Monday, March 13, 2017 | 2 a.m.
‘Every woman I work with compares herself to the Standard Image of Beauty: tall, thin, perfect breasts, tan, long-haired Barbies. ... This is where my heart breaks,” said Kate Bruening, the Hawaiian-born, Summerlin-based founder and designer of hot swimsuit brand Kate Swim. “When we start comparing ourselves to that standard — or even worse, to the girl across the pool — that’s when we feel the most insecure. ... But I’m a strong believer that every woman is beautiful.”
If you’ve seen Bruening’s custom bikinis on some of the world’s most enviable forms, in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, you might scoff at that sentiment. But the bio on her company site makes it clear that she was driven to make swimwear for the everywoman: She saw that women were faced with the arduous task of fitting their bodies into too few sizes, styles, cuts and fabrics. And as necessity is the cause for invention, Kate was inspired to help women avoid the negative experiences of buying swimwear.
With Kate Swim designs gracing multiple Swimsuit Issues, Bruening can vouch for the fact that everyone has body issues: SI cover girls unfavorably compared themselves to others, just like her friends and family members did. That insight developed into her current design philosophy, which thinks way outside the box of the small-medium-large trichotomy.
“I started designing suits from the ground up — working with my clients’ shapes as my inspiration. Every woman has insecurities. You can embrace them or you can embrace the things that you love about your body. You can be unapologetically beautiful,” she said. “Designing the suit depends on the woman, what she’s comfortable with, and what makes her feel most special. ... More than anything, we just need to stop comparing.”
With pool season kicking off in Las Vegas, Bruening shared tips on how to find a suit to flatter your favorite features and build one of the foundations of beauty: confidence.
Accentuate the positive
• If you want to highlight your skin tone, contrast will make it pop, whether you go for a bright color, crisp white or a fun combo of neon and neutral.
• Curves need support, but you don’t have to sacrifice sexy style. Try multiple or thicker straps, and don’t be shy about bling.
• All body types look great in a one-piece — it’s about the cut. For example, if you have a short torso and long legs, pick a suit that pulls down the leg line with a retro bottom that extends over the hips.
Work the optical illusions
• Matte fabrics don’t reflect light, diminishing the appearance of cellulite.
• The more fabric you use to cover something, the larger it appears. So use this to your advantage. If you have a smaller bust and larger bottom, go a size larger on the top and a size smaller on the bottom.
• Anything with texture grabs attention. Use tassels, ruffles or appliqué to feature parts you love or create a feminine effect on a more athletic build.
• Color blocking is a slimming aesthetic. A light suit with dark cutouts around the middle makes your waist appear narrower, and it works just as well flipped — maybe a hot pink suit with cool nude panels.
• Tops with long fringe add dimension to straighter or thicker shapes.
Fit, fit, fit
• Try on lots of suits, in all cuts and sizes. The ‘perfect’ suit is not perfect for you if it fits incorrectly.
Take care of the suits you have
• Care for suits in Las Vegas is hard. The extra chlorine, chemicals, spray tan, lotions and body products that go into the pools all bombard the fabric. I suggest rinsing off every single time you get out of the pool. Even if it’s a quick dip.
• Suits should be hand-washed with special swimwear/lingerie soap. And lay them flat to dry.
Know when to upgrade
There are three questions you should ask when you’re deciding if you should replace your favorite suit. If you answer yes to any of these, I’m sorry for your loss, but it’s time for a new one.
• Is the color fading?
• Is the elastic crunchy or worn out?
• Is the butt looking more and more like a diaper?