I’ve been obsessed with finding the perfect swimwear ever since I started my first job and could afford to look further than the High Street. Blessed with a very small back (32) and a very, very large front (fluctuating between F & GG), I had been reduced to wearing Speedo tanks, purely because I could shovel myself into them.
Swimsuits are a problem as ones without cups aren’t an option (too much wobble), and off the rack standard ones with cups are never, ever big enough on top in my size. As for bikinis, it’s only recently that you could buy tops & bottoms separately, but that hasn’t solved my problem because bikinis that fit my front are at least a UK 16-18 & so are always way too loose at the back.
Working on the theory that boob jobs and curves were more prevalent in Miami, I did once find a bikini that fitted in South Beach, but it was wetlook, Brazilian cut on the bottom & downright pervy on top. I never had the balls to wear it in public. (My girlfriends referred to it as my pornstar bikini).
I was charged to buy one for an equally well-endowed best friend who had better remain nameless. She never managed to get further than the bedroom door in it as her husband pounced every time she wore it. Effective but not so useful for swimming purposes.
I have tried all the retailers who now sell bra sized swimwear but it has a tendency to look like underwear not swimwear, with a bias towards pastel prints. And anything above an F is very very limited in range.
The Queen’s corsetiere’s Rigby & Peller is often cited as THE shop for properly fitted lingerie & swimwear. When I was a 32E I did find an expensive, very dull but useful black halterneck bikini but everything else there was (and is) way too granny or just plain hideous, and they have hardly anything above a 32F.
Then a couple of years ago Tara & I went on a mission to chic swimwear retailerHeidi Klein & I dropped a mind-blowing £140 on their own label, absolutely perfect, hidden underwire string bikini – my holy grail. And then promptly went up a cup size, beyond their sizing. (Useless website for larger breasted women tho as you can’t search by size, and few of their pieces go beyond a D, so you have to check every style to see what size it comes in.)
I know many people swear by Bravissimo, but I find it all a bit frumpy, with lots of huge boulder holder tops yet worryingly skimpy bottoms, and they never have quite the right combination of colour & style for me. Large size bra specialists Freya & Fantasie do interesting swimwear & are worth a look through sites like Figleaves, but there’s nothing there that looks like it will work for my figure or that has ever induced me to spend $100 on a suit.
So, still no swimwear that fitted.
And then I discovered the miracle that it is Ginger’s Island.
Whether you want a bondage style bandeau suit, a modestly cut costume with skirt, a classic tank or a string bikini, have two water balloons attached to your front or are flat as a pancake, California-based custom swimwear company Ginger’s Island can help you custom fit swimwear to your body and in your choice of colour, pattern & finish. And, if you have a particular style in mind that isn’t just a case of a small adjustment to a current style, they can also, for an additional cost, create a pattern just for you. They aren’t cheap: the average suit comes in at around $150 (still substantially less than their competitors), but they fit perfectly and that’s got to be better than having five badly made suits in your drawers.
Don’t let the slightly tacky website design put you off: the product is fantastic, and the customer support is exceptionally good, possibly the best I’ve ever dealt with both professionally and personally. They also use real, older women as the models, which is fantastic and extremely unusual for a swimwear site, and a lot more helpful for the prospective buyer than seeing swimwear being modelled by whippet-thin 16 year olds, (although some of the lovely ladies do look a little alarming in a mane of hair, Baywatch kind of way.)
With 49 different types of bikini bottoms, from thongs to hipster board skorts (no, I don’t know either), 62 tops from bandeaus to a crisscross back full tankini, 14 swimsuits, 37 different skirt, sarong, sundress & cover-up options, all of which are made to measure, and more fabric selections than I’ve ever seen:
(This is a compilation of just some of the options, which includes plain colours too) I have absolutely no idea how anyone comes to a final decision.
They cover girls’ sizes (2 mos. to 14 years), adult sizes (0 – 24) and cup sizes A – J, and happily send out fitting samples worldwide (for free if you purchase!) to your exact measurements, and fabric swatches too. If you need padding they offer three different types of cup pad, including silicone, and everything is properly lined, especially important in a pale or print suit.
I orderedthis style as my basic template:
When ordering, they ask for seven separate body measurements to put together the first fit samples, which arrived within ten days. The parcel included several suits with different cup styles to accommodate different breast shapes, and I was fascinated to see how some of them didn’t fit at all, even though they were the correct cup size.
Once the samples arrive, it’s a matter of calling their brilliant fit team, who have masses of experience, and talking through any changes. The basic suit shape worked very well for me, but I needed a higher leg, the waist taking in, & wanted to add a couple of amendments to their design to better fit & flatter my body shape.
I have a nice back (as opposed to my horrid tummy), so I wanted the reverse to be scooped out more, lowering it by a couple of inches.
Halternecks are the most flattering for all chest types: they give a little lift to smaller fronts, and support over-sized breasts. Bra style straps can often result in swaying bosoms as the support in a swimsuit, even with an underwire, isn’t comparable to a proper bra. So, on our ‘phone consultation, I asked for the bra straps to be converted to a tie neck. This also gives the visual impression of smaller breasts as the eye is drawn to the narrow neck area by the straps rather than to the width of the shoulders. (Strangely this isn’t the case with smaller breasts: they benefit from the added volume added by bringing the breasts closer together.)
I wanted to lose the bra back too, but the incredibly helpful & well-informed girl on the other end of the ‘phone was dubious, pointing out that the lower back & halter combination meant that my erm, ample, breasts might well escape out the sides without the back strap to pull it all in. This made complete sense, so I stayed with the adjustable bra back.
Although I flirted with the idea of a polka dot costume, I went for a plain French navy as this would be my everyday suit and I wanted it to be a building block for my summer wardrobe.
The finished result:
It may not look particularly exciting but it fits me immaculately: it doesn’t look like reinforced underwear, it doesn’t ride up, (so no wedgies) as the coverage is perfect on my lower half, my breasts fit into the cups with no chafing or spillage, yet is plunging enough to be sexy whilst giving me plenty of support. Perfection.