Summer’s coming, and summer means bathing suits! Trips to the pool or the beach are a universal favorite when it comes to warm weather (or cold weather, if you’re hardcore) vacation activities, and you’ll want to be prepared with an awesome suit. The bathing suit struggle for plus-size women is twofold–the struggle to find a bathing suit that isn’t grandma-ish, and the struggle to be comfortable being in a bathing suit in public with a body you’ve been taught is unacceptable or unattractive.
For much of my life I wasn’t especially comfortable wearing bathing suits in public, until I came across a post by amazing plus-size fashion blogger GabiFresh about her “Fatkini”. I had never seen a plus-size woman wearing a bikini before (I didn’t think it was something that was “done”), and was totally inspired by how incredibly confident and positive she was, not to mention how great she looked. Gabi writes:
As always, I truly encourage you guys to get to the beach (or a pool) this summer–don’t let body shame keep you from having a good time! I don’t expect everyone to feel comfortable in a two piece, but hopefully I can inspire some of you to take the plunge. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to just have fun without worrying about what other people think.
I’m still not a bikini-wearer myself, but I have come to be much more comfortable in public in a bathing suit. This in part comes from learning to love myself as I am, and to not care what anyone else thinks (If a stranger so invested in what you look like in your bathing suit, that is their problem, not yours). The other part is the recently widespread availability of cute, age-appropriate plus-size bathing suits.
The following are a few of my favorite resources for plus-size bathing suits:
Modcloth: I think part of the reason I love Modcloth so much is that they were, in a way, pioneers in the cute-plus-size-bathing-suit field. Even before it was common to make cool plus-sized bathing suits, they recognized that plus-size gals like cute suits too, and answered all of our swimwear prayers with cute, vintage-style one-pieces in an assortment of colors and patterns. They carry a respectable variety of plus-size bikinis as well. That’s pretty huge for a major online retailer, and it’s much appreciated! I have this bathing suit in copper, and I totally love it! The only difficult part travel-wise is that this bathing suit has a lot of fabric (esp with the ruching on the sides) and can be a little slow to dry out, but if you squeeze it out really well, it usually dries overnight.
Torrid: I hesitate to recommend Torrid because, on the whole, I don’t really like their clothing. I know, I know, they made reasonably cool plus-size clothing before everyone else! It doesn’t have anything to do with how the clothes look, but rather that the price is extremely high relative to the not-so-great quality of much of their clothing. Who wants to pay $60 for a dress and have it fall apart? HOWEVER, their bathing suits are totally awesome! I bought this one about two years ago, and it has held up fantastically and still looks great.
Land’s End: As someone who always associated Land’s End with people who belong to yachting clubs, I hadn’t really considered it as a viable option for plus-size stuff. Well, I was an idiot, and was totally shocked to find that they have a pretty solid selection of well-made and super cute plus-size bathing suits. Who knew? Some of the stuff can be a little matronly, but they have some pretty solid options, especially if tankinis are your thing. They also have some great cover-ups for the beach, and even some rashguards for you surfing babes!
Swimsuits For All: I first heard about Swimsuits For All when GabiFresh (mentioned above) released her own line of “Fatkinis” last year. They have bathing suits ranging from US size 8 to US size 34, an incredibly impressive range from a single retailer. They have one-pieces, bikinis, tankinis, cover-ups, swim dresses, and basically everything you would ever need for a day in the water. Some of them are really freaking cute, and the prices are often totally reasonable, which is also pretty uncommon for a plus-size bathing suit (which will usually cost upwards of $80).
Forever 21: F21 has really stepped up their plus-size bathing suit game this year, but their clothes are extremely cheaply made, and the suits will not likely be long-lasting. You get what you pay for!
Addition Elle: The cut of AE’s suits tend to err more on the conservative side, if that’s your preference. A lot of the suits can be kind of apologetically frumpy, but there are a few that have cute patterns, and the site is well worth a look.
Simply Be: I have ‘window-shopped’ bathing suits on SimplyBe many times, but since they’re a little out if my price range, I haven’t ever purchased one. They have bikinis and one-pieces, and most of them are adorable. I can’t bring myself to pay over $100 for a bathing suit, but I have heard from multiple sources that their suits are great.