It's the middle of the summer, and between seasonal pool parties and beach vacations, the need for budget-friendly plus size swimwear is still very real. But with some plus size swimsuits costing upwards of $100, you may often end up wearing the same styles for years to come.
Even just a few years back, finding a two-piece plus size bathing suit that wasn't a tankini wasn't just expensive; it was nearly impossible. The market for bikinis in sizes 14 and over has exploded since then, though. From low-rise string bikinis to elaborate caged halter tops, there are more options than ever.
Indie designers and mainstream retailers alike are offering plus size bikinis both in stores and online, but in some cases, these styles can still run at a premium price. Plus size bikini tops are often constructed like bras, so I understand the amount of design time and costs that must go into making sure that they are supportive. As a designer myself, I will never bemoan why things cost what they do. But I will look for ways to accommodate varying budgets.
Some stores offer more budget-friendly pieces to start out with, while others have really great sale sections and coupons. I wanted to test out a few of these options for myself to see if the quality and construction matched my expectations. Wearing a bikini as a plus size woman shouldn't be a privilege awarded only to those who can afford it. It should be for all. That in mind, here are seven places to shop for budget-friendly swimsuits in plus.
1. Always For Me
Right now, all of Always For Me's bikinis are on sale and prices start at $19 for a top alone or $29 for a set. The available top styles include halters, flounce, zip-up, and underwire so there's a good amount of variety depending on what aesthetic you want.
The Diamond Geo Plus Size Bikini I tried out was amazingly comfortable. The top fit a lot like a sports bra and had a sturdy elastic at the bottom so I didn't feel like I was in danger of any spillage. It was fully lined and the print was even cuter in person. It's available in blue or pink and sizing goes up to a 26W. I'm wearing the 20W and it fit true to size.
2. Forever 21
The first bikini I ever owned was from Forever 21 and for many plus size babes on a budget, this is the go-to spot to shop for swimwear. The brand's styles are on trend and usually just under $40 for both pieces. If you can catch them on sale, you can expect to pay under $20. I wanted to try out this metallic suit because I have never worn a tie-up halter and have always wondered whether the style would be supportive.
When I put the suit on, I noticed that the band in the back was elastic all the way across, rather than a tie. This made a huge difference in terms of support. It was also lined with thin internal cups sewn in to boot. I am wearing the 1X in this top and I could've probably gone up a size, but the 2X bottoms fit perfectly.
I probably own more bikinis from swimsuitforall than anywhere else — not only because I love GabiFresh's lines with the brand, but also because the retailer almost always have a good sale going on. From coupon codes when you log onto the site that automatically discount items to a pretty robust sale section with bottoms starting at $4.98, I don't think I've ever paid full price for a suit here.
This polka dot style featured an underwire but didn't include any padding, which made for a really comfortable fit — especially since I sometimes don't fill out molded cup styles. The bottoms are in between low-rise and high-waisted. I'm wearing a size 18 on the top and a 20 on the bottom and the fit is true to size on both.
Rebdolls is known for being budget-friendly and a lot of its styles are über-sexy and minimalist at the same time. Mesh, cut-outs, and fun prints dominate Rebdolls' swimwear selection, where prices start as low as $7.50 for sale bikini bottoms.
I wanted to try out a string bikini style because I've never been able to find a similar look in my size. This one is available up to a 5X. When I put it on, I immediately felt self-conscious because I am not used to wearing something without a more solid bottom band. I liked the way it looked, but it didn't feel supportive enough for me. Luckily, plus size bloggers Essie Golden and Chanté Burkett recently released a support-focused line of suits for Rebdolls and I would love to see how those compare support-wise.
5. Ashley Stewart
From sexy fishnet lingerie to wide-calf gladiator sandals, Ashley Stewart has a wide variety of plus size pieces for anyone who loves a look that is bold and in-your-face. When it comes to bikinis, some of them are online-exclusives, and you can get a pretty good deal if you catch them during one of the sales.
I fell in love with this mesh style instantly. Between the mesh and solid piping, it was a stand-out style. It was very well-constructed and I felt supported in the molded cups.
I wanted to include an independent and woman-owned brand on this list and Rue107 is definitely one that is doing a lot for plus size swimwear. Its styles are cheeky, innovative, and fun. And if you happen to find something in the sale section like this polka dot bikini top, its pieces can be budget-friendly, too.
I like this top because the cut of the neckline makes it easy for it to double as a crop top. Even though it's white, it's not see-through at all and the full lining and sturdy elastic make it supportive like a sports bra. I'm wearing the 2X and it was a little snug, but still comfortable. Since the matching bottoms were already sold out, I paired it with the Forever 21 sheeny ones.
7. Addition Elle
The Cactus line of swimwear from Addition Elle is all about breaking the rules. With molded cups, cut-outs, mesh, and fun patterns, these suits fit all of my criteria for a cute suit. Without a discount code, they are on the pricier side, but select styles are 60 percent off right now, making them closer to $30. A pair of plain black bottoms is only $3.99 right now.
When I first found this suit, both the top and the bottom were on sale. The top is constructed like an underwire bra and this was one of the most supportive styles I tried. The bottoms were also well made, but to keep it budget-friendly, I would probably opt for a plain black pair if these were full price and splurge on the top instead.
In trying out seven different budget-friendly bikini styles, I found that there is really a lot of variety out there in terms of available styles, fit, and price. While the support of some looks seemed like it would stand up to the most intense waterslide, others felt more intended for backyard lounging.
Overall, I'm glad each of these styles exist. I've realized that you need to try out a few different aesthetics in order to learn what feels most comfortable for your body. Whether you shop by sale, coupon, or a budget-friendly full price, I'm happy that plus size women are being given these options.
Images: Alysse Dalessandro