In the spring of 2014 I was working as a fashion editor for a fashion magazine. I was beginning to organise all the shoots for our upcoming summer editions and had subsequently called in a plethora of bikini samples. One afternoon my good friend and desk neighbour started flicking through the racks of lycra beauties hanging in the fashion area. Rolling her eyes and sighing, she pointed out that clearly her biggest summertime gripe was alive and well for another season.
“Seriously, fashion bikinis are made for women with little-to-no boobs. Look at all these tiny triangles and bandeaus!” This friend of mine has large breasts and began to explain the totally un-fun adventure that is shopping for a bikini when you have a cup size bigger than a B or C. As someone who was born with little-to-no boobs myself, I was somewhat surprised. Wasn’t it just a case of choosing your correct size? I said ignorantly. Not so, said my friend. “The shapes of the majority of these bikinis barely cover essential surface area no matter what the size. Hardly any shapes offer support making them extremely uncomfortable. Also, whenever I wear one of these triangle-and-string sets to the beach I look like I’m trying to attract attention when actually all I want to do is go for a swim.”
“Whenever I wear one of these triangle-and-string sets to the beach I look like I’m trying to attract attention when actually all I want to do is go for a swim.”
I began to ask other friends of mine who also had, you know, boobs. They all concurred. While, of course, they could choose to wear whichever cut they liked, the fact was, most pieces rarely suited cleavage, let alone be in any way comfortable. They lamented that swimwear shopping often meant visiting the sensible, non-fashion staple styles relegated to back area of department stores. The kinds placed near the hosiery section and the control pants.
Flash forward to the next phase of my life where I have now spent three summers consecutively post-partum, breastfeeding and now, pregnant again. That is, three summers of my very own big boobs. And now, I can safely say, I get it. While of course, it’s more than fine to wear whatever the hell you want to the beach, my own experience of trying to fit back into my old non-boob-friendly bikinis meant nothing but squashed skin, clamped ribs and the real thought that I could be nip-slipping at any moment with no idea.
“My own experience of trying to fit back into my old non-boob-friendly bikinis meant nothing but squashed skin, clamped ribs and the real thought that I could be nip-slipping at any moment with no idea.”
And then there’s the bottom half. The Ipanema-style, surfer trend of super high cut briefs that offer up butt cheeks a plenty seems to be here to stay. And it’s undeniably hot. In fact, it’s exactly the summer look I wear in my parallel-life. The life where I holiday in Mexico, drink Caronas in the afternoon, flit between the water and the hammock and all my bikinis are Brazillian. In my real life, however, I go to the beach with my two year old, my family, my niece, my mum, my friends. I run into people I know on the sand. I often need to rush back to the car when I forget something. I have to do trips to the café and escort a toddler around the rock pools. This is not bumster-brief lyf. This is a full-brief kinda wonderful, and that’s okay.
In fact, this new type of beach-me has given licence to a whole new world of summer sand styling. The cute high waisted two-pieces! The ruffle bikini tops! The shaped pieces that never suited me before. Thankfully, since 2014, fashion swimwear in a variety of supportive shapes has evolved. But we still have a way to go. In putting together this article I still had to really search to find cool styles to suit actual boobs. It’s time that the flattening one-size neoprenes of summers past make way for inclusive high-fashion, high-style, uber-comfortable kits that are as cute to see yourself in as they are sensible when searching for starfish.
(above) La Hana ‘Narlu’ bikini top, $99 and briefs, $89, SHOP NOW
(above) Saint Helena ‘Cayman’ balconette, $90 and briefs, $90, SHOP NOW
(above) Kenni and kai ‘ryder’ top, $90, and briefs, $80, SHOP NOW
(above) Mimi kinis ‘indi’ scoop top, $89 and bottoms, $89, SHOP NOW
(above) she and the sea ‘Rêver’ bikini top, $75 and boyleg bottoms, $70, SHOP NOW
(above) verdelimón swimwear ‘morioka’ top, US$108 and bottoms US$92, SHOP NOW
(above) solid and striped ‘the jamie’ top, US$79 and bottoms US$79, SHOP NOW
(above) heidi klein ‘cote D’Azur’ bikini set, $351, Shop now
(above) zulu and zephyr signature balconette, $75, and bottoms, $70, SHOP NOW
(above) spell and the gypsy collective ‘oasis’ bandeau, $79, SHOP NOW
(above) tigerlily ‘concetta’ bikini top, $63, from the iconic SHOP NOW