smart styling allows you to hide those irksome marks, whether they were caused by pregnancy, weight fluctuations or skin conditions. Consider the cut of the swimsuit and the location of your stretch marks to camouflage these marks and highlight your best assets.
For the Bust
Pregnancy and breastfeeding -- or perhaps even weight gain or loss -- might have resulted in stretch marks on your breasts. A well-chosen swimsuit can hide these flaws, and in some styles, you can even manage to show off a little cleavage. If stretch marks creep up onto your cleavage, you want a swimsuit with a higher neckline. Try a criss-crossed neckline, which is a youthful style that keeps your bust under wraps. Similarly, a one-shoulder swimsuit -- either a one-piece or two-piece style -- doesn't emphasize the bust but creates a chic look on the beach.
For the Abs
The easiest way to mask stretch marks across your belly is to choose a one-piece swimsuit. Fortunately, today's one-pieces are anything but matronly.
The Classic One-Piece
If your tummy has stretch marks scattered across it, opt for true one-piece swimwear, which will best hide those flaws. A ruched swimsuit serves two purposes: covering up those stomach stretch marks and hiding any belly flab you might have.
A Cutout Suit
You can still show some skin with stretch marks on your belly -- you just want to show the skin that's mark-free. Carefully choose a one-piece swimsuit featuring cutouts, making sure that the cutouts don't expose the stretch marks. For example, try one with a side cutout if your stretch marks are around the belly button.
An Attention-Grabbing Neckline
Another fashionable belly-hiding swimsuit is a one-piece with a plunging-V halter top. You'll still show off some skin -- the back -- and those stretch marks on your stomach will be your little secret.
Stretch marks along your lower abdomen make a two-piece swimsuit possible. Try a bikini with a high-waisted bottom -- one that hits above your belly button -- that will hide the marks and let some of your tummy see sunlight.
For the Legs and Booty
When your thighs and booty are the stretch mark concern, you want to ditch the skimpy bottoms and instead opt for a swimsuit with more coverage down below. Swim skirts aren't just for grandma anymore. Shimmy into a flirty swim skirt, which features built-in bottoms.
Likewise, a swimsuit with a built-in skirt -- creating the image of a swim dress -- can hide those stretch marks below the torso. Choose a swim dress that features some intriguing design features -- think mesh cutouts in the abdomen or a strapless top. Showing off a little skin on top balances the more conservative style of the swim dress on the bottom.
Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.