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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHOOSING PLUS SIZE SWIMWEAR
Anyone can look great on the beach or by the pool if they know how to make the right style choices. When it comes to fashion, the swimwear you buy can make a real difference to how confident you feel; but with so much on offer, how do you find the right look if you’re plus sized? Well fear not, this guide will explain exactly how, so that you can really enjoy your time by the water at home or on your holidays!
When it comes to swimwear, the most important factor to remember is to dress according to your body shape. We all have different body sizes, but if you choose swimwear based on your shape, this will enhance your best assets and disguise parts of your body which you are less confident about revealing. Remember this when you’re trying on swimwear and never be afraid to try different styles before you commit to making a purchase. The below features a brief description of the main female body shapes:
- Apple – Your weight is in your bust and hips and the legs are smaller in size.
- Pear – Your weight collects around your bottom and hips, with a smaller waist line and shoulders
- Hourglass – Shape is defined by a wide bust and hips with a narrower waist
- Rectangle – Straight shoulder line, hips and bottom with not much definition on the waist
Once you know which category you fall into, it will be easier to dress your best, feel great, and look fantastic in the summer sun! Ultimately, you need to be comfortable and confident in your new swimwear and this is incredibly simple to achieve regardless of your both your size and shape. So with this in mind, let’s look at some of the best plus sized female swimwear options for you.
A popular choice for many women is the classic swimsuit. This is less revealing than a bikini and will give you plenty of coverage whilst creating a flattering look. Designs that feature a pattern down the centre of the swimsuit with coloured panels either side will elongate your body and give the impression that you are taller. This style of swimwear is also perfect for nipping in your waist and helping you to achieve a more controlled and defined hourglass figure. Large underwired cups will support the bust area and extenuate your assets too. For those with a smaller bust, there are plenty of padded and moulded cup options available for you to choose from. If you do fall into the larger bust category then a halter neck will offer you additional support, but remember you may want to go strapless to avoid tan lines when catching those rays. In either case, make sure that your swimsuit offers you the support you need depending on your body shape.
If you are a fan of the bikini look, then go for a plus sized design that’s got a slightly larger knicker. This relates more to the height of the bottoms rather than width, as this will enable you to turn the clothing up or down depending on your preferences and how confident you feel. Rolling the fabric down will allow you to top up your tan when relaxing on the sun lounger. In contrast, pulling them up will create a higher waist line which slims the stomach and looks more flattering on the thighs. Again, underwire will offer you support if you have a larger bust and help the top half of the bikini to sit comfortably on your body. If you’re not confident about wearing the traditional style of bikini bottoms then you can always opt for shorts for the lower half. These will still look great alongside a suitable top and will lift the bottom a little bit more – giving you additional comfort and support. If you have more weight on your thighs, then you may want to go for a bikini bottom that sits a little bit lower so that attention is drawn to the top half of your body.
If you prefer two parts to your swimwear, breaking away from the swimsuit design, but you want more coverage than a bikini, a tankini is the perfect choice. Regardless of your body shape, this style offers you traditional bottoms as well as a longer and less revealing top to cover the stomach and tummy area. The tankini will also feel less restrained than the swimsuit and give you more room for the skin to breathe. Should you need extra lift, plenty of designs come with removable booster pads. Additional support for the larger bust can also be achieved with a halter neck or shoulder straps. Detachable straps will mean that you get the best of both worlds – support when you need it most and the option to unclip and tan the shoulders and neck when lying down. Again, patterned fabrics and vertical stripes are excellent for creating a slimming effect so try on a number of styles before you commit to buying. Many women view this style as a more fashionable alternative to the traditional swimsuit which offers plenty of coverage too.
SHAPE CONTROL SWIMWEAR
If you want your figure to be more defined, then plus size swimming costumes is a great option to invest in. Layers underneath the swimwear bring in the waist and help to provide extra tummy control. The material under the costume is made from heavier fabric so it still offers that silky comfortable feel, whilst enhancing your figure and making you look and feel fantastic. Shape control swimwear is a good option for plus sized women who need a little boost of confidence before heading out to the beach at home or abroad.
COLOURS AND PATTERNS
Besides choosing a specific style of plus sized swimwear, colours and patterns are equally as important to consider. If you want to appear slimmer, it’s best to choose vertical lines and darker colours. These are better alternatives to bright, bold and vibrant colours, such as yellows, oranges and greens which stand out and draw attention to selected areas of your body. Darker side panels on a swimsuit, tankini, or swim dress will also help to define your waist, especially if you have a pattern running down the centre of your swimwear. For those with a bigger bust who want to draw attention to other areas of the body, avoid large, striking and bold patterns. Instead, opt for simplistic designs and colours which are easy on the eye. In a similar fashion, if you don’t want to draw attention to your bottom or hips, it’s best to avoid horizontal lines on the lower half of your swimwear. Consider the areas you want to emphasize and conceal and then incorporate colour and patterns into your decision process. Both of these elements can make a real difference to how you look in the sun, but rest assured it’s easy to find the perfect blend of swimwear, colours, and patterns to match your body shape.
Once you’ve found the best plus sized swimwear for your body, don’t forget that there are plenty of cover-ups to accompany your summer look. Perhaps you’ll want a beach skirt, kaftan, sarong or shorts for when the weather takes a turn or when your swimwear is still out drying. These additional items can provide extra coverage as well as protection from the sun when the heat is really soaring. Cover-ups can also make your beachwear look more intriguing and extra special no matter if you’re by the pool relaxing or chilling by the sea.
Remember that everyone’s body is different and because of this it can take time to find the right style of swimwear for your requirements. Above all else you need to feel comfortable and confident before you aim to catch the sun. Hopefully by reading this guide the decision process will be much easier as you will understand which type of clothing is right for your body. Once you’ve got your plus sized swimwear sorted, don’t forget to buy any additional cover-ups and accessories to really complete your look
On my journey to find a perfectly fitting plus-size bathing suit on Amazon, my first (time-consuming) step involved going through hundreds of pages of reviews, evaluating sizing and support and styles. Once I realized that high-waisted bottoms were widely available, I went for those first and foremost (because they’re comfortable and flattering), and closely examined photos of how they fit on other women. For one-pieces, I checked the amount of spandex and stretch, and looked for adjustable straps since I have a longer torso. Surprisingly, I didn’t come across any Amazon Fashion–branded suits, but instead a lot of unknown-to-me companies with generic names like Daci Woman and Cocopear, and a handful from department store brands Maidenform and Swimsuits for All.
Over the course of a few weeks, I tried on 24 bikinis, longline bikinis, tankinis, and one-pieces, hoping to find my match. I had not bought a new bathing suit in more than five years, so trying on in the comfort of my own home with free returns and exchanges was liberating. Ultimately, only six of them worked for my body type: 44DDD chest, size 18/20, five-foot-one, with a long torso. The biggest issues I found with most suits was support — most of them were not tailored correctly for women with larger chests. Either they had awkward foam cups that you had to try to move around (many were not removable), a thin piece of elastic that was supposed to act as a “shelf,” or just made everything look droopy. The ones that did have an underwire often didn’t clasp easily (some had a “clasp” more like a tiny tube of plastic you try to slide a straight piece of metal into) or dug into my skin, and I only found two well-rated suits that went by cup size. I adjusted straps, I pulled up bottoms as much as I could for muffin top coverage without giving myself a wedgie, and I danced around my apartment since I did not have access to a pool to test. Even if our body types aren’t exactly alike, I hope these also work for you for a confident, swim-filled summer.
My Favorite Cold-Shoulder, High-Waisted Bikinis
After watching the swimsuit party episode of Shrill, I was ready for bold, fun patterns … and finally wearing my first bikini. (Previously, I only wore one-pieces or tankinis, sometimes even with a swim skirt to cover up.) This was the first suit I tried on, and by far my favorite. It had a cold-shoulder (!) top that covered the area I’m most self-conscious about (my upper arms) and only showed two inches of skin since the bottoms were so high-waisted. All six prints were tropical, and I picked one that was playful without being too kitschy: flowers and pineapples on a black background. The pattern doesn’t make you look bigger, but you also can’t keep your eyes off it. The best part? It’s comfortable standing or sitting and didn’t make me look lumpy, and the elastic and soft padded cups at the chest were supportive enough to keep the girls in check but not push them up. The skinny straps are adjustable and removable, but I found them to be just right for my size (20W) straight out of the box. It’s flattering with a flowy fabric up top, and great for a day at the beach where I want to look good but not expose myself to teenage boys by accident.
This isn’t the same brand (IN’VOLAND?) but it fit almost exactly the same as my favorite cold-shoulder suit. This one is just in black, in case you aren’t feeling tropical.
My Favorite Bikini From Separates
The most difficult part of buying swimsuits on Amazon is that you often have to buy an entire set and can’t mix and match sizes. Toward the end of my testing, I realized I should try to seek out tops in bra sizes and bottoms in whatever I typically wore for pants. This longline underwire top from notoriously size-inclusive brand Swimsuits for All fit like a glove and made my chest look amazing. I was supported in a way no other suit did for me, with a three-clasp hidden mesh closure underneath the elasticized patterned fabric. The straps were adjustable too, and everything stayed in place even when I speed-walked around my apartment to test impact. I’m confident I can cannonball into a pool if I want to without this top flying off; it sits a few inches below where a regular bra would hit, and with super high-waisted bottoms (see below!), I am comfortably covered.
The sizing on Amazon for plus-size suits can be confusing. I bought a 4X in these bottoms, which is a 20-22 for the Cocopear brand. Typically, that’s a 2X in U.S. plus-sizing. A lot of so-called “high-waisted” bottoms I tried on actually barely covered my belly button and had waistbands that dug into my skin. This one, with a subtle ruching and stretchy, soft fabric sat a good few inches above my belly button and was smoothing but not compressing, so there was no sausage-casing feeling when I sat down. It comes in 11 different colors — I liked the black to pair with a patterned top, but the green-black-pink floral also looked great.
My Favorite Bikini With Sheer Cutouts
This bikini caught my eye for the sheer cutouts on the high-waisted bottom. The top was … fine? It was more like a sports bra or bralette with small foam cups that don’t provide much support, and the drapey fabric covered most of my stomach like a one-piece would. The bottoms were what excited me: again, actually high-waisted and slightly smoothing, and little mesh striped panels going horizontally to show a little bit of skin and add a pop of trendy design. I tried it first in bright, bordering-on-neon yellow that I didn’t love on my Asian skin — maybe something a little more mustardy would have worked — but it could complement darker skin tones. I might want to exchange it for an army green or cobalt blue. FYI, their 4X is a size 20, and I think the bottoms run true to size.
My Favorite Swimdress
I ordered this one on a whim because I wanted to have a citrus bathing suit. If you’re going on a beach vacation and want to go from the ocean to brunch, this could work. It looks like a scuba dress when it’s dry, with a tasteful, not-too-large cutout in the middle. The photo on Amazon makes it look like a huge exposure of skin, but depending on how you tie the drawstrings, it can be pretty small, and since it’s just foam cups at the chest, I wasn’t busting out of it up top. I wish it came in solid colors too, but the lemon isn’t aggressively cutesy, I promise.
My Favorite Push-up Bikini With Underwire
I almost didn’t include this suit on the list because it’s almost too revealing. [Editor’s note: We’ve actually written about this suit before.] It is a real push-up with an underwire, and there are also these swooping cutouts that are like a window to show off your boobs. It’s a lot, and it should only be worn if you’re okay with the extra attention. This was meant to be a longline top, but it did ride up a bit to be more of a true bikini, and the bottoms aren’t super high-waisted, so when you sit you get some muffin top. I recommend this one with a bit of caution, and with a suggestion to size up — I did a 3X, which is size 22-24, based on reading reviews, and that was correct.
My Favorite Swimsuit for Shorter Torsos
Here’s the deal: I’ve loved every swimsuit that plus-size fashion blogger GabiFresh has put out with Swimsuits for All. I tried on three from this year’s collection and none of them fit. But this suit is so striking and cool that I had to include it. I have a crazy-long torso and short legs, so this in a size 20 didn’t fit — my chest did not align with where it should in the suit. But looking at it with the belt clasped? My waist was cinched, the color was gorgeous, and I wanted it to work. If you don’t have an insanely long torso, try it out. The support was great, and you’ll be supporting a fabulous plus-size blogger and size-inclusive company if you buy it.
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