If there's one activity that makes me realize I'm small-chested for a plus size woman, it's trying on plus size swimsuits. After a while, it can begin to feel like some retailers must assume that all plus size bodies are made in the exact same proportions. Not long ago, I bought a few underwire-style bikini tops in the hopes that they would act similarly to a push-up bra. But I learned that instead of giving me the support I was really after, I was just left with extra space that I couldn't fill out.
I then asked around on social media to see whether I was the only person experiencing this struggle, and the responses really gave me a clearer understanding of what had been missing from my swimwear pursuits. The main issue with a lot of plus size swimwear tops for smaller-chested women is that they experienced a lot of gaping caused by underwire and moulded cups. Styles with light padding fared better. And a halter-style front with a racerback was found to offer more support.
Band size doesn't automatically correspond to a certain cup size, so the key to finding a top that fits a smaller chest is looking for something adjustable. Can the straps be tied two different ways? That's a total win.
Plus size bodies come in all sizes, after all, so there's no reasons smaller-busted babes should be left on the sidelines this summer. Here are 15 styles to consider.
Becca Etc. by Rebecca Virtue is one brand that has a lot of swim options without underwire or moulded cups. The hand-woven macrame makes this racerback top visually interesting as well as supportive.
This ruched bikini top is crafted more like a bralette than a bra, so it has lightly lined cups and no underwire. The straps are removable as well, so you can wear it halter-style, straight, or criss-crossed.
A blouson-style suit is categorized as a look that fits more like a blouse with a tunnel strap allowing for added adjustment. The inside contains a full-shelf bra and wire-free moulded cups.
Rue107 offers the same pieces in both straight and plus sizes, so it has a few options that feature non-moulded cups. This zip-up style bikini top sports a totally cute pattern and could definitely double as a crop top.
5. Long Sleeve
Rash-guard styles usually feature long sleeves and higher-cut necklines, so not only do they protect your skin, but the shelf bra and soft cups are a small-busted human's dream.
This one-piece really combines a lot of things that I like. Between the bold pattern, ruffle-detail, and convertible straps, it's a total winner for me.
Lace-up style suits can be tricky in my experience because sometimes they call for a lot of cleavage that I just don't have. But this one is great because the laces can be tied tighter and it features non-padded underwire cups.
9. High Neck
This Becca Etc. swimsuit top features a high-cut neckline and a lace-up back. It also has reinforced side stays for extra support.
I love anything plus size and floral and this suit is no exception. With a smaller chest, I have shied away from keyholes, but this one is different because the strap is actually adjustable, allowing it to be worn as a tank style or halter.
11. Halter Hybrid
Rather than opting for a halter-style top that may not offer much support, this layered bikini top features a mesh halter with a knit shell underneath, adjustable straps, and removable cups.
What is cuter than ice cream cone printed bikini bottoms? A polka dotted, tank-style bikini top, of course.
The thicker straps and wrap style cut coupled with a pretty petal print pattern make this a stand-out.
The cut and design of this suit are almost as interesting as the galaxy-style pattern. The back is fully lined and the front features soft bra cups.
Before a lot of retailers started offering stylish plus size bikinis, this Nakimuli two-piece wowed me, and it still does. The asymmetrical cut of the flounce creates added drama on a suit that is already wonderfully loud.
At every size and every shape, plus size women just want to have options, and that includes for the beach and pool. While some may prioritize style or pattern, wanting to wear a bathing suit that fits well is a pretty universal trend.
Want more body positivity? Check out the playlist below, and be sure to subscribe to The BodCast for more radical self love!
Images: Courtesy Brands