This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Style Preference and Benefits Sought by Women for Customized Swimwear Based on Body Shape, Age, and Dress Size




Ross, Sumner

Type of Degree



Consumer Affairs


The purpose of this study was explore possible relationships between the body shapes, ages, and dress sizes of adult female consumers of customized swimwear and the preferences they have for swimsuit styles, what body parts a swimsuit emphasizes or de-emphasizes, and what benefits they seek from how a swimsuit fits and looks on their body. An entrepreneurial business (Company A) that uses mass customization strategies to produce customized swimwear provided the data for this research on the condition that the company and the customers remain anonymous. Data came from a convenience sample of 463 women aged 19-101 who were 2007-2009 customers; data consisted of body shape designation, age, self-reported dress size, swimsuit style preference, three body areas selected for emphasis and three for de-emphasis, and three benefits sought from the swimsuit design. The company identified each customer’s body shape through proprietary software that was used in association with a 3D body scan,which also provided measurements. The body shape categories were rectangle, hourglass, inverted triangle, circle, and triangle. Customers completed a questionnaire that included the information on preferences, age and dress size. The options for swimsuit style were bikini, tankini, and one-piece. For body emphasis and de-emphasis areas, customers chose from the following list: arms/legs, bust, hips, seat, thighs, tummy, and waist. Their choices for swimsuit benefits were minimize full hips and thighs, provide tummy control, enhance bust, support bust, minimize bust, visually lengthen torso, visually shorten torso, deemphasize full arms, deemphasize full legs, and accentuate waistline. ii Body shape, age, and dress size were the independent variables, and swimsuit style, body areas of emphasis and de-emphasis, and benefits sought were the dependent variables. More than half of the subjects had rectangle and hourglass body shapes, were aged 30-59, and reported wearing dress sizes 6-12. Quantitative analyses of style preference were two-way chi square statistics with follow-up cross tabulations. Descriptive statistics (frequencies and percentages) were used to investigate body area emphasis and de-emphasis preferences and benefits sought. Swimsuit style preference was significantly related to body shape, age, and dress size. Approximately half of each of the body shape groups preferred a single style over the other two. A desire for body coverage increased with age and dress size. Descriptive statistics revealed that most respondents sought emphasis and de-emphasis in similar body areas, but the relative degree of their preferences varied with their body shape, age, and dress size. Overall, arms and legs, bust, and waist were the most commonly selected areas of emphasis, and hips, thighs, and tummy were the focus for de-emphasis. The subjects’ swimsuit benefit preferences related to both emphasis and de-emphasis choices. Examples include tummy control (de-emphasize tummy) and enhance bust (emphasize bust). This study’s findings can inform ready-to-wear swimsuit companies and potentially provide insights into female customers’ preferences for other body revealing garments. The research was limited, however, by the fact that all data came from a single company, relied on that business’s designation of body shape, and the customers’ self reporting of dress size. The research results suggest that more study of these variables for different garment types could be fruitful.