Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Shopping: Swimsuits...Reviews and Tips

Swimsuit...one word that can strike terror into the heart of even the bravest of women and could easily be considered a "four-letter word" to many (even though it does indeed have eight letters). ;) Fortunately, over the past several years many *on trend* swimsuit designs have become much more flattering and *forgiving*, helping to conceal any figure flaws or *trouble* spots...YAY! :)

For the past couple of months I have been on a quest to find a couple of new swimsuits for this year. We spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer here, either at the pool or over at the beach condo, so I like to have several swimsuits to be able to switch out each time.

The past couple of years I have been been purchasing J.Crew Swimsuits almost exclusively and have been pleased overall with how they have held up. (Last year I did purchase one from GAP and two from Kohl's (made by ELLE), but will mention more about them later in the post.) This year I have tried a couple different brands so far and thought I would share my opinions on them with you, in case any are now on their own search for the *perfect* swimsuit. :)

There are several factors that affect the style of swimsuit I choose. The first and main factor is that I have 4 energetic boys, the youngest three being ages 6, 4 1/2, and 3. This means that my swimsuits need to conceal my trouble areas acquired during multiple pregnancies, the last three which resulted in C-Sections due to son number 2 being breech. The second factor is that since I have young children, I need a suit that I can comfortably swim, run, and bend over in without fear of exposing body parts that are meant for DH's eyes only. The third factor is finding a suit that is flattering to my body type. For me this usually means a two-piece. You see, my thighs are my *problem area*, but my abdomen is  muscular, so this means that if I wear a one-piece, the attention is brought to my *problem area* while covering up my better *asset*, being my stomach. So, say you are a woman who has great legs, but your tummy is where you carry your weight, then a one-piece or tankini would be the better option for you. The fourth and final factor is color. I tend to go with darker colors, not that I don't like the lighter shades, especially white or ivory, but they can be tricky. If a suit is not properly lined then what I call the *shadow effect* is highly probable. This means basically that when you get out of the water a nice hint of your girly regions are available for all to see...not a good look, IMO. However, if you can find a suit that is nicely lined in front as well as in back, then your chances of the shadow effect are much less likely. :)

Now onto the suits I have tried:

J.Crew Breezy Dot Ruffle Top and Breezy Dot Ruffled Side Tie Hipster. I ordered this one in Black and absolutely LOVE it! The ruffles are just the right amount without making the suit feel too *young*. The top is slightly padded and extremely flattering. It does run large though. I am a 34B/C but wear the 32C in this one and it fits nicely. The bottoms have a high enough rise to give adequate and flattering coverage.

Solid Tie-Front Bandeau . I prefer Bandeau style swimsuit tops because I really do not like to have tan lines. (I wear this design the majority of the time, occasionally switching out with one that has straps. When wearing a combination of both styles, the tan lines are rare since any that may occur are soon covered after a day in the strapless style.) This bandeau works for me since I have a smaller bust, but may not be as much of an option for women with a larger bustline. The solid tie-front bandeau is running TTS. This one does not have any kind of padding, which means the probability of *headlights* when emerging from the water or catching a chill. I do have a answer to this problem though: Water Push Up Pads by Lingerie Solutions.

I know for a fact that these are sold at Target for $5.99 in the *Intimates* section, and I also believe you can get them at Walmart. These are waterproof and are also great for *enhancing* smaller bustlines while wearing a swimsuit. They also work for women with larger busts to help conceal *headlights* and give extra support and lift. The push up pads are also great for use in Evening Gowns, Wedding Dresses, and Bra Pockets. I have found that they work well in strapless dresses, as well as in dresses with lower necklines, as an alternative to wearing a strapless bra.

Solid Shirred Ruffle Bandeau Top. This is one of the best Bandeaus I've found in a while. The coverage is great and there is no urge to constantly pull it up while wearing it. I think this could also work for women with a larger bust.

J.Crew Solid Ruffle Hipster. This one is just too cute! It does sit at the hips, as the name hipster implies, and the ruffle is quite flattering. At first I had wondered if it wouldn't add *width* to the hips, but I find that it actually makes them appear smaller by slightly covering them while drawing attention away and out to the ruffle. I like this one paired with the Solid Tie-Front Bandeau above or this next top:

J.Crew Solid Underwire French Top. Love, love, love. This one works for all bust sizes...very flattering, but it does run small. I sized all the way up to an 8 on this one. I love it so much that I also ordered it in Brilliant Navy, which is an absolutely GORGEOUS shade, but darker IRL than it is online,
as you can see in my RL pic here:
The Solid Underwire French Top looks adorable with the Ruffle Hipster shown above as well as the
Solid Retro Hipster. This has turned out to be one of my favorite cuts of swimsuit bottoms. The coverage in front and on the sides is really good, holding in any lower tummy and hip *trouble*. The back bum area is cut a little higher, more like a Brazilian style, but not quite as skimpy...this one gives ample coverage and while the rise is lower, it is still modest. As I have noted, the Retro Hipster and the Ruffled Hipster above both have a lower rise, and I actually find this to be a more flattering fit on my body-type than some of the higher rise swim pieces. This is mainly due to the fact that I am short-waisted, so a swimsuit that sits lower on my hips helps to give the illusion of a longer torso.

I like to have at least one swim skirt each year. They are absolutely wonderful to wear when you know you'll be doing lots of bending over or just want to conceal any upper thigh issues you feel you may have. The current one I have is from J.Crew 2 years ago. Since I'm in need of a new one, I ordered a couple currently on the J.Crew website to try this year:
*Solid Ruched Waist Skirt...not good at all. The waistband and skirt were not flattering and the bottom hem is unfinished...yuck.
*Solid Microruffles Skirt. This one was much better, but still seemed hard to get a good fit. The waist and brief fit well but the skirt seemed to flare out too much causing extra width on the hips that wasn't really there. This one went back.
*Solid Cinched Beach Skirt. I like the waistband on this one, the skirt wasn't too full, but this one also has an unfinished bottom hem...why oh why???? I would have kept it if it weren't for that...

While I don't tend to wear one-pieces myself, I do have the ELLE tankini which is featured in the Polyvore set in this post, which I purchased last year. I like it because it's a bandeau style and the ruffles look adorable at the hipline. Tankinis are a good option to obtain the coverage of a one-piece while having the bathroom convenience of a two-piece. J.Crew has several swim tops that can be paired with your choice of swim bottom and worn together as a tankini:

They also have numerous beautiful one-pieces for those who prefer them over two-pieces or tankinis:

*Jersey Lomellina Retro Bandeau Tank


Last year I ordered a cute ruffle swimsuit from GAP and while the top was great, the bottoms were cut way too low for me. This year they have supposedly made the swim bottoms with a higher rise, so I am trying this one:
The top reminds me of this one at J.Crew, but for less money (especially when purchased with a birthday coupon).

I've also heard good things about Land's End swimsuits but had never tried them before. When one of the 30% off swimsuit deals was offered I gave this top and this swim skirt a try. They were both well made...the top was flattering, but the skirt was not what I was looking for, so they both went back. I didn't try any of the swimwear from the LE Canvas line, but they do have some cute ones, so if they are made like the regular Lands' End swimsuits, they would be worth a try:

I've noticed several retailers offering swim bottoms with high ruched waists...such a glamorous, retro look, and an excellent way to conceal any tummy trouble.

*Bonnie by DVF.

While out in the Sun don't forget your skin protection. Hats work well to shield your face:
I also like to wear a face cream with 45 SPF under The Supernatural Superbeautiful Hybrid makeup by Philosophy, which has an SPF of 20. When I wear these two together, I don't get any sun on my face, even when not wearing a hat. A very effective sunblock I have found for the body is Bull Frog with 50 SPF. This also comes in a gel that dries quickly...amazing stuff and also works well on kids (they even have their very own version if you prefer).

Have you found your *perfect* swimsuit for this year? Are you still searching? Have you tried J.Crew swimsuits? Do you have any other brands you have tried and would recommend? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Have a beautiful and blessed day! :)

xoxo,

8 comments:

  1. I do have some J. Crew swimsuits from last year and they've held up very well. I often find great suits at Target, too. This year I'd like to try some one piece styles. I like the one you pictured with the ruching, I think that would be very flattering.

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  2. Great reviews! They were lots of help.

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  3. Have you come across any cute tankinis? I just had a baby and need some belly coverage as well as my chest due to bfing. Most of the tankinis that I've been seeing are are a little too low cut.

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  4. LOVE this post!

    I have the retro high waist swim bottoms from Lands end canvas and I totally love them! I think they def need to be paired with a fun top or I could run the risk of looking matronly but they are very well made and with the lands end coupons that are frequently available they are worth it.

    So I have these bottoms: http://canvas.landsend.com/pp/EssentialsHighWaistSwimBottom~207085_-1.html?bcc=y&action=order_more&sku_0=::BLA&CM_MERCH=IDX_00017__0000002210&origin=index

    Paired with this top: http://www.charlotterusse.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3943400

    I am planning on buying the j.crew retro high waist ruched bottoms & top when they go on sale in late summer (I'm fairly confident they will make it on sale) I know this style isn't for everyone but I am embracing it wholeheartedly!

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  5. I love the strapless ruched swimsuit from JCrew. I have it in the medium purple shade and love it. Really is flattering to me and since I wear lots of strapless dresses and tops I prefer strapless suits for no tan lines. I own this suit in two other colors as well: Black and turq. green.

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  6. Hi ladies! I'm glad you enjoyed this post! :)

    Desert Flower: I love the suits that have the ruching, too. :)

    Thanks Savannah! :)

    Kate: Congratulations on your new baby! That is SO wonderful! :) I'll do some checking on tankinis for you and post any finds later this week. :)

    Stacie: I love your suit! It's so adorable! The high waist-swim suits remind me of Old Hollywood and Marilyn Monroe...love them! I'll probably end up getting one myself. :)

    Genny: Great choice on your swimsuit...SO pretty and very feminine, too. :)

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  7. Thanks FFM, that was very helpful!
    Kate (and everybody), Athleta which is now a GAP company has some great tankini swimsuits. I have a few from last year and they are great. They have great coverage, great fabrics, cute prints and a lot of bra sized tops. And they are meant for swimming since it is a company catering to female Athletes. FFM, have you ever tried them? Highly recommend!

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  8. ajc: Thanks for great information! :) I also think Athleta is a great place to look for Tankinis. I've heard good things about their suits, but have never purchased myself since they haven't offered any bandeaus that I've ever seen. I'm assuming this is probably since bandeaus are not really an athletic style of swim top. Anyways, I do like the prints they offer along with the promos, too. :)

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