By Janet Kelly
FEAR OF public speaking, heights, death? Ha! Often cited as three of our greatest phobias by I don’t know who, they don’t hold a candle to the terror of trying on a bathing suit under fluorescent lights in front of a full-length mirror. Feeling so exposed, there’s no better opportunity for self-critiquing, a process women excel at, as LittleBird Nancy eloquently explains.
Guilty as charged. When the one bathing suit I would dare put on started to wear around the neckline and I eventually had to toss it, my lame excuse for not going swimming became that I had no swimsuit, not that I dreaded going to a store to try one on. I’m not alone. My good-looking daughter-in-law avoids the public pool at the private club to which she belongs.
All joking (kind of) aside, there’s some good news in a sea of new bathing suits. Itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie polka dot bikinis don’t flatter anyone except rail-thin, skinny-legged pre-pubescent eleven-year-old girls, but there are plenty of other choices as brands like Good American, Hunza G and Summersalt have woken up to size inclusivity with tech-smart fabrics. Form and Fold caters to women with bigger busts, while Gottex’s Profile line, Miraclesuit and Paula Beachwear aim to emphasize waists and smooth out tummies. And many of these brands keep the environment in their sights by using recycled materials.
Yes, we’re still a long way from self-acceptance, but knowing there are options to stoke our self-confidence, well, that’s something.
Below, swimsuits for every figure. It’s not too late in the season to buy one, especially because some are already on sale.
YouSwim’s ribbed, seamless Aplomb High-Waist Two Piece ($139) accommodates seven sizes from U.S. 2 to 14, as well as fits busts from cups A to G. The suit will stretch in all directions to compliment big busts, no butts and the in-betweens. In addition to adapting to your curves, the Aplomb, which sells for $139, is available in 14 colors, including this bright yellow.
Summersalt gets good marks this season for its best-selling Sidestroke that flatters a variety of figures with bust support (without padding), full butt coverage and fabric that compresses those wiggly body parts into place. Its one-shoulder style comes in several stripe combos as well as in solid black, white, olive and navy. It’s $95.
High-quality basics are Everlane’s wheelhouse. With a built-in bra, removable pads and wide straps, the v-neck one piece is an easy-fitting suit. Moreover, it’s fully lined with Italian fabric, dries quickly and is fade-resistant. Everlane says this style was “fit-tested on 112 different women to ensure it feels comfortable, looks flattering, and stays put—no matter how you move.” Did we mention it’s on sale for $35?
Dissatisfied with the limited selection of D+ swimwear, Melbourne, Australia-based Form and Fold ‘s two founders decided to design their own supportive and comfortable suits. A limited-edition design by British artist John Taylor is printed onto recycled sculpting fabric for this J. Taylor Top ($140) with adjustable straps and back band and underwire for D to G cups. The Staple J. Taylor Bottom is $64. For more coverage, opt for the high-waisted bottom ($81) with the same shape-sculpting material.
As more brands recognize the need for sun protection, we’ve noticed more bathing suits with rash guards (long sleeves) like this colorblock one from Boden. Although there’s no UPF in the material, it’s still forms a shield against the sun’s harmful rays. And it’s ultra-flattering, to boot, with an elongating torso and waist-whittling blue stripe. It sells for $120.
Good American is applying its size-inclusive fit for denim to swimsuits. Similar to Swim and Hunza G suits, the brand’s Always Fits one-piece ($95) is made from a crinkly, stretchy fabric that fits sizes from extra small to 5XL.
Heads-up, gingham lovers. How cute is this Lilly Pulitzer preppy piece? In addition to the cheery pattern, soft, molded cups lift busts, shirred details at the waist contribute to a flattering fit and removable straps give the option to go strapless. It’s $158 at Zappos.
This svelte swimsuit with Totême’s monogram pattern is made from a four-way stretch, recycled polyamide fabric. A classic silhouette with a deep U-back and high-cut legs, it sells for $190 at Saks Fifth Avenue.
With its seamless crinkle fabric, Hunza G’s Nadine Bikini stretches to fit most sizes. It’s $225 at Shopbop.
I always admire how good my pal Diana looks in what I’m sure is a Miraclesuit. The aptly named Illusionists Palma Swimsuit virtually whittles the middle and hips with its shirred, wrapped waistline. Mesh detailing just above the bust and at the waist lighten the look and add a sexy peek-a-boo effect. A combination of lycra and Spandex make the material long lasting and the look exceptionally slimming. It’s $176 at Bloomingdale’s.
I’ve had luck with Gottex suits before, so when I saw this navy and white high-neck style online, I ordered it, encouraged that it was from the brand’s Profile collection, geared to “women who want to leave a little to the imagination.” At least I could be humiliated in my own home when I tried it on. But wonder of wonders, my fashion consultant— aka my husband— approved with more than his usual nonchalance. It’s $128 at Neiman Marcus.
Terry cloth makes sense for toweling off after a shower but for bathing suits? Anyway, the material is making waves across the high-end fashion spectrum. Lisa Marie Fernandez’s Amber Terry halter maillot‘s deep scoop neckline with adjustable straps lets you decide how much cleavage you want to reveal. It sells for a pricey $460.
This was the bathing suit—mine was in black and white—that I kept long past its due date. Ample rear-end coverage, a bra lining and wide shoulder straps for support, plus a stretchy lycra fabric for tummy, etc. control won my thumbs-up. From Stockholm-based Paula Beachwear, this “swordfish” style comes in 15 other colors. It’s $195.
When she’s is not poring through artifacts from an archaeological dig, my Italian friend Paola G. spends a lot of time swimming in the Mediterranean, a short stroll from her apartment in Santa Margherita. That’s her justification for her collection of spendy Eres bathing suits, such as this Asia Tank swimsuit, which sells for $430 at Farfetch.
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