by Ali Cudby
Memorial Day Weekend is just around the corner, and swimming pools are being primped and primed for summer. With the opening of the pools comes swimsuit season and the attendant shopping excursions.
For full-busted women, swimsuit shopping can be a dilemma. We already feel exposed – and the dress-sized offerings in most local stores aren’t cut for our proportions. Fortunately, in recent years, more companies are offering bra-sized swim options in an array of cuts and colors. I was lucky enough to sample several suits recently – here’s what I found.
First of all, a note: Swimwear is a very individual shopping endeavor and these observations are based on my personal preferences. That said, I have never understood the tankini. It’s a bathing suit for women who want the sass of a bikini but with a little more coverage. A woman who wants that modest two-piece is likely to feel that way for a reason. And yet…the tankini exposes the one area that most women are self-conscious about, the belly roll. I’m sure there are toned, athletic women out there who love a tankini but personally, I don’t get it. Given my bias, I am not reviewing any.
SHIRRED FRONT PANEL ONE-PIECE WITH TUMMY CONTROL UNDERWIRE
This one-piece from Aerin Rose features an underwire built into the front of the bodice, with an elastic band that continues to the back, for support. The criss-cross sweetheart neckline with adjustable straps compliments a fuller bust. Bathing suits are sized by both dress and cup size, for ideal fit. Cup sizes come in D/DD and F/G.
The ruched panel that runs over the stomach is flattering, and is backed with a firmer fabric, for light tummy control. The body of the suit is forgiving and might run a tad large.
This particular suit provides generous body coverage, and there is a wide range of one- and two-piece styles in the collection.
NATALIE BIKINI AND SOPHIA ONE-SHOULDER SWIMSUIT
If you’re looking for a two-piece with support to rival your lingerie, the top of the Natalie bikini is constructed like an underwire bra, complete with three-part cup, power mesh and adjustable straps. Natalie has bra sizing in a D- through K-cup (band sizes 30-38). The folded bottom is fun and enables the wearer to decide how much belly to bare. Bottoms are offered in dress sizes.
The Sophia one-piece offers a built-in strapless bra, complete with interior backwings, adjustable band and underwire cups. The suit comes in a rich purple and is sexy while providing significant body coverage. The one-shoulder detail can be detached.
ISIS HIGH WAIST BRIEF AND SWIM BRA
Elomi recently launched their swim line, which offers an attractive mix-and-match wardrobe for full-figured women. What is smart about this collection, especially for the Elomi customer, is that it bypasses the tummy bulge dilemma that plagues the tankini wearer. The style of bottom provided to sample was a high-waisted brief, reminiscent of a shaper, that stopped below the bust-line. This is a flattering style on women who many not feel comfortable baring their middles. The top is also bra-sized and constructed in the cut-and-sewn method, with the addition of power mesh for optimal lift and projection. Elomi offers additional pieces designed to be worn over the bra-top – both dress and tankini styles. The swim bra is offered in 36-46 bands and DD-HH cups. Bottoms and other pieces are sized 16-26 (UK sizing, comparable to 12-22 US).
Empreinte’s swim collection offers a variety of styles in one and two pieces, in cup sizes C-F. The Sienne two-piece style features construction very much like an underwire bra. What sets it apart is a firm, contoured cup. This style might be helpful to women who are asymmetrical or wish to have some structure to even out their bustline in swimwear. In the style I personally sampled for this article, Empreinte tended to run smaller in the bottom half of the swimsuit. However, some of their styles run larger than others – some going up to a size 12 and others to an 18. Women who need the combination of full-busted on top and narrower on the bottom (you know who you are, and I am not counted in those ranks) will appreciate having even more options in the category.
This sampling of full-busted swim styles is just the tiny fraction of the brands – let alone styles – that are in the market today. And options continue to emerge and evolve to better support our curves, allowing all women the appropriate showcase for their Fab Foundations.
Ali Cudby is the author of the book Busted! The Fab Foundations™ Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic (December 2011), and CEO of Fab Foundations™, an intimate apparel consulting company.
Ali can be found on Twitter@alicudby, and you can be a fan of the Ali Cudby’s page on Facebook. To learn more about bras that fit,download a free chapter of Busted!