The Busty Woman’s Guide To Swimwear (100% Polka Dot-Free)

Photo: FremantleMedia Ltd/REX/Shutterstock.
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.
1 of 12
The Bandeau
This scorching pink and orange number is the first bikini I’ve been happy with and comfortable in for years. It delivers a sturdy amount of under-wiring and molded cup support without looking matronly, and crucially comes with detachable straps — and two of 'em, not the dreaded halter neck.

J by Jasper Conran Multi-colored Color Block Bikini Top, $39.20, available at Debenhams.
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2 of 12
The Bustier
I can’t tell you in what world this qualifies as a "high-neck" swimsuit, but I do know that Wolf & Whistle knows how to combine a thick strap with sex appeal. The straps on this nude-illusion suit are adjustable, too, so you can hoist everything skyward if you wish.

Wolf & Whistle Mesh Applique High Neck Swimsuit, $54.82 $27.41, available at ASOS.
3 of 12
The Balcony
Anyone who’s worn a Wonderbra Ultimate Strapless will know that molded cups mean business. They might feel like body armor but they get the job done. Swimwear label Prism London has this chic bustier style in two subtle shades (no fuchsia florals here) and claims it works up to an F cup. There’s a classy underwired swimsuit in the same fabric, too.

Prism
London Montauk, $176 $87, available at Prism London.
4 of 12
The Bra Top
Long-time friends to the busty gal, Freya might not have the sexiest selection, but it does understand that what most of us really want is a bikini that looks just like our favorite bra — but waterproof. This one goes up to an H cup.

Freya Bondi Underwire Sweetheart Bikini Swim Top, $68, available at Her Room.
5 of 12
The Bouncy One
It's not underwired, but it does go up to a size 18 with a concealed bandeau lining, and there’s some pretty serious fabric coverage to work with here. I'm thinking this would probably even survive a water slide.

River Island Pink Print Cut-out Bikini Tank Top, $32, available at River Island.
6 of 12
The Bardot
Because if we continue with our sterling efforts, there’s a chance 2016 can be remembered as the Year Everyone’s Shoulders Were Always Out, rather than the year the world went to hell — and magically, this fancy-backed Bardot one-piece also features secret under-wiring. Not so basic now, eh?

Huit
All I Want Cross Back Swimsuit, $86, available at Fig Leaves.
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7 of 12
The Botanical Option
This jungle print number is here to fulfill your Beyoncé-in-the-Survivor-video fantasy, and also your fantasy of buying a bikini top that effectively contains both of your whole breasts. This one goes up to a 42FF, and there’s an underwired one-shouldered version, too.

Fantasie
Kuranda Underwired Balcony Bikini Top, $72 $36, available at Fig Leaves.
8 of 12
The Baywatch
Sometimes you find things when you’re least expecting them — like this perfect, minimalist, high-cut swimsuit with hidden under wiring.

La Redoute R Edition Swimsuit, $45.69, available at La Redoute.
9 of 12
The Bondage
Because being well-endowed doesn’t mean we don’t deserve weird tan lines, too.

ASOS Fuller Bust Strappy Plunge Swimsuit, $51.59, available at ASOS.
10 of 12
The Bodacious Bikini
If you have the time and energy to trawl through SimplyBe, there are some rewards to be had — like this sturdy bra bikini top, which goes up to a magnificent 46F (and size 28 bottoms) and looks like your parents’ caravan curtains from the '80s. In a good way.

Magisculpt Bodysculpting Bikini Top, $27.99, available at Simply Be.
11 of 12
The Bombshell
For the times you want to forget the Jenners and just be Jayne Mansfield, instead, Curvy Kate has you covered with this paneled situation. Goes up to a G, for "God, my boobs look amazing."

Curvy Kate Siren Strapless One Piece Swimsuit, $99 $74.95, available at Her Room.
12 of 12
The Last Resort
But seriously, though. Just think how snug you’d be.

Cynthia Rowley Short Sleeve Color Block Wetsuit, $210, available at Cynthia Rowley.
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