Competition Suits 101
I have been competing since 2012 and have been stoning competition suits since 2014. Since that time I have learned a lot about suits, especially the dos and don’ts that come with picking a winning suit that complements your physique. My first suit was “a train wreck.” I found a suit maker off the internet and picked a pink fabric that I thought would look great on stage.
Fast forward to a couple months down the road and what I received was nothing like what I’d imagined. The top was huge, the bottom wasn’t flattering, and the stones were plastic and cloudy among other things. I was able to make the suit “work,” but couldn’t help but feel disappointed about the money I spent on a suit that I didn’t love and that I was “stuck” with because I couldn’t afford another one. What made it worse was that the suit looked better in person than it did on stage. It was baffling how much the suit changed under the stage lights.
I have listed below a few tips to help you pick out your next bikini or figure cut suit. Choosing the right fabric and stones for your suit can add up to a stunning suit on stage or it can just as easily be an unflattering mess.
Stones can change the look and color of a suit entirely by the way they reflect off of one another or if there are multiple colors. Most people get stuck on trying to find the perfect color of fabric. The reality is there isn’t a surplus of fabrics out there, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. I would suggest finding a color that is the closest to what you want and then finding stones that will give you the effect that you’re looking for. Be open minded when you’re picking stone colors. For example, you may be set on a red suit with gold or blue stones, but the gold stone will turn brown placed against the red fabric and the blue stone could turn a greenish hue. The fabric and the stone color reflect off one another and can either complement one another or completely change colors for the worse. I always recommend laying out different stones in the colors that you’re interested in and laying them on the fabric so you can see for yourself exactly what the color combination will look like. If you’re limited on funds, AB stones might be a better choice. These stones have a coating that radiate out 2-3 different colors and will give the illusion of more sparkle. You could use fewer of these types of stones than regular stones.
Fabric can change color under stage lights, especially if it has a hologram effect. More often than not the fabric will lighten up once on stage. My famously bad first pink suit was a fuchsia color in person, but once on stage it turned into a light pink. If you’re on the fence about picking a fabric, I recommend going a shade darker. Another thing to consider is hologram or mermaid fabric. These fabrics reflect two colors and depending on the light it will either pull one way or another. It’s best to have someone hold the fabric away from you and turn it in different directions so you can see what color it picks up the most. Similarly to the AB stones, if you have limited funds, choose a hologram-effect fabric. They will have their own natural shine on stage and you won’t need to have as many stones.
I never thought hair color would be so important until I saw pictures of myself on stage where my hair was the focal point and the suit looked rather bland in comparison. Your natural hair color lightens up on stage just as much as your suit will. Since my hair is waist long and blonde, it literally glowed on stage. My blonde hair turns into an almost white blonde hue on stage and, more times than not, my suit gets overpowered by my hair. I realized that I needed an equally bright suit color on stage if I wanted to keep my hair blonde. My go-to power colors that complement my hair are bright blues and bright aqua/turquoises. I avoid dark greens as they make my hair look brassy and any color in the pink family as it makes me look like Barbie (which isn’t the polished professional look I’m seeking). Black is a color that’s very hard to pull off for blondes because it has a tendency to make us look harsh and can take away from our overall classiness. Black is a color I see being pulled off fabulously by women who have an ethnic background. Some brunettes can also pull it off as long as they make sure their hair and makeup look very feminine.
Just because the fabric you’re picking out looks stunning on your natural skin color doesn’t mean it will look the same once you have on a spray tan. For instance, I love the color red or purple. However, I have natural pink undertones and once that spray tan goes on (which has an orange base), those colors no longer look good on me. Your ethnic background also plays a role in what fabric colors look best. Most people, though, can’t pull off anything that is orange, bronze, gold, yellow, or pastels as it’s either too light on stage, too close to your skin color, or makes you look orange. Although there is always an exception to the rule, your heritage will really determine what colors you can and can’t pull off.
Cut of a Suit
Your measurements to your suit maker will usually be inaccurate. Your off-season measurements and your show time measurements can be completely different. My competition suit in the off-season fits way too tight and looks to be a size too small, but once I diet down and step on stage, the suit fits perfectly. This is why it’s important to go to an experienced suit maker as they will be aware of this and can either make you a suit that will fit at show time or can alter a suit with minimal adjustments once you’re stage lean.
At the amateur level, just because the pros are wearing a pro cut doesn’t mean you should too. Most amateur competitions have regulations on suit coverage and if you have a pro cut you could be asked to wear a bigger suit, you may be docked down in points, or even disqualified. Sometimes less isn’t more. A bigger suit may enhance your physique better than a pro cut would. Your physique would need to be on point and very lean as there’s nothing to hide when you’re wearing a smaller suit. If your physique isn’t quite there, you can eliminate some jiggle or some weak points by wearing a larger suit and having more coverage. Another tip is to wear a larger top if you’re a woman who has a smaller chest. If you’re an A cup, you should wear a B cup top and stuff it. It will give the illusion of a bigger chest and will look more symmetrical on stage.
Having the perfect cut for your physique for your division can really and truly make or break your overall look on stage. The biggest mistake in the bikini division is to not have the back dipped down enough. Having a low dip in the back creates an illusion of high and round upper glutes. If the back of your suit is flat, you’re chopping your upper glutes off and making them look flat. For figure suits, not having the straps coming up high enough on your waist or having the back straps tie in too low or too high can affect your overall look. Having your figure suit bottoms up high on the hips will show off your hip adductors, make your waist look smaller and help you have a more X frame. The straps that tie in the back of the suit which may seem minimal can either make your waist look tiny with a wide back or can just as easily make your X frame look nonexistent.
Hopefully these tips will help you look your best on stage. Don’t be afraid to ask your suit maker what they think will look best on you, or tell them your concept so they can help you pick out the best options that will flatter you the most. No two women are the same and no two suits are the same. There is no such thing as small, medium, and large when getting a competition suit. If you’re faced with this option, then I would suggest that you keep looking. Don’t be afraid to look around either. If you see a suit that you love, bring a picture of it to your suit maker so they can use it as inspiration. You don’t have to know exactly what you want, that’s the suit maker’s job to help you, but you should know what you like and don’t like for your suit. Picking out a suit should be a fun experience, and by making some smart choices you can confidently walk away knowing that you’re getting a suit that not only looks beautiful, but fits like a glove.