It’s that time again when I begin to drag out the warm weather clothes and contemplate what will I want to keep, or still look good, and what will go. I love thinking about what new items I might add to my mix for summer. Swimwear looks trickle in from the pretty mail catalogs that and magazine features. At the same time each year, it seems to me something on my body gets less ‘fit’ through no fault of my own! I eat better and I have better habits, but still it happens..Anyone else feel that?
Many years, I have attempted the buying of a new pretty swimsuit, gone to try them on even, only to retreat back to the classic dark one pieces in the bottom drawer. Those dark suits I rely on to best cover the parts I don’t love.. namely my stomach, back fat, a wrinkled chest. Somehow the dark made me feel like those bits are somewhat more concealed and hidden. It is almost like I am trying to recede on the pool deck. Then there’s my large collection of coverups that I add on top..
This year, no more. Have I lost weight? No, I am probably up about 12 pounds from the pandemic. Also, I haven’t worked out as much thanks to a broken toe. What has changed is my attitude about things. After a year where a huge amount of our fellow Americans died or were seriously ill, and where vacations were rare, I’ve thought a lot about how I look at my body and my life and how much I judge myself.
Marianne, a sweet reader from Florida, who has become an Instagram friend, sent me a note about something I shared… about baking originally. We both shared we wanted to drop about 10 pounds and then she sent this note, which I loved..
“I just thought of something. Until I was 41 I weighed 120 pounds, nice slim and muscular, but I never wore a bikini and actually hated myself in a bathing suit. Now I am 140 pounds, and I think I don’t look so bad in some bikinis. I’m just not so hard on myself I guess. I know I don’t look fantastic, but darn it, I’m OK. Youth is wasted on the young. I would rock that body now!”
I could have written the same paragraph, as could many of us. I loved it so much I reread it a few times. This is what we all need to hear more of. Could we all not starts to say the same about ourselves, and at the same time change how others feel about their bodies too?
How many of us have looked a a photo just five years ago and thought, hey I didn’t look so bad? Did we feel we looked as good as we did? Probably not. Let’s not waste precious years worrying about being perfect. Let’s all love ourselves as we are. Each of us have attractive features that are unique to us.. Embrace them! We all deserve the swimsuit we want to wear. And we don’t need to be sucked in or hoisted up unless we really want to. We just need to be us and feel pretty. Get dressed in front of the mirror, stand tall, know your body and love it, flaws and beauty spots.
Like most everyone, I have spots, red bumps, dry skin, veins, cellulite. I try not to focus on those. At the pool or beach, most people are too busy worrying about their own appearances to judge yours. This year, let’s stop waiting for the dream body and realize it’s the one we are living in now. Someday we may get more fit, or less, but we are pretty darn good in this moment.
Are you feeling the same?
If you don’t know where to begin, I recommend hauling yourself off to a store that carries a lot of suits. In our area that is usually Macy’s- or Bloomingdales. Go on a weekday or weeknight, when the dressing rooms aren’t bustling and take many, many styles in. Try a few, find the numbers that work and the brands.. Then go back out and get another pile. Try again. Take your time. Even if you go home with nothing, you’ll get an idea of what brands and sizes work for you. Take photos with your phone camera to remember which ones work- or that you liked.
I am a 6 in most clothes, but have swimsuits that are size 12, so it’s hard to predict what sizes you need in a swimsuit! Don’t feel badly if it’s a lot bigger than other clothes. Fit is what matters. Once you find a style that flatters, and makes you feel great, you can consider that a brand one that works for you! If shopping for suits is a real pain, you might consider buying the suit you love in more than one color, to get you through a few seasons!
Below, a few suits I’ve been considering…I’m choosing across a broad range of style, but a few brands I know are good quality -and some unique styles we might find appealing and different. Please share if you’ve found a swim brand that you especially like. I love hearing from you!
J. Crew has outstanding suits for the price and quality. I have had many over the years. I used to love their maillots back in the 90’s ! Read their reviews for fit. I love when someone kindly states their weight and height and what size worked for them, immensely helpful in ordering the correct size! This one piece suit is what I bought for summer and it’s supportive and beautifully made. I also loved that it is a Liberty print! It’s on sale right now..
I also love this new one in scrunchie fabric- and cute colors.
Last year I bought this one shouldered J Crew number and I still love it and think it’s pretty flattering and chic with the bow on the shoulder. Comes in an assortment of colors..And this year they have a new version without the bow here in pink. I do think this design is great on a lot of body types.
I also adore the scallops on this red cutie, (other colors available)
and the reissued 1993 Underwire Swim top, which are often hard to find. Cute bottoms to match too.
The full collection of J. Crew suits can be found here. They have a wide range of suits up to 3X and long torso sizes.
I have always loved the look of a sweater over a bathing suit… From the J. Crew lookbook…
Anyway, back to suits..La Blanca is another brand that makes great suits. This Goddess suit has been highly rated is adjustable from the back to make tighter or looser.
This La Blanca Tankini is pretty and has underwire and you and choose the bottom style you like. ( Also in a pretty soft aqua and white.) I also love this Animal Instinct Cross-Back Suit.. This comes in a bikini version too with a longish top.
More great classic and well-made La Blanca styles here.
This unique bikini look from BLEU by Rod Beattie. Rod Beattie is a Southern Cal swimwear designer who worked for decades for Anne Cole and La Blanca and began his own brand in 2010. I like that the shoulders are covered here and the upper back, places that are always so hard to get sunscreen on (and a place of lot of skin cancers.) This is has more bottom coverage too, but still looks sexy.
Nordy’s has more Bleu By Rod Beattie suits. As one reviewer said these are bathing suits made for women, not teenagers!
Robin Piccone is a California swimwear designer who began her career by crafting neoprene into women’s swimsuits for Body Glove. Those suits were trailblazers and are now in The Met. Her line is consistently well made and I have had several of her suits over the years. I am loving this Robin Piccone top which has more support than it shows (I wish they would use models who are not size 0!) Many styles of bikini bottoms too.
This one piece has been highly rated and has underwire – more colors in addition to this red and bougainvillea..
More Robin Piccone styles here.
Trina Turk is one of my favorite California designers and always has fabulous swimwear in gorgeous fabrics and in fabrics she designed herself. Her Paddle Suits have SPF 50 coverage, for those who want more protection and in the water an extended time…
She was the first to do off the shoulder swimsuits like this below, too. All Trina’s swimwear here.
Athleta has swim now too and in many unique styles too. This Seascape Tankini looks easy and flattering with a built in sport bra..So many styles – many with support of sports bras which is nice. All the Athleta swim here.
Lastly Tory Burch has some excellent swimwear. I love her one piece styles. How cute is this gingham suit?
I also love this Floral Cutout, and this Climbing Vine suit..
All of Tory’s darling swimwear is here and also here.
I’ll continue to add any good links to sources for swim here as the season progresses.
Thank you Marianne for inspiring me and letting me share…Hope this might change your mindset a little about swimsuits and how we see ourselves!
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Awesome post Kim! I had to laugh when I saw the Libert print suit as I have the scarf in the same print and I too love a one-shoulder suit (this year’s bikini). As if we needed one more thing in common! I saw the JCrew pink in bandeau style in the store here and it really is a pretty, soft shade. I’m still shopping for another suit for this summer and I’m going to check out some of your picks. Cheers to not hiding ourselves away in the dark anymore!
Marianne too funny!! Isn’t that print great? I do love the one-shoulder looks so much too.. I wish we had swim in our J. Crew store, we do not, but I saw that bandeau look! So pretty.
Thanks again for the inspiration and for making me stop worrying about being perfect and making me appreciate what I have now! Let’s get out there. xo
Excellent post! Looking back, I realize I had a very good figure in my 20s and early 30s but was so overly critical of myself! I try to be kinder now. You showed some great swimsuits here. I bought two from Boden last year for a trip to Florida, right before the pandemic (the last time I traveled) and I like them a lot. Boden has several styles and sell the pieces of their 2-piece suits separately, handy if you are different sizes on the top and bottom.
Cathy, I can relate so much… Never liked myself in a bathing suit- when I was young and fit! I do think we need to be kinder to ourselves! It’s never too late to enjoy life and love our bodies. Thank you for mentioning Boden. I didn’t know they did swim. I always love their things! xo
Check out Albion swimwear too. That is where I found my suit this year. Well made, super cute, kind of retro styles. It makes me sad how many of my friends will not go to the beach or swim in the pool because they are unhappy with their bodies. Who cares? We are alive! Let’s dive in! Thanks for a great and encouraging post.
Hi Penelope, Thank you so much. I will look at Albion! And you are so right. Why let a bathing suit prevent you from enjoying the good things in life! ‘We are alive. Let’s dive in.’ I want this framed! So inspiring thank you! xo
Francesca B. says
Love your post Kim and so true. My beautiful man liked me in bikinis and i was often far too shy! Wish I had done that more now, looking back in my fifties. Now I tell my daughter the same thing! Enjoy you! Celebrate that beautiful strong and powerful body show it off !! Gorgeous swimsuits here. I like Lands End too.
Happy Mother’s Day !!
Francesca, I know isn’t it too bad we don’t love ourselves as we are? Great advice to your daughter too. She is lucky. Thank you I will check out Land’s End! I had forgot about them! Happy Mother’s Day weekend! xo
LA CONTESSA says
I have seen the two piece suits with a high waist bottom bit which is flattering as well………….
We do not belong to a club nor have a pool so its been years since I purchased a BATHING SUIT!
MAYBE EVEN A DECADE!!!
I HAVE THE COVER UPS HOWEVER……….CONTESSA AND HER LOVE OF CAFTANS!
Elizabeth, I just had lunch with two friends who also have not bought suits in years. I think a lot of us feel like we have one that fits, why go through the trauma unless we have a ‘holiday’ or place to go. Caftans are always good! You could open a shop I think just for them!
I still wear a bikini but wondering whether I should cover up more now that I’ve hit 50. The gingham swimsuit that you shared is my favourite one. You’ve made me realise that I need to declutter my wardrobe and get some things that fit better. Hope to make it to the stores soon.
I hope you don’t give up on bikinis just because you’re 50. I’m 54 this month and have bought my first bikini in years.
Loree, NO do not cover up more just because you’re 50! Like Marianne said, age shouldn’t matter. Do what you want!! There are no ‘rules’ anymore. We don’t need to look like our grandmothers did at 50. Some people past 50 wear bikinis better than younger people.
Decluttering is always good so you can see what you really use and need. xo
Carol Heartfelt Whimsies says
Kim—you are so right! No matter our age, women just seem to be hard on ourselves. I’m trying to embrace my “relative” youth because as my dear (too honest) hubby always says—-you’ll never be any younger than you are right now!
Oh Carol I love that! How sweet and he is so right! xo
Really great post Kim … the best selection of swimwear I’ve seen, including magazine articles etc. Your choices are excellent. I especially love your black one shoulder and Liberty print ones.
I’m speaking as someone who looks but hasn’t bought, for a few years … and yes, the ones I do wear are black!
Love the advice from Penelope “ we’re alive , lets dive in!” 💕
Gosh, why are we so tough on ourselves? I’ve always felt self conscious in swimwear and started collecting pretty cover ups/kaftans in my 4O’s. Being a redhead means I burn easily so they’re practical as well. Good excuse! 😉
My biggest regret, regarding body image, was at my daughters wedding which was in August in France a few years ago. I was “fairly” ( more self criticism) happy with my weight and chose my outfits for each day so carefully but even though there was a gorgeous pool at the Chateau I decided not to take swimwear or even any kaftans! How could I have been so stupid… I just felt I’d be too self conscious by the pool.
Once we arrived I realised I’d made the wrong decision and spent many hours lazing and chatting under trees by the pool, just never going in!
If I could turn back time I’d change that in a heartbeat.
It’s seems easy to say, but let’s all try to love ourselves, as we do our friends and family and be less self critical.
Love that you bought a bikini this year for your trip and yes, definitely agree Lorna should keep wearing hers!
Rosemary thanks so much – and for your story about your daughter’s wedding. I can think of a few instances where I have also ‘opted out’ of things that involved wearing a swimsuit. You are so right, why? Later looking back, I also thought I missed out on a lot of fun, but was more concerned with how I looked. Funny, I can’t think of many instances where men ever do this, but we women sure do!
I love collecting caftans too..We fair people need them!
I hope we all are kinder this ear as you said to ourselves! xo Kim
Oops error! Re read and realised that it was Marianne who’s just bought a bikini! Great Marianne… enjoy wearing it! 😊
Wonderfully curated group of swimsuits. At 74 I’m not thrilled about wearing swimsuits or shorts but I love your sentiments expressed here.
Sally thank you! We just have to do what feels good to us. xo
Kim-great post! I just got back from three weeks in Hawaii and could have used some of these cute suits! One thing I learned after having a near-death experience in November is life is too short to not enjoy every minute and appreciate the body that you have. When I go on a hike or even a walk, I’m so grateful that I’m here to experience that and how lucky am I to have this body that allows me to do amazing things every day. It’s not the body I had when I was in my 20s, but I’m alive and able to walk, see and hear, and experience this beautiful life
Hi Linda, Thank you for this wonderful comment. I am tearing up reading this. Just so true. Our bodies are amazing things we should cherish, all sizes are beautiful. What matters is we are able to be out and enjoy what we can do with them. Hugs to you.
Linda Fant says
Bravo Kim! Sounds like your head is in the right place . Even at 73 (next month), I sill find myself occasionally making comparisons and remembering days when a bikini was a no brainer! I DO accept that at my age, personality, wit, humor and a positive attitude are far more important than the well-lived shell that is now my body. I weigh the same as I did in my twenties…although it is distributed a bit differently, but I am grateful to be healthy, mobile, fit for my age and still curious about life!! I may not look so hot in a bathing suit any longer.. but at least I’m still swimming😁
Hi Linda, Love this! Yes we have to stop comparing our bodies to those of our younger selves.. We have evolved and all we are now is so much more than the shape of our body. As long as you are out there swimming you’re winning. That is what really matters. xo
So much of what you wrote here resonates with me. I always felt self conscious about my larger chest and after a certain age I never felt comfortable in a swim suit. But I’m working hard to change all that. I’m feeling pretty fit and trim and if my body is not that of a 20 year old, well I’m not 20 so it makes perfect sense.
I actually have a pretty big stash of bathing suits that I never have the chance to wear. I’ve had good luck with Lands End underwire suit tops, they have good support and aren’t too hard to get in and out of. I like to wear a tankini for the versatility of a two piece with more coverage than a bikini. There are some really cute suits here Kim that I’m feeling I need to get to try, and possibly update my swimwear wardrobe. You never know, a fabulous pool side vacation opportunity could come up anytime!
Great job doing all the research for us, thank you!
Heidi, I am right there with you. I think we have the same body type.. It makes you a lot more self conscious for sure. You are so right, we aren’t 20, so why hold ourselves to that as a standard of how to look in a bathing suit? it’s just wrong! Thanks for the recommendation about Land’s End and the underwire suits. I still think they are difficult to find and do make a difference to gals in larger cup sizes!
Tankinis are great and like you said, more versatile. Sometimes I want to wear a swim shirt and with a tankini, they feel right with the long sleeve tops. Heidi, I hope there’s a lovely holiday in your future. Happy Mother’s Day weekend. xoxo
Unlike fashion, decor or travel, this topic is apropos to all! Thanks for taking it on and for reinforcing my efforts to be kind to myself about my body. I was just at a pool, in a swim suit, last week and looking around, there were so many shapes and sizes and NO ONE had a perfect body. I try to focus on still being strong and flexible, although I think there have been more changes in the last 3 or 4 years than ever before. Take it from me who just turned 71, enjoy being in your 50’s and 60′ since you’ll never be younger (I wore a bikini up until about 58 but those days are long over).
Thank you for such a great round-up of suits, Kim, something for everyone.
p.s. I found a couple of things at Home Goods from the Capri collection: a tray with a design of 4 squares in blue fabric and a couple of bowls. I was so happy to score!
Hi Wren, So happy to get this comment from you.. Again inspiring to hear that everyone is feeling the same about swimwear! You are so right about embracing the ages we are right now! Yay you for wearing your bikini to almost 60. Someone just told me the norm in Italy is bikinis for all- even the oldest beachgoers. So glad you scored a few good things from the Capri Collection! You got to get there when they have those promotions!
Have a good weekend Wren!
Sarah London says
Wonderful perspective Kim! I abhor swimsuit shopping. I look great in the top half and working on accepting my bottom half! And that’s in a one piece 😂 But it doesn’t stop me from wearing it. I adore the ocean too much! Great options for every body type in your post, I like a high neck and a lower leg and good bum coverage. Sometimes I find the trendier brands skimp on fabric and I am forever pulling the fabric over my cheeks! Clearly they are designing for others.
Sarah, there is so much stress in the swimsuit shopping! I do think everyone has their areas that they consider harder to cover, etc. You are so right we need quality fabric that isn’t skimped on..I think these new suits that show a lot of cheek, clearly aren’t for anyone over 30, just not flattering to anyone in my own mind.. Good keep going in the ocean! xo
Oh, Kim … everything you say is 100%. If only I could have appreciated my younger self and had more confidence. Marianne’s comments really resonate … that said, I’m not entirely free of the negative feelings. I love all the suits you’ve highlighted … especially the floral one-piece and the scalloped edge one piece. I actually have a scalloped suit … its so comfortable especially in the leg area … no tight elastic. Sadly, my ‘problem’ area is not my tummy or upper thighs (although those aren’t great either) … its my thighs in general. And, short of donning a 1920’s bathing costume there is nothing I can do to disguise it. To add insult to injury I can no longer spray or self-tan because the tanning formula brings out otherwise invisible spots and I look like a leopard. Oh the horror of it all. As you say, at this point in life we have learned to take better care of ourselves and are good about moving our body’s … but sometimes it’s just not enough. Acceptance is the key and I’ll be continuing to work on that this summer. Great post. xo
Juliet, I know it’s not easy.. I just think we have to try and focus on what we do love about ourselves and not think too much about the problem parts.. We need more fun and less angst.. Life is going by too fast. We have to be okay with what we have now. Know easier said than done. Thanks for sharing here. xo
Kim, I know I’ m late to the party but I just want to come in and say YES! Wear the suit and enjoy living life! For YEARS I didn’t want to wear a swimsuit and I missed out on making and sharing fun memories! I’m so grateful that my perspective has shifted and I’m looking forward to enjoying my swimsuits again! Thanks for the great post!
Ginger, Thanks so much! I love hearing this..I am so glad you are enjoying swimsuits again. Life is too short to worry about it, we need to enjoy our days in the sun. Hugs.