Today’s Task: Swimsuit Shopping

Today I am going swimsuit-shopping. I know your thoughts will be with me at this very difficult time.

This has been looming ever since last summer, when I put on my swimming suit right before a swimming commitment and thought, “Oh geez, this no longer works, maybe a t-shirt over it or something?” Later I took it off gratefully and with no small difficulty, thinking “I have until next summer to find another suit.” And lo, that time loometh. Swimsuit emails have been arriving for a couple of months.

But I did not feel fortified for this terrible task until I read a post on plus-size swimsuits by my blog-friend Wendy. I will not usually link you to slideshow posts, but this one is Full-On Worth It. I was just about collapsing with frustration yesterday trying to shop for a plus-size suit when half the models are not even CLOSE to plus-size. Like, how on earth can I tell how this suit would fit on ME?:

(image from roamans.com)

And this is on a site specifically for plus sizes. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable to want to see it on someone with upper-arm fat. And thighs that not only touch but snuggle up like the cozy besties they are. IT IS A SITE FOR PLUS-SIZE CLOTHING. THEY DON’T EVEN SELL NON-PLUS SIZES. How many clothespins did they have to use to fit the suit on someone so much smaller than the minimum size they sell??

37 thoughts on “Today’s Task: Swimsuit Shopping

  1. Sara Nelson

    I bought a maternity swim top and shorts at Target in 2014. It provides more coverage and since I am decidedly not pregnant, then it’s looser which makes me more comfortable.

  2. Julie Costello

    As a large (24/26) woman who is in fact, part mermaid, I can recommend:
    Old Navy Plus size (I usually get bottoms as the tops are not supportive unless you get bikini tops and I have GIRLS) (definitely get rash guards from here)
    Lands End (pricey but you will literally have them forever)
    Lane Bryant (I like that a lot of them have bras built in)
    Target (surprisingly supportive. The blouson top I reach for most often when wanting more coverage is from there)

    ALSO, I wear a lot of bikinis. A fatkini if you will. I do not care, I love having a tan belly. I do not have children to race after on the beach so my beach days are full of sitting and reading and sleeping. My mother who wears a 10/12 has always said things like “ugh I look so fat, my gut is so big” I finally snapped and told her last year “Mom, I am twice your size. How do you think it makes me feel when you complain that you are fat? If you are fat, then what do you think of me?” and she replied “But you are beautiful”. And I told her that she was to and that we are no longer allowed to comment on beach bodies. Since then her confidence has grown. And she is no longer hiding under tshirts and swim dresses.

  3. Susan

    I’m not plus size, but I swear by Lands’ End swimwear. Their plus sizes go up to 26, and they have a ton of separates options — bikini tops, tankini tops, shorts, skirts, leggings, etc. They’re not as cheap as Target, but often have sales. For example, today it’s 25% off everything.

    1. Jenny

      I AM plus size, and I also love Lands End. I wear each suit until it is transparent. They are great and many of their options are very cute.

  4. LeighTX

    Oh how I feel your pain. I think taking off a swimsuit top that is slightly too small is one of the most difficult things a person can do–it’s right up there with childbirth and running a marathon.

    I just ordered a new tankini from Old Navy and tried it on the day it arrived. My daughter, who is four inches taller than me, happened to be home and as I was looking in the mirror and thinking perhaps this swimsuit will be okay for an upcoming beach trip with the church youth group, she said, “Umm, anyone taller than you will be able to see your nipples. I’m . . . I’m looking at them right now.”

    So now I’m back in the market for a new swimsuit. Wish me luck.

      1. LeighTX

        This made me chuckle out loud. Better she give me this gift now, than I gift all those teenage boys in the youth group with a view they’ll never forget. :\

  5. Erin M.

    I really like swimsuitsforall dot com. I’m a very plus size person and found two great suits there last summer. You can even see customer photos for some of the suits that are quite helpful too. I was a die-hard Lands End swimsuit person before that but the last LE suit I had only lasted one season so it wasn’t worth the price.

    1. Katie K.

      Yes this! I just bought a suit from here. It hasn’t arrived yet so I can’t say anything about the quality or fit, but I found their size tool to be really helpful and I *loved* that there are actual people modeling their suits.

      1. Katie K.

        Hey! The mailman brought my suit today! I just tried it on and it’s great. The size chart on the site was very accurate. I was kind of between sizes, depending on which measurements I looked at, so I chose the smaller of the two. I think either would have been fine.

  6. Abbie

    My sister has enormous boobs and she found the cutest retro style suit at ModCloth, which also seems to have plus sizes.

  7. Angela

    I have my own set of problems: I’m due in three weeks and will be breastfeeding a newborn all summer. Nursing in a swimsuit without taking it completely off is it’s own version of hell! If I wear a bikini top but then my post-pardum belly will hang out. And halter tops, if untied, let both boobs flop out. Yes, I’ve been through this before.

    Maybe I’ll just have to do swim bottoms and a regular nursing shirt and hope no one needs me to dive in and save them.

    1. Alice

      There are nursing swimsuits! I bought one last summer. (At Figure 8 Maternity. Not cheap, but– I was nursing on demand, and there was a lot of demand. I wanted to at least feel covered while I was feeding the baby in public.)

    2. Heidi J

      I’m nursing and have huge boobs even when I’m not nursing and my plan is to wear a swim bottom with a rashguard over a nursing bra. I have high hopes for this working well since I wore this same combination last year just with a bra sized bikini top since I wasn’t nursing then.

  8. Kay

    My thoughts and good vibes are indeed with you. I want a bathing suit that is not a little skirt or boy shorts but has some leg coverage, you know, like a man’s. I dont want to always be completely hairless before swimming, but according to manufactures, I’m the only one.

    1. sarah

      Lands End has legging bottoms. I love them. … I am the same way. I don’t like how boy shorts look on me. (makes me look boxy) and I hate shaving especially in the bikini area :)

    2. Matti

      No! I’m 100% with you. Google “swim capris” or search for them on ebay (where I found a great deal on mine from Athleta). You can pair them up with any kind of top you like. They even make swim tights, which go all the way to the ankle, if that’s your jam.

      Come on ladies, if we all start doing this, then it will become a THING.

  9. Jenny

    I dislike a lot of lane bryant stuff. But I really like a swimsuit I got from there. It’s 2 piece. The top is tiered and long. The bottom is a skirt but it isn’t flouncy. I feel like it has enough coverage but it doesn’t have a lot of extra fabric so that it makes me look bigger.

  10. Rachel

    I just had to buy several suits for the cruise I went on in February, and it was not pleasant. I found several I liked at Torrid. Not cheap, but they had the best support for my girls. I’ve also had good luck at Macy’s, surprisingly.

  11. Krista

    Oooh, I can help with this one! Check out Nettle’s Tail in Vancouver British Columbia (nettlestale.com/). I love their mission, and their models are all sizes and they have suits for all.

  12. Jessica

    I second target for tops. I wear swim shorts as bottoms and buy them separately. I also wear an spf shirt/rashguard over top as I am part vampire and burst into flames at the thought of sun.

  13. LK

    Can anyone answer a related but unrelated question? Swim shirts: what do you wear underneath them? Do they come with built in support? Are swim bras a thing? If I want my 3.5 year old to continue wearing one, I need to wear one too. My first attempts at this were not good. Really, not good.

    1. Julie Costello

      girl, wear a sports bra or a bathing suit. I wear a bikini top but I dont wear my rashguard all the time. (for me bikini tops are very supportive unlike sportsbras which make me cry in pain)

    2. Heidi J

      Bra sized bikini top – that’s what I wear under my rashguards. I wear it as a swim bra since I never wear it by itself.

      1. LK

        I guess this is what I need to do. But, hey swimsuit manufacturers, shopping for one or two pieces was bad enough. Now I need to buy 3?

        1. Heidi J

          Yeah, it’d be nice if just one or two pieces worked, but three pieces are more customizable size-wise. I did buy my bra size bikini top on clearance in a pattern that I don’t really like, but since I just wear it as bra, it’s not a big deal. Now I’m just wishing they made nursing bikini tops so this year I didn’t have to figure out what nursing bras will dry the quickest and not be too uncomfortable when wet.

  14. Matti

    This year I went full on triathlon style top and swim capris (as I mentioned above) because I am done with hair removal issues and I wanted support on top. Basically to feel like I could do a workout in the outfit, rather than just try to pose attractively.
    But, for the last several years I wasn’t happy with the selection of bathing suits, so I just went into the workout clothes section and shopped there. The prices were way better, the breast support was better, and the materials were better. I wore built in bra tops, with a shorts bottom, or a bottom with a skirt attached over the shorts and was pretty happy with each. Finding the triathlon style top and swim capris fixed the nagging feeling that I’d like the material to have built in SPF.

  15. Wendy

    Thanks for linking to my post!

    I will add that of all the suits I tried on, the Target and Walmart ones had the least amount of boob support by A LOT. Sadly, I think that is a “you get what you pay for” feature on swimsuits.

    I also recommend Land’s End. I got a great rash guard and swim capris from there last summer and they’ve both held up really well.

  16. Carrie

    Finding swimwear is tear-inducing even for slim folks. I can’t even imagine the frustration if you’re plus-sized. Swimwear is freaking EVIL. And I find the slim models modeling the plus-sized clothes/swimwear insulting, too. Rage.

  17. BKC

    The summer after my daughter was born (in March…so swimsuit shopping three months postpartum thanks ohgodsob) I treated myself to a MiracleSuit. It was hella expensive but it held everything in and up and I felt amazing. I love swimming, and that was worth it.

    I’ve since plus-ed out of MiracleSuit’s plus sizes, so I’ve done the rounds online for suits. I bought favorite suit for four years (http://www.womanwithin.com/clothing/Colorblock-maillot-by-Swim-365.aspx?PfId=493180&DeptId=9292&ProductTypeId=1&ppos=17&Splt=0&StyleNo=0504) but the cut changed and the torso is too short now. I’m not sure what to do this summer.

  18. Wren

    Torrid! I usually get pretty unpleasant buying-clothes-in-a-store anxiety, but when I go into Torrid I feel so comfortable. Their associates are all plus-size, everyone in the store is plus-size, it is welcoming and peaceful and non-judgey. Their stuff is a little pricey but it’s so worth it to be able to go in and get something flattering and cute that fits well and isn’t a potato sack, especially something that is as important as a swimsuit as so much emotion and confidence can be tied to it. I’d really recommend it!

    http://www.torrid.com/swim/one-pieces/

  19. Robi Allen

    I actually have that polka dot one in your post. It’s really nice, tight, supportive, and covers everything Well!
    But I get you, I took a gamble just blindly ordering it because c’mon I look nothing like that lady.

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