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How to Shop for a Swimsuit

Now that we’ve had our first few days of warmer weather, you may have turned your attention to the fact that eventually, you will need a new bathing suit. It’s still early, so you still have time to consider joining a convent or frantically attempt to make good on your New Year’s resolutions, but it never hurts to plan ahead.

When the weather does show signs of permanent warming and you can no longer put it off, usually some time around Memorial Day, gather your credit card and your nerve and prepare to shop for a new bathing suit. Initial planning for this task begins at home.  First, you’ll want to assess the damage accumulated since you bought your last suit, in order to know how many sizes up you’ll inevitably need to consider.  A full-length mirror is a must for this procedure, as well as a hand-held mirror for checking the back view.   Long hair should be put up so as to get a clear view of the entire expanse of your back.  Take out one or more suits from previous seasons.  Marvel at prior bad judgement; resolve to do better.

If the door has a lock, employ it.  Remove all clothing, especially socks.  Scrunch, squeeze or jump yourself into your previous suit.  Pay close attention to any area that feels binding or where flesh overlaps elastic.  These are areas which require a more generous size.  If, through hard work or sheer luck, you happen to find any part of the suit is baggy, note that down as well.  This will give you a good idea of what size or combination of sizes you’ll be looking at so as to avoid the mortifying embarrassment that comes with trying on a suit that’s way too small.

Now is a good time to objectively assess the style elements of previous suits.  Is a belted bikini really the best way to showcase your preference for ice cream sundaes?  Does leopard print really work at your mother-in-law’s beach house?  Does anybody really need a thong?

Okay. So now you probably know what you’re looking for and what size it should be.  Shower before you head out; remove any outlying hair.  Dress in clothing that is easily removed – single layers that button or zip, with slide-on shoes.  This makes the disrobing process quick and easy, and you’ll want to eliminate as many aggravations as possible.

Before braving the mall, there is one more important point to consider: on-line shopping.  Shopping on the internet is a great venue for Christmas gifts, cute boots or a basket of fruit for grandma, but it utterly fails as a medium for ordering a swimsuit.  Unless you happen to be built like a Victoria’s Secret model, the fit of any suit you order on-line is sure to disappoint.  This is strictly a try-before-you-buy type of purchase.

With purse in hand, flush with cash or credit for your purchase, head off to your nearest mall, department or specialty store.  Specialty stores are a nice option, because then you have a salesperson to help you overcome sticker shock as you pay for each piece separately.  After that, she’ll be handy for encouraging the purchase of special swimsuit cleaner that you don’t need and will never use.  Besides, specialty stores have a wider selection.

Once you’ve entered the store of choice, begin perusing the selection.  Hopefully, you’ve already determined whether you’re better proportioned for a bikini, tankini, maillot or burqa. Be prepared to insist you need a size larger than whatever the sales help suggests.  It’s so much better for morale to ask a size down or to peep out of the dressing room declaring, “I can’t come out – these drawers are enormous on me!”

If you have a favorite color for other clothing, use this as a starting point for choosing a suit color.  We most often naturally enjoy the colors that look best on us.  Try on a minimum of ten suits in the size and style previously determined.  Do not stray into flights of fantasy that have you trying on a half-cup-prop-me-up bra top with lace edging.  Unless you look like Heidi Klum, but if that’s the case, you don’t need this article.

When wondering how much skin you can show, error on the side of less.  Never overestimate how good you look.  The lighting in the dressing room is bound to be far dimmer than the July sunshine.  What looks good under pin lights can be startling in broad daylight.

If you have a critical friend who can go with you to keep you from a fashion disaster, utilize that advantage.  If you have a 13-year-old daughter, leave her home.  Chubby friends are bound to urge you to wear something too revealing, but hard-bodied friends will write in their diaries about the horrors they just witnessed, so it’s really hard to say which is better.

Don’t believe anything the salesclerk says.  It’s not her cellulite, what does she care?  Her main objective is to get you to choose the most expensive suit possible and then buy two.  Every suit you consider should be examined from every conceivable angle.  A word about self-assessment is necessary here: on the one hand, it’s important to realize that women’s bodies come in many different shapes and sizes, so don’t wish for an unachievable appearance.  On the other hand, it’s worth using a discerning eye – are you showing too much?  Do the parts that show stand up to public appraisal?  How does the suit appear when you bend over, both from the front and from the rear?  Is it comfortable when you sit, bend, reach? Do all the parts stay in their allotted place or is there a constant battle to rearrange straps and bits?

When you finally nail down a suit that flatters, consider buying another of the same or similar make. Finding a great suit takes some fortitude.  If it’s a home run, buy two.

Swimsuit shopping is not a favorite activity for many women older than 19, but with care, planning and a realistic self-assessment, you can leave the mall with at least one suit that will be attractive, appropriate and maybe even flattering. Good luck!



About 25hoursadaymom

Homeschooling, work-at-home, college student mom of 3 kids. Busy, like most moms with such a description. Here to bounce ideas around for squeezing the most out of each day.

2 responses »

  1. Thanks for the fun read & tips! Thankfully I still fit in the suit I bought before ds #5 was born! 🙂


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