In case you don’t remember, two years ago I did the first swimsuit review here and as I was looking at the unedited photos (we don’t photoshop) my reaction to my body was alarmingly not as positive as I actually felt IRL. I then realized (and wrote about) it was a result of only seeing photoshopped cellulite-free models online, so any sort of non-model on the internet feels like, “Woah, why are they on the internet?”. I got a lot of “you are so brave” comments which I found to be this HILARIOUS confusing compliment, if not accurate. I laughed them off with an “uh, thanks?“. But in retrospect (and going forward) I actually appreciate the compliment far more than any others. Well, in the span of two years I have to say that things have ALREADY shifted and there are so many shapes and sizes of women’s bodies all over websites and social media (still not enough), hopefully making us feel far less self-conscious and more empowered to just be in our own skin (online or off). We all have bodies. They are all beautiful and I’m just SO HAPPY to see brands putting beautiful shapes, sizes, and colors into swimsuits for us to admire and to make more accurate purchases (I’m looking at you Target, Summersalt, a few on J. Crew, Vitamin A, Andie Swim). Not only does this help people of all sizes shop for the right fit, but also just normalizes all body type imagery giving all of us more confidence both online and in-person.
An additional rant: I think my generation (Gen X) got specifically EFFED in this department because we grew up with magazines/advertising photoshopping “perfection” (if you don’t know how I feel about that read this article from years ago) coupled with the explosion of diet culture (of which I’ve certainly participated), but before the self-empowered, anti-body shaming movement. Our mom’s generation grew up before diet culture, before being rail-thin was expected as a “model” (remember that Marilyn Monroe was a size 10-12). Those of us in our 30s -40s truly only saw “perfect” bodies in media our entire lives. So let’s give a huge HELL YES to all the executives out there hiring and celebrating models, actors, and content creators that are helping normalize all the unique shapes and sizes of the beautiful body (and for God’s sake, STOP PHOTOSHOPPING BODIES).
Now on to me. I like supportive suits, that show my shape and have style but where I don’t have to keep track of my boob location, worry about a nip slip or a sneaky little ass cheek all day. I also have suits just for hot tub dates/vacation – (not shown) and suits for us with friends, family, and kids – for playing. So today most of these are in the latter category – great SUPPORT, flattering compression, comfortable, easy to wear, and still fun. Some are super affordable and some are very splurgy.
Everyone I know is shopping for a suit right now and since you can’t try on in a store (in CA anyway) I thought I’d at least give you my opinion and you can see it on my body to help you make a smart, lasting choice (and if you don’t need a new suit, just scroll without buying). What didn’t work I carefully returned or will give away to friends that need a suit, so no, I’m not keeping 12 new suits. Here we go…
First up might be my favorite new suit. Navy and white stripes, cute cut-out, very supportive and thick enough to mask my extra tummy-warming layer (tummy dimples!). BIG FAN of this. I bought a 6 which fit great (but I haven’t gotten it wet yet). It also has a matching rashguard which I LOVE. This is a very “me” suit that I know I’ll wear all summer and was PSYCHED to find it.
The more delicate ruffle strap and the texture of the fabric are so great. My only beef is that the straps are “adjustable” but they come at their max point (the ruffle makes the strap too thick to go through the piece of hardware to tighten it). Now I loved this suit so much beyond that that I’m going to likely sew it tighter to bring the ladies up. But if you have a long torso I’m sure it would fit just fine (I ordered a 6). I still felt supported (but after two kids I enjoy higher support). The legs didn’t cut in, the double-layered fabric masked my layer of tummy warmth (tummy cellulite + belly button indention) which by the way is MY thing, feel free to show that off, I just feel more comfortable with it a big disguised.
The Target version is GREAT, too! It’s a more traditional spandex material, but lined so it is also very flattering and compressing in the right places. It was actually more supportive than the J. Crew one. I ended up choosing the J. Crew version because I loved the texture of the fabric, the slightly darker color, and the more delicate straps but it’s also 3 times the price so if you are on more of a budget the Target one is GREAT (and I almost kept both but then Mal talked me out of it saying I don’t need literally 2 of the same suits).
Ok so I love this one in theory, but it’s not fitting right. The top is so cute with the delicate ruffles and again you can order your bra size which is great. The bottom is a medium and far too big (I’m so frustrated with swimsuit sizing, y’all) so I returned it and am ordering the bottoms in small. It’s not tight so even a small I think will not cut in too much. But it’s so fun and classic, with a bit of a pin-up vibe and the top is supportive despite having small straps. (Also the reason I’m laughing in this shot is that I kept whispering the “you are so brave” comment, which just CRACKS ME UP…. because it’s such a funny backhanded compliment (that I totally appreciate, don’t worry). Imagine going out to a party in a cute dress you love and having everyone say, “you are so brave for wearing that”. I’m SO not sensitive so it honestly. Just makes me LOL as you can see.
I LOVE THIS SUIT. I have collected it in black and light pink over the years. I don’t think I would have ever bought it had I just looked at it online – it looks simple and cute but nowhere near worth the $240 price tag. I was at Ojai Valley inn and spa 2-3 years ago and shopping at their strangely well-curated spa store. I spied it and tried it on and was like, “oh shit”. It was the first swimsuit in a long time that I legit loved. It is thick but not tight, it has these seams that run diagonally across the waist indeed making it look smaller and compressing your tummy down in a comfortable way (if you are into that). AND it has full shelf support (not just dumb cups that brands think are enough support for our larger love pillows). It’s a little cheeky (the bum only covers 1/2) but it is so modest otherwise that I think it’s fun to have a little surprise reveal. I had never bought a black suit before (because I’m so pale and feel so self-conscious about it STILL – more deprogramming needed) but I bought it and then when it came out in this sapphire blue last year I POUNCED. But then I lost the blue version (I’ve searched EVERYWHERE) and it wasn’t online anymore, but it’s BACK. The medium is already sold out (which is my preferred size) but the small (this one) fits well enough. I also ordered two of their other suits (they are a sustainable company, made in California and I want to support) but their sizing is so off that the 6s were CRAZY small on me – like I couldn’t even pretend to pull on the S/6. So I returned them, but just FYI size up like 2 sizes. The black is on sale by the way, but the blue in XS and S6 is still available and hopefully, they are making more as we speak.
Before I saw that my Vitamin A suit was back-ordered, I ordered this best-seller blue suit. I like it well enough (I love the thick straps, Mal didn’t for tan line reasons), but it only has cups and not shelf support. So it adds volume to the breasts without really supporting it. The ribbing is a great feel and it’s thick enough to not have good coverage. I obviously didn’t need both so I’m returning this one. I think it’s a good suit if you have smaller love pillows and still want something that is sporty without being too “gymnastics”, in a really good color.
No surprise that I LOVE a red suit and this one is very supportive with enough of a reveal. It has full coverage, has some forgiving double layering rouging on the front, and definitely enhanced the curves (and made some curves look bigger if you know what I mean). This is one that I would be absolutely comfortable walking around in the daytime without a cover-up (which says a lot about how contained and supported I felt). It’s not the sexiest, but it’s pretty darn great for $35.
Here’s my first bikini in like 8 years. Admittedly it’s a safe one, but I like it! The top is sized by bra sizes so I could actually order my size (this small, medium, large thing does NOT work for swimsuits) and then I ordered a medium for the VERY full coverage bottom which is too big, but the tie on it makes it actually fit very comfortably. I’m concerned that when wet it will get too baggy so I’m going to order the small just in case (and FYI there is XXS, XS and S so it can be confusing). But I felt fun and fresh and a bit young despite it being so high-waisted. I kept this one for sure and even added the sportier top to also pair with it.
This one is a pretty great competitor to the one above (and much more affordable). It made my ladies look a lot larger than I’m used but it was VERY supportive. The bottoms had ties that could be loosened a bit (this was a small, top was a large). But very supportive for a bikini IMHO.
When I lifted up this one out of the bag (Mal went shopping for me) it looked so much bigger. I thought it would be FAR too long for me (size medium) but then when I put it on it fit! Again super supportive in the breasts, double layer fabric for disguising tummy bumps, and full coverage. It’s a great “mom” suit that feels like it’s not going anywhere but is a bit revealing.
This one was fine, and I liked the mesh cutouts, but the fit didn’t enhance or support enough. I think I could have sized down for it, but I wasn’t sold on it anyway.
I didn’t like this one when I held it up, but tried it on anyway and it really enhanced the curves. It was so supportive (I think it was in the “so supportive” section at Target, not joking) and it compressed in the right areas. I think I personally like revealing without a lot of mushed together cleavage so I prefer the “lift and separate” method versus the “pushed up and together”. Great for more medium-sized chests if you want to enhance that feature 🙂
Mal bought me this bikini with the tiny bottom and I was like WHO DO YOU THINK I AM??? I told her to consider bikinis while shopping at Target for me but this felt tiny! But I tried it on and was pleasantly surprised, but not sure how brave I am going to feel, sober in the sun. Now I think that I’m more comfortable and confident in showing less of my stomach, especially when sitting down, post-burrito. But Brian wouldn’t let me return this which I appreciated. So yes, now I have an actual bikini that MIGHT just sit in my drawer ready for hot tub nights but who knows. I’ll report back in September 🙂
The bottom of this didn’t arrive until after the shoot but strangely this top kinda flattened my boobs despite being my bra size. So I prefer the sizing of the Target version (but this one has a really cute back, too).
The Maternity Ribbed Current (similar)
This one is from two years ago but I just want to give Sumersalt a shout-out for how they make their suits, which is with strangely good compression and support (but not tight and doesn’t cut in!). I have a few of them that I still love and wear, like this one. I don’t know if this exact suit is still available but check them out for sportier styles that are still really comfortable and supportive. This one has a big scoop back, but since it has thicker straps and a cute square neck I feel totally supported and it enhanced my shape.
The Cove (similar)
This is another one from a couple of years ago that I still wear (specifically when I’m only with the kids and I know I’m going to be super active at the beach). The optical illusion is highly effective so even though it’s very full coverage, it still feels cute and fun (great for diving in off the dock, nothing is going anywhere).
This is the same fit/cut as the above gingham one which I prefer but this is cute, too. Again I ordered a Medium bottom, which is too big and the straps are too long on top (I want to hoist the ladies up more) but it comes with adjustable straps that I didn’t open because I knew it wasn’t a “hell yes” and would go back. But Mal really liked this one as it did feel more “young and palm springs” and the style of the top will enhance your breasts (with potential overspill which I don’t love).
Three years ago I bought the red version of this suit and felt like I FOUND MY SUIT. In bright red, it’s super fun, with a gold zipper that is enticing but still modest, a great shelf breast support, cute racer back style. Plus the ribbing masks all bumps and dimples underneath. My red one got almost ruined due to “tinted” SPF spray – don’t use it) so it got discolored. I searched for it online and it’s not to be found. So I bought this version last year instead which I don’t love as much as the red but I still wore a ton and will wear it a lot this summer. It’s one that I wear around confidently without coverup or sucking in or wondering which ass cheek is hanging out.
Before we go, two new cute cover-ups:
After about 3 hours in the sun even with SPF, I can get sun rash so I have to put on a rash guard like a little kid. I usually just throw on a blouse, but how cute is this rash guard??? It felt sexy and sporty at the same time. HUGE FAN.
The cover-up I’m opting for this summer is the oversized thin men’s style drapey button-up. I feel pretty cute in this and it’s so easy to wear with enough transparency to still cute and fun. I have a “my summer uniform” post coming up next week with my favorite Levi shorts rounded up there, but these are them.
So there you have it. I know that we all have different body types and that this post is likely more helpful to some than others. But just seeing the suits on A BODY without photoshopping, editing, and describing the level of support and coverage/slippage I hope is helpful making your decisions and finding the right fit that makes you feel comfortable and confidant. Because if being “sexy” is your thing we all know that the sexiest outfit you can put on is unabashed, unapologetic confidence, and self-ownership. I wish I knew this when I had my 22-year-old body, where I wore a cover-up at all costs and avoided the beach or hot tub night (which is CRAZY because I was tiny, and is further proof how bad the programming was and still is). Ironically now at 42, with two kids, I can own it so much more, likely because I just place so much less self-worth on my body and I really really really want to be one of those moms that plays with my kids in a swimsuit, that doesn’t shy away because I feel too self-conscious. May we all strive to be deprogrammed and own our beautiful unique shape and size. Every year I give less f*cks, which means by 50 y’all can expect “Emily GONE WILD, the G-string Bikini edition” 🙂 Still with likely far too much self-tanner (this is my favorite but MUST use the mitt) 🙂 Let’s be BRAVE!!! 🙂
Opener Image Credit: Photo by Veronica Crawford | From: Active & Modest Swimsuits That Make Me Feel Good (Plus, My Thoughts On Body Image) Plus Some Updated Favorites