The kindest cuts

No surprise here! Women love Lands' End swimsuit designs that fit real-world bodies.

Published May 22, 2006 3:37PM (EDT)

Shout it from the rooftops! Catalog clothier Lands' End has secured a competitive retail niche by offering a system of bathing suit sizing that fits all kinds of women's bodies, according to the New York Times. The Lands' End Web site has 25 styles to help minimize hips and thighs and 40 styles targeting the tummy and waist. Thats in addition to three leg-height choices and bottom sizes up to 26.

Women are so thrilled they're supposedly sending the company unsolicited testimonials and praising their sizing approach on blogs: "Land's End has actually turned the process of buying a bathing suit into something not completely mortifying," Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, a mother from Philadelphia, wrote in an unnamed blog, according to the Times. The approach is profitable, too. The company reports that swimsuits make up a "sizable portion" of its annual sales, the Times reports.

Lest the Times piece seem like a big advertorial, the article also mentions that other forward-thinking companies, such as L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer, are following, um, suit. (I've been a big fan of Newport News' flattering swimsuit designs for a few years now because they actually cover a woman's privates.) These companies are taking seriously recent research that shows that, despite the perfectly proportioned models featured in ads and magazines, most women do not wear a size 2. In fact, according to a study of 6,300 women by North Carolina State University, only 8 percent of women have an hourglass shape, long the women's sizing standard. Rather, the majority of women are pear-shaped.

In other swimsuit news, the Times also reports that men's swim trunks will be shorter this year and will feature more leg. Does that mean that guys will be tugging at their suits all summer long, the way women have been for decades?

By Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at

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