Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Most Terrifying Part of Summer

I LOVE the beach and the pool and the sun. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I enjoy the change of seasons along with winter coats and layering but warm weather and summer have always been my first love.  I know without a doubt that I could live at the beach somewhere and just occasionally visit the cold weather. That being said, I truly dread planning my swimsuit/beach wardrobe. 

Each summer we spend a wonderful week at the beach.  Our trip is coming up soon. We also have a pool in our backyard. The backyard wardrobe isn't so scary because it's just me, my Honey and close friends or family.  The beach is another story.  Even at my thinnest, I've never been comfortable in a bathing suit. I've learned to purchase more flattering suits but there is still no hiding larger thighs, hips or cellulite. I also hate the idea of being strapped into a bathing suit that feels like corset or that holds in me in so tight that I can't move. So I usually avoid the "shape" suits, but that's just me. I know there are many women that can't live without them.

As you know the majority of my weight is on the lower half of my body.  This presents a challenge. No matter what I wear, it won't hide my least favorite body part, my legs. In an effort to feel more confident and comfortable in my beach attire, I've come up with a few strategies.  They are:

1) RETRO - Embrace retro style swimsuits that sit lower on the leg or can be adjusted without looking frumpy.

2) SEPARATES - Select separates, so that I can purchase different size tops and bottoms for the best fit.

3) SARONGS - Gather an amazing collection of  sarongs that I use for color and coverups.

4) DETAILS - Select suits with interesting details around the top to draw the eye up.

5) A BREAK - Remember that even when I was 20 I didn't have the same body as some of the beautiful women in my family and to give myself a break.

Here are some of my picks for the beach and pool this summer, for those of us that aren't buying bikinis.

This retro style suit from Wal-Mart is fantastic! The only draw back might be that it's listed as a shape type suit. I'd have to try it on to be sure it didn't feel corset like. Best of all you can get it in sizes Small to 3x, in red, aqua, and black and it's only $32.

Maybe it's the cut or it could be the styling but I find this suit so gorgeously retro that even the higher pricetag didn't deter me from sharing it with you.  I love the plunge at the top, combined with the gathers and the low sides. At $118, it's a priced a bit higher than I would like. The suit is only in plus sizes (but I've seen similar styles in all sizes) and it's by Kiyonna from Sonsi.

Most times, one piece swim dresses remind me of the bad polyester suits that older ladies wore in the 70's. I know the designs are much better now but I can't get that image out of my head. However, the tankini swim skirt combo can avoid that dowdy look. I own one swim skirt that is a retro style. It has draw strings on the side so that I can adjust it low for a skirt look or higher for swimming. My skirt came from Land's End last season. Unfortunately, they don't carry that style any longer.

This tankini top from Lands' End is pretty, comes in many colors and is available in sizes 2 - 26W.  It's priced $34.50 and $41.50.  Shell beach solid ruffle tankini top 34.50 and 41.50 2-26W

The shirred mini from Lands' End ($31 - $38) has some runching at the tummy to hide anything you don't want seen and it would be a fun compliment to the ruffle top.

I like boy shorts and these from One Stop Plus (Torrid) are even a bit girlie and retro. The cinching strings on the side can shorten them or lengthen them depending on the look you want.  At $34.50, they are an affordable option.


Bright, multi-colored sarongs can be worn with more than one suit. I prefer sarongs made out of rayon instead of polyester but that's just a personal preference. I find them softer and absorbent.  The sheer poly sarongs don't usually have those advantages. I really like the colors of this hand painted hibiscus sarong. I have a similar sarong that I've owned for 5 plus years.  I've taken care of it and it still looks brand new. The one is from 1 World Sarongs for $24.99.   1 World Sarongs also carries plus size sarongs.

This sarong is so light and pretty.  The white background accents the purple floras.  It's from for only $15.95.

If florals aren't your thing, maybe a cool tie dye design would do the trick.  I found this one on and it's from Curious Designs for just $11.95!

I've found some of my favorite sarongs on the sale racks of beach shops.  Toward the middle and end of the season you can find some great deals. If you need tying or styling tips, here is a link to How To Tie a Sarong on the 1 World Sarongs website. Here is another with pictures.


The mesh panel at the top of this suit is chic. The silhouette is simple. It's from Wal-Mart and at only $15 you can't beat it! 

I'm a huge fan of Lands' End swimsuits.  The prices are reasonable. This suit is $41.50 - $48.50. The quality is high and many of their styles come in sizes from 2 - 24W (as well as petite cuts). This ruffle one piece is sweet and colorful.  The ruffle at the top draws the eye up. 

There's nothing I can buy to make giving myself a break easier. A few years ago I saw an interview with Mariel Hemingway. Something she said really stuck with me. She said that she realized that she'd been saying lots of mean things to herself her whole life. If someone else said the means things to her that she says to herself, she wouldn't be friends with that person. She realized that it shouldn't be ok for her to say those things to herself. Her words are true. I would never let someone else talk to me that way. It has helped me to think about the mean things I think and say to myself. I try harder now to be kinder to myself.  I hope her words help you too.

Good luck to all of you who hate swim suit shopping as much as I do.  I hope that you have a wonderful summer in spite of those feelings and that we all learn to love ourselves a little more.

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