Y’all, it’s so hot. After a fairly mild beginning to the summer, the sun is taking its revenge on Texas. With temperatures soaring into the triple digits and sweat threatening with every trip outside, there is only one solution. Get thee to a swimming pool! When I was in college, I avoided pools like the plague. Society had told me over and over to get my body “swimsuit ready,” which always meant losing dozens of pounds and tanning. Neither of those things sounded appealing, but instead of thumbing my nose at society, I cautiously avoided any public contact with water. Living in Texas, that’s required some deft work with excuses.
Somewhere in the past few years, however, I finally learned an important fact: every body is a bikini body. I love my hips and breasts in regular clothes, why shouldn’t I love them just as much in swimwear? This realization quickly led to another one. I am a swimwear maven! After so many years without this garment, it’s all I can do not to buy every cute swimsuit I see.
Unlike some other areas of ready-to-wear fashion, there are some legitimately gorgeous options for curvy swimwear. Gone are the days when the only suit available above a size 12 was black and skirted. Instead, we can have gorgeous fabrics, retro silhouettes, and legitimate bust support. I’ve rounded up a list of my favorite plus-sized swimwear lines from across the web, as well as few patterns for those wanting to jump on the self-sewn swimsuit wagon.
Esther Williams Swimwear (up to measurements of 54-44-56 inches) Esther Williams Swimwear is a line started by Hollywood’s favorite mermaid herself. They specialize in retro designs, mostly one-pieces, in a full range of sizes and fabrics. While there is a six week wait when ordering from their direct site, Modcloth also stocks a large range of their plus-sized suits for quick delivery. I actually own two EW swimsuits, including the polka dotted one above. It’s going on three summers of poolside lounging and still looks fabulous on! I’ve found the suits plenty supportive for my 36F chest, but be sure to pay attention to sizing. I usually wear a 14/16 RTW, but take an 18W in EW sizing, thanks to my bust size.
Pinup Girl Clothing (up to measurements of 55.5-48-57 inches) The ladies at Pinup Girl Clothing have been catering to retro-loving curvy ladies for quite sometime, but their line of swimwear is a relatively recent addition. It began with the Marilyn swimsuit (directly above), which I own in pink, and has expanded to a full line of both bikinis and one-pieces catered to the curvy figure. While I found my original Marilyn suit to be less supportive than I prefer, it was really cute on. The gathers hid any bumps I was self-conscious about, but really emphasized my waist, and the long bottom was amazingly comfortable. For those who like a tight hold on the girls, however, I would suggest their more structured styles, which get rave reviews from the well-endowed. The bikini above is boned and shaped with foam, for a bra-like support. That’s very good news for busty swimmers!
Swimsuits For All ( some styles up to measurements of 60-55-62.5 inches)
Made famous by their partnership with Gabifresh, Swimsuits For All is a website that specializes in bringing cute swimsuit lines to women of all sizes. For some of the lines, this means going up to a size 36! Awesome, right? Even better are their designs. While you will find some of those dreaded swim mumus, they also have a ton of fashionable choices for curvy ladies. Their lineup really shines in the bikini department, which holds some wonderfully supportive, high-waisted styles that I’m coveting. While I don’t have any firsthand experience with their suits, there are customer reviews accompanying every suit and an in-depth sizing chart, broken down by brand. They also boast hassle-free returns and exchanges, which is a rarity in the swimwear world!
Honorable Mention: Miraclesuit’s Aurora I know, y’all. It has a skirt. It’s called–ugh!–a Miraclesuit. Why am I showing you this? Because this is, hands down, the sexiest thing that’s currently in my closet. I don’t know if it’s the crazy supportive bodice, or the flirty little circle skirt, but the Miraclesuit makes me want to prance down the street flaunting my goodies. It nips in all the right places, lifts in all the other ones, and is the perfect color of blue. Unfortunately, it is also pretty pricey in its plus size range and comes with all the baggage of that “look smaller” language that we so hate. For that, I can only give it an honorable mention here. It would be unfair to leave a suit that has brought me so much happiness off the list, however. Get a more enlightened ad campaign, Miraclesuit. I don’t want to look smaller, I just want pretty swimsuits!
Self-Sewn Swimwear If you’re the brave seamstress ready to make her own swimsuit, the options are a bit limited, but still very interesting. Let’s take a quick look shall we?
Available up to measurements of 54-49-56 AND in multiple cup sizes
Butterick 5795 looks like another matronly swimsuit, until you get a gander of the pattern’s style lines. There is some seriously cute ruching happening in View D, hidden under all that flower power nonsense above. In a cute polka dot or modern print? This would be adorable! Beyond that, this is by far the most size-inclusive swimwear pattern available. It goes all the way up to pattern size 32W, which is pretty wonderful coming from a Big 4 company.
Bombshell Swimsuit from Closet Case Patterns
Available up to measurements of 44-36-46
If you’re looking for the glamour of an Esther Williams suit, the Bombshell from Closet Case patterns is the suit for you. With two cute bodice variations and all-over ruching, the Bombshell looks great on curvy beachside figures. Unfortunately, it is limited in sizing, only going up to an 18. This may be a suit worth stretching your grading muscles over, however.
Available up to measurements of 46-39-48
Rounding out our sewn swimsuit lineup is Simplicity 1374, which is the pattern to turn to, if you want a tankini or a retro high-waisted bikini. This versatile little pattern goes up to a pattern size 24W and features several really cute variations. I could easily see that bikini made up in a cute anchor print, for a nautical flair! Even better, because you are in control of the process, you could add as much support as you need to the base pattern!
Have I tempted you to take a dip yet? It’s so refreshing to see curvy swimwear that is both stylish and supportive, without trying to hide all our assets! Would you ever try making your own, though? I am mighty tempted by Butterick 5795, y’all…
Note: No recommendation or opinion in this post has been sponsored. These are just things I think are neat!