How to Buy a Bathing Suit When Your Body Isn't Perfect

Small and large swimming costumes on washing
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No one likes to buy a bathing suit — at least no one that I know. Most women cringe when they try on swimsuits and then they buy the first one that doesn’t make them feel absolutely awful. But if you’re trying to lose weight, the process can be especially hard. How do you find the best bathing suit when you’re not your perfect size?

I talked to a few experts to gather tips especially for women who are trying to slim down. You might be a size 10 trying to become a size 8, or a size 24 trying to reach a size 18. No matter what your current size and no matter what your perfect size happens to be, you can use their bathing suit buying tips before your next trip to the beach.

How to Buy the Best Bathing Suit

So what’s the most important thing to look for when you’re buying a bathing suit? “Fit!” says Kim Caldwell. Kim, also known as “Kimmay,” is the stylist behind Hurray Kimmay, a service devoted to helping women of all sizes find lingerie and swimwear that makes them feel strong, sexy and confident. She says that it is essential to buy a suit that fits your size now, not the size that you want to be in the future.

She adds that when women are losing weight, there's often an excess of skin or softness to the body, most notably in the breast and tummy area. “To support your bust,” she says, “try a bathing suit with built-in bra support and structure. For the tummy, try a smoothing or slimming style with tummy control for a sleek look.”

So what kind of bathing suit looks best on a larger body? Believe it or not, if you’re trying to lose weight your best bathing suit doesn’t have to be a one piece. Two-piece swimsuits work well, too. “There are varying degrees of coverage in two pieces, says Kim. You can opt for a high-waisted bikini bottom or tankini.”

If you do choose a one piece, Kim recommends looking for ruching and clever geometric designs. “They accentuate curves and offer coverage where you want it. You can also add a flirty little skirt to your swimsuit for some thigh or tummy coverage without skimping on style. Some brands even offer bathing suit bottoms with chic, adjustable swim skirts. They are very fashionable!” 

What We Like
  • Built-in bra support

  • Tummy control

  • Ruching or geometric designs

What We Don't Like
  • Size doesn't fit now

  • Suits that don't fit your style

  • Tiny bikinis

The Worst Swimsuit for a Bigger Body

There are a few blunders to avoid when you’re buying a bathing suit. I asked Molly, a fashion stylist at to name a few. “First,” she says, “avoid any styles that just aren’t you.” That sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get carried away and distracted by displays in the store. She recommends that you look for something that you can see yourself wearing. She says that “if the suit looks a little too crazy just walk on by because more likely than not, you won't be comfortable in it.”

Both experts also suggest staying away from teeny-weeny bikinis that offer little to no coverage. “Be kind to your body as you go through the weight loss journey,” says Kim. “Stay away from anything that makes you want to run and hide or doesn't fit well or feel great.”

Where to Buy the Best Bathing Suit

Since bathing suit shopping can often be stressful, many women now choose to shop for a swimsuit online. But online bathing suit shopping has pros and cons. Trying on different styles in your own home can be liberating and offers more security than struggling in the store. And some online vendors, like, even offer the option of chatting with a stylist if you’re concerned about fit. But both experts agreed that trying on the suit in a store will probably provide you with the best fit.

The Best Bathing Suit Brands for Bigger Bodies

Regardless of where you choose to buy a bathing suit, there are a few brands that each expert recommends.

Molly says that High Dive by ModCloth, Esther Williams, Seafolly and Jessica Simpson are great brands to try. “These three brands are best known for their vintage and unique styles,” she says, “and they also offer both regular and plus sizes, so there is something perfect for everyone.”

Kim mentioned Seafolly as well. “Panache, Cleo by Panache, Freya, Fantasie, Karla Colletto and Miss Mandalay have great cup-sized swimwear and supportive bathing suits. And Miraclesuit has surprisingly beautiful suits with built-in slimming technology. “

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