This time of year, I get tons of requests for bathing suit recommendations, so I’m putting together my 2017 Swimsuit Guide for Women Over 40!
This is a big task because every woman’s body is different and we all have different features we want to camouflage or flaunt, but I’ll do my best to cover all the bases.
First let me just say that I hate shopping for swimwear like some women hate shopping for jeans. I mean, I know everyone dreads shopping for swimwear, but I REALLY HATE IT because there is almost nothing out there that works for me.
When I go bathing suit shopping, it’s all about finding something that supports and shapes the girls. I’ve always had more than my fair share in that department, which creates enough of a challenge, but now that age and gravity have taken their toll, it’s almost impossible to find a cute, trendy swimsuit that fits the bill. Most suits with proper support have a way of aging me about 20 years.
Perhaps you have different body image issues you’re working with — a bit of a tummy, a pear shape, extra weight, or lack of chest can all create difficulties when searching for swimwear. Thankfully, these days most of the websites that specialize in swimwear have suits designed to target all of these issues. We’ll get into some specific recommendations in a bit, but first let’s first discuss the swimsuit trends of the moment.
Swimsuit Trends for 2017
All images below are clickable. Click thru to shop.
#1. One Piece Suits: One piece suits were almost unheard of for a while, but they’re back and super on trend right now. I’m all about it because tankinis have a way of creating a muffin top, whereas a one-piece smooths everything out.
#2. High Neck: I have no idea why this is a trend. I think it would make the weirdest tan lines, but it is and at least it is modest. If you don’t care about the tan lines, this is a fun way to be current and modest at the same time (a rarity for swimsuit trends!) This one from Macy’s is cute and affordable too. They also make the high neck suits in bikini version — my daughter had one last year that she wore with the high waist bottoms, and it was really cute on her.
#3. High Leg: Oh, boy. The eighties are baaaaack! I suppose this trend does help elongate the leg, so there’s that.
#4. Mesh and Cut Outs: This one is fun, but again, it could cause some weird tan lines, plus most that I’m finding are pretty revealing. I like this one-shoulder suit by Miraclesuit with its modest mesh panels.
#5. Geometric Prints: Anyone can wear these, and I like this departure from the florals that have been popular in the past.
#6. Lace, Crochet, and Feminine Details: Again, this is a trend almost anyone can wear, and I’m all for feminine details.
#7. White Bathing Suits: The challenge here, of course, is to find one that is not see-through. I love the idea of a white suit, though. It will definitely show off your tan! This one hits on several trends — the crochet detail, cut outs, a higher neck, and of course a white swimsuit.
#8. High Rise Bottoms: For those who like a two-piece suit but want a little more coverage, this is a fun trend. This also tends to work well for plus-size ladies, but I’ve seen it on all sizes, and it can be very attractive. (The suit pictured here comes in regular and plus sizes.)
Okay, so that was fun, and I think it’s always good to know the current trends, but what we really need is advice for certain body issues and some real life recommendations from women like us.
Swimsuits for Women Over 40
Once you hit 40, swimsuits become extra challenging because it’s all too easy to fall into the frump zone if we’re not careful, but it is possible to look good and feel confident in your swimsuit. It just sometimes takes a lot of trial and error to find the right one. (And when in doubt, throw on a cute coverup! Ha!)
Let’s talk about some specific issues women face when swimsuit shopping. First, let me recommend that you shop online so you can try on your swimsuits in the comfort of home. The lighting is more forgiving, and I think overall it’s an easier experience. Plus, you can get the opinion of your husband or kids, which I always find helpful.
When I’m in the market for a new swimsuit, I usually order a bunch and send back the ones that don’t work. My favorite sites for shopping swimwear are Lands’ End, Athleta, and Title Nine, but those have been my go-tos for so long that I fear I may be out of touch in this department. I want to be sure to give you the most current and relevant advice, so I asked on Facebook where women my age like to shop for swimsuits, and I got a lot of great suggestions.
Some of the retailers mentioned multiple times are Everything But Water, Soma, Bare Necessities, Macy’s, Hapari, Garnet Hill, and Swimsuits For All. If you’re looking for budget-friendly suits, Target, Walmart (the Catalina brand, specifically), T.J.Maxx (you can now shop online!), and Costco were all suggested.
To Skirt Or Not To Skirt
When it comes to swimsuits, it’s easy to end up looking matronly in our attempts to keep it modest and get the support we need. There was a time when I thought the tankini top and swim skirt look was so cute and new and fresh. Now, I fear it has become the “mom suit.” I am not saying not to wear them if that is what you like and feel comfortable in, but it definitely can age us or put us in the frump category if we’re not careful.
If you do go the skirt route, make sure the skirt isn’t too voluminous. The shorter, and sleeker the skirt is, the better. This one is super cute, and it comes in navy and black, so you can find a top in a printed pattern that would coordinate. Athleta has swim skirts that don’t look too matronly.
An alternative to the skirt that I’ve enjoyed in recent years is the swim short. I still get the modesty of covering my rear and the widest part of my thighs, but it isn’t a skirt. Again, the same rule applies. I think the shorts that fit close to the body look best. I love the Kata Swim Shorts at Athleta and the Boy Briefs at Title Nine. This JAG swimsuit from Macy’s shows how cute the swim shorts can be. It’s also less than $100.
Tankini vs. Bikini vs. One-Piece Bathing Suits
These days, anything goes. It’s possible to look super cute or super frumpy in any of these bathing suit styles. The key is knowing what works for your body and staying within your comfort zone. I haven’t worn a bikini top since I was 3 years old, but I think some women look fabulous and perfectly appropriate in a bikini top. It’s definitely easier to pull off if you’re smaller chested and/or have a smaller waist. I tend to carry some extra weight in my belly, plus I have the chest issues to contend with, so I steer clear.
I’ve loved the tankini trend, and it’s all I’ve worn for the past 10 years, but I’m looking forward to trying some one-piece styles this year.
I think the key to keeping a one-piece swimsuit from looking frumpy is to find one with some of the trendy features mentioned above — cutouts or mesh or a fun geometrical print.
I actually just ordered this one from Boden. It does not come in bra sizes, so I’m not holding my breath it will work, but I’ve been wanting one that I doesn’t leave tan lines on my shoulders, so I’m going to give it a try. The color blocking should be slimming, and the print is youthful and fun.
Bra Sized Swimwear
One of the best things to happen to swimsuits recently is the bra-sized swimwear. Personally, I always go right to the bra-sized swimwear because nothing else works for me. If you have a larger chest, I highly recommend these suits. Unfortunately they don’t always come a very wide variety of sizes, but through your Facebook recommendations, I’ve found some sites that do have a better range of sizes.
Swimsuits for a Larger Chest
If you wear regular size clothing but have a disproportionately large chest, check out Bare Necessities. Their bikini and tankini tops are all sized so that you can order your band size (they offer sizes 30-38) and your cup size (D-G), and their suits are actually CUTE! You can filter your results by bra size, brand, size, and color. I ordered this one and one other to try.
Soma also has a decent selection of bra sized swimsuits and some have a wider range of sizes than you can find at Athleta or Lands’ End. I kind of like this one, but I’m not sure I want a one-shoulder style. I’m always thinking about tan lines.
Swimsuits for a Smaller Chest
Obviously, I’m no expert on this, but I can tell you what I cannot wear and wish I could. LOL! Ruffles, padding, and push-up styles all add volume and give the illusion of a larger chest. Nordstrom actually has a whole section of small bust swimsuits. Athleta will also tell you what cup sizes their swimsuits are best suited for. I think this halter style is super cute.
The high neck trend is so cute, and I think it can actually work for everyone, but it is probably easier for those who are smaller on top. This one at Soma caught my eye, but they also make them in tankini and one-piece styles if that’s more comfortable for you.
If you need plus sizes, Bare Necessities has a great selection. Again, you can filter your results by your size so you’re only seeing suits that work for you. Other sites that were recommended to me for plus sizes are Swimsuits for All and Monif C.
Ultra Modest Swimwear
If you want a super modest bathing suit that is pretty much like wearing a dress in the water, check out Love To Learn. These suits are designed by a homeschooling mom who couldn’t find any bathing suits for her daughters that she felt were modest, comfortable, and flattering, so she set out to create some. I realize these aren’t for everyone, but I wanted to include it in case you’re looking for something like this.
Swimsuits with Thigh Coverage
Soft Surroundings makes this unique sarong swimsuit. It has a mesh sarong you can wear as a skirt, as a sarong, or you can tie up when you get in the water to swim. They make a few other tankini styles that I think are cute but modest. Unfortunately, no bra cup sizing, but I realize not everyone needs that.
I also think the swim shorts are a great solution for those wanting some thigh coverage. I personally like a boy short style that fits snug to the body, I realize that shorts will fit every pair of thighs differently. If you have bigger thighs, a looser short might fit you snug to the body.
Swimsuits to Disguise a Belly
If you’re trying to camouflage a belly, you have a few options. These swing tankini tops at Lands’ End are cute, and they don’t cling to the bumps and rolls of the midsection but rather skim over them. These swing tankini tops at Lands’ End come in regular, long, and short sizes.
I definitely think the blousy tops look best with a bikini bottom or super close-fitting shorts. If you add that swing top to a skirt, it’s going to look frumpy. Lands’ End makes a high waist bikini bottom with or without tummy control that would pair well with this top, and Soma also makes a high waist swim bottom with support.
Actually, Soma has a nice selection of pretty suits, if you want to take a look. You can filter by trend or by the feature you’re looking for.
A swim dress is another option, although I do think these can be hard to pull off.
Another option for disguising a bit of a tummy is to wear a swimsuit with some ruching or shirring. This one is a good example, plus it has built-in tummy control. Patterns also help distract the eye from any bumps or bulges we don’t want to draw attention to.
You can find tankinis with the ruching too, if you want to pair them with a swim skirt or swim shorts for more modesty.
Several ladies recommended Lands’ End for post-mastectomy swimwear. I also found a large selection at Swim Outlet. If this is something you have experience with and you have another recommendation, feel free to leave it in the comments.
I hope this post is helpful. I’m sure I left out something, but hopefully this hits the highlights. Feel free to leave feedback and other suggestions in the comments.
You may also like my post on swimsuit coverups! Let’s face it, most of us probably end up wearing those more than our bathing suits anyway, lol.
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