Swimsuit shopping and the call of a pool day isn’t necessarily a “party” for most women in the world. Certain days and years have been worse and better for me, but generally, it takes a pretty good suit (and an incredible spray tan) for me to be super comfortable de-robing in front of groups of people. We all have areas that we like more on our bodies and some in which we are more sensitive. I know I’m treading dangerous waters (!) even talking about this, but there is a difference between body shaming and discussing the frustration of finding the right suit that flatters different (all beautiful) body types. All I know is that if a mom of two told me that she had shopped for and tried on a ton of suits to find one that hid her pooch and lifted her breasts, I would listen and do the best I could to to tell her what worked for me. We tried to write the blog that we wanted to read, so here goes.
Being comfortable with how and where a swimsuit flatters you is something that we all want. When Arlyn and I were brainstorming for this post, I was pretty hesitant to even proceed with it because just me saying what I would buy for my body is only one perspective and would alienate a big portion of you. My pain points are different than others (yours), and therefore what I look for in the perfect suit wouldn’t necessarily match up with everyone reading this. So we polled the office and realized that Arlyn, Sara and I all have different figures and pain points, and they said they were comfortable talking about theirs and recommending the suits (or similar ones) that they loved personally – with the hope that it’ll get YOU closer to finding one in which you feel awesome, comfortable and confident.
First up me, Emily Henderson. I have a small frame and know how to dress myself to highlight the areas that I’m comfortable with, but I’ve had two kids so my tummy and my boobs need more thought and care than they used to. I actually had a photo taken of myself in my newest suit (#6 below) for this post, all like “I’m comfortable with my body!” and then I couldn’t post it. There are so many bloggers that post perfect swimsuit shots of themselves looking flawless, so I wanted to show you that not all of us have a flat stomach, but man, finding a suit that is comfortable, supportive, hides the couple inches of baby love that coats my tummy (of which I’ll likely never lose and that’s okay) and is still cute or fun or sexy (depending on the occasion) can be HARD. Instead of that photo of me IN a swimsuit, we decided to not take ourselves so seriously, went down to the lake and posed with one of our favorite suits instead. It made us happy, and we make no apologies for that.
So back to suits: I’m incredibly happy that one-pieces are so in right now because while I’m inherently more modest anyway, it’s what I’m gravitating towards style-wise at the moment. Whether you’re into them too or prefer a two-piece, I thought I’d share some general rules that have materialized in my head over time that ensure I feel great in whatever swimsuit I purchase*:
- Reveal what you are most comfortable with/love most on your body. I hide my stomach, but I have a relatively small bum and don’t mind showing some cleavage, but I want it to be “supported cleavage.”
- Patterns hide more than solid colors. For me, at least, patterns hide the bits and baubles underneath.
- I think we all know that white makes you look tan but it’s not as slimming; black is definitely more slimming but can make you look a bit paler, so, as I’m very fair skinned, I tend to land somewhere in between in terms of what I buy.
- Go sexy, flirty OR fun…if it’s just Brian and me going away for a weekend, I don’t mind showing more skin, but around the kids, in-laws, and even friends, I go for something more fun but less revealing.
*Now, all of that is said with the caveat that this is what makes ME feel better in a swimsuit. If you’ve got the confidence to rock a white string bikini, ABSOLUTELY GO FOR IT. It’s your body, and you should wear anything that you feel great in.
So here are some suits that I either own, want to own or have heard great things about. First up – patterns:
1. Ziggy Frill Swimsuit | 2. Capri Bikini Top | 3. Onyx High-Waisted Bikini Bottoms | 4. Floral Print Swimsuit | 5. Shirred Adjustable Tie One Piece | 6. Isabella Underwire One-Piece Swimsuit | 7. Orange Printed Spaghetti Strap Skirted Tankini | 8. Tropical Cut Out One Piece Swimsuit | 9. Underwire Lingerie Swimsuit | 10. Marcy Plunge One-Piece Swimsuit | 11. Riviera Striped Boyleg One-Piece Swimsuit
1. I love that this suit has these little ruffle “sleeves,” but it also looks like it has a shelf bra. I’m not one of those girls with sinewy bird-like arms, so I’m pretty into the idea of cute little sleeves that might de-emphasize that (they are like princess sleeves, for a suit).
2. & 3. I love the floral pattern and the lines of this suit. While I doubt they have a bra size big enough for me, if they did, I’d snag this one. As far as high-waisted briefs…some are flattering and disguise the eternal baby bump, and others really emphasize it or cut in at the top or thighs. It depends on the material and design.
4. I bought this suit and LOVE it. While the sizing still doesn’t go past a C cup (why?), a 36C gets me closer to support than just a general small or medium. The pattern and color are so fun and flattering. So while this doesn’t fully support my girls as much as I want it to, for $65, I LOVE it and will happily wear it.
5. I didn’t personally try this one on, but it has a back bra strap and a shelf bra that I’m thinking means it will support the girls, and again, the floral pattern hides a lot of bits and baubles.
6. I bought this (in a medium) and love it. It’s still too small in the chest, so yes there is some spillage, but at least they are up higher and the rest of the suit is flattering and super cute.
7. I think this suit is SUPER cute and if it came in bra sizes, I would be all over it. It looks flattering, flirty and easy to wear.
8. One of our design team assistants, Velinda, has this and highly recommends it. She actually interrupted our brainstorming session, knocking on my door to say that she bought it and it’s shockingly flattering and supportive. I already bought it but haven’t received it yet.
9. I’m not 100% sure about this one, but it feels similar to the suit in #6, and it’s a sweet pattern. The description mentions it’s lined, which makes me think it does a good job at hiding some bits and baubles (I hate thin, unlined fabric that makes your entire stomach look like a layer of cellulite).
10. Obviously, I love a check pattern, but beyond that, I like that this cut isn’t totally plain or super conservative while still covering up what needs to be covered up. The band that runs under the bust might have some support in it, if that’s important to you.
11. Seafolly was my first go-to swimwear brand, especially for vintage-inspired options. I love that this one is modest while still being playful and stylish. I own it in a red plaid and, while admittedly it’s not Brian’s favorite, I feel super comfortable wearing it around my in-laws, etc. The ruching masks my tummy troubles, and I have to say, it’s pretty supportive.
1. Boyleg One-Piece Swimsuit | 2. Zaha Ruffled One-Piece Swimsuit | 3. Side Cutout One-Piece Swimsuit | 4. The Hailey Colorblocked One-Piece | 5. Madeline Bikini Top | 6. Heather Bikini Bottom | 7. Jade Swimsuit | 8. Plunge Swimsuit
1. Apparently, I REALLY like this suit, because it’s on here twice (#11 in the previous round up).
2. I can tell there’s probably not much support here, so I can’t personally purchase it, but it’s so, so fun and stylish…please someone who isn’t super concerned about perkiness buy it so I can live vicariously through you.
3. If you aren’t looking for something super flashy, this is a great classic silhouette that, while a bit basic, is made to feel a little more special with those cut outs. Plus, a halter is great for tightening up as much as you need.
4. The vertical colorblock on this suit seems like it could be slimming. I like that it’s a pattern without being crazy busy, and obviously, blue and red are my go-to swimwear colors (I’m sure you didn’t notice).
5. & 6. So, this is definitely not for me, but omg it’s so chic and very editorial. I like that it’s a little bit sexy (the top) and a little bit conservative (the high-waisted bottom).
7. I don’t tan, but if I did, I bet this could make for some interesting tan lines. Regardless, while it has a similar feel to #3, the cut outs make it seems like this suit lives in the happy place between bikini and one-piece.
8. There’s a chance there might not be enough support here for my liking, but I think that the red color and subtle texture could be good for someone who is looking for an elegant one-piece that makes a statement without attracting a ton of attention in a super loud pattern.
Next up, I’m passing the mic on to Arlyn. Take it away, Arlyn:
Hi guys! I can’t believe my first public appearance in the EHD universe involves me talking about MY BODY (cue dramatic fainting), but alas, here I am. Might as well rip off the bandage and dive in head first, huh? Settle in, get comfortable, because I have some things to say on the subject of swimwear. Since about the age of, um, 11 when my body “blossomed” and I went from “little girl” to full-grown woman nearly overnight, swimsuits and I have been in a very complicated relationship. In addition to having a short torso and curvaceous nooks and crannies that just don’t quit, my biggest challenge is my bust. OMG IS IT SUCH A NIGHTMARE TO FIND A SWIMSUIT TO FIT AND LIFT THESE BABIES. While I’ll give it to bathing suit companies like Swimsuits For All that have started designing and selling more fashion-forward swimwear in larger sizes, finding a suit that looks appropriate for my style-appreciating early thirtysomething self AND is bra-sized to hold up my ladies in a WELL beyond DD+ cup size has been so frustrating and challenging. When I’m on the hunt for a new suit, I find that most extended bra-sized options are bikinis (or only go up to DD/E…nice try), and, being that my chest is, *ahem* showy enough, I like to hide just about everything else (that and I’m just not confident enough to rock a two-piece no matter how many times my mom tells me I’m the most beautiful and wonderful creature on earth that can do anything – thanks mom, you’re sweet but you’re blinded by love). After MANY MANY years of unflattering swimsuits where I just felt kind of floppy/unstylish/meh in what I ended up purchasing, I finally found a few brands that I’m very happy with. THANK YOU SO MUCH to Panache, Fantasie and Freya for existing and just GETTING IT. I’ve purchased a handful of tankinis and one-pieces from these brands and their quality is so great. The fabric is thick, the stitching is strong, and most of my suits have been going strong and look nearly brand new even after several years of regular use. They are a bit of an investment (unless you get them during a sale), but they are so very worth it. Hot tip for anyone who struggles to find suits due to a larger, heavy chest: if you have a bra company that you love, many of the higher-end brands usually offer swimwear, too.
Emily had her rules above that I also very much agree with, but I also wanted to add that, if you’re very busty like I am, a halter is a great pick because you can tie it as tight or as loose as you want, controlling the lift. Ruching is also my friend to tame my taco-loving tummy. OH, and make sure that if you don’t get a halter, the straps are at least adjustable. I find that non-adjustable straps are always way too long for my petite 5’3″ stature and I don’t get the support I want/need.
If my pain points sound a lot like your own, and you’re just not into the style options out there for your size, here are a few I’d recommend, all with underwires (and most that come in extended cup sizes). Most of these I own and love (unfortunately, some of them are discontinued styles so the sizes are selling out fast), but a handful are some I wish I owned and love, if only they came in my bra size (I know that not everyone is as “blessed” as I am, so these might also work for you). I hope these can help you feel as awesome as I do when I step into them.
1. Contour Panel Underwired | 2. Britt Folded Waist Swim Bottom | 3. Britt Halter Tankini | 4. Mahe Underwire Halter Tankini Swim Top | 5. Floral Scallop Bikini Top | 6. Floral Scallop High Waist Bikini Bottom | 7. Pin Point Spellbound’ Underwire One-Piece Swimsuit | 8. Smooth & Slim Plus-Size Underwire Swimsuit | 9. Drift Away Navy Padded Halter Tankini | 10. Drift Away Navy Bikini Brief | 11. Talamanca Underwire | 12. Ottawa Twist Front Tankini | 13. Ottawa Adjustable Skirted Brief | 14. Monaco Underwire Balcony Tankini | 15. Monaco Low Rise Brief Swim Bottom | 16. Halcyon Bandeau One Piece | 17. Black White Striped Underwire Swimsuit
1. There’s something really chic about this black one-piece, I think. It comes in a cup size up to a 38I (that’s a UK size, which translates to 38G American), and though it doesn’t appear to have a hidden back strap (that’s the ticket for REAL support in underwire suits, FYI), it at least has the underwire, so I’ll give ASOS some credit.
2. & 3. I don’t actually own this exact suit, but I have the one piece of this style and I’ve loved it and worn it for YEARS. It makes me feel like a cute pinup sailor girl. The support is AMAZING both because it has a bra-sized underwire and hidden back clasp, but also because the halter top lets me adjust it however I want. The sizes for this one are limited because it’s a discontinued style, but if you see your size (and like the style) get it. You’ll love it.
4. Here’s another underwire tankini I picked up last summer before my vacation. I’m not huge on tropical prints (I prefer either solids or more modern prints in swimwear) but I kind of just went with it and I actually ended up liking this one a lot. It doesn’t have the same rock-solid support as the black and gold tankini, but it certainly had enough, and the ruching on the top is also really great! The bottoms are no longer available, but I’d probably just pair it with a solid high-waisted black bottom (like this one).
5. & 6. Target is ON IT with their new fashion collections, and I really love their Costa del Sol line this season. The high brief covers the belly button area (hallelujah) and the scallop detailing on the cups feels super feminine. This doesn’t work for my chest size, but if it works for one of yours, please buy it so I can live vicariously through you.
7. Here’s something shocking: another retro halter suit. This one is by MiracleSuit, and while I’ve never actually tried one of these on, I would like to think that, for the price, it indeed works some kind of miracle on fluffier midsections. It’s really well reviewed, so at least there’s that!
8. Oh, how I wish this one came in a cup size that worked for me. I’m filing this one under “definitely won’t work for me but might work for you so I’m sharing.” It also comes in a lively green palm print, but this girl can never turn down ANYTHING in burgundy.
9. & 10. Obviously, I have a thing for striped retro-style halter suits, #sorrynotsorry. I make no apologies. I also do not own this, but I’ve had some great luck with Freya suits in the past, though I find their cup size runs a little smaller than Panache or Fantasie. The horizontal stripe makes me a tad nervous, but I think the two-piece suit is so cute and fun that I’d wear it anyway.
11. Okay, I do not own this suit, but I do find it very, very cute. It’s the same brand I love (Fantasie) so I have to imagine it fits just as well as their other stuff. The floral print on the black is punchy and summery but looks like it would do a decent job at camouflaging what I don’t want to put on display.
12. & 13. Clearly, I have a thing for black swimsuits. I don’t have to worry about anything going see-through when wet, plus they feel so sleek and chic without LOOKING like I’m trying to hide behind it.
14. & 15. I got this suit (which I’m holding in the above photo) last summer for a beach vacation, and I was a little nervous about it. It was kind of plain and I wasn’t sure how well it would cover the boobs and it ended up being my favorite thing ever. The fabric is not your usual swimsuit material – it’s more crepe-y, so it doesn’t cling in annoying ways when wet. Also, it’s long enough that I don’t feel like my wobbly bits are going to pop out at any moment, but tight enough that I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sack. Oh, and I’m SO sorry to say the bottom I bought with this is now sold out because it fit insanely well, but I’m including the other bikini bottom in its style.
16. I’ve never tried on a Pour Moi suit, but I do like their bras, so I have to imagine their swimwear is equally as flattering. If you’ve got perky puppies, you can take the straps off (which looks so cute but I just could never do), or criss-cross them in the back for a fun (and supportive) look. The solid panels of color on the sides actually make you look slimmer because the focus is on the more slender section down the middle. I’ll take any eye trickery I can get!
17. Okay, now I’m getting a complex that I only buy the same thing over and over again. I promise though, a thick band of solid color at the top of a suit’s cups happens to be really flattering (and kind of sexy).
Sara here, and I’m going to start by saying this – all bodies are swimsuit-ready bodies. If you have a body and a swimsuit to put on it, you’re good to go. But as humans we tend to take something simple, like wearing a swimsuit to go swimming, and turning it into a traumatic experience. On one hand a large portion of current fashion media portrays a very thin and ‘toned’ version of beauty. Then there’s this different movement that really promotes this idea of freeing ourselves of body shame and embracing our bodies no matter what they look like. It’s tough to navigate and I often end up still caring what I look like in a bathing suit, but feeling bad that I care so much.
It’s like… you know when a friend is trying something on and they look amazing, but there’s self-doubt in their eyes, and you’re promising them it really does look good, and you wish you could pop out your eyeballs and shove them into their eye holes so they could see how amazing they look, and it starts to get frustrating because their arms don’t look extra jiggly even though they are convinced that they do, and YOU JUST NEED THEM TO UNDERSTAND THAT THEY LOOK GOOD?! Now turn that back around on yourself. Wow. What a revelation. I feel like I just did some really deep self-image work.
But in the end I am always going to be my own worst critic. So, while I see a squid-like version of myself stuffed into a swimsuit, most people around me are too busy worried about their own mental squid-like-self-images to notice mine. Why do we all worry so much?!
I’m trying to find a middle ground between caring too much about how I think I look in a swimsuit (pale, jiggly, round-ish), and beating myself up for caring too much (it’s okay if you have body bits you’re not a fan of, we can’t all evolve into perfectly progressive self-assured humans overnight/over 27 years of life). Before we get into the suits, here’s some reference – I’m 5’3″, I fluctuate between 135-140lbs, I’m not a huge fan of my arms or my tummy, but I’m on pretty good terms with my legs, butt and boobs.
Now, here are the suits I’m into for my body:
1. Deep Cut Swimsuit | 2. Embroidered Red Swimsuit | 3. Gingham Bikini Top | 4. Side Cheeky Bikini Bottom | 5. Sunrise Striped Bikini Top | 6. Sunrise Striped Bikini Bottom | 7. Halter Eyelet Swimsuit | 8. Sahara Stripe Bikini Top | 9. Sahara Stripe Bikini Bottom | 10. Lace-Up Grommet One Piece | 11. White Lace Up Swimsuit | 12. Strap Back Swimsuit | 13. Dot Print Bikini Top | 14. Dot Print Bikini Bottom
1. I was accidentally sent this swimsuit instead of a sweater last year, but it fit so well that I ended up keeping it (thanks & Other Stories for knowing what I truly needed instead of what I thought I wanted – aka a heavy sweater while living in Los Angeles). The deep V in the front made it feel just revealing enough, but the fit is slimming and elegant.
2. A similar cut to swimsuit #1, this comes is pop of bright red, with a tie detail to help hide belly pooch, and pretty embroidery detail to keep it from feeling basic.
3. & 4. I’ve been really into one-pieces recently (like the past two years), but I just got this two-piece from Target. Gingham is a really cute print for summer and gives the suit a slight vintage vibe. Plus, Target really has it down with it comes to designing bathing suit tops with real support.
5. & 6. I don’t have this suit, but Modcloth has a really good reputation for carrying clothing that flatters a wide range of body shapes, and the high rise of the bottoms combined with the longer halter top just looks like a good amount of coverage in a very cute pattern.
7. I haven’t tried this swimsuit on either (I just ordered it), but I have a feeling it’s going to be good. I’ll let you all in on a little fashion trend secret (that I made up on my own, after speaking to zero people in the fashion industry): White eyelet is going to be big this summer. To be honest, I hope for this trend to blow up every year, but I think this is the year.
8. & 9. I love a good sports bra – they just keep everything so…secure. Plus, they don’t cut in at weird parts of my underarm or dig into my neck like halters can. This is a more splurgy set, and definitely the most I would ever spend on something that will see the light of day only three months of the year.
10. This is my favorite swimsuit of the year so far, and it’s from Target. It has so much going for it: Adjustable straps so I can give myself more or less support, the ties on the side mean I can loosen it up a little so the suit doesn’t dig into my hips, creating hip-muffins, it shows a flirty amount of skin without putting my stomach out in the open, the metal details are rose gold (so cute), the material is nice and thick and feels like it keeps everything in place, AND IT’S SO AFFORDABLE. Lastly, a girl I went to college with designed it (go Otis fashion department). Ellen, you don’t know me but your swimsuit is killer.
11. This is another suit that is currently en route to me to try on, but after experiencing the lace up sides of the Target bathing suit, I’m into the adjustable nature of this style of suits. I’ve also convinced myself that white will make me look tanner (and less squid-like). But we will see.
12. Listen, I KNOW horizontal stripes are controversial, but I find that they are fun and I don’t care what they do to my stomach (just kidding, I care so much…body positivity is so easy until you have to practice it on yourself). I’m a sucker for a graphic print in a primary color, and this bathing suit just makes me think of summers on the Italian coast in the 1950s, eating lemon sorbet. That may be a very inaccurate description seeing as how I’ve never been to the Italian coast circa 1950, but it sounds nice, right?
13. &14. THIS SUIT IS SO CUTE. I want to wear it all the time. I want to be wearing it right now. It has a sports bra top (yes), a high waisted bottom (excellent), and graphic pattern (giving me life), and my wallet can afford it (put it on my body right now please).