Tag Archives: shopping for a swimsuit

What I Thought About Swimsuits in 1993

I’m a magnet for clutter. Paperwork seeks me out like a missile locating its target. On any given day, I feel that I must apologize for the state of my desk. And let’s not even discuss how badly I need to go through my files.

But as I was (finally) attacking some of the clutter, I came upon a couple of notebook pages of a journal-like entry dated May 1993. I was shocked to find I’d written almost 300 words about body image, modesty, and swimsuits. I decided to share it [with minor editing] here.

What I Thought About Swimsuits in 1993

I struggle with the fashion industry’s view of what clothes are to do. I thought clothes were to cover and enhance. Try shopping for a swimsuit with that in mind. Most swimsuits either look like they should be worn by your grandmother or a Sports Illustrated model.

So forget the grandma thing.

Everything else unveils rather than covers. I’d be afraid to jump into the water for fear that I’ll lose my modesty to the nearest wave.

Modesty is not big in the fashion industry. Suppose I wear an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikini. Does this actually enhance? I will now have to shave my “bikini area,” which always brings on a painful red rash hanging past my immodest bikini bottoms for all to see. I guess I could opt for electrolysis…yeah, right! Who said beauty was worth that kind of pain?! Who said a naked bikini area equals beauty?

Let’s go back to the modesty thing. Even if I solve the bikini area dilemma, I’m stuck with the constant game of tug and pull. I take a couple of laps in the pool, and as I’m leaving I’m pulling down the back of those bottoms, the bottom of my top, and up on the top of my bottoms. Makes you not even want to enter the pool.

If some other woman wishes to inflict self-torture, fine. But I quarrel with the fashion industry for not offering options.

I want swim shorts, like men. Speedos have been on the market for years, but most men opt for trunks. They won’t fall for that skimpy look thing. They demand comfort. Women demand tug and pull.

Well, they have swim shorts now. And swim skirts. Maybe someone in the fashion industry actually paid attention to what some of us wanted.

However, I still see the majority of women’s swimsuit departments inundated with swimsuits that neither cover nor enhance. Thankfully, I’ve learned a thing or two about shopping for swimsuits. Since it’s mid-June — and absolutely beach weather where I live — I wanted to once again share what I’ve written about modesty and swimsuit shopping:

What Does Modesty Look Like?

6 Questions to Ask about Your Swimsuit

Swimsuit Shopping (without Weeping and Wailing)

What about you? How do you approach modesty and swimsuits? Have you found a good solution? And has your opinion changed since 1993?

Swimsuit Shopping (without Weeping and Wailing)

1925 Swimsuit
John Oxley Library via Wikimedia Commons

It’s swimsuit season. Now before some of you utter, “dear God, kill me now,” read on. Because I have some tips on finding a swimsuit to fit the beautiful woman you are without ending up in a crumpled pile in the corner of the fitting room weeping and wailing.

Yeah, some of you have been there. Right?

Pass right by the teen section. You know that area, right? The store puts it front and center, with cute little ruffled bikinis and bright-colored halter tops with boy shorts. Now, if you’re a woman who is that size, stay in that section because it doesn’t matter where you purchase your swimsuit, but rather that you have the best fit. But the majority of women need to look the other way and keep walking because (1) if you’re 36, 46, or 56, you shouldn’t be dressing like you’re 16, and (2) even your 16 year old shouldn’t wear a lot of that stuff as it reveals far too much skin. As I have said before, three triangles and some string do not a swimsuit make.

Don’t wallow that you can’t rock a string bikini. You don’t need to. You need to flatter the lovely lady figure you have now.

Get over the size number. Who stinkin’ cares whether your swimsuit has a 6, a 12, or a 22 on the little tag that no one sees once you leave the store? If it fits, it fits. Be pleased with how it looks on you, not what someone thinks that number says about you. Size numbers vary across clothing makers, and they can even change without us — the public — being forewarned.

Moreover, you might wear two sizes. You may need to purchase a two-piece suit, like a tankini, to get the proper fit on the top and on the bottom. Maybe you’re a size 14 bottom and size 10 top. You can make that work, and thankfully separates are much more common now than they used to be.

If the size you usually buy isn’t working, try a different size. Don’t sweat the number.

Decide ahead of time what you want to feature and what you want to downplay. Take an honest, yet optimistic, look at yourself. What are your best body features? What do you like about your body? And what are you currently (or maybe permanently) less happy with?

Maybe you’re sporting a little more in the middle than you’d like, but you have beautiful breasts. Or perhaps you don’t have much in the way of curves, but your legs are long and toned. Or maybe your husband can hardly keep his hands off your derrière, it’s so fabulous. If you can’t decide what you like about your body in front of the mirror, ask your husband and see what he likes. Decide what parts of your body you most want to feature and which you most want to downplay. (Note: “Feature” does not mean “show”! Modesty still matters. I’m just talking about what you’re comfortable and uncomfortable with. It’s the same equation you’d do with regular clothing.)

You can look online or in magazines for tips on swimsuit styles that achieve the look you’re going for. For instance, suits shirred in the middle downplay that abdominal pooch.

Give yourself a decent budget. Maybe you can’t do that. So if you don’t have the money right now, no worries. Watch for sales or coupons or ask around for the best bargains in your area. But all too often I know women who walk out of the store with a $30 swimsuit, boasting about the bargain they got . . . but the suit doesn’t fit, doesn’t flatter, isn’t comfortable, won’t last.

Like it or not, a quality swimsuit may run more than you expected. It’s far better to have a swimsuit that you like and that makes you look good and to wear it 2-3 seasons than to switch ill-fitting suits season-to-season. If the swimsuit that will make you feel fabulous is $100 or more, and you can afford that by cutting back somewhere else, feel okay about doing that.

Set yourself up to try on a lot of suits. It’s particularly hard with swimsuits to know from how they look on the hanger whether they will cover and flatter your body well. Only once in my life have I ever taken a single swimsuit into the dressing room and it fit. It was a total fluke (I wasn’t swimsuit shopping; just saw this awesome suit on massive clearance), and I doubt that it will ever happen again.

What can get you to tears is trying on suit after suit after suit, and feeling like nothing does or ever will look good on you. Stop expecting to find the right one that quickly! Unless you know the manufacturer, its styles, and its sizes, you’ll likely need to make several trips to the dressing room to try on various suits to find the one that makes you feel both modest and confident about your body.

Mentally adjust your expectations. Take a friend and make a day of it. Break up the monotony by eating a salad lunch in the middle of the day or grabbing a healthy smoothie somewhere to cool off. One full day to find the perfect suit might be just what you need.

Remember to stay biblical. Some biblical advice for your shopping experience:

Your body is wonderful: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

Consider modesty: “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10

It’s fine to wear something that makes you feel beautiful: “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” Psalm 45:11

Fashion designers are people too: “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

Cover what needs to be covered. Remember that you need to be able to actually show yourself in public and swim in this suit. If you couldn’t imagine running into your preacher at the pool and having a conversation in that suit, maybe it should go back on the rack. (Yes, I know, that question may depend somewhat on your preacher, but you get my point.) Also, if a particular suit will have you spending more time making certain everything’s tucked in right than swimming or sunbathing, then maybe you need to exchange it for more something less tug-worthy.

That’s my advice. Now what’s yours? What tips do you have for finding a good swimsuit for the summer?

Also check out 6 Questions to Ask about Your Swimsuit.