(Swim)suit up! It’s that time of year again...

Every woman has experienced it at some point: The shockingly bright lights, that sense of fear and dread, the suddenly blank mind that wonders, “What have I been doing to myself for the last couple of months?”

On the upside, this is not a situation that requires a mug shot. On the downside, it’s worse: Bathing suit season has arrived, and it’s time to face the terrors of a poorly lit fitting room.

Here’s how to make life easier:

Know Your Body Type:

Queen Latifah wouldn’t look good in Jennifer Aniston’s bikini, and Aniston wouldn’t look great in Angelina Jolie’s (alas, that is a topic far too heated to even breach).
  • Hourglass-shaped women, such as Halle Berry, can emphasize curves with the season’s hottest new style, the monokini with cutouts.
  • Cone shapes, such as Madonna, are heavier on top and should avoid shapeless, unsupported tops. Try buying a bikini top and bottom in two different sizes, which most stores offer nowadays.
  • Rulers, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, distribute weight evenly and can add curves through ruffles and can pull-off skimpier styles.
  • Spoon-shaped women, such as Jennifer Lopez, can balance out printed tops with less coverage with heavier skirts and solid-colored bottoms.

Trend Wisely:

A one-shouldered one piece is subtly sexy and exposes just the right areas of the body. Thanks to the diagonal line the suit cuts across the upper torso, everything looks sleeker and proportional. More of a daredevil? Try a cutout bathing suit, but make sure that the cutout areas highlight the fittest parts of the body.

For example, women with fabulous upper bodies can incorporate the trend by picking a suit with cutouts above and below the bust. Brands a trend-loving woman can try this season include Herve Leger, Gottex and Miss Sixty. Try Victoria’s Secret for less pricey options.

Mix and Match: Instead of buying a new swimwear wardrobe each year, mix in old standbys with trends to keep things fresh. Grab the sarong that’s lying in the back of the closet and tie it around a new maillot for a fresh, chic look. One-shoulder and strapless suits look as great under shorts and skirts at a casual dinner as they do on the beach. Want to go old school?

Try a vintage- inspired suit, and take the trend all the way with high-waisted bottoms and a demi-cup bra.

Listen to the Expert:

According to Tom O’Hara, owner of Gone Bananas! Beachwear, ruching is in. “I love the ‘scrunchie-butt’ style, which features shearing all the way up the rear of the suit,” O’Hara said. As far as coverups go, less is more: “All those suits and coverups that have jewelry on them are now out of style,” he said. “Try going for more of a hippy vibe.” Choosing loose dresses in gauzy fabrics and leaving the ornamentation to accessories can help achieve the boho-chic look.

Speedos or Trunks?

As for men, make a choice that lingers somewhere between Europe and America. Eurica, if you will. American men like to cover up in ill-fitting, wildly printed trunks, while European men often leave little to the imagination in suits that are smaller than the ones seen on Brazilian women.

In their case, less is not exactly more. Go for the happy medium in pair of fitted shorts that come up to the mid-thigh. Printwise, stay away from animate objects and go for neutral colors with plaid or stripe patterns. Like bright colors? Keep it monochromatic and let the color, whether bright blue or deep crimson, speak for itself.

Of course, the rules and suggestions go out the window if something is tried on and the neon-light, unflattering-mirror police don’t show up. In which case, leave the store wearing the purchase and immediately head to the nearest beach.