While the athletes of the world wow us with their physical prowess, let’s also spare a thought for the women undertaking Olympian tests of endurance in changing rooms across the country. The women quietly, determinedly battling the combined forces of gravity and fashion without losing their shit. The women bikini shopping. With breasts.
There are no medals for us. No prizes for those precious hours we spend wrestling ourselves in and out of a parade of unsuitable lycra items. The best reward we can hope for is something that looks moderately sassy, covers our nipples, and doesn’t come off going down a waterslide.
This isn’t to say that nobody makes swimwear for big breasts — they do, but boy, is it often a hot mess of misguided design. The stomach ruching. The baffling, Ikea-style optimism of "shelf support." The dental floss halter straps. Dress sizes don’t translate into bikini cup sizes; bottom sizes are a free-for-all, and brands tend to mistake "has large bust" for "would be happier in a wetsuit with a skirt." The whole experience is enough to make you see spots, which I mean quite literally because it is written somewhere that if you’re a busty lady going swimming, you can only do it dressed as a '50s pin-up on a seaside postcard. Just polka dots as far as the eye can see. Gingham if you’re lucky. Maybe a cheeky anchor. Those are your options.
And in keeping with fashion’s current mood of airy bralessness, this year’s hottest swimwear is a stretchy, minimalist, free-the-nipple affair. Those high-legged, low-backed Baywatch one-pieces; the seersucker bandeau tops; the strappy cutout creations — all gorgeous if you like giving gravity free reign, but less so if you just want to keep the damn things still while you eat a popsicle.
However, there is hope on the horizon. I went fishing for options to accommodate your style aspirations and your breasts. The 12 swimsuits ahead are for those of us seeking reference points from anywhere but the '50s. And I promise, there's not a polka dot in sight.