Bathing Suit Shopping in your 30’s and 40’s

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by Angela

I typically like to shop. But I am always a bit hesitant when it comes to bathing suit shopping. The older I have gotten, the more tricky I have found it to be. Bathing suits typically cost on the higher end and you don’t wear them but once in a while in the Spring/ Summer months. They don’t always have much material to them and what might fit on top doesn’t fit as well on the bottom or vice versa! When you are a Mom with young kids you have to be prepared to bend over or wrestle your kids around a bit in the pool. Moms of older kids will want a suit that they can waterski in or go to a water park with their kids. And lets face it as you get older it’s nice to have some troubled spots not so visual!! And modest- is that even an option? So bathing suit shopping takes some planning, research and LOTS of trying on.

Bathing Suits of Yesterday Year

Photo courtesy of my friend June Dobbs. The beautiful smiling women on the right is her Grandmother.

I love this picture of women’s bathing suits and caps of the 1920’s. I have to ask myself if women struggled with bathing suit shopping then as we do now a days? I have some bathing suit research to share that hopefully might help you!

Where NOT to go:

We can start by crossing a few things off the list right away!

Definitely do not go to Target. You can find A LOT of things at Target, but the bathing suit options are mostly geared at teens and 20 year olds. I am not a Target hater. I actually get a bit excited when I walk into Target as I usually find just what I am looking for and more there. As I recently walked through the Target’s bathing suit section, there were lots of bikini and one pieces suits that were missing most of their entire middle sections! They had a few bathing suits that were geared at older women, but maybe only 4. They did have a several good cover up options though. (Maybe for those swim suits that were missing so much fabric:)) So keep Target cover ups in mind when we get to that part of the post.

Other stores to avoid is the target audience of teens. Forever 21 might not be a good place to start. But don’t worry there are LOTS of stores in between the Forever 21 and the old lady section of the department store. Let’s talk about some of those!

Where to start looking:

So many stores have online websites. So that will help you begin to sort through some places to go. Here is a list to start with in no particular order.

  1. Downeast. They have a whole Swim Section on their website with 60 options to view. They are colorful, cute, versatile and have modest cuts.  Downeast Swim has lots of Takini Options too. I would like to give the creator of the takini a hug. They make life in a swim suit easier and cover so much more. Downeast average Takini shirt was $39, Bottoms were $29 and one piece $49.
  2. Macys.  I looked on the Macys Website on the Swimwear Section. They have lots of options. You can narrow your search to Active Swimwear, for those who do more in their bathing suit than just lie on the towel to get a tan. You know,  for the active Mom with children around a pool or ocean! You can also search Impulse Swimwear. I guess you buy plunging neckline bathing suits on an impulse? The bathing suits in this section is more for those just laying very still on a beach towel. You can’t move because if you did move too quickly you would be exposing things you didn’t want to expose! They did have all sorts of suits in the Impulse section so be sure to take a look. You will get a few chuckles at least and agree that the only way to buy some of these suits would have to be majorly impulsive. Macys had about 190 Swimwear to browse through and there average price was between $40- $80.
  3. Kohl’s. They had lots online to browse. Maybe too many 235. Just that many kind of overwhelmed me. They did have some good categories to narrow in down with though and you could mark several options that you might be looking for like if you wanted a razorback takini.  They had a good selection of Women’s and Plus sizes. Kohl’s average price is $35.
  4. Athleta. They offer active swimwear for those who actually move around and swim in their suits. You can get an Athleta Catalog or look online. In my research I found that some of the Gap stores in my area carry this brand.  The active/ sporty Swimwear gives good coverage and with lots of options. There prices were on average a bit higher$45- $98 , but many of their suits are made out of Lycra which means a better fit and shape retention.  My daughter pointed out to me that Athleta has a great Sale Section Online too.  My favorite bathing suit that I saw from Athleta is the Swim Dress.

    Swim Dress

    Photo from Athleta Website.

  5. Land’s End.  Has lots of options of all the swim wear with good coverage and cute styles. They have a good range of sizes from Petite to Tall. Some Sears Stores carry the Land’s End clothes. And there are several outlets. What I liked best with Land’s End was their mix and match options of swim shorts and skirts with their takini’s. Land’s End Prices ranged at about $50 for the tops and $50 for the bottoms.
Ready to Try On:

Now that you have done some familiarizing online you will be ready to go the brick and mortar stores and  do some trying on. Be prepared to try on, not necessarily buy a suit yet. And here a few things to remember.

  1. Go shopping prepared in comfortable easy to change clothes.
  2. Set aside a time when you are not rushed.
  3. Take lots of options into the dressing room. And use a helpful store clerk. Tell them you are here to try on some suits and plan to try lots. Ask them to check back in with you regularly. You can also take a trusted friend along to help you get sizes and give you feedback.
  4. Look for suits in your best colors. Best neckline. Best coverage for your troubled spots.
  5. Try on a few suits that you are not sure about it. You might be surprised.
  6. Make two piles- Like it/ Leave it. You will know almost instantly when you try it on if you need to put it in the leave it. The like it pile might have a few maybes. If you are not sure than LEAVE It. Your goal is find a suit that is a LOVE it.
  7. Use your Capsule Wardrobe Principles. Don’t just settle on a suit. Find one that you love and that will mix and match into other things in your wardrobe.

So many of these stores offer online purchasing. Consider ordering a suit and trying it on in the comfort of your own home. Remember a few extra things.

  1. Look into the return policy of how to return the suit if it doesn’t fit.
  2. Do some good measuring of your bust, waist and hips before you order and follow the ordering guide that is provided. Don’t guess on this step.
Extra Things To Consider:
  1. Look for swim wear that has some slimming features.  Loved this description of a suit at Nordstroms. “A crisscrossed bust with a flattering sweetheart neckline sets off a slimming maillot with a ruched midriff that camouflages real and imagined flaws.” Because really, whether the flaws are real or imagined we feel better covering them up!!! Look on Pinterest or check out some websites, like this one that will help you decide what type of suit is the best for your body shape.  The Nordstrom suit above also has shoulder straps that are adjustable to help with support. And if you need it, add some extra bra padding into your suit.
  2. Land’s End has the best variety of swim/ board shorts and skirts. They had shorter and longer length shorts. Swim shorts offer even more coverage and I have always liked mine when I have been kayaking or boating. Land’s End also had a pair of swim leggings. Not only do they give some extra protection from the sun, they are a trendy way to keep warm on cooler beach days.
  3. Swim shirts offer not only sun protection but can add a fun element to your swim wear look. Land’s End had the best options by far. Cute designs that don’t look like the typical swim shirt like this one.
    Swim Shirt Resized

    Photo from Lands End Website.

    Or a zippered jacket style rash guard

    Zippered Rash Guard Resized

    Photo from Land’s End Website.


  4. Adding a Cover Up to your Swimsuit Wardrobe is another option. It can add color and is nice for walking around at the beach or pool. Every store I researched  had some cover up options. Here is one from Macy’s that I liked. Personally my favorite cover up that I have found is a white dress style cover up that I have been able to wear for several seasons and with many different swim suit colors and styles.

    White Cover Up

    Here I am at one of my favorite beaches. Balboa in CA.

  5. And lastly, we can’t talk about swim wear without talking about accessories- Sunhat, glasses, beach bag and jewelry! (I am a Jewelry Lady after all!) Your hat and glasses add another element of sun protection and the possibilities are limitless! Hats are trending so there seems to be even more options. Like a bathing suit, take some time to search for one that fits you well and that you love. If you have a Stein Mart near you, they are best hidden secret to things like hats, sunglasses and purses! Stein Mart has these things at good prices too! This hat is $19.99.
    Steinmart Hat Resized

    Photo from Stein Mart Website.

    This Beach Bag is a GOOD find!

    As for jewelry! If you are just sitting on the beach or relaxing by the pool, complete your look and wear some fun summery earrings and maybe a sporty/ casual turquoise bracelet!

    Beach Bound Bracelet

    Premier Designs Beach Bound Bracelet

    You will want to be careful with what jewelry you wear if you are swimming or extra sun lotion-ed up!

So, my delightful friends and readers, it is time for you to step out “into the waters” and begin your swimsuit search. Summer is coming! And one last thing, whether a size 2 or 22 or if your “flaws or real or imagined” remember that you are worth more than that! Your value doesn’t come from your size, but because you are created by a glorious Creator. You have the fingerprints of God on You. He finds you a delight- and so do we!!!

Sandy Toes

Sandy toes and salty kisses are a good reason to find a great swim suit and get to the beach!

We won’t make commissions from most of these links, we just like you and wanted to help you have the best swimsuit shopping experience you could have.


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