Kaitlyn Swicegood shops for swimsuits that show off her curves.
Juliane O'Neal shops for swimsuits that cover hers.
"I look for something that is the most flattering on me because I'm not going to be swimming anyway," said Ms. O'Neal, who said her age is 60-something. "If I wear a two-piece, it has to hit me in the right places. I won't be swimming in it. I'm going to be lying on the beach. If the suit has a pretty cover-up, then that's even better."
Ms. Swicegood, 20, said her No. 1 priority when buying a swimsuit is a good fit.
"When I go shopping, I want something cute and sexy without it being too revealing," she said. "But it has to flatter my body type.
"Every swimsuit fits every body type differently. I have bigger hips and curves, so I look for something that contours to my body. I need the swimsuit to fit to my body, because I can't make my body fit to the swimsuit."
Earleen Roper, swimsuit consultant at Dillard's, said that although there are guidelines to buying swimsuits, nothing substitutes for an in-person fitting. Try it on, stand back and get a good, multi-angle look, she said.
And if you can't find a swimsuit that fits perfectly, the alternative is to buy the suit and a coordinating cover-up.
"Designers are making beautiful cover-ups," she said. "Some labels, such as Lucky Brand, have cover-ups that are so attractive ladies are wearing them as dresses."
Ms. O'Neal said once she finds a swimsuit she likes, she holds onto it for years.
"I haven't bought one in awhile," she said, noting that she owns five suits. "The one I wear the most is about 5 years old."
Ms. Swicegood said she has more than 20 swimsuits, adding new ones to her collection most every summer.
"My oldest one is 8 years old," she said. "I matured early and never changed much after that. So if I have a piece of clothing I really like, such as swimsuits, I'll keep it forever."