Sue’s bathing suit rag

Tuesday 17 June 2003

My wife Sue went shopping for a bathing suit yesterday, and it was a frustrating experience. She has no blog of her own (yet!), so I’m giving her space here to vent her spleen.

•    •    •

It is the shopping cliché of all time. The annual bathing-suit try-on. I do not know of a single woman out there for whom this is an easy task. When you go to buy a dress, you know where to go; you go to several stores where you will eventually find just the thing. When you go for shoes, and this is not that easy, you still know that you are basically a size “8” or whatever, and you get an idea of what looks good and what does not fairly quickly. There is no real self-esteem at risk here. The dress, yes, perhaps, but it is easy enough to find one that covers you in just the right way.

So what is it with bathing suits? Why is it so excruciating? Why does it take twenty different ones to maybe get one?

It is the designers. They don’t know shit about women. And this is not about “everyone hates their body.” This is about designers who cannot measure, who don’t understand the first thing about the female form and can’t be creative if their lives depended on it. I am making a list to “out” the worst features and see if they can do better from now on.

First of all, the Miraclesuit: it isn’t. Nobody is fooled. Any suit that is two sizes two small will reduce ones waistline by an inch or two, but what do you do about the way your thighs bulge over the leg elastic? And why do they always come in hideous color combos, namely black or black with something? Do the designers think that because a woman feels she needs a bit of squeezing that she is also in mourning?

Second: the tankini: Why is it that these all look the same and fit completely different? Why do most of them have the high bottom if there’s also a long top to pull down, creating layers of excess stetchy fabric around the middle (Nautica)? Why do many of their bottoms have a seam down the ass crack (Ann Cole, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, and Ralph Lauren)? Do the designers think that just because it’s mostly soccer moms wearing the things that they don’t care if it looks like they have an ass crack on the outside of their bottoms?

Third: the bikini: What is the point of labelling these things small, medium, and large, when they are really small, smaller, smallest? I looked at a top marked “large” today (Calvin again) and I held the triangle “cup” in the palm of my hand and it fit right there! Then I tried on one marked in my size thinking, “Wow! All the power to you, Shoshanna (the designer) for thinking in terms of real women’s breast sizes”, only to find that the front was cut so low and so wide that half my breast was still showing! Shoshanna must be designing for porn stars.

Fourth: Why don’t manufacturers get it together and do all mix and match? Why not decide that stores can mix and match brands, not just tops and bottoms? What woman is always an “8” in bathing suits, top and bottom? Most people who are small on top are larger on bottom, and those who are heftier around the top and middle tend to be a little lighter in the ass. That’s the way God planned it: almost nobody gets it both ways. If you do, see Miraclesuit. On second thought, don’t. And that way if the Nautica bottom fits you, but the Ralph Lauren top is better, you can put them together.

Fifth: What is with the colors and patterns this year? Is it 1978? If I see one more flower-power suit I think I’ll scream! Ann Cole used to be the best for color; this year, it’s all that retro garbage! And what’s with that “boy-cut” bottom? In fake denim, no less! The rule is, that if you wore the pattern or style when you were a kid, you probably don’t feel like wearing it now!

Sixth: If there is a tummy tightener, a waist lengthener, and a high-cut thigh for fat thighs, why is there no bust minimizer bathing suit that is not a big dowdy one-piece? Why can’t they make tankinis and bikinis for people with big busts? Or an ass-shaping kind for the babies who got back? Use some of that great underwear technology harvested by Victoria’s Secret or Minimizer Bras to do some good! You’d think Victoria’s would have a clue, but forget it! Their bathing suits fall prey to the same problems as everyone else’s. Believe me, we don’t want strangers knowing this much about us that only our husbands, boyfriends, or doctors should know!

We want colors, patterns, cuts, shaping for real women: not Mrs. Claus, not Skipper, not Barbie! Get a $#% clue, designers or we’ll all start going in the water in our shorts and tee shirts! Hey, come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea!


Ben Langhinrichs 10:16 PM on 17 Jun 2003

My daughter went out shopping for a bathing suit today. She is almost 17, and thankfully for everybody concerned went with a friend instead of her mother. Anyway, they shopped for about four hours, tried three different stores, and found nothing she would even step out of the dressing room in. Who are they making these suits for, anyway?

Kat 11:13 AM on 18 Jun 2003

Amen, sister. I've already gone the shorts route - I have a pair of men's surf shorts that I wear with an old bikini top. It's comfortable and covers what I want to cover.

That said, I think that both Target and Land's End sell two-piece suits by the individual piece, so you can mix and match.

Kim 7:56 PM on 18 Jun 2003

Kudos to you for telling it like it is. Being a larger size, I haven't been able to find a "nice suit" for about 3 years+. Needlesss to say, I bleach alot of shirts in the pool! It's degrading AND humiliating to see what the designers think we should "FIT" in. I'm not a barbie, or a grandma, or a slut. Get a clue people!

Toni Spiliakos 4:23 PM on 20 Jun 2003

Right on, Sue. I'm so frustrated with swimsuit shopping, I'm starting to wish that there were nude beaches around here so that I wouldn't have to bother with the trouble and so that designers would see how women's bodies actually look..

By the way, H & M and Old Navy have very cute swimsuits this season. The tops and bottoms are sold separately. At most, ywo pieces would cost twenty dollars.

Hilary 5:58 PM on 27 Jun 2003

I'm with you. I've gotten so frustrated with the bathing suit shopping experience that now I only buy real swimmer's bathing suits (Speedo, Tyr, etc.). They're not usually the trendiest of colors, but they're fairly classic (solid colors, usually), seem to fit well, provide relatively good bust support, and are good quality -- they won't fall apart after the first swim.

Shiloh Bucher 9:25 PM on 27 Jun 2003

Right on, sister! For years I have been convinced that ALL the swimsuit bottoms are the same size!

The only swimsuits I have ever found that look good and are actually comfortable have been from Old Navy. However, they were with boy shorts or board shorts. But they were dirt cheap!


Deana 9:43 AM on 30 Jun 2003

I lost twenty pounds this spring so I was looking forward to buying a new suit. Forget it. For the amount of time I spend at the beach or at a pool, the price of the suits was just outrageous. My friend's Land's End suit was decent and one I would wear, but I just can't bring myself to spend $60 on such a small amount of fabric. My friend's sister bought a bikini for $120. That's one hundred and twenty dollars! For two scraps of fabric! I'll take another look at Old Navy but I find their clothes are mostly geared (and fashioned) to promiscuous teenagers.

claire 3:39 AM on 12 Jul 2003

I'm also wondering why they stop selling suits in june?? When it's finally warm enough to swim you the suits are gone. Ditto for all seasonal clothing for that matter. I want sweaters when it's cold not in september when it's hot and really I'm looking for a swimsuit.

Jeanne 11:39 AM on 22 Jul 2003

No kidding. I went the shorts and t-shirt route a few years ago. I tried the tankini from Target, but the top was too tight (yes, a size 8/10 I bought a large, and it was still too tight.) I usually wear running shorts, a sports bra and t-shirt.

Melody 4:24 PM on 8 Aug 2003

OMG - I totally know what you mean. I just bought a bathing suit 2 weeks ago for about $15, and it totally fell apart after the 3rd or 4th swim. So, now I have to go spend like $80 just for a decent bathing suit. Plus, I just had a baby in April, so Im not exactly "bathing suit material". Im still a little flubby and have stretch marks now (ugh) so I have to cover those things up, but I want to do it with a little style - know what I mean? All Of the whole pieces I see are ugly and the ones that are half way decent cost way too much! We should get together and make our own bathing suit line.

Annabel 7:09 AM on 30 Oct 2003

Don't worry, you can now breath a sigh of relief!! I have found Fantasie Swimwear in the UK and Cherryred is Australia. They both make swimwear in large cup sizes that actually fit. (That is that isn't all cleavage with no support). I just bought the most fantastic swimsuit ever!
If anyone has the skills or talent PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE think about making a sports swimsuit with support. One that you can run along the beach in. The so called 'real swimmers bathing suits' offer very little support for the bigger bust.
You could make yourself very very very rich if you could make one!

Danielle 12:05 AM on 8 Nov 2003

I just forwarded this to all of my female friends!! This is sooooo true. On top of that I am a 34H cup size and an 8 bottom. This is by God's making not by a doctor, so I have had this problem my whole life. I found a nice site about two years ago They are located in the UK and I live in the USA and I swear by them for everything!!! They are the best!!

Kat 5:27 PM on 9 Jan 2004

I've started making my own suits, I may go into production one day, but first I have to get better at it. About 4 years ago i found a fantastic top at believe it or not Walmart. When it fell apart after 2 years I carefully took it apart and made another from it.
Being a natural 32 FF is not easy to fit either. Sometimes God is too generous. ;-)
I'd sugest you find a bra making class (If you can sew) and take in your favorite bra and make it into a bathing suit top. Or find a friend who can sew. Old fashioned, but beats hanging out all over. ;-)
Good luck,

hil 4:17 PM on 9 May 2004

hi my name is hilary i am 15 years old, 5'2'', and 117 pounds and i can't find a decent bathing suit that fits!!!!!!!! Anything under $60 is colourless and shapeless and just plain nasty (ever heard of 'lining' a bathing suit, wal-mart?) So instead i end up at these "beach wear" specialty shops where everything is from $80-$120, for a bathing suit that i'm probably going to grow out of by next year! AND, i might even be willing to pay that price for one summer of guaranteed bathing-suit-bliss, but evidently that doesn't exist! Having a not-so-toned bottom and not liking to worry about the bikini-line issue, i tried looking for a suit with boy briefs When i tried one on and was quite surprised the salegirl informed me that what i was looking at was the STYLE this year. She described as boy briefs being made a little "CHEEKIER"! IN OTHER WORDS- THEY ONLY COVER HALF MY BUTT. and they come down so low i'd be afraid to bed over for fear of a bad case of plumber-bum. NOT all of us are made for- or even want to look like- Beyonce in her "cheeky" shorts and stilettos dancing on a sidewalk. SSsssooooo now it appears that if i want any kind of moderate butt-coverage i have to buy a pair of board shorts. The girl passes me a nice $50 pair over the door of the dressing room. So now i'm going to pay $90 for a bathing suit- only half of which i can actually wear (the top) and $50 for a pair of shorts to cover up the bathing suit flaws???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it won't even fit me nest year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

hil 4:23 PM on 9 May 2004


no wonder there are so many girls with eating disorders and self esteem issues- that nice hip-buldge and lower butt flab is enough to worry any girl. i'm not saying i don't like my body- it's fine- i just wish that i didn't have to pay $150 bucks to not have to show off the flaws!!!!!!!

Kevin Jones 3:44 PM on 11 May 2004

The folk group 4 Bitchin' Babes performed a song about this exact subject titled L.A.F.F. (Ladies Against Fanny Floss) on their Gabby Road album. I won't quote all of the lyrics, but here's a sample:

Give us suits that won't
self destruct with a wave,
and fabric for those
who are not so brave.
At least let us know
where to stop when we shave...
Where do we draw the line?

Andrea 5:55 PM on 24 Jun 2004

AMEN! I was like Hell ya! That is awesome! That's exactly how I feel. Big boobs, stomache could use some toning and I don't know a single women who likes her thighs. Bathing suit shoping is depressing. When will people who make this stuff get a clue?!?!

chasity 4:49 PM on 11 Jul 2004

i totally agree with what you are saying. I'm 20 years old and i wear a 38dd, but i wear an 8 bottom so i can never find a bathing suit where both boobs actually fit in the suit and as for places like old navy and target their idea of a large certainly isn't mine. when will people learn that every woman is not made the same just because i have double d boobs i'm not fat.

Keri 2:05 PM on 12 Jul 2004

I am 22 and a natural 34DDD and i wear a size 8 on the bottom, and i cannot find any thing that fits me either, i hate places like pac-sun & old navy or any of those stores they have nothing that will fit someone over small c cup at most.

Angela 7:32 PM on 24 Jul 2004

I completely agree with you. A couple of weeks ago I tried to buy a bathing suit and it was plain hell. I am thin but have breasts a little big for my body frame. It is almost imposible to find anything that will cover me decently, because the bathing suits sold in Costa Rica (where I live) apparently are meant for anorexic models. I always have trouble finding bras that will suit me, because the stores don't seem to offer any bra with a cup bigger than a B!!!! (and I am a 34C)

Elaine Miller 11:56 AM on 8 Oct 2004

Yes! Keep complaining -- and send it to the designers as well. Here's another take:
I'm fat. Not "I'm ugly" fat -- but "watch out for these curves!" fat.
When picking a bathing suit, the styles go from tiny stringy things that would look like doll clothes and dental floss, with cup sizes that would look like pasties on me (though I'm about C-1/2 cup size)... and just as they get to my size, they balloon out into these grandma suits with china-pattern print, foam rubber support, and those ridiculous little skirt-things. I am fat. I am *not* unsexy.
So -- two choices -- look like a balloon animal with a twist-tie in the middle, or flap around in something my cat would cover if I left in on the floor. Not pretty, I'll tell ya.
I've been swimming in tank tops and boy shorts for years.

Milla 1:19 AM on 7 Nov 2004

Agree with all of you- it is unfortunate however that in the U.S. women feel the need to cover up so much of their bottoms in shapeless bottoms when in actuality it looks a lot better when you wear something less "baggy". Try it out in the mirror. Women in Brazil wear small bottoms even when they have not so small behinds and they look great. I think the women in this country need a good dose of confidence and...healthy eating in reasonable portions and some good old fashioned exercise.
And I think putting down about 100 dollars for a good suit is worth it here-there aren't that many reasonably priced great looking options in this country.

Dan 9:52 PM on 12 Jan 2005

Toni Spiliakos,

Yeah, I agree with the nude beach option :)

I do that when I can and I'm not the biggest fan of bathing suits when I can't. The reason they are so hard to fit in is perhaps that we were never meant to fit into such oddly shaped garments. Best wishes to those who seek the ultimate suit / cover-up.

Shannon 1:24 PM on 15 Jan 2005

Ok Ok im 18 and im getting into the design business and ill tell you a little secrect because i was tired of paying $120 for little peice of fabric. 1m of bathing suit fabric costs about $15 at the most that could make 2 suits. So if you have any sewing skills, make your own then you have the style and quality that you want and save $100. I PROMISE ILL MAKE EVERY SIZE SUIT!

Renee 7:12 PM on 14 Mar 2005

I completely agree with you Susan..
I'm small on top and no matter what I try, even the ones that downplay the hips or thighs, I end up with 2 wings instead of the one I started out with my ample sized butt flattened beyond belief!! As for the tops, they make every one look like they're sagging! ok enough now.

Leslie 9:11 PM on 8 Jun 2005

Wow, This has been great reading. I thought I was the only 34DDD on this earth. Finding a T-Shirt bra has been difficult and like all of you finding a bathing suit is even harder. My kids have given up trying to get me into the water. My six yr old wants to know why I just cant buy one of the so many pretty bathing suits at the store. I just say one day you will understand.

Krystal 3:22 PM on 14 Sep 2005

Elaine Miller I have to tell you that to have curves is not to be fat. I am mortified to hear you say that. I have always been extremely curvy since I hit puberty. I find that curves are beautiful. I don't believe that bodies like that of Paris Hilton or Gwyneth Paltro are at all attractive. Beyonce Knowles' body however is beautiful. I now of course have far surpassed my curves due to too much take out. I am a 36DD and I just as big in the hip area. I feel that many women see that as a problem, but it is not. I am a very insecure person however, I realize the difference between fat and curvy, and I feel that the companies who hire little anorexic white girls to model for them need to learn that difference. I felt fat and insecure as soon as I began to get hips. Then I started dating this guy who had a complete fascination with bubble butts. Up until that point I believed that it was all about having a large chest. He was in fact the first man who had no interest what so ever in my upper half. I now have a keychain that says Ghetto Booty. He gave it to me and though we have been broken up for years now, and I am in a very loving relationship with another man, I will always keep it to remind me that what I not find attractive, someone else might will. I realize that this was more of a rant than a helpful way of finding a bathing suit, but I just had to get that off of my chest!

Leslie 11:55 AM on 28 Sep 2005

This may be the first intelligent commentary I have ever seen about bathing suit shopping. I am busty and as far as I know there has never been a bathing suit top designed for a woman who goes over a C cup. You might be able to lay on the ground, but that is about it. These suite are soooo tiny I don't know of a single woman who can do do them justice. I just had a conversation this morning with someone who couldn't believe I don't own a swimsuit.... she is of course a B cup. Welcome to the world of above average sizes. I'm considering buying a Victoria's Secret bra this year and pretending it's a bathing suit. Most of the suits out there look like lingerie anyway and at least I won't have to worry about falling out if I happen to lean over. Someday someone is going to listen to all of us and build a true mix and match bathing suit and make millions...

kara 11:01 PM on 29 Sep 2005

I know exactly what y'all mean! I was so excited when I found a website which is because it stated that they made suits for big hell they do. Their 36/38E doesn't fit me and I wear 34DDD. I even went up one size from what their size chart recommends. But here's the kicker, they only give exchanges. No refunds on swimwear, but it doesn't tell you that until you try to return it. First get me all excited and then I'm pissed. It's not like I'm a freak of nature, the majority of my friends have 36C and bigger so why can't they make suits to fit? I got one years ago at Fredericks of Hollywood and it was perfect but they don't sell them anymore. Heck why make us happy.

gina 12:24 AM on 22 Jun 2006

Right on. I am large on top - used to be 32DD in my very thin, before kids, younger days and even then could never find a suit with tops that fit. Now I think it's even worse. I'm a 34DD and wear between a 10 and 12, but even size 12 suits have cups for someone who wears a B or C. so, altho I agree about the 2 sizes smaller miraclesuit thing, I have 2, but buy them 1 size bigger so they keep you firm, but don't make the bulge and the ones with the underwire are supportive. But, still not the greatest option. I HATE BATHING SUIT SHOPPING.

shannan 7:41 PM on 14 Aug 2006

Hi. I am in a lingerie tank with a bathing suit skirt and a meshy cover up on top that I tie right below my waist when I go to the pool or beach...but I look like a balloon and the chlorine's putting holes in the material. After 3 years of this blog, I read them all, and options are still scarce. I want to have a bra like support,with some coverage on my belly without looking like I am 80 years old. Can't they find cuter material? It's so UGLY, it either looks like outdated loud, floral patterns or something I'd see on a couch in the eighties.Yuck. Make the backs a little higher so we can wear our bra. I am checking all these recommended sites, but I am not satisfied with any so far. I REALLY want to wear my bra underneath with no one seeing it, but look cute, not dowdy. I wear a size 38DDD.

Mar 11:55 PM on 22 Aug 2006


Swimming in shorts and a shirt is the new bathingsuite. I hate wearing a bathingsuite at a public beach, or pool, or anywhere where people can see me. So I usually will take either a 1 peice or 2 peice and then wear shorts and a t shirt or tank top, which usually #1 reduces my size, and #2 is so comfortable.

jane 2:56 PM on 3 Feb 2007

Thanks for giving us a place to vent!
You hit the nail on the head! Who do these designers think they are designing for? As a 40 something "woman" I am not penciled shapped! I have 40 year old boobs (DD) that need to be held up - in something other than an old lady bathing suit!!!! HEY DESIGNERS>>>>>>>>>WE HAVE MONEY WE WILL SPEND -please make real bathing suits. It makes me sad to know so many of us are feeling this frustration! Wish I could design and sew - there is mint to be made! Only alternative is LL Bean and Lands End - and no pun intended they are very plain jane!

Arianna 7:57 PM on 10 Mar 2008

Oh my gosh.
I'm only 15 years old, and i think it's ridiculous that just because i have bigger boobs than an average person, that i can't find a bikini that doesn't make me look like i should be in a playboy magazine.
Honestly i tried on so many yesterday, and my boobs were not even half covered. I was trying on an X-Large! And nothing would even close to cover me. I'm not even like a plus size girl, i'm normal but with a bigger top and it sucks.
I am more modest than people my age, but still i can't find a single bathing suit that can cover my boobs. It's ridiculous. Some of the bathing suits i saw i could put the little triangles together and they still wouldn't cover even one of my boobs.
I shouldn't have to be stuck with the ugly bathing suits just because i am more "lucky" as my mother would put it. Screw that, i'd give up my boobs any day. They're just a big pain in the butt.

Elyse 3:39 PM on 13 Apr 2008

Im the same as Arianna, Im 16 and have been a 34 D for a few years. It dosnt sound big (not looking forward to my 20's and 30's in the boob area =/ ) but at 5'3'' and a size three/four jeans my boobs look totally unproprtional. the most frustrating thing is that i have bras that would make great swimtops! but shopping around i see nothing but the same little triangle things. i find myself looking around in the womens department for anything with a hint of underwire.. but then all the bottoms are too big. (that is, if i brave to look past the couch inspired floral patterns)
Heres an idea to the swim companies.. get a balcony bra.. make it look prettier (non-matronly anyone??? a little youth never hurts) .. make matching bottoms. viola! your rich. we're happy.
oh, and while your at it Swim Suit Makers, make a one piece design that covers but is sexy (*sexy* not *trampy*)
Give people options! one piece, tankini, boyshorts, strings, halter, balcony...but make sure they all compliment the "well endowed".

dasha' 9:51 PM on 22 Jun 2008

When I ordered my bathing suit online from Newport News I knew that I was risking huge disappointment, but I had to try something. When it finally came, it looked fabulous except for my 38F's that were spilling out all over the place! I am 23 years old and curvy. I am so tired of feeling like I am ridiculously overweight, when I am not. Even if I lost 35 pounds next week, I would still have large breats for my frame. I always have. When I was 12, I was a D-cup. I wore a training bra for TWO-WEEKS, THEN GREW OUT OF IT! Ladies, I think that we should contact these companies and complain. The more of us that do it the more attention they'll pay. I tried it with Victoria's Secret....just asking them why they didn't carry certain sizes and why if they did they were only available online not in the store. You know as if they wanted nothing to do with "the larger than average". I NEVER GOT A RESPONSE BACK FROM THEM. After three weeks of waiting for a response I wrote them again and said that my suspisions must have been correct.....Victoria's Secret thinks bigger women are unattractive and not sexy. THEY NEVER RESPONDED.

minidiva 10:10 PM on 8 Dec 2008

If you can find them, try Freya which is a European company that makes bras and swimsuits in larger cup sizes up to J cup.

Rachel 2:52 PM on 16 Feb 2009

I am not fat, by any means. I am 19, and do a lot of sport, but all of the fat on my body deposits itself on my thighs and butt. This is fine ordinarily, except when I have to wear a one-piece for camp, and EVERY SINGLE ONE makes it look like I have four ass cheeks. Surely someone can come up with a way around this?

Lindy 12:51 PM on 15 Apr 2009

I'm a very small girl but unfortunately with huge breasts. As i've gotten older, they have gotten bigger and more saggy. The only top that I can even begin to wear is from Sunsets, a tankini top (twist top). This fits, but I still look like a freak coming up the beach. It's very sad that you can find a minimizer bra that will actually make your breasts look two times smaller than what they are, but not a swimsuit. I guess all the makers of suits "assume" that all women have either had implants or are 18 years old. Well, you know, us older gals (40 and above) go to the beach too!

Lisa Bradley 9:16 PM on 8 Mar 2010

All I have to say is preach it sister.

Lauren 2:14 PM on 16 Mar 2010

Oh Sue, I know exactly how you feel. I'm 14 will a lovely 34DD. I'm not fat and have a small frame, just unporportioned boobs. I went shopping the other day and was so mad. Everything they had was too small! Walmarts looked like couches or Granny-wear, Target was the same exept way too little support, and don't get me started on Kholes. So I tried some specialty web-sites; like bravissimo, fantasie, and D-up. All of them were OVER $125!!! I'm not about to spend that much money for two little strips of fabric that I'll grow out of by the end of summer!!! Never the less that most of the tops were 75 to 95 bucks! It's ghastly the way they make us spend! Why can't people in the designing buisiness think about people over a B-cup? Were not millions of Paris Hiltons trotting about the beach with our bathing suits practically falling off our tiny bodies! What's with the fashion lately??

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