Bathing Suit Blues

I started looking for a bathing suit in February. Didn’t have any winter break beach trips planned, I was just hoping that I might find one by June. So far, no luck. My husband laughs because every year I go through this same pain and it always seems to be a 6 month process. Admittedly, I’m particular about things, especially clothes, but I’m convinced that swimsuits are a uniquely challenging item to find. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.)

Part of the problem is that a lot of the general rules for clothing shopping don’t apply to the quest for swimwear. For example, I often tell clients that if they are shopping for an item and are going to need to try on several styles (like jean shopping) they are better off actually going into a store.  The idea is that a knowledgeable sales person can work with you and help you find an item that works well for your body. However, this doesn’t seem to apply to bathing suits. There are just too many variables with swimwear compared to other clothing items.  It seems nearly impossible to find a bathing suit in only a single shopping trip. So, my experience has been that trying to order some styles online can be helpful.  Especially because then you can try items on in the comfort of your own home and maybe the process can feel at least a little less awkward and uncomfortable.

Here are three of the reasons I think it’s hard to find the perfect bathing suit and my thoughts on how you can address these issues:

1.       You love it, but you can see through it.

 This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I know they skimp on good lining to cut costs, but I don’t want to be able to see through my bathing suit, for obvious reasons. Even worse is finding a bathing suit that looks and feels great, but then you get it wet and, surprise, it’s transparent! That being said, one thing you can do is have a seamstress sew a small padded lining in the top as well as lining at the bottom.  I have done this before out of desperation and it’s a great solution.


2.       You love it but you think it’s too expensive.

If you are going to be wearing your swimwear on a fairly regular basis, then go ahead and invest in it.  This goes back to my August 25, 2014 blog post on Cost Per Wear.  Think about how many times you will wear a bathing suit the first summer.  If it’s a $150 bathing suit and you wear it twice a week for three months during the summer, you are at $6.25 per wear.  If you take care of your bathing suit (see below where I talk about this), you will certainly be able to wear it for multiple summers and then your cost per wear will be even less.


3.       You can’t seem to find the right size.

Are you looking in the juniors department? I know it seems like there are always cute suits in the juniors department, but if you’re an adult woman, you will probably not find a bathing suit there. Not sure if you are looking in the juniors department—if the sizes are 1,3,5, etc., then you are in the juniors section.  Don’t misunderstand me, there’s nothing wrong with juniors clothing, but it’s just not cut for adult women. This is especially true of the swimwear. Make sure you are shopping in the women’s department for your swimwear.


Here are some other ideas about how to find the perfect swimwear for this summer.

More and more swimwear designers are actually making the tankini or bikini tops with specific bra cup sizes.  I highly recommend this option because it really makes a big difference in getting a good fit.


Don’t get a bathing suit that is too big because once it gets wet it will stretch some.  Also, some people want to buy bigger because they think more fabric will help to cover problem areas. It seems ironic, but a bathing suit that is too large will actually make you look bigger. Instead, use some of these tips for some common “problem areas” that many of us face when looking for a bathing suit.

If you are a little curvier in the derriere.  Avoid boy shorts because it will just call attention to this. I know sometimes you want to cover up more to hide, but boy shorts will not be flattering.    Try a neckline that is deeper or a little plunging (it does not have to be low so you feel self-conscious, you just don’t want it to be high) because that will help to balance out your curvier bottom.


If you have a larger bust. Try and get specific cup sizes for your bathing suit. Look for thicker straps to offer support as well as a higher back.


If you have a smaller bust. Look for pattern or details on the top, it will help create the illusion of a bigger chest. Look for molded/padded cups in your bathing suit, or have them added.


If you want to conceal a tummy. Shirring/gathers is a great way to slim and not draw attention to your stomach. A crossover surplice style is also a great for this. If you opt for a tankini style don’t let the top be too loose because that will actually make your stomach look bigger. 


Hopefully, some of you will have success finding a bathing suit for this summer. Once you do, make sure you take care of it, so it will last. I suggest always rinsing it in cool water after each wear and also washing it using a delicate wash every so often (depending on how often you wear it will depend on how much you need to wash it). If it’s durable, you can put it in your washing machine in a mesh laundry bag to protect it. If you are unsure, just hand wash it.  It won’t take much time, and it is worth it to make it last longer. You need to get the chlorine and sunscreen off of it so it doesn’t start to compromise the fabric. 

Lastly, I think one of the best things you can do is invest in a couple of great bathing suit cover-ups. None of us really wants to be that woman in the grocery store in her bathing suit, but sometimes you just have to run an errand while on your way home from the pool. So, you want to have some stylish cover-ups to put over your bathing suit. It doesn’t have to be a traditional cover-up. Think outside of the box and get an inexpensive fun dress or a great sleeveless tunic.

So take heart, we all struggle to find the right swimwear, but if you follow these tips, you can be looking and feeling stylish and comfortable poolside all summer.