I want a new bathing suit that’s a little different from the simple triangle or bandeau tops l see everywhere. I’m out of ideas about where I can find affordable, but unique swimwear options. Please help! —Maddie, 17, Toronto, Ontario

Though triangle tops and bandeaus are ALL THE RAGE RIGHT NOW, there are plenty of other bikini silhouettes to choose from, my boo! First, let’s discuss sporty styles. I’m really into cute rash guards, which look like the suits surfer girls wear. Check out this blue, long-sleeved rose-print one. This crop top is pretty cool, too!

If you are like, “OK, that’s cool, Marie, but I want something that actually LOOKS like a bikini, not a shirt!” I love this frilly bikini A LOT! And if you are feelin’ fringe, I like this halter-style top.

If you want to venture out from two-piece options, how about this radical monokini! A monokini is kind of like in between a bikini and a one-piece bathing suit. This one has side cutouts, which look totally rad. Yes, there’s a risk you might get some funky tan lines, but who cares?

Clockwise from top left: Grommet sport top, $29, Venus;  [link: http://www.venus.com/viewproduct.aspx?BRANCH=24~3200~&ProductDisplayID=14204 ] papaya top, $33.50, Nasty Gal; [link: http://www.nastygal.com/clothes-swimwear/nasty-gal-nasty-gal-deep-end-bikini-top--papaya ], colorblock bikini set, $36, Go Jane; [link: http://www.gojane.com/108805.html ] bandage halter bathing suit, $44.50, Go Jane; [link: http://www.gojane.com/108807.html ], Pebblewave monokini, $36.50, Urban OG; [link: http://www.urbanog.com/Pebble-Wave-Monokini_104_44198.html ], Floral flutter top bikini set, $31.50, Urban OG. [link: http://www.urbanog.com/Floral-Flutter-Top-Bikini-Set_104_56784.html ]

Clockwise from top left: Grommet sport top, $29, Venus; papaya top, $33.50, Nasty Gal; colorblock bikini set, $36, Go Jane; bandage halter bathing suit, $44.50, Go Jane; pebblewave monokini, $36.50, Urban OG; floral flutter top bikini set, $31.50, Urban OG.

Hope these inspire you, my bathing beauty! —Marie

I’m on the smaller-chested side (34A), and finding bikinis that I feel good in is really difficult. I don’t fill ones that are padded or have underwire. Smaller, less padded ones fit, but look very flat. I want to be comfortable, but also feel confident. Solutions? —C.

OH HI DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT FLAT CHESTS? ’Tis I, your humble friend A-Cup, who is here to take parley with you about them. I LOVE swimwear, and there are so many bikini options for those of us who are modestly endowed. The thing about having a small chest is that you don’t actually need any support, so I’d just avoid bikinis involving underwire if they’re giving you grief. Like you, I don’t enjoy padded tops either, so we’re going to focus mostly on designs without ’em.

Just one note: In a lot of social and cultural groups, having large breasts is still considered a feminine beauty ideal. It’s shitty to feel like your body isn’t good enough! But IT IS. I hate it when I read about dressing for different body shapes and the writer says something like, “[X detail] really draws attention away from your [X PART OF THE BODY THAT YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF SO DEFINITELY VEIL IT WITH 14 LAYERS OF FABRIC OR BETTER YET HIDE IN A CAVE!]” None of that here. Just kool designs 4 U.

OK, so now to styling your summer bodayyyyy. I am really into shapes inspired by athletic wear. I think a li’l crop-top style bikini or a racerback is SO CUTE. My fav is this black one from Akira. With mesh details and a high neckline, there are a lot of sleek and subtle aspects to it. You could also wear it as a bra outside of swim season! Double duty! Here’s another variant from Forever 21 with a cute triangular cut-out and a surf-style zip detail in back. What about an even bigger homage to surfwear? Try a short tee-style rash guard, like this one! Check out how cute they are:

Left: Right:

Left: Cutout top, $18, Forever 21. Right: Rash guard, $20.50, Nordstrom.

Another way to feel Most Fantastic is to wear something a bit unusual. What do you think about playing around with shape some more? I am deep into this off-the-shoulder top in acid green. Plus it has tiny hearts on it, gah. You could go one-shoulder, even—try this plain black one from Victoria’s Secret. Don’t blame me that these are all so awesome—you asked! Here they are:

Left: Right:

Left: Crop top, $29, ASOS. Right: One-shoulder top, $27, Victoria’s Secret.

If you still feel stressed about the prospect of a bikini, you could ease into it by picking something that feels more like clothing you might wear on the average day. A tankini (ugh, who came up with that word, but anyway) looks and wears like a regular tank top, except you can take it for a dip. I like this strapless guy from Target!

Last but not least, I like to include a cute print, bow, or ruffle in an outfit when I’m not feeling so confidenté. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t apply to bikinis, too! This swing top has a ruffle and a delicate floral print. SO HELP ME if you won’t Nicki-and-Beyoncé style Feel Yourself in this. Speaking of florals, I also really dig the cherry-blossom print and deco-style piping on this ModCloth bikini top.

Finally, if you really wanna feel BADASS in the water, learn how to do a tumble turn! I used to know and now I’ve forgotten, and whenever I see someone do one, I think: WHOA. —Estelle

l’m going on a family vacation soon where I’ll inevitably have to go to the beach, and I need to find a bathing suit. I used to self-harm around my waist, so I have scars there, and I also have my nipple pierced. My family doesn’t know about either of these things. I also have DD breasts, which is another factor to consider. Are there any bathing suits that are still cute, but cover up the cuts? —Leah, 17, Canada

The best swimsuit combination for you would be a halter-style, high-waisted bikini or one-piece suit. The halter style will help support your boobs much more than something like a bandeau top.Look for one that has underwire for extra help. Triangle bikinis are usually fine for all bust sizes, whether large or small, but you’ll want something that’s padded enough to hide your nipple rings. Don’t go for anything that’s made with thin material, because your piercings will most likely show!

I’m crazy about this striped halter top. This lavender polka-dot bikini is also a favorite of mine. And then there’s this cherry-print beauty!

To hide your scars, go for a high-waisted bottom that will cover your tummy and hips. Luckily, the swimwear market is overflowing with this style of retro suit these days. Plus, there are so many cute ones! I love this pair of pastel-pink bottoms so much I could scream. You can mix and match with this top. Now, since I’m not sure exactly where your scars are, I’d suggest taking a look at one-pieces. This emerald green one is just darling. And this shark-print one is just AWESOME! Here are some more ideas:


Clockwise from top left: Wade a Minute Swim Dress, $80, ModCloth; The Knockout One-Piece, $45, Victoria’s Secret; Wade a Second Swim Dress, $90, ModCloth; high-waisted polkadot bikini, $54.50, Go Jane; Twist bandeau one-piece, $40, Victoria’s Secret; Bathing Beauty Two-Piece in Red, $63, ModCloth.

And: I know this is a style answer, but if you are ever in need: You can check out some resources here if you’re ever feeling like you might self-harm in the future. All our love to you, too.

Hope this helps and have the best summer, my darling! —Marie

Since I don’t like regular bikini bottoms, where I can find the kind of swim shorts that look like volleyball shorts, or vintage-style bottoms with a bit of a skirt for relatively cheap? ~Hannah, 14, Canada

The bikini bottoms that look a bit like volleyball shorts are usually referred to as “boy-cut” or “boy shorts” by retailers, in case you want to look in person, too! These ones are $28 and come in a few different colors. These ones are the same price and have a cute ruched side-tie detail. If you want something cheaper…no worries, we’ll find it! These black side-tie ones are only $11, and what’s cool about getting a black pair is that you can mix and match with pretty much any color top you like. These ones are also really cute—and just $9.

Now, for vintage-style bottoms! This is a REALLY cute retro-style two-piece with a skirted bottom. Even though it’s $52, that’s for the whole bikini set, so the price is still pretty good! And, chances are, there will be no one at the pool and the beach with something similar—so you will definitely stand out! This is another adorable set that has a red leopard-print design. And there’s this one that has palm trees all over it! So sweet.

The bottom on this two-piece is more like a miniskirt! There’s also this baby blue polka-dotted bottom that has a pleated skirt.

Lastly, if you’re open to it, there’s one-piece bathing suits that have skirted bottoms as well, like this gorgeous striped number, this blue gingham cutie, and this ruffled number that comes in a bunch of different prints for only $28! Get your swim on, my little mermaid! —Marie ♦

Damn, girl, ya already look great, but if you have further questions about dressing up, send them to Marie and her stylish pals at [email protected] including your NAME, AGE, and CITY.