Tried & True Tips For Plus-Size Swimsuit Shopping

Swimsuit season is in full swing and it's not slowing down any time soon. Our crystal ball says there are still plenty of poolside hangs, weekend beach trips, and full-on vacation getaways in your future before fall rolls around. That being said, you'll need the right suits to take full advantage of the warm weather while it lasts. If you haven't quite found a bathing suit that fits the bill yet, you may be delaying the often-tiresome search — or worse, returning to your go-to suit from two summers ago (the one that's faded, pilled, and now totally shapeless).

Swim shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. You just have to go into the hunt with an idea of what you want — whether that means knowing what type of suit you like (one-piece or two?) or just deciding which parts of your body you want to highlight and flatter. Ironing out your tastes and preferences ahead of time can save you from a headache down the line. That's why we spoke to six women about what they've discovered works for them when it comes to shopping for swimwear.

Fortunately, each of these plus-size tastemakers had her own unique go-to tip for finding a suit that makes them feel beautiful. As expert Chauncéa Carothers explains, "The methods I use are not exclusively for plus-size women — they are for all women." Read on to steal their advice and shop our picks — and don’t forget to #TakeBackTheBeach this summer.
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Blogger and Refinery29 contributor Kellie Brown remarks, "Shopping for swimsuits can be intimidating for women of all shapes and sizes. I think it's important understand the proportions of your body and play up what you love most about yourself."

"Obviously, confidence is key, but my favorite practical tip that I employ is using color and patterns to create shapes or camouflage. It's not just the silhouette of a swimsuit that can work for or against the look you want achieve. Color blocking, the placement on the suit, and fun patterns are some of my favorite ways to accentuate my body."

If you have an idea of what body area is your favorite to show off, you'll be able to look for colors and patterns that hit where you want them to.
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The black and white contrasts on this one-piece draw the eye inward and flatter the chest and waist.
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Long live colorblocking. The diagonal, wrapping effect of this bold suit flatter the waistline, and a pop of pink never hurt, either.
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Mesh is another fun element that adds interest to an otherwise classic, strapless suit. The geometric side panels expose some skin, but you don't have to feel like anything is falling out where it shouldn't be.
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Margie Ashcroft of blog MargiePlus explains, “When it comes to bathing suits, I am all about the two-piece! Nothing can beat a well-fitting high waist-brief and bold bikini top combo for summer."

With so many different takes on the bikini out there, it can be difficult to know which one favors your body best. It likely takes a bit of trial and error before finding the combination that works for you. "I recommend going with a bikini bottom that has a touch of ruching in the design and a top with an underwire cup. The extra stability of the underwire helps smooth you out and accentuate your shape," says Ashcroft.
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This bikini has all of the features that Margie recommends — a bottom with a bit of texture and a supportive underwire top.
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Can't go wrong with a LBB (little black bikini). The silhouette of the top and bottom have a retro vibe, but the classic black will be your go-to for summers to come. This suit doesn't have underwire support, but the double thickness of the halter strap makes up for it.
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While it may not offer the most support, the off-the-shoulder trend is one worth trying, even in swimwear. It's a great way to show off your décolletage, and the high-waisted bottom in a matching print is so Instagram-worthy.
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A high-neck tankini is a great way to keep your chest feeling secure — no worries of a nip slip here! Plus, throw on a pair of shorts and you're good to grab drinks after the beach or pool.
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Who says stripes can't be flattering? This nautical suit provides full coverage so that you can jump waves all afternoon and still feel held together. The cute front bow detail is a nice addition, too.
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"If you're self-conscious about your arms, don't think your only option is to wear a big t-shirt over your swimsuit," Chauncéa Carothers says.

"Arms are one of my own personal problem areas and I've found that scuba or surf tops typically have sleeves and are cute, comfortable, and come in a variety of shades and prints. These tops can be paired with super cute swim shorts or skirts."

It is possible to wear sleeves and shorts on the beach without feeling frumpy. First, decide on what kind of coverage you want — whether that's a longer sleeve that covers down to your wrist or a shorter one that hits just around the shoulder. Also consider if you want the top to be cropped or cover the entire midsection for ultimate surfer girl inspiration.
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A bold, all-over print makes turns a short-sleeved swim top into a stylish statement. A subtle slit at the neck feels pretty, but not overexposed, and you can mix and match the bottom based on whatever type you prefer.
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Not only does a long sleeve surf top feel sporty and playful, it can also protect you from the rays. Practical, cute, and multi-functional — what more could you want?
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To show a little more arm, go for a crop top type bathing suit top that shows just the right amount of midriff when paired with a matching high-waisted bottom. It's still keeping everything in place up top, but showing enough skin to feel sexy, too.
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For a chic, retro vibe, choose a simple and sleek one-piece that uses a contrasting color to act as a belt around your midsection. This neckline is supportive, while still letting a little bit of cleavage peek out.
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Separates can make your life so much easier. When you buy a set, you're betting that both the top and bottom are going to fit you perfectly — and that's far from always being the case. With separates, you can pick and choose the features that best flatter each part of your body until you find a combination that's just right.

Chastity Garner Valentine of GarnerStyle explains, "Don't be afraid to mix and match from different brands and retailers to get the perfect fit. I have a hard time fitting the lower half, but I know the bottoms from Lane Bryant fit me perfectly. I can add in fun tops from elsewhere."
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This bandeau top with straps uses cups and ruching to support the chest and push it up just so. An understated polka dot print mixes well with a variety of bottoms, from solid colors to stripes and florals.
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A mid-rise, paneled bikini bottom in a bold print is a great piece to have on hand. Make it a set by pairing it with the matching top, or do your own thing and wear it with your best-fitting, go-to black one.
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Having a well-fitting bikini top is just as important as having a properly fitting bra. Find a top that feels like it's made for you — with as little pinching, poking, and adjusting as possible. Try an all-over hue like a bold and classic red.
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If you prefer a swim skirt over a bikini bottom, find one that goes with most of your bikini tops so that you always have it as an option, even if you just want to layer it as a cover-up.
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One-piece swimsuits don't have to feel like an unexciting last resort. Instead, sexy one-pieces featuring interesting cutouts and other subtle details are a great way to flatter a range of shapes. Not to mention, they're versatile enough to build an outfit around and head straight to dinner without even changing out of your suit.

Clémentine Desseaux says, “I know now that there’s nothing better for me than a sexy one-piece suit for better posture, a tighter shape, and stronger support overall. It’s also perfect for after-beach bites and drinks. Paired with a pair of shorts or a long skirt, I feel covered enough to go to the bar — and still keep my beach girl vibes going strong."
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This one-piece is ruched in the middle, smooth on the sides, and has a cool ombré colorblocking effect. With fixed foam cups and supportive straps, this one's sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
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To make a black one-piece a bit more interesting, play with fabrics and textures. This lace-like crochet variation almost gives off a lingerie vibe and creates a pretty effect at the neckline. It's all in the details.
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Cutouts are another fun way to spice up a one piece, especially in a bold color, like this bright orange. It's ruched and exposed in all the right places, and the removable strap is a god-send, especially for avoiding any unwanted tan lines.
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"Halter swimsuits are great, but if you have larger or heavier breasts, they can cause neck pain at the tie point. Try to find one with underwire for added support and less secondary neck pain," blogger and R29 contributor Cece Olisa recommends.

If you're not the biggest fan of underwire, a thick strap of soft fabric can do a similar job without any poking or pinching. You may want to opt for wider straps around the neck, too.
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This bra-like halter offers plenty of support and still looks sexy, especially when played up with the contrast hems (this look has been taking over Instagram lately).
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If you're skipping out on the underwire, make sure the band is wide enough to avoid putting too much weight on the neck or having any unwanted slips. Go for full coverage in an all-over print, but don't be afraid to play up the cleavage with a little key hole.
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Double-lined halter tops offer necessary support, as well, even though there's no actual structured cup. This flattering V-neck halter even has seam reinforcement at the collar bone.
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