Times are changing. I made my first bathing suit when I was 9-years old. As long ago as that is, I still remember being frustrated because it didn't quite fit the way I wanted it to. I sold my first bathing suit when I was 16. That was 1976.
I have had my own line of dance/aerobic wear since 1984 and have been doing so under the name Merry Christine body wear / mc body wear. And as of this year I am officially incorporated.
In the 1980's, when fitness was not in the picture yet, most bodybuilder would be happy enough to buy a bikini off the rack of their favorite swimwear shop. Living in New York I was lucky enough to have a few national and pro-level competitors come to me through talk in the health clubs and that's where my obsession for this industry began.
I think moreso now than back then, a lot of judges are obviously looking for the perfect body, but the overall package is definitely more respected. Symmetry with clean lines are important. And if you are going to spend all of your spare time training, eating in a disciplinary manor, and then presenting yourself on stage to be criticized by many people, do you really believe you're posing suits, or fitness attire is not as important as the rest? All the of the hard times you went through are all done for that one special day. The presentation of yourself.
Ask and You Shall Receive
When looking for a posing suit or fitness package, and now with a new class, the figure, first ask you're trainer or choreographer. If they are not sure, ask the owner of your fitness facility. There are also ads in most bodybuilding or fitness magazines. And of course now, we have computers to look for anything. You may also ask a fellow competitor where they go for they ensembles.
Once you find someone, or a few, it is important to find out what they have to offer in terms of you're price range, variety of colors, and in the fitness and figure categories, variety of style options. In this day and age ask if they have anything on the Internet they may have to show you.
Ask their terms of payment. You should always be told up front. If a company is not going to give you a bid up front that is a big red warning sign. Especially with all the other expenses you have to deal with. Find out the extent of their originality for costume. What kind of fabrics, trim and custom tailor knowledge they have in this field. Lycra is definitely not the same as rigid fabrics.
Ask around for any competitors that have used this company in the past and how the wear performed for them. How much extra advice did the company give them for the competition. How can the product be cleaned. A good competition outfit should be able to be worn quite a few times throughout a year's time without looking worn.
I think one of the most difficult issues to deal with are timely deliveries. When a company takes your money, they should be able to give you a firm delivery day. The most complaints I hear about are suits not being made on time. I have even had competitors tell me nightmare stories of not having their suits for their competitions. And that is from reputable designers as well. That is usually due to overbooking.
If you are not familiar with the company, make sure you get a receipt from them with as much detail as possible. Your outfit should compliment you're bodies symmetry.
Females should make sure the breasts are covered in a complimentary manor. Too much fabric can totally ruin you're symmetry, and too little can just be plain tacky.
Men, there is nothing that looks worse than a posing suit that is too large, especially in the front. When a man is a whopping 190 pounds of muscle mass, and he is standing on stage with a posing suit and forgive me for being blunt but the shlong is dangling in a wad of fabric. Let's just say something doesn't look like it is fitting with the symmetry. My motto is, if the man is not speaking 1-or-2 octaves higher than normal, the suit's too big!
So this is where I get to the sensitive subject of "what if I do not have enough money and need to borrow a suit or fitness outfit?" Some people honestly do not have enough money, or started to late to get a suit. Therefore they need to borrow.
The first thing to keep in mind is that if you are borrowing a suit, and someone is kind enough to loan you a suit that they paid for, you must respect that and return it in the same condition you borrowed it. That means doing you're homework on proper skin tanners that won't hurt the suits. Especially the fitness suits. They are not only usually expensive, but most girls get sentimental with the suits they performed in. Be respectful and grateful.
Then, of course, make sure the suit fits well enough. If the suit does not fit, what's the point? You will learn only by your mistakes. Don't assume that because someone charges a lot of money the suits are going to be the best. Ask to see previous work and talk to competitors that have worn their products. In the same token don't assume saving a buck and going to someone cheaper is going to work either. You might end up spending more having to get another suit, paying the higher price on top of the previous one purchased.
In conclusion, you must remember, in this line of business the designer is fashioning around the best bodies. Hard bodies. It's up to you to be the best that you can be. Make sure the wrapping goes well with the package.