Frisky Q&A: Pattie Byrnes, The CEO Of Fit 4 U, Teaches Me How To Pick A Bathing Suit

I consider myself to be a fairly body-confident woman. I enjoy my body’s curves. Even though I would like to lose some weight around my tummy, I don’t want to hide myself, either. I’m not confident enough to wear a traditional bikini, though, so come summertime, I’ve always just rocked a one-piece — it covers said tummy and also because I don’t want to worry about a bikini top splashing away. One-pieces never looked particularly good or particularly bad on me; they were usually just whatever Old Navy was selling that season.

It wasn’t until I got fitted for a cherry-colored bathing suit (above) by Fit 4 U — a special two-piece designed to hide tummies — that I found a bathing suit that I genuinely love. It’s a tankini top with ruffles down the middle and matching bottoms. First of all, it looked like cute lingerie, but it still appropriate for the beach. Second of all, the ruffles are feminine and fun but not too “foofy.” Third, it hid my tummy without looking like some kind of obvious Spanx-type situation. And fourth, it made my boobs look awesome, too! I went away for a weekend with my husband and I was genuinely excited to wear this bathing suit in the hot tub. (FWIW, he thinks it’s cute, too.)

I got a chance to speak with Pattie Byrnes, the creator of Fit 4 U swimwear, which offers suits designed especially to address the following areas: C-cups, D-cups, E-cups, long torsos, hips, tummy, thighs, or lifting boobs. Like I said, I used to just buy whatever $20 one-piece that I found at Old Navy and called it a day. But now that I’ve actually felt the difference of wearing a swimsuit with better shape and construction for my body type, I’m a fan.

Below, my conversation with Byrnes about dressing for your body type, mistakes women make while suit shopping, and why swimsuits in the ’80s were horrible.

The Frisky:Why don’t you explain what the difference is between apples, pears and hourglass body shapes in terms of shopping for bathing suits?

Pattie Byrnes: Well,  I actually target the biggest issue a woman has, because everybody has something about their figure that drives them crazy. I have these beautiful models that come in and model for me and they’re, like “Oh, I hate my thighs” or “I hate my stomach” or “I wish I had bigger boobs.” So what I try to do is I try to target whatever area is her biggest problem in her mind and I give her a solution. But what I do also is I address other things while I do that. For example, if a girl has big hips — an apple or pear shape — what I want to do is draw the eye up to the shoulders and make the shoulders appear broader. And how I do that is through trick-of-the-eye design where either I do a sweetheart or I’ll do a halter that’s cut in because it’s going to make those shoulders appear broader which is going to slim out and balance the weight of the hips. So it’s a two-part process: trick of the eye design and then also the inner construction. ..

If I’m doing a Fit 4 Ur C’s or Fit 4 Ur Ds & Es style of dressing the bust, I also put in tummy control panels. So not only will I trick the eye and do a construction that has a much larger cup in it and much wider elastic that goes all the way aroundt o help lift the chest up, but I’m also going to put in a tummy control panel or shearing  to hide a tummy issue as well. I figure most women who are buying my swimsuits probably have more than one issue and what I want to do is not only hide the negative, but I want to accent the positive and just make somebody feel really good about walking out in a bathing suit.

What would you say are some of the most common mistakes that women make when buying a bathing suit?

The biggest issue that women have is that nobody knows what looks good on their body. So most women will try on 10 to 20 swimsuits, just keep trying them on and they don’t know what looks good … Most people, because they don’t have an art background, they don’t know what will accentuate the positive of their figure. So what I try to do in Fit 4 U is I do all the homework for them. Since I can’t be standing in the store helping someone one-on-one, I made color-coded hang tags that are sort of sorority-sister friendly, and they kinda poke fun: “Hips a handful? We’ve got you hidden!” “Lengthy torso? We’re longing for you!” “Battling bulges? We’ll win the fight!” It’s tongue-in-cheek, but all of the work is already done! If you have a tummy issue you try on the Fit 4 U tummy. If you have hips, you try on the one that says hips.

What was swimwear like when you started back in the ’80s? Was swimwear different back then?

Swimwear was so different … The cups in swimsuits were made of this hard plastic, like you could knock on them and hear. They weren’t very comfortable. … Most of the manufacturers were men. There weren’t very many women designing or actually doing the manufacturing, so everybody was buying these cups that were very, very shallow and they were just buying them right off the rack from the cup supply people. So we said “ugh, this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, these cups don’t even cover the whole boob!” What we did is we went bra shopping, a whole bunch of us picked out all our various bra manufacturers that we liked and we actually designed our own mold and we created a cup that’s deep enough that it actually accommodates the whole boob.

And the other thing which I still find today — which makes me crazy — is there was no elastic. And now they still have these skinny elastics if you go to a store, and that’s not gonna [cut it]. If you have big boobs, they’re going to fall right out. We use these big, wide, thick elastics especially as the cup sizes increase [so does] the big thick elastic underneath so that it will hold everything up. And then we created a bra that goes all the way around and that also gives the additional support.

Do you ever have any interest in moving into lingerie too? Because it sounds like you know everything about a woman’s body!

Yeah, I’ve dabbled in it before. I love swim, but what we are working on is … we’re going to continue into other seasons with other fantastic stuff and I can’t wait to tell you all about that. We’ll be introducing that this summer.

Find out more about Fit 4 U bathing suits at