I have a confession to make: I did not own a matching swimsuit until I was 28 years old. Yes, y’all: I spent 28 years on this earth cobbling together whatever mismatched swim separates happened to fit on my body. On my year-long honeymoon, I actually wore wool underwear instead of swimwear. Practical? Sure. Cute? …. Girl.
Considering I have a degree in fashion design and spent 5 years of my life working in corporate fashion, this is … not exactly something I’d put on my resume as a point of pride.
But honestly, it’s not entirely my fault. I mean, yes, it took me 28 years to find a swimsuit that was actually decent. But also, like, WHY IS FINDING DECENT SWIMWEAR SO F***KING HARD?! Why is swimsuit shopping torture?! Is there nothing worse than standing sadly in a dressing room trying to squeeze your left thigh into a pile of stretchy, cheerfully printed bullsh*t??
What I’ve learned, however, is that swimsuit shopping is NOT torture – if you’re shopping for swimsuits that actually fit and are designed for your body! I’m not sure if recent years have brought developments in the fashion world, or if I’ve just gotten better at finding swimsuits for curvy women, but now that I’m firmly in my 30’s and a size 16/18, I’m officially one of those people who has a whole drawer full of swimwear. Cue celebratory fireworks.
In this post, you’ll find the best swimsuits for curves, which I personally purchased, tried & tested (a LOT of swimsuits did not make the cut, y’all – I’m amazed I got 5). I’ve also included a list of places to shop for swimsuits in inclusive sizes!
Planning a trip to the beach, or just wish you were? Take a look at some of our other posts:
- What to Pack for a Beach Vacation: the Curvy Girl’s Beach Vacation Packing List
- What to Pack for Maui: Essential Hawai‘i Packing List
- 25 Things Nobody Tells You About Traveling While Fat
To All My Curvy Girls, Fat Chicks, and Plus-Size Babes
I wanted to start this post with a lil’ heart to heart to all my curvy girls, fat chicks, and plus-sized babes (or however else you prefer to classify yourself or identify).
No matter what size you are, wearing a swimsuit feels incredibly vulnerable. It doesn’t matter how confident you are wearing your cutest clothes: taking all that off and letting the world see your beautiful body is scary as sh*t. And I say this as an incredibly confident, self-loving, card-carrying body positive bada$$.
Which means that going to the beach as a fat chick can feel extra nerve-wracking. Even if you love your body, chances are that someone else on the beach believes the bullsh*t that there’s something wrong with fatness (spoilers: there is not).
This tends to result in awkward micro-aggressions, such as but not limited to: stares, cat-calls, small children pointing at you, and that well-intentioned person who smiles in pity and says you’re “brave” for slapping some elastic on your body and daring to step outside. Thanks, but no thanks.
Let me tell you something: f**k those people. Except for the kids, because like, kids just stare at anything that’s even slightly outside the norm, so they get a pass and honestly it’s probably good they see how fabulous you look so they can reframe their perceptions about size & shape before they grow up.
The only thing about your body that matters is how you feel about it. Whether or not it’s healthy or soft or jiggly or able or strong or any of the myriad other things bodies can be, is totally irrelevant. It does not matter.
All bodies are good bodies. Remember: all you have to do to have a bikini body is to put a bikini, like, somewhere on your body.
So throw on your sassiest f**k-you lipstick, grab a towel, and take your beautiful, incredible self to the beach like the fabulous mermaid you are!
Swimsuits for Curves: Evaluation Criteria
In the process of creating this post, I’ve purchased, tried on, returned, tested, returned some more, and done a lot of flopping and jumping around trying to evaluate chest coverage and support.
I’ve browsed countless websites claiming to have “inclusive sizing,” only to see a single model who looks like what people are talking about when they claim Marilyn Monroe was a size 12.
And I’ve tried on suit after suit, only to find out that many of them have inaccurate sizing, poor quality construction, or just plain awful design.
So, I developed a two-step process – complete with criterion – for evaluating swimwear brands and testing swimsuits for curves!
Step One: Finding the Suit
Step one helps me evaluate whether a swimsuit brand is worth my precious time ordering a suit. Because trying on and returning stuff is just like, a whole thing, you know?
Here’s what I looked for on a swimwear website before making a purchase:
✓ Their website (and/or social media accounts) feature fat, curvy, and thick models. Seeing a swimsuit on a gorgeous woman half my size does not help me in the slightest. Besides, using curvy models lets me know that at some point, someone actually tested out that swimsuit on a real live woman to confirm that it does, indeed, fit.
✓ Suit designs are more than just a stretchy piece of fabric cut, sewn, and tied together. First of all, I have a degree in fashion design and I know exactly how long it took you to drape that cheap-a** scrap of fabric on a mannequin (and how ridiculous your margins are for the prices you’re charging, but I digress). Second, there is absolutely nothing less flattering than plain, thin, stretchy fabric stretched over my body. Plain swimwear brands: it’s not me, it’s you: please put more effort into your designs for fat women.
✓ “Inclusive sizing” does not mean “we go up to size XL.” If your swimsuit line ends at size 14/XL, you did not make this list. Please expand your size offering.
✓ Wide selection of swimwear options. I’m not here for clothing brands that have like 8 swimsuits to choose from. I’m looking for brands that specialize in swimwear: they tend to have better designs, better fabric, and overall better quality. Plus, it’s more likely that I’ll actually find something I like.
There were also a few nice-to-have criteria that pushed a brand up on my list, including sustainable/ethical clothing production and sourcing and affordable options. Sadly, those two things are often directly contradictory, so I didn’t eliminate an inexpensive swimsuit made with traditional material or a pricey swimsuit made ethically with sustainable material.
Step Two: Testing the Suit
Once a swimwear company has passed my (frankly, very low) standards, I evaluate it for cuteness, comfort, fit, and performance.
✓ I’m looking for suits that look amazing when standing AND sitting. Ever sit down and had a swimsuit suddenly disappear into one, painful, thick roll of fabric located somewhere underneath your tummy? …. Yeah. Me too.
✓ I’m looking for suits that are comfortable to wear. That means no waistbands digging into my love handles, no unintentional wedgies, no hot pieces of metal burning me in the sun, and no freezing cold wet ruffles touching my stomach.
✓ I want to be able to put on and take off a swimsuit – WHEN WET – without having to perform an intricate series of dance moves. Listen: if I wanted to shimmy myself into a tight-fitting, hard-to-take-off wetsuit and accept the fact that I’ll just need to treat the ocean as my bathroom, I’d just wear a wetsuit.
✓ I’m looking for suits that stay put when I swim, jump, run, dive, snorkel, kayak, paddle-board, jet-ski, water-ski, and more. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but fat girls ALSO enjoy athletic activities and adventure sports. That said, not all suits fall into the “high performance” category, and that’s OK. We all need the luxury of being able to choose between our “sitting in a hot tub looking fabulous” suit and our “rappelling down a waterfall” suit.
Now that you know what criteria we used, let’s talk about the swimsuit brands & designs that made the cut!
Swimwear Brands for Curvy Women
In the course of researching for this post I found a LOT of inclusive swimwear brands! Not all of them made the cut, but it mostly came down to personal taste. So in case the suits I’ve recommended don’t fit your tastes, don’t worry: there are plenty of options for plus-sized swimwear.
Here’s where I’d recommend shopping for swimwear for curvy women:
- Swimsuits For All: This site has a huge range of swimsuit options ranging from size 4 to 34. I love browsing the site because seeing so many gorgeous plus-sized models makes ME feel like a goddess! Swimsuits for All often partners with plus-sized influencers to produce custom lines, including Gabi Fresh and Ashley Graham. They have a lot of classic, more conservative styles – but there are also trendier, sexier options. I’m digging this one piece and this bikini!
- Cacique Intimates: The lingerie line of Lane Bryant makes swimsuits that are as supportive and technical as their bras. They’ve got a mix of classic styles and more trendy options. Cup sizes go up to 46H and bottom sizes range from 16-28. This bikini is my current favorite suit of theirs, and I also love their swimwear cover-ups, like this romper!
- Cupshe: I first found this brand on Amazon, but they’ve got a much wider selection of cute plus-sized swimwear on their website! I was nervous that their low prices might be too good to be true, but my first order came on time and was exactly what I expected. Their suits are super budget-friendly, but separates are sold, well, separately. Suit sizes go up to 4X/26 and 46DDD.
- Torrid: Torrid has long dominated the curvy girl fashion scene with bold, unapologetic styles for sizes 10-30. Each year, Torrid releases a limited set of swimwear with a mix of bold, trendy styles and more classic options, as well as plenty of athletic wear, like rash guards. This year I’m really digging this suit, although I don’t think the colors will work for me.
- Cocoship: A budget-friendly swimsuit brand that’s sold on Amazon. They have a wide variety of cute styles and prints. I’ve tried several of their suits (this is my favorite) and they’ve all surprised me! Sizes go up to 6X/22.
- Summersalt: A bit of a cult favorite, Summersalt is a woman-owned company with swimwear options up to size 24. Their look is very distinct, with mostly simpler styles and a lot of color-blocked suits. My favorite is the Sidestroke – full review below.
- Waterlust: You won’t find any bikinis here: they specialize in eco-friendly, sustainable swim leggings, along with matching rash guards and sports-bra style tops. And oh my goodness, swim leggings are WONDERFUL for water sports and protecting your skin from the sun. I’ve never felt so athletic and mermaid-y! Sizes go up to 24 and each design benefits a different ocean conservation project.
Now, without further ado: here are the best swimsuits for curvy women!
The Best Two-Piece Swimsuits for Curves
Let’s start with my personal favorites: two-piece swimsuits! There’s nothing I love more than a cute bikini. (Though if you’re more of a one-piece kinda gal, just scroll on down).
The Most Supportive Bikini for Curvy Women
This adorable swimsuit combines everything I love about the last suit with a much more technical support system for larger chests – and more! First of all, it’s eco-friendly and made from plastic water bottles! Yay for cleaning up the ocean while swimming in the ocean! (Psst: speaking of, always make sure you’re wearing reef-safe sunscreen whenever you swim in the ocean.)
I also love the print, because I am your basic Millennial Plant Mom/green witch and I flip for anything covered in plants because I just want to frolic around in the forest. (Which is why I also bought this romper in a matching print.)
But in addition to the cute print and eco-friendly sustainable material, this swimsuit gets my recommendation as the most supportive swimsuit fir plus-sized women. The suit is made by Cacique, the lingerie brand of Lane Bryant – so they know a lil’ something about lifting and supporting plus-sized babes!
Let me tell you all about why I recommend this bikini for curvy women:
✔ The bikini top is a supportive longline balconette bra – with underwire.
Quick review: the wired balconette style bra is like a little shelf/balcony for your girls to rest on, and longline means there’s a couple of inches of fabric down below the bra band which highlights the curves leading to your waist while adding a bit of extra support and shifting pressure off of your neck and shoulders.
What that means is that this is a very supportive bikini top that fits more like a bra than a swimsuit. And it comes cup sizes – all the way up 46H!
That said, I did notice that the longline top folded up a bit when I moved around (you can see it in the first photo) so you might want to buy band size up from your usual bra size.
✔ High waisted, high coverage bottoms with a nice thick waistband.
The thick waistband at the top of these swimsuit bottoms means that these bottoms will stay put, and you definitely don’t need to worry about feeling exposed!
That said, I did find that the bottoms dug in a bit at my hips and around my legs, which you can kinda see in the photos. So I’d recommend sizing up, just to be extra comfortable.
✔ Adjustable shoulder straps.
This bikini top doesn’t have a tie back or any kind of back closure, so make sure you’re purchasing the right band size! What it does have are adjustable shoulder straps.
I’m pretty sure I could have fully removed the shoulder straps and this top still would have stayed up just fine, but it was nice not needing to be bothered to adjust any straps once I got them set!
The one downside of this suit is that it’s on the pricier side. But for the price, you’re paying for a technical, supportive, adorable swimsuit designed by a lingerie brand.
This suit is seasonal and I’m not sure how long Cacique’s swim line stays in stock, so buy it quick before it’s gone!
The Most Comfortable Bikini for Thick Girls
After owning nothing but the same Cocoship bikini in 5 different colors for years, I thought I might never need another swimsuit ever again. But then the Cocoship Monstera Print Tie-Bottom Bikini popped up on my Amazon feed, and I couldn’t resist! I mean, I’m a certified Plant Mom with a giant, happy Monstera towering in my living room – this suit was perfect.
I loved my first Cocoship bikini so much that I had high hopes for this one, and it didn’t disappoint. The adjustable tie-bottom fit perfectly and didn’t dig into my skin, the top was cute as hell, and most importantly, I felt absolutely freakin’ adorable in this suit!
I tested this bikini out in Maui, Hawaii on a stand-up paddleboard, which is a solid test because I can’t actually really stand up on a paddleboard yet. So I really tested this suit out on falling off a board into the waves repeatedly, and then heaving myself back up onto the board over and over again.
It’s not exactly the kind of athletic activity you’d think you’d want to wear a cute little tied-on bikini to do, and I was nervous I’d end up flashing some poor surfer. But this suit passed my test with flying colors!
Here’s why this is one of my favorite curvy girl swimsuits:
✔ The ties are fully adjustable and don’t dig into my skin.
The suit ties together both on the top in the back and on the bottom sides, making it fully adjustable while still looking super cute. Having the extra ties on top in the back is nice because. I don’t have a big knot digging into my back when I’m lying or sitting, or a hot piece of metal lying against my skin. Plus, I wasn’t at all nervous about the suit mysteriously coming untied while swimming, which has definitely happened to me before!
Tie bottoms can either be really great, or really uncomfortable – and this one is really great! The bottom strings are fully adjustable to my wide hips, while offering full coverage in the back. And the bottoms didn’t split down a bit: even though I didn’t have them tied terribly tight, they stayed put – even as I flopped around trying to get back on my stand-up paddleboard.
✔ The bottoms are high-waisted and full coverage.
See how high the suit goes up in the back? That’s a major part of what makes the bottoms stay put! I also appreciated the full coverage in the back, no adjustments needed.
✔ The bikini top is styled like a longline balconette bra.
In college, while studying fashion design, I spent a summer interning at a lingerie designer, which taught me words like “longline balconette bra.”
Long story short, although you won’t get as much lift as with a halter top, this style is still super flatting. Think of a balconette style bra as having a little balcony for your girls to rest on, and longline just means there’s a couple of inches of fabric down below the bra band. The longline style highlights the curves leading to your waist while adding a bit of extra support and shifting pressure off of your neck and shoulders.
That said, the cups are still just foam inserts – not underwire. So although there’s definitely more support to this one than the other Cocoship suit I recommended in this post, you may still want a bit more support. This suit offers about the same support as a wireless bra or t-shirt bra, which is perfect for me.
✔ This suit is budget friendly!
At under $30, this is a steal. I just wish it came in other colors, because I’d snap a few more up!
Sadly, it looks like this one is out of stock for most sizes, and I’m not sure when it will be coming back! I’ll give it a few months and keep hunting for a good replacement – drop me a comment below if you have any suggestions!
The Most Universally Flattering Bikini
This is the first swimsuit that ever made me feel like I could be comfortable wearing a swimsuit: the Cocoship Halter Top High-Waisted Bikini.
I first stumbled across this swimsuit around 5 years ago, when I’d finally had enough of mismatched separates and was looking for something that both fit me and also matched.
That’s when I found Cocoship, a budget-friendly swimsuit brand on Amazon with a surprising variety of curvy-girl friendly high-waisted styles. The pictures and reviews from other plus-sized women were cute as hell! I was intrigued, but skeptical because Amazon didn’t seem like the kind of place you’d find a good bikini for thick girls … right?
But when I first put the suit on, I was floored. I felt SO CUTE. I felt confident! In a bikini!! Nothing was rolling down or riding up or slipping. And I found myself actually excited to don my swimsuit in front of people. Sure enough, the first time I wore it out, I got a ton of compliments!
Since then, I’ve bought – no exaggeration – FIVE of the exact same swimsuit in different colors (plus one pair of bottoms). Every year or so they roll out some incredibly cute new print and I can’t stop myself from buying another one! And the same friends who gave me compliments the first time I wore the suit out in public have all jumped on board too: at least half of my friends, of varying shapes and sizes, now own the same bikini in various colors.
Could this be the swimsuit version of “the sisterhood of the traveling pants,” the swimsuit that magically looks good on literally everyone?
I’ve had this suit for so many years and worn it on so many adventures that I’ve actually been able to test the theory myself: when I first bought a size XXXL suit, I was a 12/14. Over the years, my size has changed; I’m now a size 16/18 – but I’m still wearing the same size XXXL suits I purchased years ago, which have shown very little wear despite coming with me on adventures across the world.
If that’s not truly magical, I don’t know what is.
But I’ll let you decide! Here are all the reasons why this suit makes the top of my list:
✔ The bottoms are full coverage – but still super cute.
I included a picture of my butt just so you can see the coverage (but also because let’s be real, my butt looks awesome in that picture).
It’s definitely full coverage, but not in a “granny panty” way – it’s cute and flattering, without me needing to constantly adjust or pull the suit out of you-know-where.
✔ The high-waisted bottoms are incredibly flattering – and stay put.
I LOVE the high-waisted bottoms on this suit – so much that I bought a plain black pair that I mix and match with other swimsuit tops, because it is just the best swimsuit bottom I’ve ever found!
The ruched front panel is flattering and smoothing. And the suit goes allllll the way up to my waist to create a really cute silhouette and highlight my curves.
And because the suit hits me at the smallest part of my waist, it stays put: no rolling down, no folding over, nothing. It stays put sitting, standing, swimming, diving – no matter what!
I love these swimsuit bottoms so much that I actually bought a pair of them in black so I can pair them with anything. Y’all, they’re the perfect swimsuit bottoms. (Psst: here’s the link to the bottoms on their own.)
✔ The halter-style tied top helps keep everything *ahem* lifted.
Listen, I’m just gonna say it: I have great cleavage in this suit.
That’s not something that naturally happens on my body, usually, but the way the halter-style top ties just lifts everything up just right! And unlike some suits, it doesn’t leave half of me hanging out underneath, either.
That said, while there are a lot of reasons to love this suit, there’s also one major drawback: This suit does NOT offer very much in the way of actual support. The bikini cups are just built-in foam with no underwire, and all of the “lift” comes directly from a knot tied around my neck. For me, that’s not much of an issue, but you definitely won’t catch me trying to run or do jumping-jacks in this bikini.
So if you need a swimsuit top with more support, this may not be the bikini for you. But I’d still recommend trying out the bottoms to mix-and-match with a more supportive top!
This swimsuit comes in a WIDE range of colors and is usually available on Amazon for under $30. Take a look:
Best One-Piece Swimsuits for Curves
As a rule, I’m very much NOT a fan of one-pieces. For starters, there’s nothing more irritating than trying to pull off a stretchy, wet swimsuit when nature calls (except perhaps pulling back on a wet swimsuit when you’re finished).
But I think the real problem is that I’d never found a one-piece suit that actually looked good on me. There’s no easy way to say this: one-piece suits make me look super weird. I mean, I LOVE my tummy – but in most one-piece suits, my often does not love me back.
And let’s not even talk about how one-pieces usually make my boobs look. You know how a good swimsuit or bra does lots of lifting and propping-up? One-pieces seem to do the exact opposite of that. It’s bleak.
But after a lot of buying, trying on, returning, and testing, I’ve found a few one-piece swimsuits that even I have to admit are awesome.
The Most Universally Flattering One-Piece Swimsuit for Curves
This cute one-piece swimsuit has the most flattering design ever. The center panel seam paired with mesh cut-outs angled downwards draws attention to your cute lil’ waist, and the boob-ruching just makes everything up top look really great.
This suit is available in sizes Large through 22, and I’m wearing a size XXL/18.
Here’s what I love about this suit:
✔ Universally flattering without being revealing.
This is a great swimsuit if you’re NOT totally comfortable with showing it all off. With its high neck, not-that-see-through mesh peekaboo panels, and full coverage cut, you won’t feel like anything’s exposed.
And hey, more coverage is a plus for sunscreen application, too! Yay, sun protection!
✔ This suit holds everything in!
I felt very much supported in this suit. Nothing was bouncing around or flopping out, even during. my test dives and summersalts. There was no slipping out or falling down in this swimsuit – everything stayed firmly put!
This is a great suit for swimming, diving, or whatever other water sports you do.
✔ The design is incredibly flattering and creates an hourglass shape.
The way the suit is cut is just flattering as hell – it emphasizes curves in all the right places and creates an hourglass shape using ruching up top and panelling around the waist. Even the back cut-out is angled just right to highlight your lil’ waist!
If you’re looking for a swimsuit that is visually slimming, this suit definitely does the trick.
✔ Full coverage bottom.
The only skin I’m showing in this suit is that keyhole cut-out in the back!
✔ Comes in a BUNCH of colors.
This is definitely a suit that makes sense to own in several colors, and luckily, you’ve got tons to choose from! From solid colors to fun prints, there’s a wide selection to choose from.
✔ Super budget friendly.
This is actually the MOST inexpensive swimsuit in this post! Universally flattering and budget-friendly, what’s not to love??
Last I checked, this suit was around $30 on Amazon. Y’ALL. Buy 3 in different colors, seriously!
The Sexiest One-Piece Swimsuit for Curvy Women
What I love about this adorable one-piece is that it’s designed to highlight rather than cover up my curves. The side panels on this swimsuit are cut out, which not only makes me feel more free to frolic around on the beach and swim in the waves without restriction, but it also highlights my waist!
Here’s why this suit is officially the first one-piece to make its way into my swimsuit drawer:
✔ This bathing suit is designed to highlight and enhance curves, not cover them up.
I LOVE my body. I do not need to be “flattened” or “sculpted” or hidden away behind 17 panels of black, ruched fabric. I want my body to stand out, not hide away!
But this suit definitely puts my curves fully on display, and I LOVE it. The thick panels around the outside of the suit create a visual line that draws the eye inwards, highlighting my waist and enhancing my natural curves.
That said: this suit really puts it ALL on display – rolls and all. And even though *I* think those lil’ rolls that happen when you bend and move your beautiful body are absolutely friggin’ adorable, what’s most important is that *you* feel confident!
✔ This one-piece is legitimately sexy.
I can’t be the only one who associates one-pieces with like, grandparents and body shame, right? They’re just not usually the sexiest thing.
But this suit is definitely sexy – which means I feel sexy while wearing it!
✔ This suit isn’t annoying to take on and off when you really need to!
Other than the lack of sex appeal, my other bone to pick with one-pieces is that they’re annoying to take on and off, especially while sandy and wet, especially when you really gotta go.
But this suit is a snap to take off and put on again: the top panels just sort of roll down, like a banana peel. No squeezing, slithering, or jumping-up-and-down required.
✔ This suit is budget-friendly!
Sometimes you want an expensive, high-tech suit. But sometimes you just want to look super cute in poolside photos or on a boat or something. This is THAT swimsuit.
Clocking in at under $30, this suit is a steal. But there are a few pay-offs to keep in mind:
For starters, this is NOT a supportive swimsuit. It’s got about the support of that sports bra at the bottom of your drawer that lost all its elasticity years ago. There are, at least, foam cup inserts, but they’re not gonna hold anything up.
Also, I wasn’t too eager to try many athletic activities in this suit – it’s definitely more of a sit-and-look-gorgeous swimsuit!
And one more downside, in the name of transparency: the top clasp came undone once or twice! But I didn’t even notice – the suit stayed up on its own.
This suit comes in a bunch of colors and prints, and is available up to size XXXL/18 (which is what I’m wearing). Take a look on Amazon:
The Most Comfortable One-Piece Swimsuit
I’ve seen the Summersalt Sidestroke swimsuit all over Instagram, but I wasn’t sure it was my style. One pieces are difficult to pull off in general, but without ruching or side panels or wraps or a print? I was dubious.
But I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this swimsuit. The eco-friendly fabric is incredibly stretchy, which makes the swimsuit wonderfully comfortable and easy to get on and off! And even without any fancy design (save color-blocking and a single textured panel), the swimsuit is fairly flattering – I felt cute all day wearing it.
For reference, I ordered a size 18 Long Torso, because I am 5’10”. Honestly, no swimsuit brand has ever offered me that option before, and it was so nice to not have to constantly tug down the suit back down around my nether regions.
That said, there are a few downside to be aware of. Read on for my full Summersalt Sidestroke review:
✔ The fabric is incredibly stretchy and comfortable.
Putting on swimsuits, even ones that fit, is always a bit a stuffing act. There’s squeezing and pulling and lots of compression. But the Summersalt swimsuit is made from wonderfully stretchy fabric that is easy to pull on and feels … actually comfortable!
Is swimwear lounge wear a thing? If it was, it would be made from this fabric. The minute I pulled it on I was like “oh, THAT’S why it costs that much.”
That said, there is a downside: because the fabric is so stretchy, you can really kinda see … everything. I did find myself wishing it was a little thicker, even though it is super comfy.
✔ No hardware.
Because the suit is so naturally stretchy, there’s no hardware to fasten, which means this suit is super easy to put on all by yourself – and you’ll never have anything digging into your skin.
That also means no untied strings, no blazing-hot metal, no cheap plastic broken clips – nothing but smooth, comfy fabric. Love it!
✔ No foam pads.
Some women may prefer this, but for me, this was actually kind of a major downside. I found the suit to be a little .. er, revealing.
Listen: that comfy, stretchy fabric is real nipply, y’all. Like .. more so than you can see in those photos. I mean, would a couple of removable foam pads really have been that hard to include?
The website claims that this suit offers “full support”, to which I raise all of my eyebrows. I mean, sure, I wasn’t like … flopping around. But some extra fabric just for privacy’s sake would have been nice. Personally, I file this one under “very little support.”
✔ Made from mostly recycled material.
Summersalt suits are made from 78% recycled polyamide, aka Nylon. The other 22% is elastane, which explains why this is such a stretchy, cozy suit!
… It also explains that high $95 price point. But honestly … it’s a great textile. I’d buy another Summersalt suit JUST for that fabrication. (Fashion design degree explanation *adjusts glasses*: most suits are stretchy thanks to Spandex, not elastane, and have a lower % of stretchy material. The difference in the material makes for a better, stretchier, comfier fabric. Also, sustainability, yay!)
✔ This swimsuit is best for lounging by the pool.
While I felt cozy and comfortable all day long in my Summersalt Sidestroke suit, I did find a downside: too much motion will pull that one-shoulder right down.
This is NOT a good diving swimsuit (that is, unless you’re not worried about flashing the entire pool) and I’d be nervous about wearing it into the ocean or doing a lot of activity with it, too.
But if you’re looking for something to wear all day long while lounging poolside, this is a great pick! I’m holding onto it for hot tubbing, relaxing, and other non-athletic endeavors.
This suit comes in a ton of colorblocked combinations and is available up to size 22. Take a look on Summersalt:
Bonus: Best Swimwear for Water Sports
That’s right, y’all: not all swimwear for curvy women has to be a swimsuit! Sometimes you want to look cute at the beach – and other times, you just want to enjoy yourself without worrying about constantly re-applying sunscreen, chafing, or scraping your poor exposed skin on rocks or coral.
As a very pale person who hates applying sunscreen (especially reef-safe sunscreen, which is also the only sunscreen that’s OK to wear in the ocean) and spends a lot of my time on vacation butt-up with a snorkel mask on, swim leggings sounded like the answer to all of my problems. Covering up my skin with leggings and a rash guard meant I would hardly have to apply any sunscreen at all while still protecting my skin!
But wearing regular leggings just ended up with wet, sandy leggings that took forever to dry. I was also nervous that I might inadvertently be leaching dye or micro-particles of polyester or nylon into the water, harming coral and fish.
Enter Waterlust Swim Leggings, an ethical and sustainable conservation-focused apparel company. Waterlust was founded by ocean science graduate students with a goal to educate the public about ocean conservation. Their apparel is all eco-friendly, with complete transparency about the recycled materials it’s made from, and benefits a wide variety of causes ranging from ocean conservation to anti-racism. Also, they have POCKETS!
I tested out a pair of Swim Leggings on a recent trip to Hawaii (along with a matching swim top and scrunchie). I wore them swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking. And here’s why I’m obsessed:
✔ I feel like a strong, athletic mermaid.
When I put on my swim leggings, I felt like I could run and jump into the nearest body of water and take off like freakin’ Aquaman, like I’d just put on a waterproof second skin or superhero suit.
I felt athletic and powerful – and cute! I didn’t feel vulnerable at all, like I often do in a simsuit. And I wasn’t concerned about what might be slipping out or burning in the sun – I could just focus on enjoying myself in the moment.
✔ No need to apply sunscreen!
Combined with a rash guard, I only needed to apply sunscreen to my face, hands, and feet. Waterlust’s swim leggings and tops are rated to UPF 50+, and my skin didn’t even get the slightest blush in the hot Maui sun. I felt cool and covered, even 4 hours into a sunny kayaking trip.
Not only does not needing to apply sunscreen to my legs mean my skin was better protected about sun damage and skin cancer, but I also didn’t need to worry about whether my sunscreen might be harming marine wildlife. (Even if you use mineral sunscreen, it might not be reef-safe – look for “non-nano” on the label. This is what I use.)
✔ Comfortable to wear and walk in – even while soaking wet!
After swimming for a while, I was ready to dry off with a nice long walk on the beach. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to walk in a wet swimsuit – hello, chafing!
But to my delight, the Waterlust swim leggings were comfortable. to walk in even while soaking wet! They kept my legs cool while the water evaporated, stayed where they were supposed to, and didn’t ride down or slide (although the short versions did – stick to the leggings).
I was able to walk comfortably straight out of the ocean with no chafing, which has literally never happened to me before.
✔ Protection against the elements.
In some of my photos you can see a giant gash on my leg. That’s thanks to a rock and a lot of falling off a paddleboard – not to mention the irritation on my legs from hoisting myself up over and over again.
Why didn’t I wear my swim leggings to go SUP-ing, you ask? Honestly, I was trying to resist the urge to wear my swim leggings every day of my trip and actually test out other swimsuits too! I’ll never make that mistake again.
If you’re doing water sports or high-intensity activities in the water (or even just swimming laps), swim leggings are a much better option than a swimsuit!
That said, I did manage to find a downside: on one particularly windy day, I got my a** handed to me by a few massive rogue waves, which dragged my entire body along the sand as I rolled in with the surf. When I managed to stand up, I found that my pockets were filled with sand – and I later discovered (after a comfortable stroll along the beach, out of the way of the surf) there was a fair amount of sand underneath my leggings, too! So, you know … if you’ll be rolling around in the sand, maybe wear a swisuit.
✔ Quick drying, just like a swimsuit.
The swim leggings are made from the same kind of material as a swimsuit, so they dry just as quickly, whether they’re on your body or if you hang them up in a sunny window.
With that in mind, just like swimsuit bottoms, you’ll want to avoid sitting around in wet leggings. You won’t be hot or cold while they dry or anything, it’s just not good for your bits.
✔ Matching reversible swim sports bra!
This is my first set of matching sports bra + leggings, and I felt so cute! The top is reversible to either match the leggings print or the waistband, and they were hella cute together.
I ordered a size L/Xl and while it fit, I wish I would have ordered the larger size because I did notice the bottom band of the bra rolling up a little bit.
Waterlust’s sizes go up to 24 and there are tons of designs – and each design benefits a different ocean conservation cause! Want to learn more? I have a whole Waterlust swim leggings review which goes way more into detail! Or just head straight to their website and take a look:
Ready to throw on your favorite lipstick and take your fabulous self to the nearest body of water? Did this post help or inspire you? Drop us a comment below!
Psst: Looking for more tried & tested travel gear I love? Check out some of our other posts!
- The 7 Best Women’s Travel Shoes
- The 5 Best Travel Pants for Women
- What to Pack for a Beach Vacation: the Curvy Girl’s Guide
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