Bra Fit Experts, Inner Beauty, Swimwear

How to Buy a Swimsuit That Fits: Online Swimwear Shopping Made Easy


Summer is a double-edged sword. Sure, we love it above all other seasons—the relaxed pace, the dose of vitamin D, the restorative time off. But like it or not, with its return each year comes the dreaded swimsuit try-on-athon. No sea of self-tanner can satisfactorily start to address spring’s pallor; no Tylenol can tame that season-opener of a bikini wax; no liquid courage can help us sail through what we know we’re about to endure: somehow locating those elusive three feet of fabric powerful enough to make us feel like Gigi Hadid at the Jersey shore.

The Difficulties of In-Store Shopping for Swimsuits

Traditionally, shopping for a swimsuit has been the pits. It’s incredibly intimate, it takes more time and advance planning than it seems like it should warrant in the grand scheme of life and, once you finally find what you’re looking for, that prize suit has a fairly short period of usefulness, to say nothing of its overall shelf life. Brick-and-mortar stores lack selection and size range, the lighting is unforgiving, the mirrors are rigged to make you look slimmer, the paint picked to make you look tan…and then you get home, where a more realistic scene awaits you.

“I’ve worked in the swimwear industry for 17 years, and when I worked in a store, I saw on a daily basis the dread, fear and hatred women had for bathing suits,” says Jeni Doherty, our in-house swimwear expert. “For most women, it’s an awful experience, and they’d much rather go to the dentist for a root canal than take a bathing suit into a store fitting room.”

That’s a lot of power for one small garment to hold, but it’s true; we hear the pained customer comments all the time. You’re wearing a sports bra at the pool. You’re hanging out of bikini tops. You’re hiding under baggy tees. You’re never sans sarong. You’ll pass on beach volleyball, thanks.

Swimwear is more intimate than intimate apparel!” says Jeni. “You can have an ill-fitting bra on—I don’t recommend that, by the way—but at least it’s under a shirt and no one sees what it looks like. When you put on a swimsuit, the fit is even more important because you aren’t just putting it on for your own eyes. A lot of women above a D-cup get frustrated when they walk into their local department store for a swimsuit and quickly realize they aren’t being catered to.” We either leave empty-handed or settle for something that doesn’t quite work just to get it over with. Then we don’t want to wear it. And the vicious cycle continues.

Why Online Swimwear Shopping is Better

Per fashion news director Jane Keltner de Valle in the May issue of Glamour, there is a solution:

“My first rule: online shopping only […] I find store try-ons demoralizing. At home, I can review at my own pace, with my own lighting. My second plan of attack: order lots of suits in varying sizes to compare fit, and—with two-pieces—order only from brands that sell tops and bottoms separately.”

Jeni couldn’t agree with Jane more. “You ensure a much better experience shopping from home,” says Jeni. “I always recommend picking up a couple of different styles, prints and sizes, then trying them on in the comfort of familiar surroundings, in a mirror you know and trust, in lighting you’re accustomed to. There’s no rush. You can put on the bathing suit and walk around the house in it for a awhile, bending over, lifting your arms and really testing the swimsuit as if you were at the pool or beach.” (Better still: You can have a pina colada in-hand the whole time.)

Still, there is one thing missing from online swimsuit shopping that you do occasionally find in a store: a knowledgeable, helpful salesperson. When a shop is staffed with trained experts, it makes all the difference between success and failure. For bra-sized swimsuits especially, it pays to put yourself into the right hands.

That’s where bare necessities comes in.

Beyond having solved for size, selection and a great try-on experience, our Bra Fit Experts are our trump card. They’re on call to walk you through the process as if you were in a store. You can call them before you order as you’re considering your options, and/or when you get the suits on at home to ask about fit, sizing and style. They’re real women, and they get it. And because they go from fitting bras to bra-sized swimsuits, they already know how to clear the obstacles standing in the way of you finally getting this right.

“Their job is to help women turn this exact, excruciating experience into a win. They’re so supportive,” Jeni says. “Since fit is key, I tell everyone to call, email or chat with a Bra Fit Expert. They have so much information and experience that can guide you to what you need, offering the same personalized attention you’d find in a store, only remotely. They want to teach you how to find what works for you.” They’re the missing link, the best of both worlds.

Not much to lose, other than maybe a dentist’s appointment.

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Brooke Glassberg
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.
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