Summer is coming and that means the dreaded swimsuit season. I know it isn’t really dreaded. I love playing in the water. Everything from kiddie pools to a dunk in the river has an almost magical appeal when the weather gets hot. If only I didn’t have to do it in a teeny-tiny outfit made of lycra. I know it shouldn’t matter or keep any of us moms from having fun with our kids. But what can I say, I guess I’m vain. I don’t want to go out in public in something I feel crappy in. None of us should. And a post-baby body can provide some unique challenges when it comes to finding flattering swimsuits. But flattering swimsuits do exist. And here’s how to find them.
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A Mom’s Guide to Finding Flattering Swimsuits
Post-Baby Body Challenges
Several years ago, I was chatting with a close friend of mine when a woman walked up to us and asked my friend when her baby was due. After a second of horrified silence, my friend replied, “A year and a half ago.” I was proud of my friend for her rapid and amazing comeback. But also because she did not punch the woman in the face. Seeing as she wasn’t pregnant. She had a toddler.
Many moms can relate, I know I can. I am 18 months postpartum with a tummy that could easily pass for four or five months pregnant. But I’m not pregnant. And I don’t want to look it. When my swimsuit options are limited to shimmering scraps of spandex it makes for a tough shopping trip.
Even mamas who get down to a pre-pregnancy weight can find themselves challenged by new stretch marks, a less than firm belly, or boobs either bigger, smaller, flatter, or just different than they used to be. I imagine it’s the rare mama who can fit into her pre-baby bathing suit and feel truly comfortable. No matter what her postpartum weight and size.
There is also an issue of functionality when you’re a mom with young kids. Chances are your days of relaxing carefree on the beach are over. You’re too busy chasing toddlers into and out of the water, pinning them in place to apply sunscreen, or changing a poopy swim diaper to spend time lounging by the pool. To do all that you need the swimsuit equivalent of yoga pants. A string bikini will be hanging off your chest or halfway to your ankles if you try to do your momming in a flimsy suit. Moms need something with some staying power.
What Does a Mom’s Swimsuit Need?
1. You Need to Be Able to Move
When you’re shopping for a swimsuit keep in mind you need to be able to move. If you’ll be carrying a baby or toddler, you want something that is going to stay in place with little legs wrapped around your midsection. If you’ll be running, swimming, or bending over, you want to be able to do it all with some grace. And the confidence that your ass will stay covered in the process.
When you try on a potential swimsuit, move around. Bend over, stretch your arms up high, test out all the ways the suit could fail you at a key moment. When everything stays more or less where it’s supposed to be, you know you’ve found a winner.
2. It’s All About Support
No matter how popular Baywatch was, I personally have no desire to run down the beach in danger of my boobs giving me a black eye. When it comes to bras and bathing suits, it’s all about support. If you’re breastfeeding or large chested this can be even more of an issue. You need something that is going to keep your breasts where they belong. On your chest.
This doesn’t mean it can’t be cute, but make sure you aren’t falling out the top or bottom of your swim top. I saw that article too about celebrities rocking the “underboob” look. But I think it’s a swimsuit no-no for most of us. For comfort, if nothing else.
This has nothing to do with a swimsuit being flattering, but I think it’s of vital importance to the hunt for the perfect swimsuit. And there are a couple of reasons this might be even more important for post-baby mamas.
First of all, for many of us with young children, our swimsuit size can fluctuate a lot in a short period of time. If you’re recently postpartum, your body is adjusting to post-pregnancy. If you’re breastfeeding, your bra size could be larger now but headed for a drop-off. If you have toddlers or multiple kids, your weight and size may have recently changed or still be changing. You don’t want to drop $200 on a swimsuit only to have it not fit half way through the summer. Or even next year.
Another factor for me is I don’t wear a swimsuit all that often. There are plenty of you this won’t apply to. But I go to the river a few times a summer, maybe a friend’s house who has a pool. But unless we have a major resort vacation planned, I don’t wear a swimming suit often enough to feel like dropping a wad of cash on a suit I may or may not be able to wear next summer.
The truth is for the last two years I wore shorts and a tank top in the water. Which is not cute and I’m not advocating, but I couldn’t find a decent suit I could afford so I made it work.
Tips for a Flattering Fit
A ruched swimsuit is almost universally flattering. A swimsuit with a ruched midsection makes your stomach look flatter and hides any rolls. And a ruched bottom with at least a seam down the middle actually makes your behind look better too. If you’re looking for a flattering swimsuit, ruching is a good sign of one worth trying.
If you’re currently breastfeeding or your cups runneth over for whatever reason, a high necked swimsuit top can be a modest but attractive style of suit. There are lots of styles available with higher necks so you should be able to find one you like.
A halter top is a universally flattering neckline. It can lift and support a fuller bust. Or, with the help of a built-in bra, it can create or enhance more modest curves. I like halter tops because, unlike many straps, because you’re knotting the top on yourself, you can adjust the straps to fit your body.
An underwire in a swimsuit top, just like in a bra, provides added lift and support. It’s a must if you have a fuller bust. A shelf bra or other built-in bralette is unlikely to provide the support you need if you’re breastfeeding or recently postpartum. For smaller busts, if you prefer to avoid an underwire just make sure you look for a top with a built-in bra that provides adequate support.
In general a suit with a pattern or print is going to do more to conceal any lumps or bumps than a solid color. With the possible exception of a solid black suit, which is often pretty forgiving. I’m a fan of smaller prints. Giant florals or super bright designs make me feel like I am wearing wallpaper. But I’ve definitely seen some gorgeous mamas pull them off. So look for a pattern that suits your unique taste and style.
The current trend of retro style swimsuits is awesome for moms looking for a flattering swimsuit that is also modest and comfortable. There is an abundance of ruching, halter tops, higher necklines and more practically cut legs than in seasons past. Do a search for a retro swimsuit online and you will likely be impressed with the selection. This is how I found my swimsuit for this summer. It was an amazingly inexpensive and flattering fit for a bargain price.
Dive Right In
Whether your kids were born twenty years ago or twenty days ago, don’t let post-baby body challenges keep you from cooling off in the water in a flattering swimsuit this year. Check out Amazon or your favorite online retailer for an affordable swimsuit with a flattering fit. Your kids will love having their mom in the pool or lake, and you’ll love feeling confident and comfortable while you enjoy summer water fun with your family.