Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Search for a Bathing Suit...

Every summer the question arises. I dread it as I try to ignore that particular section in every store I walk into, knowing that I’m not going to find anything that fits my particular (and apparently peculiar) standards as I seek an answer. And yet I keep asking, making compromises and trying to find something that works for me…

What am I going to wear as a swimsuit?

The answer used to be easy. I have about a dozen string bikinis in various drawers that for some reason haven’t been tossed (it’s that whole, maybe I can find something useful for these very expensive, very small pieces of fabric, mentality). I was a lifeguard for eight years and pretty much lived at the pool March-October in college and spent a bit of time on weekends driving up and down the coast looking for surf spots. Few of the suits from those days come close to meeting the requirements I’m looking for these days.

It’s not that I think all bathing suits are inherently immodest. I see plenty of one pieces and takinis that seem perfect for the girls and women wearing them. But they don’t meet my personal standards for me these days (outfits can definitely vary with body type and fit) and so the search continues.

Earlier in the year I bought a dress, and was pretty thrilled with it. It’s the closest I’d come to finding what I was looking for since my modesty standards have shifted (it may be more accurate to say: have come into existence, since they were pretty non-existent before my conversion began about five years ago, as a topic that was completely off my radar).

The swim dress arrived and is very pretty in peacock blue. But there was still a compromise to be made, as there always seems to be with dresses these days. When I browsed the swim dresses I found they fell into the same categories most dresses in store fall into: they were either “long enough but too low cut” or “high enough in the chest, but too short.” I went with a longer swim dress with a halter top, hoping to be able to tie the halter shorter for more coverage. Alas, the built in cups prevent that, and I’ve yet to dare modify it on my own until I’ve experimented a bit more with sewing lyrca. I’ve worn it but I still felt self-conscious the entire time.

I don’t think my standards are ridiculous, although after walking down the beach in South West Florida they may well be… I’ve never seen so many teeny tiny suits on both men and women in my entire life! It totally shines new light, for me, on the subject of “modesty for men” that always comes up on the forums. Apparently it is a topic that could be addressed a little more…

Anyways, here’s what I’m looking for:

I dream of a suit that doesn’t have me constantly tugging because I feel like it’s too short and/or too low. It can be fitted, as is practical for swimming, but I can do without all the plunging lines and cutouts. It can be shorter than what I would regularly wear, because modesty is situational, but I’d like it to be mid-thigh length at least. And I’d really like a swim dress that couldn’t be mistaken for a negligee of some kind (which is kind of what the skirt on my peacock blue dress reminded me of when I tried it on).

Basically I’d like something better than the suit I wore yesterday, (which is from college and might be okay if it weren't too small... but all I could find as I was searching through boxes as the girls grew impatient...) and is the red skirt suit pictured, which had me asking my husband every five minutes if it looked “okay.” I’d like to be comfortable taking the girls to the water park and teaching Sadie how to swim without feeling like I’m showing way, way too much.

I had a fifty percent off coupon and ordered three yards of swimming knit fabric yesterday. I’m going to see what I can come up with. Whatever it is can’t possibly be worse than what I already have. And maybe I can come up with something cute that won’t stand out too much (another dream I have).

I know I can’t be alone in wishing for something different from what’s currently available, not only for modesty reasons, but also because showing everything God gave us isn’t always, or even isn’t usually, all that flattering. I’m ready for designers and stores to realize that less really is more… in more than one way!

Unfortunately the recent articles I’ve seen have implied that clothing is expected to be skimpier in the coming seasons for “economic” reasons. Oh well. It’s just one more reason to keep on sewing…

What do you do when swim season rolls around? Do you feel comfortable with the choices you have? If you don’t how have you dealt with it?


  1. They're a bit pricey, but have you checked out the Lands End bathing suits? They have tops that offer full coverage and bottoms that have skirts on them. I particularly like their sport line of tankinis and the tops and bottoms from the beach living (I think that's the name) line. I know they've reduced many of the swim separates. In the past I've been able to pick up swim separates from them online for a fraction of the regular price. The nice thing about their suits is they are well made, last for many seasons, and they are unconditionally guaranteed. If you have a problem with it they'll replace it.

  2. Personally, I use a suit I saw in a catalog (for $100), and then hunted down and purchased on eBay (for $12!!) I'm relatively happy with it - shorts on the bottom, and modest enough on top.

    But, I'd really, really like one of the suits from here.....if they weren't so pricey. (Or if I swam enough to make it worth it, lol.)

  3. You should go to They sell tops and bottoms separately and are both modest and cute. If you go to the clearance they have a good selection for half off, but if you really want to save some money go for the grab bag. You could easily get a bathing suit for under $20 though it will be mismatched. From what you describe I think you might like board shorts (they come in many lengths) and a sarong for a wrap that can act as a skirt. I went to Hawaii and I loved how they dressed for the beach. I got a pair of board shorts and loved them. I also had a sarong which depending on how you tie it can be anything from a simple skirt to a pair of shorts! Here is one that might work: Sarongs are huge pieces of fabric. Not like what you can buy at Victoria Secret. These are about 2 yards long and about a yard wide. The girls4sport tops are great. I got a muscle shirt which covers all of my torso. I feel like I can swim again. Thank-you to for a post on this topic and a link to these suit makers.

  4. It's tough, isn't it! I suppose with your beachy culture in Florida the need to find something suitable (pardon the pun!) has become more pressing. I only like going to the pool to swim laps, and my preference has always been plain Speedo racers with high neckline and low cut leg. I leave the change room with a towel wrapped round my torso and put it on a bench near my lane and then jump in the water and swim. My maternity Speedo swimsuit is a bit lower cut so I just wear a Speedo rash vest over it.

  5. Hi, I'm in the UK, so these are UK-based sites, but I think both ship overseas. I have ordered from both these companies and have been happy with both. One is Islamic, but I am not, I'm Christian. It can be a nightmare searching for swimwear that fits your personal requirements! Good luck with your search.

  6. I have very high standards for swimsuits and clothing. This is where I bought my suit this year, and I love it! I have the swim skort and the swim body tee. My only complaint is that when swimming the skort flies up a bit in the skirt part, the shorts are a bit shorter than the skirts, so it bugged me a little. Overall, I love my bathing suit!

    God Bless!

  7. I admit that my outfit isn't particularly cute, but it does keep me somewhat covered and I can actually swim (not just float, not paddle, but crawl/backstroke/butterfly/freestroke) and stay mostly covered.

    A little background: I'm somewhat overweight, and even if I wasn't I'd be...what's the appropriate word...let's go with "well-endowed", shall we?

    What I wear to swim is a black exercise tank top and nylon running shorts. The top is a cotton-spandex blend with a built-in shelf bra. I usually wear a sports bra under it even for swimming; the straight top line of the sports bra won't conceal everything, but it will conceal more than the workout top (really, designers? We need low-cut workout tops? Explain, please?) would on its own. I don't usually wear shorts even in the summer, but, as you say, modesty is situational. If I'm hanging out near the pool, I'll put on a coverup skirt (upper calf length) over the shorts and just take them off under the skirt and hang them over a chair to dry. Oh, and I wear underwear under the shorts.

    While I'm swimming, the top is tucked into the shorts or else it tends to ride up. It wouldn't with just paddling or whatever, but with vigorous swimming it will billow a bit after just one lane or so.

    I can't say this is a cute outfit--though the top and the skirt look fairly cute--but the nylon doesn't offer much water resistance, and I get the support and coverage I need from the tank top/sports bra combo. I imagine that a much cuter combination could easily be made if someone took the time to pick out a pretty top and coordinating shorts, but as I usually just wear this for exercise swimming, I was happy to find both (plus the skirt!) on a clearance sale.

  8. LL Bean also have some nice suits (also a bit pricy). Their stuff is very good quality and they are excellent at replacing anything that isn't. I've had them replace a pair of barn pants for Colin and they sent me the new ones even before they received the old ones.


  9. I've been wanting something a lot more modest then what I had. I hated my old swimsuit so much I donated it. I'm currently pregnant right now, and I have a maternity tankini but it's still way too low cut for me to feel anything other than self-conscious wearing it. I would really like to have something similar to what you're wearing above, but I'll have to start my search next summer.

  10. Well, there's always a burqini...? :-\ Seriously, I hope you can find something that works. I just try to never ever go swimming in public.

  11. surfing's tight fitting but gives you coverage. I don't own surfing gear what I have is a tankini, which is currently not getting used much as my toddler has no fear of the water nor getting in and out of the pool. So I've decided to not take him to the pool for a while.

  12. The overstocks section of Lands End is usually a great place. They have suits that are quite modest and last a long time. Additionally, they can be accessed through Ebates!

  13. You might consider Skirt Sports. I use their Happy Hour Skirt for running. It gives good coverage. Haven't tried their tops yet but would highly recommend the skirts. Here is the website for the triathon clothes. (Word to the wise, the items are pricey, though not as pricey as some others I've looked into.)

  14. My short answer is that I wear board shorts and a tankini top that has a little cleavage as possible.

    Next year though, because I complained so much this year about how short the boars shorts are, my husband suggested that I wear his trunks because he wants a longer pair anyway.

    So next summer (unless you come up with something awesome) I will be wearing hand me down mens swim trunks that go down to my knees and a modest tankini top.

    I think I am actually going to try to write a post about it in the next couple of days if you care to read it, because now that you have me thinking concretely about it, I have too many thoughts and opinions for a comment.

    Thanks Cam, you really are a great encouragement.

  15. I'd love to read a post K10!

    And thanks for all the comments! I'm actually on the Land's End website right now (through Ebates :0D for 6% cash back! Woohoo!) and it seems like all their swimsuits are on sale! I'm guessing it's an end of season thing, but it seems like the swim season here is going to be pretty long so I'll take it!

  16. Swim outlet is good. Also LandsEnd swim shorts that are 9 in. long - I love those! Then I just wear a tight fitting t-shirt with some sort of "support" underneath. There are also several Christian ladies who have websites selling modest cute suits. Also one that looks like it's target audience is Orthodox Jewish women.


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