Swimwear Shopping Tips and Resources

Swimwear shopping tips and resource: How to make the process less traumatic and more effective!

Women’s collective fear of swimwear shopping has become a cliche: Everyone knows that the average gal enjoys searching for a new bikini about as much as she enjoys major dental work. But if your old suit is looking battered and you opt to brave the shops this season, you’ll find a wealth of new styles available in a huge variety of sizes. And a few key tips can make this traditionally painful shopping process far less traumatic.


One-piece swimsuits are considered more modest, but they can cause uncomfortable fit issues on some figures: If you’re long in the torso, these suits may pull at the crotch or dig into the shoulders. If you’re short in the torso, these suits may bunch up at the bust or in the midsection or even sag off your rear end. Two-pieces allow for more flexibility, especially for long- and short-waisted women but also for anyone whose top half is substantially smaller or larger than her bottom. With a one-piece, you’re stuck with manufacturer notions of size. With a two-piece, you can buy a medium top and extra-large bottom to suit your unique proportions. (Or any combination, of course.) And you needn’t stick to skimpy string bikinis! With the advent of tankinis – suits with traditional bikini bottoms and tank-style tops – you can still get plenty of coverage.


Women with small busts can sometimes rely on well-constructed bikini tops or built-in shelf bras to flatter their figures. But women with larger busts frequently need more support to look their best and feel comfortable while swimming and sunning. In some cases, a suit with underwire will do the trick, but there are also specialty suits designed to support sizable busts. If you need more support, beware of unstructured one-piece suits which may squish breasts uncomfortably and halter styles which can pull and ride up.


Swim skirts offer more coverage for women who are self-conscious about their bottom halves, and have become popular in recent years for swimmers who prefer a less revealing look. But these skirts are typically quite short and can hit thighs at their widest point, making them appear wider. (This may or may not matter to you personally. All down to your own figure-flattery priorities.) Board shorts are a great alternative, especially if you favor a sporty look. They can be as long as Bermudas but come in a variety of lengths, and can be worn with a bikini or tankini top or over a one-piece suit.


Swimwear shopping tweaks self-image issues for many women, and this can keep us from hitting the beach. At all. Although finding a fun and flattering suit can be challenging, the market has more to offer now than ever before. If you haven’t looked lately, look again. And a key point to remember is this: Everyone is self-conscious in a swimsuit, even tanned and toned celebrities. Try not to let fear of judgment keep you from indulging in some summery fun!

Wondering where to find your next new suit? Here are some shopping resources:

Land’s End

This retailer has the a huge selection of speciality sizes including petite, tall, plus, and petite plus. They’ve even got cup sizes to DDD and suits designed for women who have had mastectomies. Bikinis, tankinis, maillots, swim shorts, and swim skirts are all available in prints and solids.

Bare Necessities

Although this website focuses on lingerie, it also offers supportive swimwear options from gold-standard bra companies like Freya. You’ll find underwire options in one-piece and two-piece designs as well as swimwear that is sized based on bra cup and band measurements.

Swimsuits for All

The name is a bit misleading, as this site stocks from 8 – 34, but that’s still a fabulous selection of sizes. Many of you have heard about the collaboration with blogger Gabifresh, but this site has dozens of styles that are fun, comfortable, and offer a variety of coverage levels.


With swim shorts in a variety of styles and lengths, this sportswear company also stocks bikinis, tankinis, and one-piece options in bold colors and eye-catching prints. Sizing runs a bit small, so check size charts before buying.

Image courtesy Swimsuits for All

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

Originally posted 2013-06-20 06:22:18.

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18 Responses to “Swimwear Shopping Tips and Resources”

  1. Londyn

    Great tips and good luck to all!!!

    Another suggestion I’d add… have a glass of wine first and take a great friend along for an honest opinion!! 🙂

  2. LQ

    Freya, Fantasie, and Panache all make a good size range of bra-cup-sized swimsuits, as, I believe, does Curvy Kate. They’re all fairly pricey at full rack rates, so to speak, but once you know your size (consult the ABraThatFits reddit to be sure, it’s the ur-source on this) you can just google the brand and size you want and find one pretty cheaply online. eBay very conveniently aggregates a lot of excellent UK-based bra-and-swimsuit sellers that discount these brands heavily.

    Semi-relatedly: if you have a short torso but a very strong hourglass shape (pronouncedly bigger pelvis and chest vs the rest of you) you may find you experience a lot of the same kinds of comfort and fit problems with one-pieces as women who have long torsos do. There’s just going to be more surface-area acreage on you that the suit has to cover vs on someone built more straight-up-and-down. You may find yourself sizing up in suits vs ordinary clothes. I’m short-torsoed and used to have a Fantasie one-piece theoretically made for a long torso that was not too long at all, just delightfully wedgie-and tug-free. The ideal answer for the hourglass, though, is a two-piece suit. There are lots of fuller-coverage bottoms if the exposure factor in a two-piece worries you. It’ll both be more comfortable and look a metric ton better, because it won’t be constantly dragging your chest down. In a one-piece, the rest of the suit is constantly pulling your bust southward; bigger hips/butt will exacerbate that, and even the best-fitting underwire can’t easily fight it. (I’m not knocking very busty women’s choices to wear one-pieces. Do what you love. It’s your suit. I’m a very dense/heavy 32G at size 10 and like all the lift I can get, both support-and-comfort-wise and aesthetically.)

  3. Donna

    I have found that the TV retailer QVC has a couple of lines of swimwear that are pretty, cute, modest (not frumpy) and address many figure issues. You can shop QVC online, too. They present the swimwear online using models who may have some of the same figure issues we mere mortals also have so you can see how cute the suits look on different body types!

    I actually got two swimsuits from QVC that I love!

    Fit 4 U and Ocean Dreams are two of the brands that come to mind. The suits are excellent quality and made from really beautiful material.

  4. Ashe

    “If you’re long in the torso, these suits may pull at the crotch or dig into the shoulders.”

    Or if you’re me, your boobs pop out when you move :O

    To be honest, I’m kind of hoping my suit from last year fits…. but since I’ve dropped a few pounds, who knows if or how it will. That being said, I’d love an excuse for that GabiFresh jewel print one-piece. Even if my boobs pop out.

  5. Kayleigh

    I found a great suit at Land’s End — it’s a tankini w/a swim skirt bottom…and the skirt is a wee bit longer than most of their other ones, so it doesn’t hit in that trouble spot you mentioned. It’s the Beach Living High Rise Swim Mini and it’s perfect for me. (got the plus size, but I think they have it in misses) It’s not so long as to look Amish, lol, but just long enough to cover my upper thighs better than most other swim skirts seem to.

    I’m psyched to go on vacay now 🙂

  6. Keya

    Cup-size and two piece swimwear solved a lot of problems for me. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure that out!

  7. Kate K

    I have waxed rhapsodic about Lands End in previous swimsuit posts so I won’t go on and on and on but I adore my Lands End suit. I’ve had it for about four or five years and it still is in top shape (and I use it pretty frequently.) I never worry or fret about having to put on a suit and I’ve received countless compliments (which, as a plus sized woman, is kind of mind-blowing.)

  8. ClaraT

    I have some extra belly skin after having two kids, so I’m a bit bikini-shy and prefer tankinis. Many of the tops are too short, though.

    My solution: Although I’m a petite, I’ve had good luck with buying Athleta tankini tops in ‘long’ so that my tummy is covered. They have lots of great options (not cheap, though), and the online reviews are very helpful.

  9. Kathleen

    This year I bought a new suit from Esther Williams line (yes, that Esther Williams). I absolutely love it, so flattering and well constructed. Her suits come in an amazing array of colors- mine is burgundy.

    In the past, I’ve also had good luck with suits from Lands End.

    • Sonja

      I already have my second Esther Williams Suit (emerald green this time) and I absolutely love it, it makes me feel like a goddess. The only inconvenience I see is that it’s really warm because of the extra tummy coverage, I can’t wear this to the beach, for example.

  10. Lady Harriet

    I have a terrible time finding suits that fit. I’m a 32 FF, so I must have an underwired suit, but I also don’t want to show ANY cleavage. Bra-sized suits are always too low cut, and the more modest ones only have shelf bras or those ridiculous little soft foam cups that do nothing for me. I’m considering just buying an underwired bikini top and wearing it as a bra under a rash guard, but the mock turtleneck styles on the rash guards I’ve seen are so unflattering on me. I’ve just been toughing it out in a tankini with a super-cute (but ill-fitting) halter top that hurts my neck and a swim skirt. The skirt is longer than most (a few inches above the top of the knee), which is great.

  11. Moni

    I recently checked out the swimwear at Athleta…I love it! They have a variety of styles and colors, and tons of options for board shorts, skirts, and other bottoms. They even have tops (tankinis, bikinis) that a measured by bra size. I agree with ClaraT, they are not cheap, but it was a good investment for me…now I feel comfortable going to the beach and prepping for an eventual triathalon!

  12. diane

    You know, a nude beach solves everything. Ha 🙂

    Tankinis always seem cropped on me, I’m a little tall. Last year I found a GREAT top at Gap. Solid black with drawstrings up the sides to ruche it up, or in my case let it down. This year I added a Lands End swim mini in a print and it makes a great set. I also like bottoms with side ties for a better fit and I think the knots make my curvy hips seem even more so in comparison to my waist.

    I also have a cheap Target tankini that’s a great concept just wish it were nice fabric – the top is kind of an apron style, the back is open except for 2 ties. I like it because I don’t want skin-tight polyester fabric around my belly when it’s 100 degrees outside. I wish swim suits had more breathable fabric in general. Sure, a sturdy black suit is slimming, but it’s also hotter than hell if you’re just reading poolside and occasionally dipping in the water.

  13. Not quite anonymous

    I’m so glad you mentioned board shorts! Those are my favorite swimwear now, since I hate doing hair removal and am self-conscious about the hair on my thighs. It’s really annoying that most swimwear requires removing pubic hair. (I have a lot of it, and removing it gives me a rash and ingrowns.) Board shorts are the perfect solution.

    I’ve been wearing my board shorts with a bikini top for some sort of conservation of exposed skin. (My shorts+bikini cover about as much skin as a one-piece.) It’s not a figure-flattering style, since it accentuates my wide hips, but I’m comfortable in it.

  14. Stephanie

    Anther thing some of us can do is check some of the plus size sites. When Gabi showed her bikini pics last year it was exactly what I’d been looking for so I was super sad to see it was from a plus size site till I discovered that it went down to a size 8. Um since when in a 8 plus size? Anyways it ran a bit big so I could do an 8 top with a 10 bottom instead of a 10 with a 12 but it was a great find. The site Simply Be has a lot of cute suits mixed in with some less cute ones and they all go down below your traditional plus size line.

  15. Jean

    You inspired me to try on one of my older suits and to order a new ( reasonably modest but hopefully not too frumpy) two-piece from Lands’ End. Thank you for the encouragement.

  16. Patt

    There are quite a few options for being 5’3 and needing a size 18 suit that manages a 42DD. The hard part is finding a suit that I can actually use in the water on a daily basis and swim laps or do aerobic classes. Tankini tops rise up in the water and feel like they are flapping around. Most suits aren’t for performance. Luckily, Costco often has Speedos for around $20. Since I go through 3-4 a year due to pool chemicals, the price is right, too.

    One of the benefits of age is I am so much less critical of how I think I look in a bathing suit. Since I am swimming, not laying out poolside hoping to attract anything, it’s easier to just put it on and not care. “Can I move in this” seems more important.