The Search for Swimwear

Every year, since they learned to dog paddle, our children have been on swim and dive teams during the summer.  Which means that I spend a lot of my time at the pool.  In a swimsuit.  So much time, in fact, that I usually wear out my suit by the end of the summer.  So, every spring, whether I like it or not, I have to search for another one.  And every spring, it’s a frustrating experience. 

I scour the fashion magazines, with their lists of “hundreds of swimsuits, for EVERY body!”  Not for mine.  I walk the massive department stores, try on numerous styles, and inevitably, come out with nada.  I really don’t think I’m that picky, but I feel like my only options are string bikinis or mom swimsuits.  I want a happy medium: something fashionable that covers my tummy.  And I’m not alone.  According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, most women (45%) worry about how their stomach looks when they’re buying a swimsuit. 

I usually end up returning to Victoria’s Secret, reluctantly, to buy yet another tankini.  I say reluctantly, because I’ve been buying the same suit for the last decade.  But, Victoria knows a thing or two about making swimwear that provides support for the mature woman.

My tried and true style is the Push Up Tankini.  The price is right ($32-$48) and it comes in a million different colors.

Shown here with the string bottom, although I usually stick with the regular scoop bottom ($20-$28), for a bit more coverage. 

A few years ago, on a trip to Hawaii, I bought a suit by Carve Designs.  Created by two female surfers, they make swimwear that fits well, and is functional, feminine and flattering.   Their suits stay on when you dive in the pool, which is important to me when I attempt my annual inward dive.

Carve Designs Tiburon Tankini in Palmilla II at Zappos $54

If you are the bikini type, the versatile Tiburon Bikini Top features shoulder straps that can be worn traditionally, crossover, or as a halter tie. I like that it’s a full coverage top with underwire!

Tiburon Bikini Top $48  

Now, for the real fun.  You can mix and match your bikini bottoms according to how much booty and leg you are willing to share: 

Rodeo Reversible Bottom ($42) with a high front rise and high leg cut.  Plus, it’s reversible.

St. Barth Bottom ($38) with a medium front rise and medium leg cut.

Catalina Bottom ($38) with a low front rise and medium leg cut.

Sydney Bikini Bottom ($38) with a  low rise and low leg cut.

A little something for everybody.

As far as one-piece swimsuits go, I love this style from Lenny. 

Lenny Swimwear pleated bandeau one piece $148.40 at Saks Fifth Avenue

It reminds me of something that Elizabeth Taylor might have worn in the 50s. 

Spanx introduced a line of swimwear this year.  This V-neck halter one-piece features stabilizer straps and additional coverage at chest.  But all that is just icing on the cake.  What an adorable style! 

Spanx Basics Deep V-Neck One Piece Swimsuit – $152 from Bloomingdales

Since I only wear bikinis on rare occasions, like when I’m in the South Pacific, I usually buy a cheap version.  Old Navy always has cute, tiny bikinis for a great price.  I love the Mix and Match Halter Bikini:

I think the wide strap at the bottom would provide some support and keep the top in place when jumping in the waves.

I would pair it with the string bikini bottoms in hot pink, just for fun. 

That’s color blocking, right Julie?  Plus, you’re only out $33 for the set.

And, if you are blessed with a bikini-ready body, why not share the love with the rest of the world and buy your suit from Bantu?  Bantu is a swimwear line produced entirely on the African continent, bringing work to some of the world’s neediest communities.

Bantu Konjo String Bikini available at Revolve Clothing $143

So you can look good while doing good.

Surf’s up.


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5 responses to “The Search for Swimwear

  1. Katie

    Very timely as I am headed to the beach for the Fourth of July and of course worry about the swimsuit issue. I frantically bought a couple suits prior to my honeymoon but am not really terribly happy with them. I’ll check out your suggestions – especially the tummy covering and full support ones. Thanks for giving me a place to start on this dreaded task!

  2. Athleta makes fun tankini separates you can mix and match (and not look too granny). They even have cute bathing suit shorts which make me feel more like surfer girl than Esther Williams. Check it out!

  3. Lisa

    I gave Victoria’s Secret a try last summer and was pleasantly surprised! Lots of mix and match options and reasonably priced. For your bikini-loving readers, try the double-string bottoms (paired with the tankini top in the picture above). The double tie allows you to adjust the fit, making it much more flattering than a traditional string bikini bottom (for me anyway:).

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