Swimsuit Season Gives Me Mental Hives: A Tale of Shopping for a Swimsuit

Swimming is fun. Shopping for a swimsuit is not so fun.

Every summer since I turned into a teen that cares about her appearance has been filled with slightly panicky moments of worrying about swimsuits. It’s actually quite astonishing that small pieces of fabric have such sway on our mental states during this time of year. I imagine that a solid 2 percent of the population marches into a store and every suit they try on fits them like a glove. But for the rest of us, the process is a lot more crazy and at times, disheartening.

This year, I put off swimsuit shopping until now because I know it’s always an ordeal for me. For the last 3 or so years, I had my trusty retro tankini to watch my literal backside. That tankini survived camp, lake water, you name it. But this year I noticed that the suit was getting pretty saggy and it was time to say goodbye. And with my Hawaii vacation coming up in August, I had to get one eventually.

Shopping for a swimsuit after a three-year vacation from the ordeal is, let me tell you, horrifying.

Firstly, your body changes a lot in three years and mine is no exception. Now, I’m trying on sizes my college body would have laughed at 3 years ago. Second, there are just too many options.

If you’re one of those brave souls that buy online, god bless, but I knew right off the bat that wouldn’t work for me. I need to actually try it on before I buy it, and my experience with online clothes shopping is disappointing, to say the least.

Anyway, since online was out, I was instantly limited to places in town. Walmart was out because I hate Walmart. Target was on the fence because their sizes run a bit small sometimes. I went to Kohls, but their suits were too matronly if you know what I mean. My last hope was the mall since I figured at least one suit in a dozen stores was bound to look good on me.

I tried Dillards first, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of suits I could choose from. The price tags were kinda high, but I figured a decent, well-fitting suit was worth the price. I walked around, picking up suits left and right in multiple sizes. I think I grabbed at least 15 suits for my first round for the dressing room.

Well, let’s just say you know it’s going to be a rough time when the first swimsuit doesn’t even fit over a single thigh.

None of the first 15 worked and I quickly realized that one, I had to go a size even higher than usual and two, I was going to have to laugh things off or risk feeling downright dejected. I went back to the racks, this time to a section with more ‘conservative options.’ (yes, I’m talking the slimming suits. Sigh.)

This time, I was surprised to find that one of the one pieces actually fit me like a glove, and didn’t look like something a mom would wear. The rest of the suits fit but didn’t look near as good as the one piece.

After trying on a grand total of more than 25 suits, I had found ‘The One.’ After buying, I treated myself to a cute cover-up and a new pair of sunnies to congratulate myself on persevering.


Suit: Dillards, Coverup: Target

I think swimsuit shopping will always be a sore point for me because I go into it with certain expectations, and it is really hard to find a suit that meets those expectations. Most of us don’t have model body types that fit easily into standard size suits; most of us need suits that flatter our own unique body shapes.

But if this also sounds like you, I’d encourage to keep searching with an open mind until you find the perfect suit for you. It might be a few sizes up or down from what you’re used to. Maybe it’s a one piece instead of a bikini. But the size does not matter, so long as you feel beautiful in it.

Personally, I can’t wait to wear this baby on the beach in sunny Oahu this summer. With confidence.





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