Bathing suit season. Did your heart just drop into your stomach? Can you feel your blood pressure skyrocketing? Those 3 little words can invoke more fear and anxiety than almost any others in the English language, especially in a mature, plus-size woman. But they don’t have to! Bathing suit season should be about carefree, fun in the sun time with your family and friends and we’re going to help you find the perfect bbw bikini or swimsuit for your unique curves in just 3 simple steps. I am wearing a not-so-tiny weeny black polka dot bikini by Esther Williams with a SHEIN cover up. I am a pear shape. Buy the cover-up HERE. Buy similar Esther William bathing suits HERE.
1. Take Your Measurements
In women’s fashion, the question “What size are you?” is a riddle that will never be solved. I personally have clothes in my closet that range from sizes 14-24 and everything fits. Since there’s no universal sizing, it’s crucial to know your measurements so you can choose the right size based on the brand’s size guide, especially if you are shopping online and can’t try before you buy.
Don’t forget to use the buddy system! It’s very hard to take accurate measurements of your own body so ask a friend or tailor to use the measuring tape. See this chart HERE by Aqua Bay Swim Co on how to measure your bust (not the same as your bra band size), underbust, waist, hips, and cup size, and remember not to pull the tape too tightly.
2. Determine Your Plus Size Body Shape
NOTE: I highly recommend that Any body shape with a larger chest choose swimsuits that have underwire or sports bra tops and are sized specifically by cup to ensure more support and lift.
There are six basic plus size body shapes: apple, rectangle, pear or triangle, inverted triangle, hourglass, and diamond.
- Wide and rounded shoulders
- Full breasts
- Most weight is in your stomach and shoulders
Shopping tips: Choose suits that camouflage the tummy, especially with attached tummy control panels. Diagonal and vertical stripes are your friends but be leary of horizontal stripes because they can make you look wide and bulky.
- Little waist definition
- Breasts and butt are small or average
Shopping tips: Like apples, rectangles should look for suits that camouflage the tummy with panels and diagonal and vertical stripes. Push-up tops and/or voluminous tops will enhance your breasts.
3. Pear or triangle
- Shoulders are significantly more narrow than hips
- Small to average breasts
- Waist curve is well-defined
- Hips and thighs are prominent
Shopping tips: Create the illusion of a more proportioned shape by focusing all the attention on your upper body and minimizing your larger lower half. Try wearing diagonal and vertical, not horizontal, stripes on your bottom half and horizontal ones on top to enhance your shoulders.
Like rectangles, push-up tops and/or voluminous tops will make your breasts appear larger.
4. Inverted Triangle
- Upper body is wider than the lower body
- Wide and broad shoulders
- Breasts are large
- Hips are narrow compared to the shoulders
- Butt is trim or average size
Shopping tips: Deep, plunging V or U necks will minimize your shoulders and adornments like bows, ruffles, and frills on the bottom will create the illusion of fuller hips. Prints are also part of the magic trick; look for plain, dark colors on top and bolder, brighter prints on the bottom.
- Large breasts and wide hips
- Shoulders and hips are well-proportioned
- Waist is well-defined
- Shoulders-waist-hips proportion is approximately 4-2-4
Shopping tips: This is the most proportioned body type and can wear almost any type of suit, even a bbw bikini. Since you have larger breasts, though, make sure the top has lots of support; underwire or a sports bra top for those who prefer wire-free styles.
- The lower stomach, buttocks and back of the hips have the most weight
- Legs and arms are slender
- Shoulders are less bulky than apple
- Waist is a sloping outline versus the rounder one of an apple
Shopping tips: Call attention to your shapely arms and legs with brighter patterns near them and camouflage your midsection and back hips with darker colors.
3. Find Your Type of Swimsuit
Now that you know what type of body you have, let’s find out which type of swimsuit will show it off to perfection! For the cultured and curvy gal, there are 4 best types of suits and many of them are available in both underwire and no-wire options. Whether you’re riding the waves, building a city of sand castles with the grandkids, or just soaking up the sun at the pool, the right suit will make all the difference to your self-confidence.
- One Piece: Best for any body type
This type is the most popular because it flatters almost any body shape with strong hold and often ruching for extra control. Buy the Monif C. Sequin swimsuit HERE.
Unitards are a kind of one-piece that combines a bathing suit with shorts and are especially good for those who experience painful chub rub.
Find other ways to stop chub rub by reading my post HERE.
Buy the Sporti Colorblock Unitard HERE.
I want to give a special mention to Magicsuit and Miraclesuit swimwear. Magicsuit promises to make you “Appear Sleeker, Slimmer in Seconds®.” Their brand, the Miraclesuit, offers similar results with a “Look 10 lbs Lighter in 10 Seconds™ tagline. Magicsuits carry sizes up to 24W. Their brand is pricier than most others with a retail tag of approximate $192 for the romper. Buy it HERE.
- Sarong Front: Best for any body type that needs to camouflage the stomach
The sarong is designed with an extra panel of fabric in the front that drapes loosely over the midsection, elongating your frame and giving an overall slimming effect. Buy HERE.
- Swimdresses: Best for apple and inverted triangle body types
The marriage of a regular one-piece suit with a flared skirt that glides over the hips, thighs, and rear for a stunning but comfortable fit, swimdresses offer more coverage than the average style. Buy the Laser Cut Off the Shoulder Swimdress HERE.
- Two-Piece: Best for rectangle and pear body types
Gasp! You mean plus-size women can actually wear two-piece bathing suits? Yes, of course! The 2 best kinds of two-piece suits for women with curves are high-waisted bikinis and “tankinis”.
High waisted bikinis feature bottoms that give the illusion of both a longer torso and longer legs and cover the stomach by rising slightly above the natural waist.
Tankinis are two-piece bathing suits that consist of a tank top and a bikini bottom, usually available in one uniform size or with separate sizes for tops and bottoms. Peplum tankinis are especially popular because they provide more coverage with a skirt-like flounce at the waist. Buy the SHEIN Twist Front Peplum Tankini HERE.
Cover-ups are great for a little extra modesty or comfort coverage and come in the form of both tops and pants.
Buy the La Blanca Plus Size Riviera Renewal Swimsuit and Tunic from Macy’s HERE.
Hats are making a major comeback and they’re the cherry on top of the perfect swim ensemble. Not to mention, hats provide protection from those pesky UV rays. Purchase SHEIN hat HERE.
No matter how light or dark your skin is, PLEASE protect it from the sun with the right sunscreen. Find out how by reading my post HERE.
Plus Size Swimwear Retailers
Check out these great stores for bbw bikini styles and plus size swimwear (in alphabetical order)
Now that you know how to shop and what to shop, you need to know where to shop. Below are a few retailers with some of the largest selections of swimsuits for your curvy plus size shape. As a result, you will be beach ready in no time!
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