Ask Belle: Swimsuit Recommendations

Apr 27, 2015

Hi Belle, 

I recently realized that my suits are getting outdated and not age-appropriate anymore. I was wondering if you could make some bathing suit recommendations that can free me from my collection of old string bikinis from spring breaks of years past! I would still be interested in bikinis, but with more support for bustier gals, some structured cups (for those cold days) and a more stylish grown-up look.

Thanks a bunch! Andrea

It’s true.  There comes a point in every woman’s life when the tiny bikini is just not going to get the job done.  It can be a real blow to your self-esteem, but it doesn’t have to be.

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J.Crew Skirted Bandeau Suit ($118)

For all of my complaints about J.Crew, and they are many, I still think they make some of the best mid-price swimwear on the market.  I like that you can mix and match bottoms and tops to get the suit that’s right for you.

This skirted suit offers a vintage feel with a bit of coverage.  The ruching is also great camouflage.  I also like this v-neck one-piece in a host of bright colors.  And if you want to save a bit on a suit, try J.Crew Factory.

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Angel Convertible Bikini ($55 for the top, $35 for the bottom)

Victoria’s Secret is another great place to find suits.  They have lots of styles at good prices.  There is one trick that I’ve found, however.  Always size up.  If I take my regular size, I’m always self-conscious about it, but if I go up one, it’s much better.

I like this convertible bikini because it offers more structure up top, and you can choose the style of bottom that suits your figure.  If you’re looking for a full-coverage bottom, try their hipster style.

They offer a lot of great one-pieces and tankinis for more coverage.  I am in love with this high neck one piece with a leaf print.

Plus-size or petite?  Leave your recommendations in the comments.  Suggestions are always appreciated.

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  1. Yael says:

    I am fairly busty – 28F – and I buy my suits on figleaves. Their own brand isn’t too expensive and has a great retro vintage look. I have a bra-sized red polka dot bikini that is my go-to! I have a multicolored tankini top from Panache for more intensive swimming that I pair with inexpensive solid bottoms.

    • Katie says:

      30DDD here and I second the figleaves rec. I’ve bought Freya suits from there, and their bikini tops fit just like their bras. I wish I could wear J.Crew swim, but the 32D is just too small.

      ASOS is also great for bustier ladies. I have a bikini top from the ASOS swim line, and it fits great and was relatively inexpensive (under $30).

  2. jen says:

    The Esther Williams Bathing suits (available thru Modcloth) are fantastic and come in plus sizes.

  3. Monica says:

    I got a J Crew tankini last year and I love it. They have a good selection of colors and I love that they have extended sizes AND D-cup suits available!

  4. Anne says:

    Depending on *how* busty you are – I also like Athleta, they have a line of bra-sized swimwear. I bought a two piece suit a couple of years ago and it has held up well and was secure enough that I even wore it when I did a sprint triathlon, as well as taking my toddler to swim lessons.

    I also recently bought a two piece from old navy with a halter-style top, this style:
    https://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=3697660020001&cid=45262&locale=en_US

    It was substantial enough for my D going on DD first-trimester boobs and since both the neck and back bands tie, the fit is totally adjustable – you can buy the size you need based on coverage and not worry about the band being too big. I packed 4 swimsuits on a recent trip to Mexico and ended up wearing this one the entire time – basic black, comfortable, kept me secure but not frumpy. Can’t beat it for the price.

  5. Jo says:

    Modcloth’s Beach Blanket Bingo bathing suit is amazing (also comes in regular and plus sizes). I thing the same style comes in other colors/patterns too. I have it in red polka dots and I get tons of compliments every time I wear it. https://productshots3.modcloth.net/productshots/0154/7039/f1806f30a315f14255f77611b098a0af.jpg?1428693087

  6. Gabrielle says:

    Does anyone have recommendations for a suit I can actually swim in(laps, or hanging with friends’ kids), but still looks cute?

  7. Kyra says:

    Surprisingly, Old Navy has some pretty decent plus size swimsuits. They are moderately priced, fit well, and have a range of styles.

    • Sof says:

      The first one is my swim suit! I came down here specifically to recommend it. I bought it because I was attending a work conference in Cancun and I didn’t want to be wearing a bikini with a bunch of work colleagues. This definitely did the trick – it’s cute and fun, but it doesn’t make me look like I’m trying to relive my college years.

      I should add, though, that it probably won’t work well for ladies with short torsos.

  8. Anna C. says:

    I’ve had good luck at Lands End. They have petites, and if you’re willing to sift through a bit, there are usually a handful of cute suits every year. I don’t always find their two piece bottoms to be the most flattering, but I have just mixed and matched with a solid bottom from another store. Suits I’ve had for a few years have held up really well.

  9. Betsy says:

    I’m in my mid 40s and even though I can fit into a bikini I am wary off looking like I am trying too hard. I still wear my J. Crew suits but have had increasing success with Lands’ End (love the rash guards!) and Athleta. Great quality and I can find the support I need (32 DD).

  10. Nicci says:

    You totally forgot to mention Albion! Their suits are gorgeous and feminine, with a retro flair. I love them!

  11. Stephanie says:

    I’m a fan of Trina Turk and Robin Piccone suits. I still get bikinis, but they are more structured and just look more substantial. I particularly like the bandeau tops– it eliminates that issue of boobs falling out the middle, which I get with many of the “bra top” or underwire tops. They might have “structure” but they don’t have enough fabric to keep from having a wardrobe malfunction.

  12. L says:

    I second Athleta. Their bra sizing is true to size and this is one of the most flattering bikini tops I’ve ever owned: https://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=94579&vid=1&pid=257106012. As for J.Crew, they even vanity size their swimwear, so the 36D top I ordered is more like a 40F.

  13. Andrea says:

    Athleta! Agreed! No flimsy suits. Good, sturdy material. Holds you in everywhere.

  14. Christine says:

    It may seem counter-intuitive, but I love how forgiving string bikini bottoms are! I have wide hips and carry weight around there, so other suits always cut me off and are extremely unflattering and uncomfortable. They’re also good for my petite figure.

  15. LS says:

    I’ll add another point for Lands End. I have a scar on my hip that I like to keep covered, so I’ve bought a few of their mini swimini skirts. They are pretty cute and give me more coverage. I can never get LE tops to fit, so I buy a neutral bottom from LE and then get a more youthful patterned top somewhere else.

    I do not recommend Victoria’s Secret. I bought a cute orange suit from there a few years ago and even after wearing and washing several times, it bled all over my beach towel. It also faded really quickly compared to much cheaper suits like Old Navy.

    • TT says:

      Trick for colorfast suits – soak in a bit of vinegar before washing the first time. The color will outlive the suit. I do about 1/4 cup white vinegar in the sink, and then fill with water until the suit is covered – soak for an hour or so and then wash. I used to do this on swimteam and my suits would never lose color.

  16. M says:

    Another vote for Lands End! They actually have some pretty cute stuff, and the suits hold up well. They also have DDD tops, which is a rarity among the bigger brands.

  17. Lacey says:

    I highly recommend Tara Grinna for anyone – but they also accomodate those of us with larger cup sizes, and carry plus-size suits as well. They’re sold at a pretty fair mid-range price point and hold up for years.

    Can be found here: https://taragrinna-swimwear.com/

  18. Michelle says:

    My favorite suit ever is a Juicy Couture one. I honestly buy them on Amazon. They always have adorable one pieces!

  19. LDC says:

    Athleta bathing suits on sale are the best!

  20. A.J. says:

    I love ASOS for affordable mix-and-match swimwear that actually comes in BRA SIZES! and they have a lot of options for larger busts (which do not apply to me, but awesome for them!)

  21. Seafolly from Anthropologie makes a really cute retro bathing suit. I love mine.

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