Finding the perfect swimsuit is always a challenge, but shopping for swimsuits for large busts is a process — one with its own highly specific (and often frustrating) set of criteria. Sometimes, the styles you love don't offer much support — and if they do, it usually comes in the form of padding and underwire, characteristics that busty beachgoers don't always enjoy.
When Bustle's fashion editors set out to find the best swim options for big boobs, we decided go straight to our most reliable source: The large-busted models we hired to wear them. What we learned was actually surprising.
"As an editor, I assumed that the models with big boobs would want things that had support, like cups and wires," says Bustle's Senior Fashion Market Editor Gabby Prescod. "But then, one of our models said she prefers bandeau tops, which shocked me because I always assumed they weren't supportive."
"On set, myself and the models realized that it's all about whether or not the top is adjustable," Prescod says of the Mara Hoffman suit pictured above on model Kamie Crawford. "If you tie it or adjust tightly, it totally works and is a great alternative option for women with large busts."
In addition to Mara Hoffman (sizes XS-XL), brands like American Apparel (sizes S-XL), American Eagle (sizes XS - XXL), and ASOS (sizes 0-14) have great bandeau top options for swimmers with larger busts — just make sure to check out the back of the suit to see if you can make adjustments. If you're shopping for bandeau styles in plus sizes, check out SwimsuitsForAll (sizes 4-34) and Forever 21 Plus (sizes 0X-3X) for mix and match bandeau styles.
Another unconventional approach to supportive swim for large busts is to choose a suit that you can adjust from the front, either with laces or a zipper. Model Eva Roberts wears a one-piece zip-up American Apparel suit in the image below.
The great thing about this style of suit (besides the fact that it absolutely slays in a photo) is that you can zip or unzip the piece: Zip it up all the way and your chest is locked and loaded; pull it down a bit and you're flaunting your boobs like you were born to.
Our other model, Xiana Corona, is wearing a similar style that works with her large bust. — only this time, in bikini form. Opting for a bikini version of a zip-up or lace-up top often means you have even more support, as the suit top doesn't get pulled down as you move or sit, which can happen with a one-piece. Fitting Corona in the Fenty Puma suit below was almost like fitting her with a sports bra — she was fully supported and comfortable, but had the option to unzip the piece a little and make it more sexy than sporty.
For similar zip-up or lace-up one piece styles, check out American Apparel, Modcloth, and Target. In plus, shop brands like Ashley Graham for SwimsuitsForAll, GabiFresh for SwimsuitsForAll to get the look. Roberts, who is plus size, did mention that in her particular American Apparel suit she couldn't lay down without her boobs separating, a drawback to an otherwise functional suit. If this is a concern, check out SimplyBe (sizes 8-24) and Chromat (sizes S-3XL) which both have plus options in this style with a bit more structure.
If you're not convinced that your chest can be tamed without a wire, don't fret: There are literally hundreds on the market. Brands like Everything But Water, Bare Necessities, Athleta, J.Crew, and many more have bra-sized swimwear for your consideration.
Whichever style you prefer, there's something out there for you and your big boobs — and if this story taught us anything, it's that it's OK to think outside the cup. Experiment with styles that you may have otherwise dismissed, because you never know what might work for you.
Hair: Jazmin Kelly using Phyto
Makeup: Viktorija Bowers for MAKE UP FOR EVER at Ray Brown Pro
Manicure: Rachel Shim using Morgan Taylor
Styling: Senior Fashion Market Editor Gabrielle Prescod
Fashion & Beauty Features Editor: Amanda Richards
Creative Director: Adrian Moreno
Art Director: Becky Brown
Bookings Manager: Guillermo Perez
Photo Editor: Clare Thigpen