Media, Plus Size Fashion, Self-Image

Bathing Suit Season

The magazines have started. We are now in the pre-season — the  “unless you’re already quite thin, it’s time to start losing weight if you want to show your body in public this summer!” phase. (If you are quite thin, please wait for our May issue, when we’ll tell you you’re too pale*, hairy, blemished, and unfashionable, your boobs are too small to go with your butt, you could still stand to tone up those muscles, and your body insecurity is a real turn-off.)

With regard to all that, please go re-read Marina’s guest post, “28 Days to a Bikini Mind.” Today, I want to talk about more practical issues: To wit, how much plus-size bathing suits suck. I’ve been shopping for a new one lately, and I am not a happy fatty.

To be fair, bathing suit shopping just sucks, period. I didn’t find it much easier when I wore a common straight size. But at least I knew I could walk into several different stores and find options in “my size,” even though most of them wouldn’t fit me right anyway. As a fatty, I pretty much have my choice of Target or Wal-Mart — which would be fine (ethical concerns about big-box retailers aside), if they carried suits that work on my body. (More on that in a mo.) They don’t. Oh, I can also rent a car and drive to the suburbs to hit a Lands’ End** Inlet, where they will have about 4 plus-size bathing suits among the 900 non-plus ones. There’s that. 

So. I’ve compiled a list of requests I wish everyone making bathing suits for fatties would take into consideration. 

1) If you’re a retailer that sells both online and off, put some fucking suits in your bricks and mortar stores. You don’t have to put the entire line in there, but could we please have a handful? So we might have the tiniest little prayer of being able to buy a bathing suit we’ve actually tried on, instead of having to guess at sizing and spend a whole lot of time and money ordering suits and shipping them back? 

2) There has to be a happy medium between fabric that “takes 10 pounds off” while squashing your internal organs into a single blob, and see-through, lightweight shit that has no stretch left after it’s been in a pool twice. Please find it.*** I actually don’t hate the “control” fabrics as much as I probably should, given that the marketing is all about body shame; they have the side benefit of being far more supportive than regular suits, which comes in handy if you do anything other than lie by the pool. But A) being able to breathe is also handy, and B) the more “control” there is, the more they charge. So I don’t need a fucking Miraclesuit for $150 — taking off “10 pounds” around the middle will not actually prevent people from noticing that I’m fat — but I do want something that will keep my boobs and gut from flopping around in water aerobics class or, you know, walking to the beach. 

3) If you are a retailer who sells both straight and plus sizes, don’t have the same bathing suit available in 19 different colors for thin people and just black, brown and navy for fat ones. I know, I know, plus-size suits in light colors don’t sell as well, but that’s because we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that A) looking fat is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a woman, and B) dark colors have magical slimming powers that, like control fabric, will prevent anyone from noticing that you are, in fact, a fat woman wearing a bathing suit. I promise, we’re working on getting women to stop believing that bullshit! But meet us halfway, would you? It is so fucking demoralizing to be clicking through the suits (or anything else) at Lands’ End and go, “Oh, I love that color!” then click on the “plus” button and find out some decision-maker doesn’t think I have any business wearing that color. It doesn’t matter that what the decision-maker actually thought, in all likelihood, was just that that color wouldn’t sell well enough to the plus market. It feels like a slap in the face, and you can only slap your customers in the face for so long before they start wondering who else might need their money more.

4) Two words: adjustable straps. My chronic issue with plus-size clothing being cut for people with way broader shoulders than mine is just that much more irritating when it comes to swimsuits. And I’d imagine women with broader shoulders have a similar complaint. 

5) Two other words: cup sizes. You don’t even need a broad range — just “smaller” and “larger” would be a step in the right direction. Since we’re dealing with stretchy fabric, it’s possible for one swim bra to work with a lot of different boobs.  But as it is, different manufacturers usually go too far one way or the other. I love Junonia because their suits will (mostly) accomodate the rack of doom — but accordingly, I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone who wears smaller than a C-cup. On the flip side, the main reason I can’t buy suits at Target or a zillion other places is that anyone who wears larger than a C-cup is basically SOL there. JMS offers a couple of their suits in regular and D-cups, which is all I’m really asking for, but why the hell aren’t more folks doing this with a wider selection of suits? (Also, if you’re smaller of boob, do the “regular” options in that case fit you, or do you wish they had a third option?) 

6) Give us options for bust support that don’t involve some sort of hook/clasp around the neck or across the back. The clasp just throws a whole other fit issue into the mix — OK, the bra fits, but will that stupid clasp be too loose or too tight on me? Also, on the rare occasion when I’ve found one like that that does fit, I have not noticed one whit of actual support coming from the clasp. Make the backs higher and the bras stronger, whatever it takes, but fuck the clasps. (I don’t own one of these, but I think it’s a brilliant concept for increasing support across the back while keeping the suit reasonably easy to get into.) 

7) There’s also got to be a happy medium between matronly and sexpotty. Find it. 

8) Empire waists and defined cups are great for those who like them, but they’re not the end-all and be-all. And here, I am looking straight at Lands’ End, 2009. They’ve finally made a cover-up skirt I really want, but it’s meant to coordinate with a bunch of tops I can’t wear. Last year, there were at least a couple of tankini tops that didn’t look like ass on me, but this year, not a single one.

9) Women who wear above a size 26 like to swim, too. See point 3.

10) Put your plus size bathing suits on fucking plus size models. I don’t look anything like a plus model, but I cannot even begin to imagine what a suit will look like on me when all I’ve got to go on is an image of a very tall, very thin woman wearing it. I’m sure there’s yet another argument here about how stuff sells better on thin models, but I really, really don’t care. It’s offensive and frustrating — and it’s also pinning all your hopes on self-loathing customers, instead of customers who already believe they deserve nice things and won’t hold off on buying clothes until they lose weight. 

11) Finally (for now), if you’re selling exclusively online, you need to post a size chart for every brand of bathing suit you carry, and ideally every single suit. Oh, and if there’s any sort of skirt or shorts involved, YOU NEED TO MENTION HOW LONG THEY ARE. 

All right, that’s all I’ve got right now. Shapelings, tell us what you’d add to the list!

Oh, and for the record, here’s a list of all the plus-size swimsuit retailers I can think of off the top of my head. Please feel free to add more of these in comments, too. 


Lands’ End

LL Bean

Eddie Bauer (mostly, if not all, Miraclesuits)



One Stop Plus (includes Jessica London, Roaman’s, Avenue, and lots more)

Lane Bryant

Swimsuits for All

Always for Me 

Ulla Popken

Swim Outlet

Love Your Peaches




*If you’re a woman of color, you’re probably exempt from this one, but on the downside, we have no idea you exist. 

** Did you ever notice that that’s where they actually put the apostrophe? As in, the end of many lands? My sister pointed that out to me a while back, and it continues to drive me nuts.

***Junonia has come closest to finding it, in my experience. Their “Quikshape” fabric is like Miraclesuit-lite, and their spandex-free, chlorine-proof suits — at least, the one I got a couple of years ago — are quite supportive, though they feel weird and are a bear to get into. But then, Junonia’s got other problems. (See points 4 and 5.)

186 thoughts on “Bathing Suit Season”

  1. Newport News also has plus-size swimsuits — they’re the only ones I’ve had luck with. I bought two last May. I really like that the offer many of their regular-sized suits in plus-sizes, as opposed to “here’s your ugly sack-dress floral print suit that no sane person would want to be caught dead in, don’t forget to be grateful we sell it at all!!!”

    In general, many of their offerings are halters, so no adjustable straps (I have this awesome purple halter I refer to as my “Bond-girl suit.”)

    Some have adjustable straps, though, as well as the obnoxious “slimming” properties, although I am able to still breath in them.

    The one downside for some women is that most of them, from what I can tell, only have a shelf bra for support.

    Final note — the size chart seemed to match up well, although, of course, the models were the same thin ones for the regular and women’s sizes.

  2. Besides cup size options, bra style options? I don’t like seeing my bathingsuit lying out waiting for me with some massive pointy disembodied boobs already in place; could I have an un-padded, no-underwire simple shelf-bra that’s reasonably supportive, please? I have plenty up top and don’t need extra padding and shaping – look, I’m willing to go out with my fat showing, if a hint of nipple shows up I’m probably already embarrassment-proof to a certain degree. But add even the slightest padding to the rack of doom and the resemblance to a cruise ship is inescapable. All I need is a little tug boat leading me around. I like the Lands’ (sic) End suits for the most part, but the limited bra style options have frustrated me in the past.

  3. I’ve had luck with Bravissimo for cup-sized suits. But they are limited in the back sizes they carry ( 28 to 40) and they tend to have only bikinis in the larger cup sizes, instead of one-pieces or takinks.

  4. Can we add a point 12: all those plus-size options in chlorine-resistant fabric? And with stronger seams? It kills me to plunk down $100 for a swimsuit that will not last more than a season’s worth of lap swimming. (I have found a $50 polyester Speedo at a size 22 that has lasted 1-1/2 years, but that’s the biggest size, which doesn’t work well for those of us who are larger or who may be larger someday.)
    And another request from the Rack o’ Doom Club – can we PLEASE have higher necklines? A scoop neck on a smaller-breasted woman is an entirely different matter from a scoop neck on me – to wit: I fall out; she doesn’t.

  5. This is a personal one, but could we please have modest swimsuits that go above a size 12? An Islamic swimsuit already runs at least $150, for the hijab, tunic, undershirt and trousers, I dread to think how much they’d charge for a plus size one.

  6. I have big thighs. I do not want a skirt or dress to attempt to ‘hide’ them – they are big, covered or not. What I WOULD like is some more attractive shorts options, particularly tighter – more like a bike short – options. Because those big ole thighs rub together and it is uncomfortable. Throw in a sunburn and some sand – fuhgeddabout it.

    I CAN’T be the only one with this problem, yet I rarely if ever see an option like this. I do have a shorts tankini from Junonia and it looks good – but the shorts are loose, so they are not very practical for actually swimming, as they float up around me.

  7. Wow, great list. I really agree with the bra comments… and the fact that the only place I’ve ever bought a swimsuit is Wal-Mart. I found a tankini two-piece that fits almost kinda and have been forcing wear out of it ever since, even though it’s sun-bleached all to hell and the butt is too loose (though thankfully covered by a built-in skirt) and it gives me a weird combination of double boob/pointy boob. But, hey, I’m a fatty, that’s all I get right? It’s my fault. If I were to just lose some damn weight I could have a whole RANGE of sizes, colours and styles available to me.

  8. Luckily, since I’ve put on weight, the bikini I bought a few years ago that has been too big fits perfectly right now. I wore it last weekend on our vacation an enjoyed myself mightily. I think I may have been able to dodge the shopping bullet this year, we’ll see by mid-summer though if I need to get something else.

    Last year I was frustrated to tears when the beautiful perfect swimsuit I ordered online was too SHORT for me. WTF? I’m only 5’8″.

    Now go back and read that first sentence and watch me jump up and down for being able to write that.

  9. I love you so much, Kate. Words just can’t express it. I laughed and nodded so vehemently I think I need to make an appointment with my chiropractor.

    This summer, I want to wear a bikini. I may have to go to the beach entirely by myself if I want to avoid vicious scrutiny, but oddly enough I’m pretty sure that, despite my obviously fat body, I’ll probably escape any sort of comment at all as long as my family doesn’t see me in it. Because really, most people at the beach, in my experience, don’t give a shit what me, you, or anybody else looks like, they’re there to tan or swim or boogie-board or whatev.

    My dreams for a bikini are, I think, fairly modest, but we all know that clothing manufacturers don’t make money on dreams or modesty!

    I want a suit that will stay on my body, for starters. This is probably my most important need. My body, clothes designers, is going to MOVE while wearing your suit. I am going to be walking. I’m going to be running. I’m going to be swimming. I’m going to possibly dance, jump, or otherwise gyrate. I’m going to get hit with four-foot waves that will knock the wind out of me against the sandy lake/ocean floor. I want to know that when I stand back up again, my suit will still be there. My fat might not get many stares but I can all but guarantee you my bare breasts, or gods forbid bare crotch, will (not to mention a citation for public indecency).

    I totally did very nearly lose my swimsuit bottom while boogie-boarding last summer. And to add insult to injury, because of its cute little malfunction, once I got it pulled back on it was full of enough sand that when I took it off after I got out of the ocean, I contemplated collecting it in a mason jar to show anyone who might doubt a person can surreptitiously carry that much sand about their nethers.

    You know, you covered the rest so well (pun intended), I see no reason to even post my other suit complaints.

  10. My biggest issue is the boob thing. I have issues with any kind of clothing that has to cover my boobs be it bra, shirt or swimsuit. For some reason manufacturers assume that if you are hugely big up top, then you are hugely big. I wear a size 36H+ bra (depending on the cut I may can wear something with a bit smaller or larger cup) so bras are hard enough to find (I just stopped wearing them and just wear stretchy chami instead) so anything else is out of the question.

    The issue is I CAN NOT wear those that have straps behind the neck…they pull on my neck and cause great pain…yet any that may remotely fit have the damn straps behind the neck.

    I did find a suit the other year at Fashion Bug Plus. It is aqua with shiny paisley all over it and a skirt. Yea, probably looks like shit really, but I really like the color and designs and I really could care less what everyone at the pool thinks.

  11. In fact, I just ordered a new suit from them. It’s brown. But my other suit from them is an aqua type green with sparkles, so I can get a pass for the brown suit.

  12. Last year I was frustrated to tears when the beautiful perfect swimsuit I ordered online was too SHORT for me. WTF? I’m only 5′8″.

    Psst, 5’8″ is actually kinda tall. (I think 5’4″ is supposed to be the average for women.) But I totally hear you on the massive frustration.

    And thanks for the mentions of Catherine’s and Fashion Bug, Buttercup and Sandy! I knew I was forgetting some obvious ones.

  13. My one and only wish?

    For Speedo and Tyr to make racing suits up to size 36. Ones just as well engineered as their skinny suits, with just as good seams and fabric. You will pay through the nose, but there *will* be color, and it will stay put and it will last 3 years if you alternate two suits for daily lap swimming.

    I’m really not comfortable doing real swimming in much besides a racing suit… and from the sounds of it, a lot of other women are in the same boat.

  14. I just want one I’m not allergic to. Every suit I’ve tried makes me break out in hives after five-ten minutes in the water.

  15. Fashion Bug has some cute ones too, and most stores do carry them in the actual store (not just online). I’ve gotten ones in cute colors and patterns, and while their bras aren’t the most supportive, they do okay on me (I’m a 44C, 20/22).

  16. Yes, the small-boobed (I’m speaking as a 34A who sometimes wears “Juniors” size bras here) also get incredibly frustrated by the stand-alone boobage on swimsuits. If you: lie down, get hit by a wave, look at them wrong, they turn Inside Out. The embarrassment factor here is huge. And if I go for a more “functional” suit with no padding or shaping, my chest looks like a 4 year old boy’s.

  17. Oh poo, it’s summer. This summer, as most summers, I want it to remain cool enough for me not to faint, because I hate my furry legs too much to be able to wear anything that shows them. I am in complete awe of anyone who faces Summer Body Issues with anything but gibbering-and-hiding.

    My new exciting plan for this year doesn’t involve wearing anything different, but it does involve not beating myself up for caring. Somehow I have twisted my feminism into it’s-wrong-to-wish-I-could-wear-frocks (I have a lifetime of experience turning everything into another sharp stick to stab myself with) and end up feeling guilty for not being prepared to wear a bikini with monkey legs. Because the fact that I want to avoid open ridicule is my fault, obviously. It’d be great if I could do it, but it’s also OK not to.

    This post is brought to you by the painful regrowth from the first ill-advised leg-shave of the year. Months I’ve spent psyching myself to resist it. Bah.

    Maybe by next year I’ll be able to dig through the argh and work out whether I actually want to wear a swimsuit or am just using it as another point of masochism. Grr.

  18. Liz and Torrilin, you might want to try Junonia. I’m an in-betweenie, and their sizing is “generous,” so I haven’t been able to wear any of their stuff in recent years, though I still think well of it. They have durable, chlorine-resistant, suits designed for serious swimming. (The website shows them in black, but they also make them in a handful of bright solid colors.) And they do not contain spandex, which is what tends to trigger allergic reactions in people who get hives from stretchy fabrics.

  19. Before I can say what my wish list for a swimsuit is, I need to have the courage to actually wear one. It’s my biggest obstacle in acceptance. I’m completely fine with my body from September to May and in every range of clothing imaginable but swimsuits bring out the insecurity in me. I have children who only go to the pool if someone else can take them. I let a trip to Florida with my best friend escape me because when I went swimsuit shopping, I died. It’s sad, I know and I know that I shouldn’t care but I still do. I have not an ounce of desire to be thin left in me, I just can’t wear a damn swimsuit.

  20. It’s sad, I know and I know that I shouldn’t care but I still do.

    That’s one of the the worst things, that just knowing that the world has messed with your head isn’t enough to make it go away. When an entire society has contrived to make you internalise something, mere rational thought isn’t enough to undo the damage. If only.

  21. Speedo does make plus-size suits that have the great fade resistant fabric, but unfortunately, they only go to a size 24.They have recently added 2 more colors (in addition to the black and navy). My size fluctuates between 22 and 24, and I’ve only bought speedo suits for years just because they don’t make me look like my grandmother and they don’t wear out after the 5th use. I really wish speedo would offer more, because I know I’d spread the word more if they made their high quality suits in larger sizes…

  22. Dear manufacturers, large boobs have weight and will not sit in that little shelf bra. Also, most big breasted women do not need padded cups, though there are always exceptions.

    Of course, I don’t really count here since they don’t make normal swimsuits that cover me from neck to ankle (and down to both wrists!) I suppose I could shell out mega-bucks for an “extended plus” size wetsuit, or I could just give up swimming. I haven’t been swimming in 15 years, I really miss it. Stupid meanie poo-poo head sun trying to kill me.

    I hear there are specialty retailers for modest swimwear, but they all seem to stop at a size 14. See, you can be modest, but not fat. If you’re fat, you’re automatically damaged goods so you don’t need to cover up. *sigh* This is a problem I have with all modest clothing retailers, none of them care about fat women who might want to buy clothes.

  23. Gah. I haven’t worn a real swimsuit in years because I just couldn’t find one that had proper chest support (I’m 36F). I opt for men’s swim trunks, a regular sports bra, and a tank top over that so it’s not noticeable that I’m just wearing OMG! a bra! to the pool.

  24. Wow, thanks for this great post. I hadn’t heard of Junonia before, but since I have a “Rack of Doom”, I might have to try them. I’ve ordered a suit from Lands’ End before and loved it, but it was really expensive and I’ve now outgrown it. Thanks for the tip!

    On another topic, did you see the article on Michelle Obama in the NYTimes today? I love her, but I hate when she talks about her regimen to prevent her hips from spreading, and her use of pleats to cover her “hips”. Sigh.

  25. The joys of living in Hawai’i… as long as you stay away from Tourist Central (Waikiki), there is very little body shaming going on.

    I’d also like to recommend board shorts and rash-guard shirts to those of you looking for something modest that’s good for active swimming. You’ll have to look in a surf shop, but long- and short- sleeves exist in bright, pretty colors, in fade-resistant, supportive fabrics.

    Also, I love me some board shorts, I hate ‘normal’ bathing suit bottoms. >< Even when I was ‘thin’ (parents kept me on a near-starvation diet–my friends and HS teachers were worried about me–no breakfast, no lunch unless I scrounged $0.50 for a roll and coffee, one serving of dinner–while doing most of the primary care for 8-10 horses).

  26. Yes, yes, YES! My biggest issue with swimsuits is in the breast area – I would do anything for a good tankini with a built-in underwire, as it’s the only way I feel supported. Right now I have a maternity bathing suit that, ironically, I bought before I was pregnant because it was on clearance at Target, cute, and I have a belly so I figured it worked pretty well. Now my boobs have definitely outgrown it (it’s a halter that ties), and I spend my whole time wearing it thinking that I’m about to flash everyone. Of course, my fiance loves it because he gets to see my boobs out in the open all day, but I don’t necessarily want everyone to be able to see them.

    The sad thing is, the last time I was at the beach (last month – I love Florida!), it seemed to me that there were very, VERY few women there who were under age 60 who were plus-sized, and those who were were not down to their swimsuits. On the one hand, it made me sad for them that they felt they couldn’t hang out in their swimsuits (if that was the case), but on the other, it made me realize I HAVE come a long way because I can. Now, if I could just go and not even think about it, that’ll be awesome.

  27. I actually really like my suit from Old Navy plus-size collection. They don’t carry them in stores, which does tick me off mightily, but they do pay shipping when you need to return something, so if you have the available credit just buy six suits and return all but one with a little note saying “you know, if you just put plus-sized clothes in the stores we wouldn’t have had to go through this”.

  28. Trying to find your size from a catalog or online shop sucks…why isn’t there a Zappos for clothes?

    I did find an okay work-around for finding the right size suit from Land’s End. I ordered a bunch of swimsuits in different sizes and colors online so I had a better selection of sizes, and then returned all the ones I didn’t want to our nearest Sears.

    I’m glad I didn’t wait until this year to buy one…all of their current suits seem to have the stupid gathers all over the stomach that are supposed to ‘hide’ your problem areas. I’m pear shaped and large-boned, and those gathers just made my stomach look twice as wide. :/

  29. Simply Mac, I hear you on underwires. Re: fit, I want to give a shout-out to the separates that Junonia and others are doing. I’m currently 58″-57″-66″ or thereabouts, which means that I’m about a 5x in the boobs and a 6x in the waist/hips…which makes 1-pieces even more of a challenge!

    (That’s 57″ where my waistband hits, which is NOT the narrowest part of my body…yes I am apple-shaped!)

  30. I went swim suit shopping a few months ago (different hemisphere here) and I had a large number of complaints.

    My biggest is that I am pear shaped with a slightly longer than average torso. I could not find a one piece that would fit to save my life. Things that fit around my hips were too large for my Rack of Doom. Things that would fit at both the hips and the boobs were invariably for someone shorter than I am, and the bust support would be somewhere around my waist, and the scoop neck would be bordering on the un-natural.

    I also have a thing against tankinis as the tops tend to ride up when one is swimming. Either that, or they are empire line which is not a shape that looks good on me.

    In the end, I bought a bikini plus a rash vest for outdoors swimming from I have worn the bikini by itself in public and nothing happened. No one laughed at me and it was good…

  31. Mim Said:

    When an entire society has contrived to make you internalise something, mere rational thought isn’t enough to undo the damage. If only.

    I just felt that needed to be said again… and bolded. :p

  32. Mim, for a long time I refused to wear a bathing suit too. Shorts and t-shirtsat the beach and no getting in the water. It took a while, but I do wear a bathing suit now. You’ll get there.

    About the article:

    1) I don’t buy fashion magazines. They are just pure evil, aside from being expensive. In an ideal world, women would ignore them and they’d go out of business.

    2) Swimsuit options. Do you have Ross Dress for Less, Marshalls, TJMaxx, that sort of thing anywhere near you? I get nearly all my clothes there and at Marshalls and TJMaxx, they do have a surprisingly good selection of plus size bathing suits. At least, the ones I went to in New Jersey did. Your mileage may vary.

    3) I’ve got one bathing suit that I’ve had for maybe 6 or 7 years. And it’s held up well. It’s Jantzen–good quality, usually expensive. That said, I got mine on the boardwalk down the shore for 50% off, so $45. Yes, it does have those weird bra cups, but I don’t care all that much. And it does have adjustable straps. It never would have occurred to me to look in a bathing suit store on the boardwalk, as my perception is they only carry common sizes. And this wasn’t that serendipitous discovery–the one plus size suit in a lot–they had quite a few. True, all were pretty expensive, but on sale. I guess the point is, you might find something where you don’t expect to.

  33. two things:
    “What I WOULD like is some more attractive shorts options, particularly tighter – more like a bike short – options. Because those big ole thighs rub together and it is uncomfortable. Throw in a sunburn and some sand – fuhgeddabout it.”
    Yes! This! so much this! It drives me crazy because I keep thinking I’ve found something and it turns out it has like a 3″ inseam, maybe 5″, which really, really isn’t good enough. Target had some last year that I was all hopeful about, but seriously the rise was way longer than the inseam. It didn’t go down far enough on my thighs and came up way too high on my belly, and had no shape really, so it looked awful besides not working. So sad.

    I have a fabulous tankini top (black, yes, but with white! dots! in stripes!) but I haven’t found bottoms yet, I’ve decided to just look for board shorts, but everything I’ve tried is made for a completely different body shape than mine. (Yes, I’m looking at you Target. On the other hand if anyone is looking for board shorts in plus sizes that are made for someone with more belly than butt, these might work for you, although stupid showing it with non-plus model, clearly they won’t look like that.)

    Anyone have any leads on plus size board shorts built for a big butt/smaller waist?

    Thing two:
    I have a Rack of Greater Doom at a J cup in UK sizes (roughly an M in US sizing). I have given up on finding a suit that actually supports my breasts. Here’s what I’ve done and I highly recommend it:
    I have bought two bra-sized bikini tops (one black, one a nice bright aqua color, Panache and Freya brands. a warning, though, these only seem to go up to about a 40 band. poo.) that fit and support and I just wear them as “swim bras” with whatever suit I please. Better than a regular bra, because it’s still made of swimsuit material. So I have two sets of straps. So what? It’s rather cool to be able to just pick out any old suit that’s pretty and not have to worry about whether it supports my chest at all.

  34. I know I’ve mentioned this company before, but it’s where I buy my lap suits: H2Owear. Their suits usually last about a year for me, swimming several times a week.

    Unfortunately, not all their suits are available in all sizes, so you have to go through each suit and look at the size range it’s available in. And they’re not cheap. But they do last, and for me, that’s worked out to less cost overall. And every time I’ve spoken with their customer service on the phone they’ve been very helpful. I wish their website was designed better, though.

    Now if I could only find a “social” swimsuit that I liked as well – and I’m with many of you on the “if it’s cut too low, the boobs will swim right on out of the suit all by themselves”.

  35. I think that there is a unique genius to garments that manage to combine padding with shitty support. Because your breasts are NOT BIG ENOUGH but how dare they OBEY GRAVITY?

  36. I’ve only ever been able to find halter tankini tops and one pieces to fit my breasts, never just a regular suit. And the trade off there is a constant head and neck ache due to the weight of my breasts hanging off my neck thanks to how tightly the straps must be tied to even approach any sort of stability or support. So yeah, beach and pool time is not relaxing because of the constant fucking pain. Incidentally, have otc analgesics not been super helpful for anyone else? Or am I just special; tylenol, kid’s aspirin, aspirin, ibuprofen, aleve, etc., have never reliably worked for me.

    Plus, the reliably jacked-up price because the designers and manufacturers know we have so few other places to go. GAHHH!!

    I mean, I know something about clothing construction and garment design, and I’m pretty well convinced that swimwear designers (well, fashion designers in general, really) on a whole, don’t understand how large breasts work (despite their industry’s and their industry relatives’ constant promotion of said boobies), in terms of movement and shape, and most importantly, how to incorporate more stable support structures while still maintaining the flexibility of a swimsuit.

    I really think we need to sort of ignore what we know about making swimsuits and try to think about it from step one, because designs that fit slim and/or small-breasted women well can’t just be made in bigger sizes and then satisfactorily fit fat and/or large-breasted women. The idea of putting spiral steel corset boning into a bathing suit might sound a bit odd, but I’ve had a few ideas that aren’t totally out of the realm of possibility. Not nearly as restrictive as an actual girdle, but along those lines. But again, the cost of production, the fact that such a garment couldn’t really be made ready-to-wear unless the customers for said garment were willing and able to make their own final fitting adjustments…and we’re running into money territory and inconvenience, and that doesn’t help the people who need it.

    (I’ve been working on completely different ways of structuring clothing lately, mostly in terms of building non-intrusive or design-disrupting ways of making full-body garments like coats and dresses adjustable to fit people whose breasts and body are in completely different size ranges. People like me, basically. And hence the tangent).

  37. “*If you’re a woman of color, you’re probably exempt from this one, but on the downside, we have no idea you exist.”


  38. “There’s also got to be a happy medium between matronly and sexpotty. Find it.”

    Applause. I think that any woman would agree here, whichever her size.

    My dream would be (a) being able to buy a top of one size and a bottom of another (I am a size 10-12 around the waist, but a GG cup – something that seems to baffle most stylists: a – woman? with – breasts? and – she does not want them to bounce around constantly?) (b) a bottom that does not require a Brazilian wax or something like that: I am not a prude, but I would prefer to leave some parts of me to my husband only. I should have lived in the ’50s, at least as far as clothes are concerned…

  39. SugarLeigh, I’m with you this year in the first-time-bikini-wearers club! I’ve never worn one, not out of any sense of modesty or propriety, but basically out of shame. Not that I ever thought I had body image problems–I just had the “normal” amount of shame that every American teenager/woman has, right? (The saddest part is, the answer to that is mostly: Right.) Yet this amount of shame was enough to keep me in a one-piece and a towel while my not-much-smaller sisters sunbathed in their bikinis. Not this year, my friends.

    Of course, the downside of my dimunition of shame is that I’m going to have to go bikini-shopping. I’m not a full-fledged member of the Rack o’ Doom Club, but I am a D-cup, and while that’s usually juuust passable in well-made one-pieces, I’m a little nervous about finding a bikini top that’ll do the trick. (I’m also nervous about bikini shopping for other reasons, of course–my body image isn’t *that* good.) The thing is, with a one-piece, at least you can be pretty sure the suit isn’t going to come off…with a bikini top, I can kind of see that happening. I can also see it not supporting me at all. You all wouldn’t happen to know if there is such a thing as a bikini top with underwire, would you?

  40. Thank you so much for posting this! I am a fat young woman who loves to swim. I decided years ago that I really didn’t give a rat’s ass what the other people at the beach thought of me; the sheer joy of diving through the waves on a blazing hot day outweighed the opinion of strangers.

    But the fact that I actually swim in my swimsuit (shocking notion!) means that flimsy cheap crap is right out. I do not want to come up from a dive with the top of my suit flopping around my waist and my tits exposed for the world to see. I do not want seams that chafe, “tummy tamers” that make deep breathing more difficult, or fabric that wilts and dies under exposure to chlorine, salt, and sand.

    Right now I have one swimsuit that still kinda fits, maybe a little tighter than I’d ideally prefer but I ain’t going shopping again until it completely dies. A blue-patterned Speedo tank that I bought from the now-defunct Speedo store at our local mall. I’m an inbetweener, so I can just fit into Speedo’s larger sizes, but it pisses me off that they don’t serve larger women as well.

    And the bike-short-style swimsuit is an AWESOME idea. I would so buy those if they existed.

  41. I wanted to add another vote for Catherine’s Plus Sizes:

    Even if you don’t have a store near you, their online store has a variety of different styles and colors and goes up to a 5X / 34/36. The company is owned by the same folks who own Lane Bryant, they just run larger than Lane Bryant typically does.

    As an “extremely plus-size” lady, Catherine’s has been a godsend for clothing in general. They last a long time without fading or shrinking. I’m always surprised when it seems like no one’s heard of ’em. o.o But their swimwear line is good, too. Lots of cute stuff!

  42. I just got my Love your Peaches bikini today, and I wear a 44dd cup and am 26-30 size. AMAZING! I love it. It was a little hard at first to actually figure out how a spaghetti strap bikini is worn. It offers nothing in the way of support, but it’s not designed to. I highly recommend Love Your Peaches. I ADORE my bikini. I plan to wear it in public.

  43. All I can add is that I’m a size 14 (I think), with a 38C cup. And my only bikini has a label that says “prosthetic”. The only bikini in town that worked like a bra and gave me enough coverage and support was intented for women with a mastectomy. And that, in a country where bikinis are the norm.

  44. I have a BEAUTIFUL bright raspberry bathing suit which I did buy online and got lucky with, as it did indeed fit…

    It breaks all the rules…I look like a bit fat round raspberry and I love it!!

    it’s kinda magenta really, though they called it raspberry…

    unfortunately I don’t remember who made it…I got it through Amazon on a clearance sale, but it was some big name brand…if I had the energy I’d go rummage around and see but I don’t! I really have not a clue where it is as we moved not too long ago!

  45. As a caveat to #6: I have enormous boobs. Big massive heavy boobs. They fall out of tops, strain fabric, stick together, and make a foot of cleavage and render even matronly bathing suits “slutty”. There is also no possible way that I could support DDD breasts with a halter top unless I fancy strangling myself. Likewise, I’d prefer to to able to wear something that doesn’t look like Mormon undergarments that also doesn’t look, feel, and wear exactly like a bra. There are ways of supporting breasts without wires and cups, dipshits!

    The best bathing suit for my body type, bar none, is a strapless one-piece that uses ingenious support to hold my boobs without giving me neck problems. Of course, these suits are almost never available, because “sexy” is contained only to bikinis (not fucking happening with these boobs), while matronly has to be all one-pieces. Unless they have cut-outs, which look absolutely absurd if you have any flab (and I have a stomach, shockingly) and never fit the way they are supposed to (yay being short with a short torso!).

    If by some chance of God I find a suit I like, it invariably never comes in my size, the cups are far far too small, or I have been regulated to “fatty colors” instead of more fetching jewel-tones like mauve or green, which are far far far more flattering on my pale complexion than black. Of course, being overweight, bathing suit manufactures assume that the primary function of my chosen bathing suit would to be to slim, rather than to compliment my features. A fatty that not only wants to show off her figure and features rather than hide in black and vertical striped matronly bathing suits? Good lord, no such thing exists! You can’t take any pride in your figure or features unless you are no larger than a size 6 or 8, evidently.

    Also, what the fuck is with the assumption that fatties that need support for their boobs have horridly unsightly abdomens and thighs but nice backs? I despise my back, and cutouts are just another way for me to get horribly sun burnt. If I manage to find a suit that fits the boobs, it always comes with some stupid wrap thing on the assumption that my legs are gross. Uh, no. Then it hangs horribly around the waist because manufacturers assume that if you wear a size 12 or 14 bathing suit, you don’t have a waist anymore. What results is tent-syndrome in which the suit hangs off my chest and forms “tit curtains”. Hanging spandex, obviously, looks stupid.

    What results is a “fuck bathing suits” mentality. I use old flattering t-shirts as a top, then shop in the boy’s department for swimming trunks that are not overly large.

    Do I prefer women’s bathing suits? Yes, in theory. No in practice. Bathing suit manufacturers have to be the stupidest fucks on the planet.

  46. For people in the UK, Evans occasionally comes up with the goods swimwear-wise. I have just bought the very cute 1950s-pinup-girl-vibe tankini on this page and there is a really cool snake-print one piece as well.

    I’m hoping that there will be a better selection of swimwear in the next few weeks, they usually have at least a couple of pages of swimwear and have always done a few bikinis too which appear to be missing from the page.

    Evans do ship to the US, mainland Europe and Australia too.

  47. I have totally skimmed the comments, so my apologies if anyone has already mentioned it, but: Cyberswim. I’ve found a couple of great suits there. Expensive, though. But durable, at least so far.

  48. What I wish swimwear manufacturers would do is something like what Bravissimo does with tank tops. Offer each suit in a range of sizes and then, as an additional factor, offer each size in a range of bust size options. Ie, so you could buy a sz 12 large bust suit, or a size 18 small bust suit, or a sz 24 medium bust suit. They need to treat bust size as the individual variable that it is, because if they don’t nothing will ever fit quite right.

  49. Being a fuerte woman (fuerte means strong in Spanish and in Spain, it is slang for fat. I love that.) of “average” height (5’4″) I have to say that most plus-sized clothes assume I’m bigger boobed than I am and often, that I have orangutan-length arms. I don’t.

    That said, this is why shopping for bathing suits gives me a rash:

    1. I don’t want my clothes to be SO modest that it looks like I am ashamed of my body. Or that I’m aiming for the dowdy bland matron look.

    2. It would be nice to have decent design and quality fabrics without having to spend the children’s inheritance on swimwear.

    3. Most of all, STOP SHOWING ME PLUS SIZED BATHING SUITS ON SIZE 4 MODELS. That is fucking insulting. Do you think we’re fooled into thinking that we’ll look like that? Do you think we’ve been brain-washed into rejecting clothing on fat models?

    I’m going shopping now.
    Wish me luck.

    P.S. I really enjoyed this post. Especially the additional web links that spark hope in my wardrobe gulag.

  50. This is awesomely timely for me as I recently finally got myself a new swimming costume ( – in 40 G which is the largest size it goes up to, is fine but slightly short in the torso for me, and has some ‘control’ stuff but only enough that I feel supported, it covers my UK 20 ass, and is boring black but at least has an interesting pattern even if it is one supposed to create some fucking optical illusion of thinness with ginormous tits. Ahem. But it’s nice and has a tie-it-yourself halter-neck which makes my non-broad shoulders happy, but could also work for those with broader shoulders). I went swimming in a pool and just had fun, it was so awesome to do, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it and am still getting myself to the place where I don’t think ‘leads to weight-loss, is a chore’ but instead think ‘this is really fun and I enjoy moving my body in water’.

    So it’s great to read what I’ve been thinking looking at my options. Also, another consideration is that I am a student and swimming costumes can be really expensive and for plus costumes low prices, I’ve found, are even less likely. As with most plus sized clothes, actually, especially in the UK.

  51. A few people up-post have commented that they would like bra-sized supportive swimwear. Bravissimo does this for bikinis, tankinis and swimsuits; unfortunately only up to a 40 back, but up to a K cup in some styles. They also do a new range of “sports” swimwear up to a 40G designed for serious lap swimming rather than holiday swimming.

  52. I have a lot of luck at Dillard’s. I wear a 42H, but generally can do OK in the bra-size tankinis in a 38DD (clearly not ideal, but it keeps the girls somewhere in a supported zone).

    For water aerobics, I order Ocean suits, which come up to a 22 I think, and I wear a regular old sports bra underneath. I usually buy it a little smaller than I usually need, but it keeps me from falling out of the sides.

  53. Oh, yes to all of it. I’ve been plus-sized and not, and it’s always a struggle. What kills me in plus sizes (and this applies to a lot of plus sized clothes, but especially in the bathing suits) is that the manufacturers assume I’ll be large-chested. I’m not. I was a size 22 and a B cup; I later got smaller and my boobs shrank even faster than the rest of me. (Don’t get me wrong, I like my boobs. It did feel a touch unfair at the time, however.) Whoever mentioned the suits that go concave on you if you’re not paying attention–I feel you.

    So yes, more variety would be *fantastic*–in the bust, waist, torso, fabric…hell, can’t we just send in our measurements and other preferences (fabrics, etc.) and let them work from there? There’s a website that makes jeans that way.

    I actually do like Lands’ End (I respect the apostrophe placement, but with gritted teeth) since theirs were and still are the only one-pieces that I can find that are long enough in the torso to fit without making me walk hunched over or giving me a constant wedgie. And they hold up well, too–or perhaps that’s because I put it on and swim in it about twice a year (I love the beach, love to swim; hate wearing a bathing suit enough to avoid both).

    Lucizoe’s got a great idea about re-thinking swimwear from step one on; this is one arena in which we really could stand to reinvent the wheel.

  54. @ GodlessHeathen

    I’m in the same boat. Islamic swimsuit manufacturers stop at a size 12. For now, I wear a CoolMax exercise cap from on my hair, and pants and a long-sleeve t-shirt out of that “performance gear” quick-drying fabric stuff. Not perfect, but it’ll do.

  55. I’m a fatty (size 24; 42DD) who swims (laps) year-round. I’ve never been in a place where I’ve had ~$100 to drop on a Really Nice Suit, so I have a few cheapie tankini suits that I use on a rotating basis– a couple from Target and a couple from Old Navy.

    I know that Old Navy is kind of an asshole for pulling all their plus-size stuff out of their brick-and-mortar stores, but if you can get past that, they have some cute suits. My main complaint with their suits is that they evidently have no idea where boobs should go. The bra cups on my ON suits are approximately the right size for my boobs, but said boobs keep falling out because the bra is not in the right place. It’s too high and too wide. WTF? Still, I can shift my boobs into place and I don’t care too much about what they look like– no one’s looking at my boobs at lap swim, they’re too busy swimming laps.

    Maybe this is just my issue, though– maybe I’ve just got weird boobs. :p

  56. I’ve had luck with Speedo to some degree — I’m between a size 20 and 22 and the 22 was a bit big on me. I think I got a size 20 off the rack here at Fred Meyer last year that was a nice 40s design, black, but I’m okay with that, sufficiently modest and lasted a resonable time against the chlorine.
    I have two servicable swimsuits from Speedo that I’m rotating at the moment. (well, not at the moment, as it’s been a while since I was swimming). One is purple, the other one navy with turquoise trim.

    I would love to have a bikini at some point just to push my own comfort zone but I don’t know where I would wear it — not swimming at the Y, for sure. But if were to go somewhere warm on vacation, well, that might be a cool thing. I think a bikini top with some sort of board short bottoms might be friggin’ adorable on me.

    And this is sort of related to “bilkini mind,” my post about going to a “free dance” class didn’t make it onto the feed because of, I think, a problem with the title, but here it is:–dancing–imagination—neurosis–/

  57. Meg and GH, I’m too lazy to go look for it again, but I googled “modest swimwear” earlier, and within the first couple of hits, I found a collection of links to sites that sell suits with varying degrees of modesty, up to Islamic suits — and there was at least one Islamic suit store that had plus sizes. No clue about prices or size range, but it might be worth a google.

    Oh, and for those who want bike short tankinis, I’m pretty sure Junonia has some this season, though they might have the too-short inseam problem. They also have “aquatards” that go all the way down to the knee, though. It doesn’t sound like people are looking for one-pieces with bike shorts, but I thought I’d point that out.

  58. I didn’t mind so much having to buy a geriatric-style swim dress, but when the skirt floats up around my armpits? And exposes the caucasian-flesh-colored lining and bra? And makes me look NAKED? Not so cool. Swim dress and tankini linings in colors to match the suit, please.

  59. Y’all, next year we need a Shapely Prose Summer Camp, where we can all wear our swimsuits and have a blast!

  60. Re: Size charts

    Please also include the length of tops and one-pieces. Those of us with long torsos (I am built like a basset hound) need to know these things. I don’t want a tankini top that stops just 1 inch south of the ladies, nor do I want a one-piece that does nothing but provide an all-day wedgie spectacular.

    And I agree supremely with the cup sizes. Also – please remember that having big boobs does not necessarily mean you have a wide back. Many of us hold our racks of doom on smaller rib cages. We need suits too.

    Plus, please put fucking underwires in your suits. I don’t want my boob related options to be restricted to A) letting them sit in my lap or B) wearing a sports bra under an otherwise attractive suit. Big boobs need support, and I can only tie the halter strap so tight before it cuts off all circulation to my neck and permanently injures my spinal cord.

    I want my summer suit to be sexy, but remember that I have different needs as far as coverage. A plunging neck or cute keyhole is fantastic, but please make the rest of the suit actually cover me and contain my rolls to some degree.

    Just because I am fat doesn’t mean I want my one-piece to have an attached skirt. A detachable skirt, fine, but some of us just want a fucking bathing suit, not a waterproof dress.

  61. Bike shorts! 0X-4X. 5-inch inseam, which is a mite short but could work for some. I knew I’d seen some somewhere this year, and that’s where I was actually thinking of, not Junonia (though yes, they have some, too).

  62. You know, it’s funny…I was looking for a cute one piece swimsuit last summer and the only one I found was a plus size from Old Navy. Except I’m an inbetweenie and don’t need plus sizes in bathing suits. And Old Navy didn’t make the suit in “regular” sizes. I wasn’t looking for a bikini, and that’s all I could find in non plus sizes.

    Of course, I have the boobage problem, too, since I wear a 32G or so.


  63. Wow, I am loving the Bravissimo bathing suit shop! I’m wondering if I should order something now, though, so they don’t run out of my size, or if they’re likely to get a wider selection in the coming months…any advice from experienced Bravissimo shoppers?

    (Also, anyone know if they run small or large, especially compared to US sizes?)

  64. Dear designers and manufacturers of almost every plus-size swimsuit on sale in Australia. Can we please, for once, not skimp on the fabric for shoulder-straps? E-cups and spaghetti straps just don’t go together. And I seriously think you might be up for clothing manslaughter with that stupid spaghetti strap halter top design that garrottes the neck of anyone actually trying to wear it.

  65. Fuckin’ a do I ever hate swimsuit shopping. I love swimming. I was on the swim team as a kid, I spent the entire summer at the pool or at the beach, but once I grew out of straight sizes I started to hate it because oh my god I HATE SWIMSUIT SHOPPING. I don’t want spaghetti straps. I don’t want a halter top. I don’t want giant padded cups that soak up half the pool. I want something supportive that I can swim in and I don’t give a good goddamn about my thighs showing because a teeny skirt is not going to hide the fact that I have 54″ hips.


  66. Heather, let me second getting a suit in a “swimsuit shop” – both of my suits were bought at Sylvia’s Swimwear, which makes no mention of plus-size in their advertising….

  67. Totally off-topic but I have to share with people who get it: I had a dream last night I was at a WW meeting, and people were optimistic to be back because they had done this before and lost weight but then gained it back. The leader approached me and I said, “I don’t want to lose weight. I love my body exactly the way it is.”

    I felt so good when I woke up.

  68. My problem has always been that I am pear shaped and suits that fit me downstairs are always gapping and too low cut in the chest. I have in the past bought two two pieces but for lap swimming I’d rather have a one piece. I would give anything for a regular cut suit that is cut high around the chest and doesn’t have straps that fall off my shoulders (another perennial problem).

    I wish to god Mervyns was still around because they sold plus size speedos and tyr suits in their stores.

    I got a nice suit from Torrid last year that is still going strong, but I haven’t used it much.

  69. For those looking for swimsuits that keep modesty for religious reasons, Ahiida has them in sizes up to about a US 20 and there is also Rubyz Enterprises which looks to be about a 20/22 in the measurements for their biggest size.

    Any whomever said that TYR and Speedo stop selling racing suits in size 36 is a bit misinformed. In high school I was always a 36 or larger and I never had a problem finding a TYR or Speedo in my size. As it is right now, I have TYR and Speedos upstairs in size 42, though I found I was running a bit top heavy and have now moved to water polo suits (which do max out at a size 40) as they have full coverage up to the clavicle which is about what I need to make sure I don’t flash nips at the older gentlemen in the pool during the day.

  70. Torrilin: Not just racing suits, but the high-necked knee- and ankle-length racing skins.

    Even when I was a skinny little thing on the swim team the top of my suit would catch water when I dove and the bottom of the suit would ride up my butt. Then I saw the high-necked knee-length technical suits and was so excited. That should solve both problems for me.

    Then I looked them up…not only do they cost an arm and a leg (>$250), they don’t even make these in the full range of sizes of their other racing suits (which if the neck is high enough I can sometimes squish into and feel OK swimming laps in…the fitness suits do fit me pretty well).

    I looked at the Junonia unitard…according to their size chart, the smallest size for this suit is definitely too big for me.

  71. I have big thighs. I do not want a skirt or dress to attempt to ‘hide’ them – they are big, covered or not. What I WOULD like is some more attractive shorts options, particularly tighter – more like a bike short – options. Because those big ole thighs rub together and it is uncomfortable. Throw in a sunburn and some sand – fuhgeddabout it.

    I CAN’T be the only one with this problem

    No you’re not! I have thunder thighs as well, and 99% of the swimdresses are, uh, how can I say this delicately, matronly at best. And with having very lage thighs, nothing will “trim them.”

    I really like the jogger-style swimsuits, as they seem to be more flattering to women who are really large pears like me, but I would love the shorts to be knee-length. Despite what a lot of you think of Woman Within, they did introduce longer-length swim shorts last year for under $30 but did not offer a matching top to go with it, unless you purchased the mix & match options they had. Which is OK, since it did match.

    And as a gal who is a 26/28 in swimwear, I would like more color and design options Most inbetweenies do have more picks, but once you hit size 22, it’s either black with a hint of color or navy blue with bigass white flowers. Us supersized swimmers & beachgoers like to rock the color too!

  72. Awesome. I had reasonably good luck last year, between Macy’s and Torrid (though I think I’m sizing out of Macy’s these days, and I’m going to be SO pissed). But before that…. there was the suit. The worst suit ever. Not only did it have a skirt that I felt was matronly (there are better skirts out there, but not this one), but it was brown with GIANT blue flowers. It was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen. It made me cry when I bought it. My mother and my grandmother tried to convince me to get a different one, it was THAT bad, but it was the only one that was comfortable. It was horrific. But I love to swim and I love the beach, and I was adamant that I would be comfortable or die.

    At least now, I am comfortable and not wearing the world’s worst bathing suit. And I know better than to try to go swimsuit shopping in beach towns. Never again.

  73. has some gorgeous one and two piece swimsuits, including string bikini tops (not comfortable for the well endowed, but so worth it just to be able to say “why ‘can’t’ you wear a bikini? I do!” to my much thinner friends :p). They go up to 5/6x, I think, though they’re a low-stock place, and when thy’re out, they’re out. I can’t speak to their suits’ longevity, as I haventb had regular access to a pool since discovering them.

    Also, they have a batik pattern featuring fat mermaids. *swoon*

  74. What… the hell…

    So, I was looking at this halter top ( which I thought, kinda cute–this particular style actually looks nice on me. Oh, and they have long torso! I have a really–oh, wait. That’s not for fatties. Okay. Oh, and they have multiple cup sizes! That’s good, because I’m tired of my boobs hanging out of–what? WHAT?

    Apparently, the good people at Lands’ End do not know that boobs are made of fat, because apparently, at the end of many lands, only regular sizes would need a DDD cup.

    Hello, logic, you fail.

  75. I remember being at my sister’s place (which backs onto a river) a few years ago, having a few wines and watching boats go by on the river. One boat went by with a fabulous looking fat woman on it in a gorgeous swimsuit. My sister and her sister-in-law, both of whom are plus-size and were of a similar size or larger than the woman in question, started in on the “Oh my god. I can’t believe she’s wearing THAT, she should have something over it, blah blah bodyhate blah.” I just said that I thought she looked confident and sexy and more power to her. Their jaws dropped that I didn’t engage in the expected body policing.

    On another note, I do love the Love Your Peaches swimsuits (although I’m not big on their other clothes). I like the mix and match options and the fact that they are custom-made to your measurements. I have a two peice in black and leopard with a black-netting babydoll skirt thing and I feel fabulous wearing it. My only comment is that probably the top wouldn’t offer a lot of support for women with larger busts, although I think LYP have custom options there as well.

  76. I live on the coast at a major tourist destination, and there are fat women on the beach all the time. Most of them dress like several people above have mentioned – in long shorts or bike shorts, plus a t-shirt over a sports bra. Opting out of the bathing suit drama AND being sunsafe is a win in my book.

    It’s coming into winter here, hooray, but for those of you coming into summer, remember to protect your skin! People of most skin colours are susceptible to skin cancer, so if you’re lying around (or swimming) in your fabulous bathing suit, remember to cover up!

  77. Want: straps that do not fall off my shoulders when I am trying to swim. It’s a swimsuit. I hate hate HATE swimming with straps halfway down my arms and I hate having to pull them up every few yards. I cannot believe how some of the swimsuit designs do absolutely nothing to prevent this!

  78. Apparently, the good people at Lands’ End do not know that boobs are made of fat, because apparently, at the end of many lands, only regular sizes would need a DDD cup.

    I totally share your frustration with the way they present that, but take heart — LE plus suits are usually cut for big boobs. A while back, I discovered that their plus suits actually fit my rack o’ doom (36/38H) better than their 18DDs. (The DDDs are new.) It still might be worth a try.

  79. 1; If you’re going to make a tankini, you are probably making clothing for someone who wants the different sizing between butt and bust that a 1-piece can’t give, but with more modesty than a bikini. That means that you really, really DON’T have to compensate for a modest top by making the bottom a string thing that ties at the side and undoes itself every time you move your legs. Or compensate for the shorts by making the top basically 2 nipple coverings and a belt.

    2; I have a gut. It hangs forward, and it moves. If you are making swim bottoms in my size, please make them cut higher up on the stomach – at present, they cut just below it, allowing me to wibble the entireity of my belly at the whoel world (not fun when running) or they cut just low enough that they ROLL DOWN as soon as I sit/stand/breathe/blink.

    3; When making a bikini top, it really is pointless to size it the same way you would a t-shirt. A size 18 bikini top tells me nothing – the cuts vary so wildly in size and shape that I have to take everything from a 14 to a 24 in the changing room. And most often, none of them give me enough coverage for my recently graduated to 36G (WHY? WHYYY?! Now my bras don’t fit again!) cleavage.

    4; If you are going to make one of those wonderful suits I actually like wearing – the ones with plenty of tit-cover but a nice neckline, perhaps a concealed “control” bit that lets me run without my belly wibbling uncomfortably, perhaps a pretty wrap-type something in front of that because I love pretty things, a crotch and leg-line that isn’t too tight or narrow or high… why do you have to ruin it all by making it a halterneck with a back so low that there is no feasible way any part of it could support my breasts?

    5; Actually, just start making funky surf shorts up to my size, with matching bikini tops in my size too, and I’ll be happy. Knee length shorts, BTW please, as I burn easily and burnt thighs are not fun.

    That being said, I still love the swimdress thingy i bought a couple of years ago – the skirt is so short as to be absolutely pointless, but it actually fits me everywhere, although I generally wear a bra underneath for support.

  80. I guess I lucked out in terms of bathing suit top. About a dozen years ago when I went to visit my mom, she bought me a snug spandexy black top, and a couple of years later, when I was in Vegas and didn’t like my bathing suit top (yo, manufacturers of tankini tops, can you make them so’s they don’t float up and expose your entire midriff in the pool? thx bai), I got the idea to swim in this shirt. It works fine. I still use it, paired with either a black Lands’ End swim skirt (and I’m with you, Kate, what the hell is with the apostrophe placement?) or black swim shorts bottom that’s so old I forget where it’s from (maybe Wally World, I don’t know).

    If you want to try something like this, look for a shirt that doesn’t have cotton in it, or at least not a lot of cotton, because cotton tends to absorb water and get heavy and uncomfortable while wet. And of course, something stretchy.

  81. I gonna say it and be weird: I like how swim wear compliments my form, particularly my very 1950’s Cheesecake bathing suit–no skirt, shorts, or similar flaw covering.

    It kind of gathers in front, it goes down further than the modern bikini line–more like a brief, I guess? It makes me feel very Marilyn Glam.

    Yes, my thighs are jiggly and my arms are “too big” for general sleeveless according to the fashion magazines. But, the swim suit shows off my waist, my decent bust, and hides a bit of my belly.

    Where did I get this suit? JC Penny–though a couple years ago.

  82. Seconded on the earlier posters freya/fantasie bathing suit. I have a rack of doom and hate being unsupported while moving, and had almost given up on bathing suits before I found these ones. They have a H cup underwire in a couple of different styles and colors, I got a cute grey one with leaves on it! I don’t know how big in general they go, but as far as rack of doom they win my vote for both cuteness and comfort. I lived in mine for a week and it was still comfy at the end. Plus, that line makes straight bikini tops in doom sizes in cute colors too. I don’t know if the US is different but my regular bra shop in Edmonton Alberta Canada carries them.

    Also seconded on the leg chafing! I wish more manufacturers realized that fat on fat rubbing causes discomfort. I got around mine by making a pair of ‘wrap pants’ for out of the pool wear instead of a sarong, and as a plus they only cost about 4 bucks to make, and were dressy enough to wear to dinner. is the tutorial for them. :)

  83. I was very disgruntled when shopping for a bathing suit last year. Macy’s had a ton of fantastic-looking bathing suits online, but virtually none in their brick-and-mortar store. Sorry, but I’m not buying a bathing suit without trying it on first. I’ve tried online returns before, and it sucks.

    In terms of bathing suit fashions, one thing I noticed about one-pieces now is that the bottoms are way too modest. Since I have wide hips, I need the sides to come up a little bit so it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a diaper.

  84. but where do you stand on waxing? did you hear that new jersey is outlawing some type of wax used for bikini’s? dunno why that stuck in my mind, especially since I don’t do that body waxing thing.

    nor do I wear a bikini. but thanks for thinking that.

  85. @Kate
    yeah, unfortunately both the Junonia and the Always for Me shorts are kinda like what I’d want but too short in the inseam, like everything else I’ve found. Ideally I’d like 8″ or so, but I’d settle for 7″ or maybe even 6.5″. 5″ not gonna cut it. I really want them to go down to the point where my thighs cut in and stop touching each other, if it ends before that they make the bit just below where they end bulge out and rub together even more. grrrrrr.

    I actually wouldn’t mind something like the aquatard, if someone made one that was a little less hard-core (I’m just looking for casual/social swimwear, not for water sports) and a little less expensive I’d be inclined to check it out. Although my suspicion is it wouldn’t look very good. But it would eliminate both dealing with waistbands and with the elastic on the sides of a traditional one-piece bottom digging into me.

    @Jenny1144 and others looking for underwired bikini tops for larger boobs (especially with smaller band sizes): British brands like Freya and Panache make these (up to a 40 band I think) and you can get them from (although their returns policy is a little wonky now, be wary and read first). Also Intimacy stores tend to carry some of the Freya ones, I think.

  86. Old Navy also has some plus size options – and based on my experience with the suit I ordered last year on clearance – the underwire tops would be more appropriate for someone with much larger boobs than my C/D-ish cups.

    The suit fit everywhere else, but the boobs? Not so much.

  87. 2; I have a gut. It hangs forward, and it moves. If you are making swim bottoms in my size, please make them cut higher up on the stomach – at present, they cut just below it, allowing me to wibble the entireity of my belly at the whoel world (not fun when running) or they cut just low enough that they ROLL DOWN as soon as I sit/stand/breathe/blink.

    Yes, yes, yes, yes yes! I have given up on two pieces because of this.

    For inbetweenies with racks of doom, I’ll second or third or whatever the suggestion of Fantasie and Freya bra sized swimsuits. They give great support and make my boobs look amazing. You can get them at

  88. I should also add how this post is completely right on time as my sister and I are planning our summer vacation when she comes to visit me here in PR. The beach is definitely in our plans.

  89. 2; I have a gut. It hangs forward, and it moves. If you are making swim bottoms in my size, please make them cut higher up on the stomach – at present, they cut just below it, allowing me to wibble the entireity of my belly at the whoel world (not fun when running) or they cut just low enough that they ROLL DOWN as soon as I sit/stand/breathe/blink.

    Lol. I have this problem with everything: pants, underwear, skirts, you name it. It either goes at my high waist or it’s sitting on my hips… below my belly. I’ve just given up and let my crack hang out of my pants when I’m not at work. Yes, I have a butt crack and I’m fat. No, I’m not wearing matronly pants that cut off my circulation when I sit.

    I found a suit a long while back, cheap too, that has since fallen apart that made this problem disappear. It was a long empire-waist tankini that had briefs underneath it that went to my waist! The best thing is that nobody could tell my briefs were really high, and I didn’t have to worry about my gut popping out to say hello to the world whilst I wasn’t paying attention.

    I wish I could find another suit like that…

  90. Meg and Godless Heathen, Kate beat me to up upthread a little, but I this retailer has some modest swimwear that I think would fit both of your criteria. The shirts go up to 4X and the one pair of pants I checked to 3X. They also look pretty loose. I don’t know what the rules and regs are on tightness, but if you’re normally a 4X, you might be able to wear their 3X.

    I have one suit from Junonia that I like fine, although it has that shaper fabric and is very hard to put on (especially in a public locker room), and a two-piece skirted tankini thing that is probably way more matronly than I should be wearing at my relatively young age but it was on sale, it’s not hideous, and although I’m not interested in full on modest swimwear, I do prefer to feel like I’m out in public in something more than my underwear. Oh, I got that suit at one of those beachside bathing suit superstores in Delaware called California Sunshine. The plus size selection is nothing compared to the straight sizes, but it was okay.

  91. my one swimsuit wish is that now that juicy couture makes plus sizes, they will do their swimsuits and coats in plus sizes as well.

    esther williams swimsuits do plus sizes in a range of vivid colors and prints, quite pretty and probaby my next swimsuit purchase.

    there are a number of etsy custom swimsuit makers as well.

  92. Teh problem I have with the suit I got from LE, which has been wonderful so far since I modified it, was that I HAD to modify it…. by which I mean I had to remove an underwire that was the SIZE OF MY HEAD from under each breast. Yes, hello swim-suit designer lord-peeps. I KNOW I am fat. But despite your desires to the contrary, that fat is not ALL in my breasts. Please offer options for “Want underwire” or “Do NOT want underwire”. Please

    Also. Fuck those damn skirts. I know some people love them and some people are ambivilant but LORD I would LOVE to have more than 3 choices (in brown, black or navy, natch) of suits to wear that DON’T have some sort of skirt/skort/butt-cover! I don’t need extra flappy bits, I don’t want a tankini that is just gonna roll up under my boobs anyways. I would like a nice one-piece with NO skirt, in a range of fun colors and cuts. No huge pokey underwire. K? Thanks….

  93. Athleta carries swim separates for the large of boob. Their smallest cup-sized top fits a 34C-30DD, and their largest a 44C-40DD. Their bottoms go up to a size 20 (47 inch hip).

    I’m a non-plus-sized, small-rib-caged but large-breasted, middle-aged woman who bought my first bikini in many years from them last summer as an F U to societal attitudes that say because my stomach isn’t as flat and firm as when I was 20, I need to cover it up, and I was very pleased with the suit’s cuteness, support, and quality. It was expensive, though.

  94. I’m having a moment of feminist rage, reading this, as it’s made me think yet again that the range of styles in swimwear for women (of all sizes) is generally rubbish and unhelpful and designed first and foremost to make us look hawt, with only an afterthought as to what the suit might actually be used for (i.e. swimming).

    My boyfriend has a pair of surf shorts which are basically long shorts which are designed for swimming. When we were on holiday in Zanzibar, he wore them in the pool, in the ocean and could just as easily wear them around the resort (although as Zanzibar is a predominantly Muslim island, he wore long trousers outside of the resort). I had a one-piece swimsuit which I constantly had to change in/out of, as it quite clearly wasn’t suitable clothing. If women weren’t supposed to look like sex objects at all times, we would probably be wearing something practical like surf shorts and a vest top too. But that’s not what women are “supposed” to wear, so it’s just not available. There’s nothing wrong with bikinis etc. for those who want to wear them, but surely there should be more comfortable and practical options available which are also fashionable? At the moment, it’s like all men’s swimsuits being lycra speedos.

    Anyway, rant over! Phew, I feel better now… :P

  95. I want to rant about why on earth there has to be a bathing suit season at all.
    Here in Britain, it’s only warm enough to wear a swmiing costume outdoors for about ten days per year, and even then you would be unlikely to go in the water for any longer than a brief chilly paddle.
    So almost anyone buying a cossie in the UK is a. going on holiday somewhere warm, or b. intending to swim in indoor pools, neither of which activities are restricted to July and August.
    And yet it is almost impossible to buy a bathing suit at any other time of year. What’s all that about?

  96. Drive-by commenting:

    I bought my last suit at K-Mart. I really dislike going to KMart most of the time, because it seems universal that their customer service sucks ass, but I have found some decent plus-sized clothes there (mostly plain shorts and t-shirts, and the aforementioned bathing suit).

    who is now massively late for work

  97. I need a top to have a big band size and tiny cup size. The size 12 or so that I usually get will go around my big back, but my boobs flop around a little. *sigh*

  98. Also. “Boy shorts.” Can they please actually cover my ass, rather than giving a little bottom-of-ass-cleavage to the whole world?

  99. I don’t think I saw anyone post it.. I bought two suits last year online at Fashion Bug – I wanted something cute to wear on my honeymoon but I couldn’t spend a whole lot (they were like $45 on sale). Both were halters. One of them had a tie on the halter and I could NOT get it to hold up my own rack of doom… The other fit fabulously and I adore it.
    Anyway, they do have some cute suits, and many of them go up to a size 32. I just wish there was some way to say “hey, this supports big boobies” versus “hey, only girls with boobs that stand up on their own need buy this suit.”

  100. rowmyboat on those boy shorts: TOTALLY! I bought some of those as underwear figuring “Huh, well “boys” always seem to get some good coverage in underpants so I’ll give them a shot.”

    Yeah. If I wanted to floss my ass all day I’d wear a thong, thanks!

  101. I STILL can’t believe how amazingly stupid these retailers are. How much money they are missing out on by refusing to create and carry stylish clothing in plus sizes.
    I end up wearing board shorts and a rash guard. I lost my dad to melanoma a few months back, so I need as much sun protection as possible. And, of course, swimsuit shopping just makes me wanna kill someone.

  102. I always figured the Lands’ End apostrophe placement as intending to signify the end of multiple lands. I rationalize that sort of thing a lot, though, because it drives me crazy.

  103. Two comments only tangentially related to the topic:

    Heather, I love that you referred to “down the shore.” I live Down South now, but once a Jersey girl, always a Jersey girl. Thanks for that little reminder of home. :-)

    Kate, I remember reading somewhere that back when Lands’ End was just starting, they ordered some stuff with their name on it, and it came back with the apostrophe in the wrong place. They decided to leave it for nostalgic reasons, or because it was too expensive to fix, I forget which. But yes, it annoys the grammar checker in my head, too.

    And on topic: I love tankini separates because I can buy a larger size on top than on bottom, and therefore avoid the saggy-bottomed one-piece problem. But it seems lately every tankini I see is a tie-neck halter top that is not supportive and shows WAAAY too much boob for my comfort, and is therefore not useful for body surfing or doing pretty much anything else. (And side note, sunburned cleavage is NOT fun.) This might be because I do all my shopping at Target and Wal-Mart, but I am currently too poor to shop anywhere else. Le Sigh.

  104. I just bought a halter tankini top and board short bottoms at Torrid. I had never set foot in a Torrid before because there are none near where I live, but the boyfriend and I made a road trip to Houston to go see his brother and do some shopping. I wear different sizes on the top and bottom, which makes things like dresses and swimsuits hard to wear. The bottom is black, but the top is bright pink. I’ve never had any swimwear in a bright color before.

  105. Bravissimo sizing> IME (ME is extensive but only in *my size*) the sizing on all the things sold in Bravissimo runs fairly ‘average’ for UK clothing, and reasonably true to the provided measurements. Note that US womens sizes are two numbers lower than UK sizes – if you normally wear a 16 (US) then you should probably start by looking at an 18 (UK), but that’s a rough guide. I also understand that UK cup sizing for bras is different to US sizing, but I’m not sure how.

  106. This might be because I do all my shopping at Target and Wal-Mart, but I am currently too poor to shop anywhere else. Le Sigh.

    Daine, if you have a credit card, I’d try keeping an eye on the overstocks at Lands’ End and “Juno’s Closet” at Junonia. Most will still be a bit more expensive than Target even with the discount, but there are lots of deals in the $30-$40 range, and occasionally some under $25 (though that’s usually when there’s only one size left.). Both of those brands are usually cut for fuller busts, as I’ve said above, and the quality is a zillion times higher than suits that were $20 in the first place.

  107. UK/US cup sizes: a US A-cup is a UK B-cup and so on. Obviously neither system caters for those of us who are a B-and-a-half, but hey, that hardly registers in among the many other Sizing fails out there.

  108. For those of us who live in “Larger than Size 26 Land” – Making It Big at have several really cute suits. I may buy 2 this year.

  109. I consider myself to be a woman of color since I’m not Caucasian, but I’m much paler than most of the “white” people I know. :)

    I don’t watch much television, but even for the brief times I do, I still get subjected to the millions of commercials about the whole “getting ready for bathing suit season”. There’s even an obnoxious billboard I used to drive past for an “aesthetics surgery” place that shows a picture of a one-piece as the “before” and a bikini as the “after”. Because we all know fatties can’t possibly rock a bikini.

    I’ve personally been too nervous of buying a bathing suit online for precisely the fit issues. I have a large tummy, not too large breasts (I don’t consider them to be particularly small, but apparently being a small C cup is not large enough by sizing standards), and a longish torso. Still, I appreciate the list and may give it a shot this year.

  110. I’m not plus-sized (I’m about a 10 US), but I just want to point out that because of the bikini-mind thing, I bought a really skimpy, brightly-colored string bikini to wear on my honeymoon (which was at a Sandals resort in Antigua).

    My husband liked it, which was half the point. I wore it in public twice, which was the other half of the point. I’ll probably wear it again, if I ever go swimming somewhere other than Lake Erie.

  111. Oddly, I have had great luck bathing suit shopping at Macy’s. There of course is a limited selection of plus size suits available but I have liked the offerings. I have also purchased suits at Catherine’s. Trying on suits is really helpful. Even if none are perfect it gives me a better idea of what works and what does not so I can make a more educated purchase on line.

    I would like to second Kate’s recommendation for repeatedly checking Lands’ End Overstocks. We live walking distance to the Chesapeake Bay. I spend a lot of time in swimsuits in the summer and like to have a few in rotation. I really dislike pulling on a wet or damp suit. I have lucked into some great deals in Overstocks. Particularly exciting when I can combine a good deal with a free shipping code!

  112. Dear Retail,

    A pox on all of your. I have learned to sew swimsuits and am much happier- powermesh over the bust for support and straps that do what I need. Until Speedo et al deign to acknowledge us fat folk swim laps, I will be suing my sewing machine for my swimwear.

  113. – I have a couple of the skirted suits and they are very comfortable and last. Higher necklines too :)

  114. While we’re at it, I want to point out the opposite problem to a lot of the commenters here — could bathing suit makers please make a “petite” size or something that’s shorter from shoulder to crotch than the regular size? I’m 5’6″ and have a 40″ outseam. Any one-piece bathing suit I put on inevitably either the straps fall down (because they’re too long), the crotch sags (because the suit itself is too long), or both. It looks like crap and is really uncomfortable.

    I’m going to be buying a bikini pretty soon. If anyone has a problem with a size 14 woman (with visible abdominal muscles) and hairy legs wearing a bikini, they can bite me.

    Also. “Boy shorts.” Can they please actually cover my ass, rather than giving a little bottom-of-ass-cleavage to the whole world?

    Um, not unless your rump suddenly starts resembling a little boy’s. I know people who love boy-short cut anythings; they all have tiny little round bottoms. I have a bottom that looks like it should have a Percheron tail on it. I am so waiting for boy short panties to stop being the default…

  115. I just want to say thank you for your awesome post… I so freaking agree! I hate the fact that I’m a size 14, but I have a 36F chest so I have to wear an even LARGER swimsuit to cover the boobs and am saggy everywhere else… LOVELY!!

  116. 1; If you’re going to make a tankini, you are probably making clothing for someone who wants the different sizing between butt and bust that a 1-piece can’t give, but with more modesty than a bikini. That means that you really, really DON’T have to compensate for a modest top by making the bottom a string thing that ties at the side and undoes itself every time you move your legs. Or compensate for the shorts by making the top basically 2 nipple coverings and a belt.

    2; I have a gut. It hangs forward, and it moves. If you are making swim bottoms in my size, please make them cut higher up on the stomach – at present, they cut just below it, allowing me to wibble the entireity of my belly at the whoel world (not fun when running) or they cut just low enough that they ROLL DOWN as soon as I sit/stand/breathe/blink.

    3; When making a bikini top, it really is pointless to size it the same way you would a t-shirt. A size 18 bikini top tells me nothing – the cuts vary so wildly in size and shape that I have to take everything from a 14 to a 24 in the changing room. And most often, none of them give me enough coverage for my recently graduated to 36G (WHY? WHYYY?! Now my bras don’t fit again!) cleavage.

    4; If you are going to make one of those wonderful suits I actually like wearing – the ones with plenty of tit-cover but a nice neckline, perhaps a concealed “control” bit that lets me run without my belly wibbling uncomfortably, perhaps a pretty wrap-type something in front of that because I love pretty things, a crotch and leg-line that isn’t too tight or narrow or high… why do you have to ruin it all by making it a halterneck with a back so low that there is no feasible way any part of it could support my breasts?

    5; Actually, just start making funky surf shorts up to my size, with matching bikini tops in my size too, and I’ll be happy. Knee length shorts, BTW please, as I burn easily and burnt thighs are not fun.

    That being said, I still love the swimdress thingy i bought a couple of years ago – the skirt is so short as to be absolutely pointless, but it actually fits me everywhere, although I generally wear a bra underneath for support. ];’p

  117. I was just poking around on the Target website, and they have reasonably cute women’s boardshorts in both straight and plus sizes. They actually seem to have reissued the model I got last year, which were comfy and functional.

    But the idea of tight-fitting swim shorts of reasonable length? Awesome.

  118. I don’t think anyone’s mentioned this site yet, but I ordered a bikini (my first ever! it’s a huge step for me) from Designs by Ro ( a few months ago and love it. I think I’ve linked there before, but I don’t have any connection to the site, just a happy customer. I have a cheapo swimsuit that I use to actually swim, but I really wanted a bikini just for lounging.

  119. Re: tight-fitting bathing suit bottoms: my favorite bathing suit ever was a pair of Danskin bike shorts and a matching sports bra — solid green bottoms and top with strips that matched. I don’t think it was really meant (by Danskin) to be a bathing suit, but the fabric stood up in the water, the shorts went down almost to my knees and the bra top was perfect. I always felt very sporty and athletic in that outfit!

    Don’t know if this would be an option, but might be worth checking out.

  120. SF bay area folks with money to drop might consider custom-made suits:

    I picked up one of her custom-made tankini suits at a clothing swap – a friend of a friend had had it made for her honeymoon, and then her body changed.

    I took it home, and although it’s super cute, haven’t worn it, because my body changed this year, and now I can’t fit it either.

    But the point is, it pretty perfectly negotiates sexy and modest and it’s made in luscious colors (and reversible)!

    So yeah, for those lucky enough to be geographically and financially able, a visit to her store might be a total revelation.

  121. I have a large tummy, not too large breasts (I don’t consider them to be particularly small, but apparently being a small C cup is not large enough by sizing standards), and a longish torso.

    This is me, too!! I also have the added issue of being a plus-plus-size (over a 26/28), so it’s even harder to find a swimsuit. However, I found a decent-fitting basic tanksuit at JMS last year for only $35 (although the length could be a tad longer), and have also found extra-long-torso length suits in the plus-plus sizes at Junonia. The first one I bought there was half-off in their clearance section at the end of winter, so they are available at a discount occasionally.

  122. I LOVE my Junonia basic swimsuits. I admit to having one in black, because I look great in black, but I also adore my purple one and my fabulious bright pink!

    I do wish that they had adjustable straps too!

  123. Kate – Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll keep that in mind! My Target suits from… 2? 3? years ago are getting pretty old.

    Archidothiki – LOL! My ex always tried to talk me into that solution, but he never actually succeeded. More power to you!

  124. I love my Speedo suit, which I bought at Sports Authority. It’s more of a serious lap-swimming suit than a lounge-by-the-pool suit, but that’s OK with me. The only problems are that they could use one more smaller size in the plus size suits or one larger size in the straight-size suits or both (obviously I’m rooting for both!), and the plus size suits run a little “tall”.

    I’m thinking of trying an Athleta bra-cup bikini this season. The top will be fine (I think they go up to a 40DDD or so), but I’m not sure how well they support the fat ass end of the equation. I guess I’ll find out.

  125. Oh gods yes!

    Thank you for this rant, particularly point 5.

    I’m an Aussie size 24. I’m an E cup. I’ve given up on buying swimwear because all of it (even the specially designed “larger sizes” stuff) seems to assume that if your tits are bigger than a C-cup you don’t exist. I fall out of the wretched things when I’m damn well trying them on in the shops, never mind about what might happen if I decided to do something radical like actually go swimming in them.

    Oh, and on the whole “adjustable straps” thing – one of the wonderful things no manufacturers seem to have figured out yet is tits weigh. Mine weigh in at 1kg each, or thereabouts. A simple little skinny string around my neck is not going to provide support for these babies. Neither are a couple of small straps across the shoulders (particularly since one of the things my tits tend to do is droop down and *out* – and thus pull said skinny straps right *off* my shoulders the moment I do something unexpected, such as breathing). Oh, and let’s add the multi-boob thing that comes from having to try and cram E-cup tits into C-cup spaces – honestly, I look like a statue of Diana sometimes, since I’m protruding above, below and to either fucking side of the silly things. I’d love to be able to find a pair of racer-back bathers in my size, but the last time I looked seriously for them, I wasn’t having any luck.

    These days, my swimwear is an old bra (from Bodywise) and a pair of leggings. At least I know they fit, and they’re not going to drop off me at the slightest provocation.

  126. I tell you what, I wish I had some fashion design and sewing skills to start up a business, cause there is a huge market here. Basically just take all these points and turn them into swim suits! Business opporuntity….

  127. I didn’t swim for like three years because I could not find a bathing suit that was comfortable. I wear a 38J bra, so unless I have really good boob support, I’m just not comfortable. I never get really frustrated shopping, but my attempts at bathing suit shopping would just leave me in tears. I could not find a single bathing suit that I could wear. Either they truly didn’t even come close to covering my breasts, or they provided no support. I figured I couldn’t be the only larger-breasted woman with this problem, but you sometimes just can’t help feeling like a big old freak when it appears that your body is apparently not even close to what every single bathing suit maker thinks bodies are like.

    I once borrowed an old Speedo from a friend when I was at her house, which fit me fantastically. It was a 16 and a bit snugger than I would normally have liked, but it ended up being incredibly supportive and really, really comfortable. I should have snuck off with it, but I didn’t ;), and I tried to find the same style but had no luck. I ended up picking up a size 18 Speedo that, because it was less snug, provided little to no boob support. I also think the back style of the borrowed suit was part of why it was so supportive, but I couldn’t remember what it was.

    Then I ended up totally lucking out last summer and found a really cute suit at a Marshalls. Actually, I found two suits there that fit and were supportive, and so I was able to pick the one I liked better! The one I got is brown and has a shirred front and ends up, I think, looking more cute and retro then matronly. I wore it around a theme park for an entire day last summer and was completely comfortable, which was awesome. I’d definitely put Marshalls/Ross/TJ Maxx type stores on the list of places to look for bathing suits.

    I gonna say it and be weird: I like how swim wear compliments my form, particularly my very 1950’s Cheesecake bathing suit–no skirt, shorts, or similar flaw covering.

    I feel the same way, now that I have a bathing suit that actually fits. I feel like a 1950s pin-up girl in it, and really felt totally comfortable walking around in it. In terms of something “flattering,” I think my body looks better in just a plain tank suit than anything with a skirt (which tends to stop right at the largest part of my thighs) or with some sort of flowy covering.

  128. Has anyone tried Esther Williams suits?

    Just clicked through to the site and (apart from the irritating habit of opening a new tab every time you click on a link), they are so gorgeous. I love the sheath style in the fabric with cherries on a white, pink or blue background. Now I just have to consider if I can justify getting one shipped to the UK, given that (as Miss Prism rightly pointed out earlier) we have about one sunny day a year.

  129. buttercup wrote: I always figured the Lands’ End apostrophe placement as intending to signify the end of multiple lands. I rationalize that sort of thing a lot, though, because it drives me crazy.

    I worked at LE a million years ago. The story about the stupid apostrophe is that when they got their first sign made, the sign-maker eff’d up and put it in the wrong place. They hadn’t made much money yet and couldn’t afford to replace the sign, so they just went with it.

  130. I’d definitely put Marshalls/Ross/TJ Maxx type stores on the list of places to look for bathing suits.

    I don’t know about Marshalls or Ross, but I’ve been to two TJ Maxx stores in the last week (downtown Indianapolis and Morton Grove, IL), plus a Loehmann’s, and none of them had ANY plus-size suits — nothing above straight 18. (If you like Miraclesuits and are an in-betweenie, at least one Loehmann’s has a load of them for like $35).

    Oh, and I did also hit a Lands’ End Inlet, and it turns out they had ONE style of plus top and ONE style of plus bottom on display. (Skirted bottom. They didn’t even have a pair of fucking black briefs!) I actually thought I was exaggerating when I made my comment about the 4 plus suits vs. acres of straight suits, because last year, I recall there being a much larger plus selection — even if it paled in comparison to the straight section. This time, I just wanted to cry, because they had all these suits I would have liked to try on, but none of them in my size. Which makes me a lot less interested in buying anything at all from Lands’ End, I might add. I already learned the hard way that they don’t put any plus suits into Sears stores a while back. Now, not even the stand-alones?

    Also, TJ Maxx seems to be disappearing their plus sections. I don’t think the one in Indy carries plus stuff at all anymore — if they do, they’ve stuck it somewhere really hard to find — and the one in Morton Grove was the world’s saddest single rack right by the children’s section (of course). WTF??? I guess it depends on which store you go to, but I seem to recall the Morton Grove store having at least 2 sad racks about a year ago, and Indy having SOMETHING. So there goes one more retailer where I used to be able to buy shit in person.

  131. I was lucky enough to get a couple of fairly pretty swimdresses from Newport News. They don’t go up to the largest sizes, but they’re not staggered to learn that plus sizes exist and would like some swimwear, thanks. They offer swimdresses, shorts, tankinis, and one pieces. I’m thinking for a lot of folks, a pair of men’s swim shorts, a swimbra, and a top-of-your-choice over the swimbra might be the way to go here. I bought my swimdresses large enough to not squeeze the rest of me to death, with the understanding that I would then have to alter the cups. Me, I DO want cups with underwires, and I’d prefer the stiff cups for additional support. offers some very pretty swimwear, and it appears that they do offer plus sizes; offers some very pretty retro swimwear, standard sizes, plus sizes on request – and they look worth requesting. I’m actually thinking of getting a full-length diveskin, if I ever go to the beach/swim outdoors; I’m positively flammable. offers a genuine 1890s style ladies’ swimsuit, complete with cap (#253); I’m also considering THAT. In fact, that might be a very good choice for the woman who needs modest swimwear: it has kneelength bottoms, with a skirt over it; a top that covers and conceals (the sleeves are short, but could be lengthened); AND it has a hair cover! It’s shown worn with stockings to cover the bare legs. It’s actually very pretty, and women DID manage to swim in them, too.

    It’s worth doing some googling to find the businesses that offer retro clothing; there are a number that seem to offer very pretty retro swimsuits, in one piece, two piece, and skirted variations. They aren’t all shown on plus-sized models, but most of them are small and custom or semi-custom businesses, and they are interested in assisting plus-sized customers; most seem very willing/anxious to make certain that if your size isn’t listed, they will try to accommodate you anyhow.

    For anyone who’s a little handy and/or fearless, I would say if you HAVE a swimsuit and it needs some help to make it what you want, don’t be afraid to do that. You hate those stupid strings? Put wider straps on them. You have a big bust? Don’t be afraid to use TWO sets of straps, if one doesn’t work for you. Don’t be afraid to have straps behind the neck and over the shoulders. If your stupid straps fall down, unpick them at the back, and move them closer to the center of your back instead of where they started. If the underwire is too big for you, pull it out. If the skirt is too poofy, narrow it.

  132. Re: #1, my theory is as follows. I think a company builds a store and doesn’t put any plus sizes in it, because, say, at the time the town isn’t very big and for some reason big companies think fat people only live in cities. Ten, fifteen years down the road, maybe they think about possibly putting plus sizes in the store. So they decide to do analysis on it, which consists of saying, “Hey, have we ever sold any plus sizes out of the store in East Bumfuck, Michigan?” The answer is, of course, “no”, but they ignore the fact that this is because they do not carry plus sizes at that store. This applies as well to “plus-sized swimsuits” as to “any plus-sized garments of any kind, ever”.

    The same appears to be true for women’s pants in inseam lengths other than “average”. The stores in my particular town seem to have wised up about petite women, though, possibly because my town is full of short people and some of them may have complained.

    Now, let’s talk about boob sizes. I was The Flat-Chested One until I went on birth control*, so I know from small boobs. The boob room in things for my size was always, you know, just kind of hanging there empty. Now I have Fs, so I have the opposite problem.

    Here, for the uninitiated, is a crash course in standard women’s clothing sizing. The industry standard is for all sizes to be drafted for a B-cup. (This is probably because, in about 1950, that’s what the average woman wore. The average woman now is somewhere around a D or DD.) Bra sizing being what it is, a B-cup translates to a front bust measurement 2″ longer than the back bust measurement. If you are an A or a C, you can fudge a little in most clothing. Something as fitted as a swimsuit, however, is harder to fudge, and my As used to leave little wrinkles.

    Here are the things that are ridiculous about the way women’s clothing is sized.

    It is ridiculous that women’s clothing continues to be sized for an average breast size from 60 years ago that is no longer accurate.

    It is ridiculous that all women’s clothing doesn’t come in cup-size ranges.

    And it is ridiculous that swimsuits, of all things, are not sold exclusively by bra size. They are as fitted as any bra. It’s just silly to expect that all women who wear, say, a 24 have identically proportioned torsos.

    *There was some press a couple years ago about how women are somehow fooling ourselves about birth control making us gain weight. We are collectively hallucinating, apparently, because this is not legitimately a side effect, according to some study. I have gained 40 pounds on birth control, a third of my previous body weight. I was done growing when I went on it at the age of 23, and nothing else about my lifestyle has changed.

  133. Daine – i’m lucky in that my brother lives in rural vermont and there’s plenty of private swimming holes (and public nudity was legal until a few years ago; there’s some legends of people accidentally swimming into new hampshire and getting arrested upon leaving the water!).

    though i did suck it up and get a bathing suit for some local beach parties that i never ended up going to, so i don’t know if it’s aw rad in the water as it looks when i’m posing in the changing room. navy blue polkadot halter tankini, solid bottoms, 50’s-ish, fits about as well as i think a bathing suit can. before that i wore a plain black matronly speedo one-piece that i needed for 7th grade gym class

  134. Hmm, odd, my comment didn’t post. I’ll try again without the URL:

    Oh, hey, re: board shorts, I had a good experience with Board Shorts World — and they’re sweatshop-free, with plus sizes (and a migraine-inducing website but nobody’s perfect).

    Also: slythwolf, now you’ve got me scared!! :P I’m shortly to go on birth control to try and control my increasingly-lengthy and increasingly-incapacitating bouts of PMS (with dysphoria, joint pain, bloat, acne, sleep disruption, the whole nine) but I was really hoping I wouldn’t gain weight because I seriously cannot afford new clothes at the moment. I just bought some nice stuff that fit me. Wah. On the other hand, thank you for the warning. :)

  135. Electrogirl and killedbyllamas- I found this on a modest swimming suit website

    and thought it might be kinda like what you were after?

    I would like to speak out for the fat but smaller breasted woman- I’m a 22/24 but have only a C/D cup to my name, and I find that most swimming costumes have a bra size not a dress size, which means they’re no good for me as I have a lot more back than tit, and secondly that the ones without bra support tend to have very widely spaced shoulder straps which slide off and show my bosoms at the end of every arm movement (several times I have nearly drowned trying to swim and hitch the straps up at the same time!)… So manufacturers- not all fat women are lucky enough to have huge breasts. Please remember this as I got money and you want it!

  136. Chickfactor, the first suit you posted is awesome; the site has plain black shorts to that effect, too. I think I may be looking at considerably less chafing and sunburning this summer!

  137. Note: Sorry to all the new commenters who got stuck in moderation. I just freed like 40 comments, because none of us have checked in the last couple of days.

  138. My best-fitting swimsuit is a 2- piece tankini .. from the Maternity section. I’m not pregnant. But it has great boob support, and they came in nice colors too.

  139. Fashion bug usually has okay to good suits. I actually thought torrid suits were rather adorable. both of them tend to have to problems that I hate: they’re too long for me (I’m 5’2) and they’re rather too booby (I’m a size a-small b).

  140. huh, Board Shorts World looks very interesting (hella expensive, but interesting), but good grief their return policy is kinda ridiculous — 20 days to receive the return measured from when they sent it out. right, cuz I have any control over how long it takes to get to me. sure. Oh and if you use their free shipping with minimum purchase offer, and then you return stuff, you have to repay them for the shipping. wha? and if you don’t get free shipping it’s 12.95! for 1 item! huh? Am I reading this wrong?
    A Sarah? you said you had good experiences with them, any insight on returns/shipping or fit? If I’m gonna spend that much it’s gotta fit perfectly, which means accounting for my ass. Thoughts? (I do like that they have a drawstring waist, that helps, a little.)

    Also frustrating: those shorts on the Ohana site chickfactor posted look really great, decent inseam. Too bad they’re all about the “slimming” and “control”. Oh, and too bad about that part where by 2X they actually mean XXL and a small one at that (37waist/47hips). boo. won’t work for me. But they do look pretty good if you’re small enough to fit into them.

    Any other shorts leads anyone?

  141. To all the ladies who are longing for bike short options: find a pair of bike shorts and wear them under your swimsuit!

    I did this all winter for lap swimming and nobody even looked at me funny. (I get these terrible ingrown hairs when I shave that area, better to just cover it up.)

  142. runs really small.

    Their 4X isn’t a 26/28 as it states. It’s more like a 22/24 at Lane Bryant and Avenue according the size charts.

  143. monkey, if you, like me, are ample of bottom, I don’t know how their board shorts would be for you. I have a big butt and I found them cut a bit too straight to hang correctly. (Which did not stop me from wearing them, though.) I got the xelosette. They were very well-made, though, and the folks at Board Shorts World were super-prompt in responding to my emails when I wasn’t sure which model to order.

    But good grief, particularly for those prices that return policy is really inadequate! I can’t believe I didn’t notice that at the time!

  144. Thinking out loud here: So I’m trying to figure out if my motives for wanting to get one of those one-piece scuba-like shorties jobbers — of the Ohana variety, with the swimsuit top fused to bike-short-like bottoms — is:

    1) Body shame, and/or

    2) Understandable discomfort about the fact that I don’t ordinarily go around in anything even close to a swimsuit because I ordinarily choose comfy, warm (I always feel cold) clothing that I don’t need to constantly adjust or mess with. I certainly don’t go around the equivalent of underwear. I don’t even usually wear anything above the knee, and resent that I’m expected to go without lower-body coverage just because I’m female and am supposed to care about not looking frumpy… and/or

    3) A prudent, non-moralized recognition that my upper thighs are not a part of my body that I really enjoy showcasing, due to the combination of lots of cellulite and the potential social sanction for cellulite. (Which might be the same as #1, but I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m to blame for the cellulite, but I don’ t think I’m to blame for realizing that cellulite is judged and just not wanting to go there right now.)

    Anyway, I think this is excellent, thegirlfrommarz:

    If women weren’t supposed to look like sex objects at all times, we would probably be wearing something practical like surf shorts and a vest top too. But that’s not what women are “supposed” to wear, so it’s just not available. There’s nothing wrong with bikinis etc. for those who want to wear them, but surely there should be more comfortable and practical options available which are also fashionable? At the moment, it’s like all men’s swimsuits being lycra speedos.

    Brilliantly-put. I so agree with this. It’s just completely unreasonable that we’re not allowed to be indifferent to whether our swimming attire makes us look sexy, frumpy, overexposed, ashamed, etc. I just want to get in the effing water!

  145. I’ll admit it, I just skimmed this because I’m in a hurry. But what about cost? I might be fat but I’m certainly not rich, and anything that isn’t of a piss-poor quality falls apart or never fits (like that “plus size” swim top I got from Target that SHRUNK so the bottom hit my navel and my boobs leaked out from every conceivable place).

    These days, I trust in the board shorts I got in Wilmington after an unfortunate incident wherein the ocean jumped up and grabbed me while I was fully clothed, and a t-shirt. Nothing makes you feel like a gross fat fatty like unflattering beach wear.

  146. AMEN on the f-ing control-fabric suits. Lands’ End in particular, but most in general, are way worse than a usable, swimable, suit would be. Aside from preventing breathing, they are exhausting to put on – making 10 pounds “disappear” doesn’t offer much stretch for pulling over hips. AND, I find they look worse than a regular suit, because what is squeezed in at one point has to come out somewhere else. So, yeah, thanks for “trimming” my middle, but you failed to take into account the new rolls that have appeared just outside the leg holes. Those weren’t there before.

    Double amen on the petites suggestion. I have the shortest torso ever. Sometimes, petite shirts are still too long on me, while I wear regular-length pants. My only option for suits are the afore-mentioned control, which squeeze so tight, it doesn’t matter if the straps fall off, or tankinis, which I hate. I’m so short, they look goofy on me.

    I thought Lands’ End offered free return shipping. Did I make that up?

  147. A Sarah, I have been having exactly the same conversation with myself. (For, um, years.) I really don’t like walking around in just a bathing suit anywhere other than the gym, between the locker room and the pool. (Well, I don’t really like it there, either, but I feel much less self-conscious when it’s contextually clear I’m wearing functional attire. I also won’t wear tight yoga pants anywhere other than yoga class, though I’m not at all self-conscious wearing them there.) If I’m going to sit by a pool or on a beach, I want something on my thighs, period. (I’m happy to take that off for actual swimming.) I can handle a cover-up skirt or pair of shorts considerably shorter than what I’d ever wear walking around, but there’s got to be something.

    Is it body shame? Yeah, probably. My thighs were always my number one Zone of Shame, and that shit dies hard. But it’s also the fact that I’m naturally a little prudish, at least when it comes to the way I dress. Exposing my thighs in public really only feels one tiny notch better than exposing my boobs in public would. I’ll show off some cleavage, and I’ll wear shorts or a skirt that only cover half my thighs, but I am just not keen to give anyone but Al a full view of either. I applaud Marina’s post and all the bikini wearers here wholeheartedly, but for me, the bottom line is, I wouldn’t wear my underwear out in public, so I wouldn’t wear a bathing suit that looks exactly like my undies, either.

    It’s really, really hard for me to untangle that from my historical body shame, though. Am I just naturally a bit more inhibited, or am I more inhibited b/c I know other people might judge my body? All I can tell you is, when I dieted down to my thinnest, I did buy a bikini (a sporty, modest Lands’ End overstock) — and then never, ever wore it in public. I was all about tank suits, then and now. And 5 or 6 years back, I went up to a girlfriend’s cottage with a bunch of women friends I felt safe with, in the middle of nowhere. Almost all of the rest of them whipped off their suits on the dock one day and lay there suntanning naked. One other woman (thin) and I just looked at each other and went, “Yeah, no.” And it wasn’t even about letting them see my body — I would have skinny dipped, and I had probably already changed in front of all of them — it was about lying there naked. I can’t stand feeling exposed like that — and lying around in a bathing suit that only covers my torso is only marginally more comfortable for me.

    I’ll probably never unpack where all that comes from completely. The good news is, I see no reason why I should have to. Having a positive body image doesn’t necessarily mean I have to feel comfortable sharing my entire body with strangers. I really do think it’s awesome when people are that comfortable, but for me, exposing far more body than normal causes me a lot of anxiety, for a lot of reasons — and if that can be solved with a fucking pair of shorts, I’d really rather just do that than then spend years in therapy figuring out why I’m such a prude, and whether I’m a total hypocrite for promoting body acceptance when I don’t want to bare my thighs in public.

  148. A Sarah: Here, the longer swimsuits are simply sold as sun protection :) I wear a tank and knee-length boardshorts with a Tshirt over if it’s not near twilight, and it saves me laboriously putting sunscreen everywhere.

    I’ve also skinny-dipped (at night, no UV) in mixed company, but like Kate I wouldn’t then lie around naked, and probably wouldn’t lie around in a tank suit alone.

    +1 to Kate’s entire last para. Sometimes I’ll choose to cover my breasts, my abdomen, my groin, my thighs, or whatever else; and that’s my business, not anyone else’s. I’ve had a bloke have a go at me for covering up my “lovely hair” with a hat, and that’s just a dominance game – we’re not there for other people’s amusement, we get to set our own limits when it comes to our body, be it which bits to expose or who to accept a hug from.

  149. I’ve been in a sort of fat acceptance version of the frictionless universe – a clothing optional beach with only group of women who would identify as fat, most of them more naked than me, and maybe even me feeling a little bit embarrassed for being most comfortable in shorts. I really did feel in that moment like I just wanted not to be naked for a long time, even though I too was skinny dipping. Being only in a bathing suit makes me feel… well, naked. And more vulnerable. To what, I don’t know.

  150. Thanks sooooo much for all of this. I had a good laugh, and somehow I feel… psyched up for some upcoming swimsuit purchasing. My old one is a little too snug, and it’ll be nice to have something new I can splash around in on vacation, and now I’m in the RIGHT FRAME OF MIND for the crap I’m likely going to face.

    I’m a little anxious, and hope I can find something to cover my legs. I don’t care that I’m BIG, mind you… I mean, it’s plainly obvious. My worries are all “ohnoes my skin is blotchy and terrible and you have scratches and bruises and AAAAAAAH” and then I need to go remind myself that I’m buying this to SWIM IN. The water does not care about my legs/belly/butt/whatever else. Swimming is awesome and I’m gonna go swimming.

    That said, anyone have any good Canadian tips/retailers? I’ve seen some cute stuff in the links, but like heck they’re gonna ship me anything.

  151. Thanks so much for this post, Kate. I’ve been hunting for YEARS for a good swimsuit. My last one I bought while on vacation and desperate for something to wear so I could splash around in a river. It was from JC Penney’s, black, and although not ideally supportive, it wasn’t awful. Now it’s just embarrassingly tight and my boobs have gotten quite a bit bigger since then.

    Has anyone had a swimsuit altered or attempted to embellish an otherwise boring suit?

  152. Has anyone had a swimsuit altered or attempted to embellish an otherwise boring suit?

    I haven’t tried embellishing or even serious alterations, but I have had a tailor shorten straps for me, which made a huge difference. And in fact, I’m going to the tailor today with two old bathing suits, in hopes that it will prevent me from buying a new one. Just more minor repairs, but I’ve had a couple of people express shock when I mention that I’ve had a bathing suit altered — it just didn’t occur to them that you could do that. So, yeah, you can.

  153. I’ve just looked at the Love Your Peaches swimsuits, and they look coooool! If I had $70 and then squillions more to pay import duty I would definitely get the Jakarta high leg swimsuit!

  154. I’m a size 14/16 with DD breasts, and I carry all of my weight in my mid-section. (My joke is that I’m neither an “apple” or a “pear,” but rather a potato on toothpicks — I’ve got skinny legs.)

    As a queer woman who is not particularly femme (though not particularly butch), finding a swimsuit has added anxiety for me because I feel naked and too “girly” when I am in a traditional women’s bathing suit. I love sporty-looking tankinis that I see in catalogs, but have yet to find something that works for me. I want a swim top that is the equivalent of a long sports bra, and a pair of bottoms that is supportive of my gut and long enough that my midsection or rolls aren’t hanging out.

    I haven’t worn a swimsuit or gone swimming at the beach in years, and I’m sick of it — as much as I am working on overcoming my body anxiety, being in a swimsuit is the worst for so many reasons — being fat, being forced in to something overly femmey, etc. I feel like I lose all dignity and self-confidence every time I put on a suit. I want to start using my community pool, but don’t have a suit to wear. I have a really low tolerance for shopping, to make matters worse. I ordered about 8 suits from Lands End, and I am about to send them all back.

    So – does anyone have tips about swim tops, etc. that might work for me? Someone once suggested a triathlon top, but I haven’t found any that seem to really have enough support for my breasts.

    Would appreciate any suggestions…

  155. Major shout out to Junonia here-
    Just got the BIKE SHORTS SUIT on clearance. They had(?) a triathalon section. I try to swim 2 miles at least 3 times a week, so cutesy suits don’t last long for me. Also a rack o’ doom girl, and often buy poly sports bras at Target and just wear em under the Speedo or cheapo stretchy thang. I know whereof I speak about falling out.
    I just took a new job with 80% travel and wanted to pack one workout set. The bike shorts from Junonia are weighted not to ride up and go with a shimmel/sleeveless bike top that is extra long and also weighted not to poof up in water. Did water x, two mile swim and even a yoga class in em. Best I’ve ever had. Mind you, the super high zip neck gives a major uniboob, but with additional bra action, I was rock solid, and that suit wasn’t going anywhere. Best of all-each piece was only $20!!! Get em while you can!

    H20 Wear is for real swimmers. Sorta pricey for the quality, though.

    Also-for cute, well-made and super sexy retro look-
    try Esther Williams:

    That sheath is super classy. And I’d love the white swim dress for just showing off. CUTE.

    Also: another great way for keeping ‘the girls” in check is the fabulous rash guard. I sometimes wear a cheapo $10 suit with a rash guard over it. Besides-I don’t want wrinkly cleavage when they are so often on display in ill fitting other stuff! Cover em and you can go wild on the rest of the suit.
    This australian Co makes good quality SPF protective wear in real sizes and so far (year) they are holding up well. Spendy, but they are having a big sale now:

    Keep the good ideas coming! And I’ll get in the pool no matter WHAT they can’t give me to wear.

  156. “Also, if you’re smaller of boob, do the “regular” options in that case fit you, or do you wish they had a third option?”

    oh hell YES we need a third option. my size 18 booty and A cup tits have a hell of time finding bathing suits … and dresses and jackets and anything else that covers you above and below the waist. not everyone who’s plus is plus everywhere!

    i just discovered this site, and i love it. thanks for doing what you do!

  157. I loved this post but I wanted to add that ‘regular’ options look bad on women who are’ regular’ sized too. I’m about a size 9 (never sure, esp since I wear a lot of men’s clothes) and I was so happy when swim skirts showed up at the discount outlet last summer. regular suits push my cellulite into a funny place and squeeze everything, making rolls appear out of thin air. WTF??? I’ve had cellulite since I was 14 and while I’m not ashamed of my body, I ‘ve never understood why women’s bath suits and undies must make me look weird and lumpy, just because I’m not an underwear model.

  158. I’ve never been able to find a one-piece that fit properly and had any decent amount of support. The best I ever had was a pretty retro-ish halter suit that did absolutely nothing to support the rack of doom (and one memorable afternoon at the beach in fact slipped entirely *off* the rack of doom). I kept wearing it, though, because the only alternative was going shopping again, which I had neither the emotional nor financial resources.

    (This turned out to be a mistake, as the last time I wore it was at a professional conference. I couldn’t let go of the neckline for fear it would fall down in front of my co-workers and a couple hundred other people in my industry… my male-dominated industry. I hadn’t felt so awkward since high school.)

    This year, with a couple years of fat acceptance under my belt, I’ve decided that I would look fan-fucking-tastic in a bikini top and board shorts — neatly solving both the rack of doom and chub rub issues. I picked up a bra-sized bikini top (on sale!) from figleaves, and knee-length board shorts from torrid.

    I’m thinking of it as bikini training wheels: I’m wearing it to a fan convention, which about 90% women and full of people who know me by a screen name and will never interview me for a job. And if I lose my nerve, I can always throw on a tshirt.

    *keeps her fingers crossed*

  159. Yet another tall, small breasted fat woman here. I don’t have a rack of doom, but for fuck’s sake, why do all suits need to be made for someone who’s 5’6″?! The boobs are never where they’re supposed to be, the straps are either too long or too short, and NOTHING comes in a low-backed halter neck style, which is what I want. My back is beautiful and roll-free. Let me show it off!

  160. Rack of Doom!-ROFL. You my fellow large breasted women should try It is a bra website but it has a good selection of swimwear from like a-k cups and you buy the bathing suit made for your bra size not s,m,l,xl,1x,2x etc. Plus the suits are totally awesome and prettyful. I just ordered a navy blue bikini top from them in 34DD my size and am so happy. Finally swimsuits for the large chested! And cute because I am 13 and I deserve to have swimsuits for ‘young’ people not 60-70 year old women. Oh and I almost forgot. I love my bikini/swimsuit body and you all should to. All women are beautiful. Be confident and get out there and show off your body!

  161. I know this is an old post but I just stumbled across it and had to add my 2 cents – you can get amazing bra-sized swimsuits/bikini tops from British/etc. designers – freya, fantasie, panache, fayrefrom,etc. has a TON in a huge range of sizes. Also awesome for just bras in general – you’d be amazed how much the right size means in terms of comfort – back, sides, etc…

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