While on vacation up at the mountain house, we were at the lake all the time so wearing swimsuits was pretty much an everyday occurrence. The thing was, I had all these cute suits (all one-pieces—nothing super revealing) but I wasn’t feeling very confident or comfortable playing and being active with my kids. I felt like I was constantly adjusting up and down and felt a bit too exposed. I felt I needed to be more “modest” as a mom being around friends, in-laws, and kids, but was also struggling with wanting to feel stylish and cute. Typical…
When I started this post, my idea was to find modest but not too “mom-ish” swimsuits that I felt very comfortable in and review them for all of you. But little did I know, this post would become more about a larger culprit, the bikini industrial complex, than about finding the right suit.
So, at first I went on a MISSION to find the suits I actually wanted to wear, and I’m so happy to say I found some that I feel comfortable in while also still feeling young and stylish. Of course, what makes me feel comfortable and stylish could be wildly different from what makes you feel that way, but here are the suit details I’ve found that are working for me:
- I like heavy lining. I look for suits that are either double lined or ribbed so they are thicker, which not only helps the suit itself stay put better, but also keeps more goods in and hides some bumps.
- High necks, scoop necks, and square necks tend to have the best support for my chest. In my real life, I avoid high necks because I think they do make my boobs look even bigger. I thought I needed low necks in a suit as well, but after trying a bunch I can say a high neck is great and still looks cute.
- I prefer to skip the underwire for either just really tight suits or soft cups. Again, I thought that I needed underwire to support the ladies but I found that most of the time with underwire, I’m actually overflowing which is just uncomfortable, not to mention it looks like I don’t know how to dress myself properly. Until they make underwire suits with cups for all frames and sizes, they just don’t and won’t work for me.
In the end, I tried about a million suits to find exactly what I was looking for. The ones you are about to see are ones I will likely be wearing all summer, and feel very good in. I know we have had swimsuit posts before, but this time I wanted to actually show you (yes, on my body), despite the very real anxiety I am having thinking about my body in a swimsuit being displayed on the internet—keep reading to the end for my concluding thoughts on that. Here goes nothing:
The All Buttoned Up Cover Up, $75: Not a swimsuit, but I love this cover up so I wanted to share. It’s light and easy to throw on, and looks really cute on top of a red one piece.
1. Heidi Klein Zip Detail One Piece, $295: Okay, you are going to see a few red swimsuits in this roundup, but this one is my favorite. I love the ribbed texture, the soft cups give the right amount of support, and the gold zipper detail adds a fashionable element so it doesn’t come across completely sporty.
2. The Current, $95: All my boxes are checked with this one. It is thick, lined, has a square neck, a cute cutout in the back, plus GREAT support. The site says to size up if you are a bra size D or larger, but my normal size was fine for me and I didn’t feel like I was spilling out of it. Side note: myself and my staff love love love Summersalt and as we were preparing this post, everyone was ogling over everything on their site. They just have really cute swimsuits that are super flattering and have lots of fun colors. I would definitely go check them out if you haven’t already.
3. Underwire Swim Dress Set, $175: This suit is pretty, and I always wanted to try this shape swimsuit on me (because who doesn’t love a good twirl moment), but ultimately I didn’t fall in love with it. I can say however that it is high quality so for those that like this style, I think it’s a great option. Although, the underwire isn’t nearly as supportive as it could be.
4. Beach Break Paddlesuit, $128: Wetsuit definitely comes to mind with this one, but in a cool way. It is VERY comfortable and obviously less revealing with the high neck and cap sleeves, but the red color and the mesh detail actually make it feel stylish and flattering. Even Brian said “that’s a cool suit,” which is saying something.
5. Zuma One Piece, $120: Even though there isn’t built-in bra support in this one, the fit is tight enough that you feel supported. It is great for paddle boarding and kayaking because of how much coverage it gives in the front and back (it’s almost a wetsuit), but the scoop neck and color block, it feels stylish.
6. Sofia Flutter Sleeve One Piece, $250: My team loves this one and I really like it, too (hello, ruffle sleeves!). The only problem is that I feel it does not have enough support for me. There are no soft cups or bra support and it isn’t as tight fitting as the others so I feel it wouldn’t keep everything up top in place, but it is SO CUTE. The woven ribbon detail is really special.
7. By The Bay Skimpy One Piece, $128: Again, the cap sleeve and high neck create a sort of wetsuit/lifeguard vibe, but this one has a really cute hole cut out in the back that I love. The bright red adds a bay watch sexiness element, without being too loud about it. The bottom is a bit cheekier than the others but I still feel comfortable in it.
8. The Mesh Diver, $95: This one feels sporty but not too “swim team.” It is also by Summersalt so it is high quality and thick lined, and has soft cups so it is supportive. I like the racerback and mesh detail that adds a stylish element.
9. Kiki One Piece, $135: I love the scoop neck and T-shirt style swimsuits that are very in right now. They are so flattering and look cute worn with cut-off distressed shorts. The only issue I have with this suit is I wish it came in more fun colors and I also really would love if the pocket details weren’t just details and actually functioning pockets.
10. Doss Demi Underwire One Piece Swimsuit, $240: Brian really likes this one and I do too, but the underwire pushes up the ladies in a way that could cause a slip at any moment, plus the little cut-out, though cute, does make me feel too exposed. I don’t feel completely comfortable in it because it doesn’t fit perfectly up top, but I do like the overall shape and the floral pattern.
11. Lipsi One Piece, $228: Here is another underwire one piece, but this one still doesn’t work cup-size for me and is kinda uncomfortable. So many of the others really are more flattering.
So, there you have it. These are the swimsuits I will be considering keeping, but as promised, I wanted to share my thoughts and process about this post. When I first decided to do this, I had tried on a bunch of suits in my room by myself in front of my mirror and felt good in them. I told my team, “sure I’ll shoot them on my body, no problem.” Then the day of the shoot I was on my period, felt bloated, and as I looked at the photos on the camera screen I said “nope. Not going to do this.” All I saw were the fat pockets in my armpits and the slight bulge outside my thighs (things that I’m sure only I notice). But then I asked myself why? WHY would I be ashamed. I’m healthy and strong, and those are the words we use in our house to teach our children to use (we NEVER use “skinny” or “perfect”). But I fell victim to the visual story/lie that I have been told my entire life: that of Photoshop and retouching and perfect lighting. I don’t really have any shame or embarrassment in any other aspect of my life, so why would I let the least interesting part of me, my looks and physicality, dictate how I feel about myself in photos and, more importantly, shift this story??
It seems no matter what size you are (be that “too skinny” or “not skinny enough”), no one is safe from the unrealistic, unattainable standards we see perpetuated in advertising and fashion every single day. Don’t get me wrong, the industry has come a very long way, and it is refreshing to see the shifts towards REAL body positivity and inclusivity, but we have a long way to go. I muse with my friends all the time that hopefully someday there won’t be a “modeling” industry. It seems so dinosaur and archaic that we allow one version of the female body show us how we should all look. It is so dated and last century. High fashion can do what they want, but it seems to me that designing clothes for just one small one size seems SO cheap and easy. I wish brands would do the harder job of dressing bodies in all shapes and sizes, celebrating healthiness, and caring about happiness.
I joked with our photographer, Veronica, “have you ever shot for Sports Illustrated, because get your olive oil brush ready.” I’ll be honest trying on 10 swimsuits was embarrassing to shoot and even more-so to “OK” the photos that I liked.
Hilariously as I’ve been writing this post and reflecting (per usual) I see the irony that someone who is a size 4-6, has both hair and lash extensions, and a spray tan isn’t exactly the beacon of “realness”. We all struggle with our own vanity issues and frankly its hard to to de-learn years of mass-media (which, no surprise, is often driven by men) telling us we have “too many” curves or “not enough.” So, hopefully, posting un-retouched photos of myself online is step one in the right direction. That’s not to say that I think doing things that make YOU feel good about yourself are wrong (like putting on make-up or getting a spray tan). But we should be aware of why we’re doing those things, and making sure we’re doing them because WE like the way they make us feel and look, not because we’re trying to live up to some pretty unrealistic body standards.
Fun fact: all companies have “fit models” which means models that are in every size they offer their clothes in (which frankly is often embarrassingly non-inclusive) to ensure that indeed those sizes will fit. They have size 8, 10, 12 (and often more) fit models AND YET MANY STILL ONLY SHOOT SIZE 2. It’s the easiest solution EVER to simply shoot their clothing in every size. I realize this will cost more resources, but scale it down, don’t bother with photoshopping or retouching. Just shoot like we did in one hour with a cannon. It’s not that hard to be real. It’s actually pretty easy.
Now looking at this post in its final form, it shouldn’t have been that hard, and I shouldn’t have been that hard on myself. When I’m being healthy I feel good and feel that I look good. I’m not embarrassed. I understand I’m considered small, so if I’m “small” and I feel this aggressively self-critical then how the heck does the industry make other people feel?
I can’t wait until the status quo catches up with this generation that has so much body pride, that promotes body positivity and knows that the picture of one size that every woman should aspire to will be absolute thing of the past. Feeling healthy is what should we should all strive for. To be pressured to look and feel happy while comparing yourself to the ubiquity of perfection is absolutely demoralizing. I believe we can change that. I want to start by buying from companies that don’t photograph one size. If I see a company hiring real women of all shapes, colors, sizes, and ages to model their clothes and suits (which more and more are doing) I want to buy their product. I’m done with the bikini industrial model. Hopefully, you are, too.
***Photography by Veronica Crawford