Alright girls! It’s bathing suit season in the US. I know what you’re thinking. I’m not ready. I didn’t lose enough of the holiday weight. There’s no way I can wear that two piece. No one wants to see 'this' in a bathing suit. But I am here to tell you confidently and firmly, you’ve got this.
Navigating the world of Plus Size fashion can be a literal nightmare but with a little patience and research it is possible to achieve bronzed goddess status in style. Finding the brand that works for you is essential. A few insider tips I’ve found in my hunt;
When searching for that perfect one piece, opt for a structured style that offers support and shaping like an underwire to enhance your natural bust and show off those curves. If you’re testing out a two piece this season but are afraid to bare it all in that skimpy bikini, try a long line top and a high waist bottom. This leaves a little sassy peek of skin without sacrificing too much comfort. Find a brand that offers separate tops and bottoms so you’re not limited to the same size for both pieces. This makes it easier to tailor a better fit to your body type. Most importantly, do NOT settle. Take the time to find that suit that screams “I’m here, I’m fierce and I own this beach!”.
Who gets it:
Torrid- the go-to location for all things swim. As painful as it is to pay high price points for swimwear, these guys do not skimp on quality. The fabrics are thick. This year they’ve seemed to branch out from their standard go-to of floral EVERYTHING! There is such thing as too much floral! Torrid has a much more realistic idea of what “plus size” means then many of its specialty retail competitors. You’ll find a fair variety of styles and this is one brand that honestly means high waist when they say high waist. It is refreshing to find a brand that understands that a larger body does not mean that it is necessary to sacrifice fashion and style. This brand ranges in size from a size 10 to a size 30 and seems to run pretty true to size.
Sourpuss Clothing- an under appreciated, yet sure fire source for all things edgey! They offer quirky styles that combine classic looks with current patterns, making them a pinup girls’ dream! Their price points are in the mid to high range, however, you are definitely getting a quality item that’s sure to last. In my opinion however, these guys fall short on two major things. The first, the site uses models who are almost all very thin (or very photoshopped), leaving us with no true representation of what the item will look like on a larger body. This is one of my biggest frustrations with today’s fashion industry. The second, the only way to purchase is online. This leaves the risk of the all too familiar hassle of ordering the wrong size and trying to figure out how to complete a return. Sourpuss Clothing ranges from size small to extra large in some styles and from small to XXXL in other styles.
Target- The last and most reasonably priced one stop shop for swim attire is Target. I know what you're thinking. General merchandise chain stores generally don’t scream “high end goods”. Yet, here comes good ‘ol Target! Maybe it’s my inner thrifty girl talking but who doesn’t appreciate being able to get great deals on toilet paper, shampoo and dog food all while updating your wardrobe? When it comes to the typical general-merchandise-type stores they definitely have the upper hand in quality materials and style compared to their competitors. Target has recently made HUGE strides in the size inclusion world! This season I’m noticing big changes to their in-store visual marketing. They’re rocking models with stretch marks and extra curves. They’ve expanded styles with cut outs, high waists, retro looks and more colour schemes. The best part? I can not tell you how nice it is to not have to huddle in the back corner of a store digging through their two racks of “plus size” (and out of date) clothing or seek out a specialty chain and pay higher prices in the name of all things plus. This year in my local Target stores, the Plus size swimsuits are featured front and centre- right there with the 'standard' sizes. Most styles are offered in both standard and plus sizes so that you don’t have the disappointment of falling in love with a standard size style that you can’t find in larger sizes. Target’s size range goes up to a XXL in most styles and seems close to fitting as expected. The biggest flaw worth noting is that the one piece styles seem to run short...even for someone in a five-foot-one frame. Price point is definitely their saving grace, making it affordable to hit the beach in style without sacrificing up to date looks and quality fabrics.
Who needs to up their game:
Basically any online store that have some flowery name:
Rosegal, Roselilly, Rosewe, Modlilly etc. Today’s online brand sites advertise less expensive styles than those seen on specialty retailer or department store sites. They trap you by using “borrowed” pictures from other retailers or mimicking popular company names. In most consumer reviews these guys drop the ball every time. Consider yourself one of the lucky ones if you actually manage to get a product before summer is over and it looks like what you ordered (not a potato sack or kindergarten art project). More often than not, they seem to be designed based on some imaginary toddler size scale where you’re left baffled as to how the item is meant to fit any grown adult.
These online retailers prey on the trend savvy bargain shoppers looking to get a good deal on a product and borrow your internet cookies to do so.
Reading customer reviews, product descriptions, material and size dimensions are key components to making sure you’re not left exposed when you surface from the pool in thin wet fabrics (cue that iconic scene from WildThings but in an awkward embarrassing “nip-slip” way). I strongly encourage you to do as much research as possible before ordering from any of these sites or be prepared for the possibility of disappointment.
So, no matter what you wear or where you shop this season here are some important things to keep in mind:
Firstly, you are more than worthy of wearing whatever makes you feel comfortable at the beach. If covering up makes you feel comfortable that is fine, if that itty bitty polka dot bikini makes you feel good then own it baby!
Secondly, you do not owe anyone an explanation as to why your beach body looks different to someone else's. While eating healthy and exercising are important for your physical and mental health, there is absolutely no need to turn to extreme diets and hardcore boot camp workouts to feel ready to hit the waves.
Most importantly, take a risk! Stepping out of your comfort zone is terrifying but it can be so rewarding! If you find something you like, try it on. You may be surprised by how good you feel. Striking up the courage to simply strike a pose in the fitting room mirror is still taking a step in the right direction in the journey towards self acceptance. You deserve all the happiness and fun in the sun this season, so don't let self-doubt hold you back. You've got this, girl.