How to feel good in a swimsuit

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 61 Comments

Are you ready for this one? Let’s get today’s virtual cocktail served up straight away, shall we? Because I think we all need to down a Cosmo and toast to the sisterhood.

We need to drink that Cosmo in the spirit of the Sex and the City girls. We need to take on the beach or the pool this summer just like Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte took on New York.

Without fear of judgement.

Because you know who does most of the judging, don’t you?

We do. Of ourselves.

When was the last time you stood naked in front of the mirror, checked yourself up and down and said, gee I’m doing ok? My legs get me where I need to get. My arms help me create stuff. My tummy produced three fabulous kids.

If that was you this morning, congratulations. You go to the top of the Resort Week class and can collect another cocktail for good body self-acceptance behaviour.

The rest of you, (insert school teacher voice here) don’t you dare click away. If I can get just one of you to feel minutely better about your body today, then my job is done.

Notice how I’ve titled this post, how to FEEL good in a swimsuit? Originally I’d planned to update and revisit last year’s swimsuit post, How to choose a swimsuit, but then I posted on the Styling You Facebook page last week, announcing this week’s Resort Week posts and these were a few of the comments I received:

Upper inner thigh. That is all. 

I have stretch marks across the top of my thighs that could scare small children.

How do I work with what I’ve got when I’ve got to swim in public?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and again, and again.

We need to drop this notion that our bodies have to be perfect before we dare to sit beside a pool or sit on the beach with a swimsuit on. The whole problem with this notion is that perfect is such a subjective concept.

It’s not a size thing. It’s a mindset thing.

My friend and new blogger Alison Asher wrote about her bikini-buying experience last week. I was reminded of the subjective nature of perfection once again.

See, Alison, in my eyes, is tiny. If her bod was photoshopped to my head this summer, I’d be strutting around on the beach like nobody’s business. But in Alison’s eyes, she fears the swimsuit shop and admits to wanting bits of her bod contained and supported.

It rammed home to me that it is a very rare woman indeed who is completely happy with her body.

With age does comes a certain level of acceptance. It helps in my case that my body has NEVER been what the gloss mags like to call “bikini ready”.

I think age also brings more perspective.  Many of us have now been whacked with the giant stick they call life. When bigger things impact your life – loved ones dying, kids getting sick – you realise that it’s time drop the small things.

It’s time to live life.

And if part of your life is spending time swimming because you love it, then DO it. Find a swimsuit that fits you well, keeps your girls contained and makes you feel good.

Let go of the fact that you’re not good enough to have your thighs or your tummy seen in public.

It’s time.

Here endeth the Oprah episode and on to some swimwear suggestions and tips for the season ahead.


I love that one-pieces have had a resurgence in recent years. I love them for their ability to hold everything in; to stay up in the surf when battling the summer breakers; and for their sometimes retro styling. The only downside is one of practicality when it comes to going to the Ladies and if your top and bottom halves are not the same size. If this is the case and you still want a one-piece, I’d advise on going for the size that gives you support in the area you most want supported. Or opt instead for a tankini.

swimwear 2013 one-piece | how to feel good in a swimsuit | resort week

1. Caprioska one-piece $99 @ Sequins and Sand | 2. Jets swimsuit $195 | 3. Miraclesuit one-piece $199 @ Birdsnest


Praise the swimsuit designer gods for inventing the tankini – a tank top and a bikini. These swimsuits give the illusion of a one-piece but allow you to not only go to the toilet easily but also make it possible to buy different sized tops and bottoms. For many, it’s really difficult to get a one-piece that fits well around the boosies but also around the hips. Separates in swimwear solves this. Choose a top that offers any support or enhancement you require. Strapless is generally good for small busted women, although I usually throw the “rules” out the window and opt for strapless to avoid any strap marks. Halter is great for working a C or D cup. Anything beyond that, I suggest going into a swimsuit that offers bra-like support.

Swimwear 2013 tankinis | how to feel good in a swimsuit | resort week

1. Jets tankini $145 (pant extra) | 2. Caprioska tankini $110 @ Sequins and Sand (pant extra) | 3. Jets tankini $139 (pant extra)


Blogger Kim-Marie Williams from Kimba Likes will be blogging her case for the bikini tomorrow on Styling You. Mr SY has a less is more theory when it comes to swimwear. I agree with him to a point – that point does not go to the lesser ends that my blogging friend Laura goes to at This Island Life. If the itsy bitsy bikini is your thing, then Laura is your girl. Me, I do wear a bikini from time to time. When we lived in a house with a pool, that’s all I wore. Next week one of the three swimsuits coming with me to Bali is a bikini I designed through Kini Swimwear. I opted for the retro-style high-waist pant with ruching. More about that on the blog next week.

swimwear 2013 bikinis | how to feel good in a swimsuit | resort week

1. Seafolly halter $89.95 @ Birdsnest (pant separate) | 2. Capriosca bikini top $79 @ Sequins and Sand (pant separate) | 3. Bombshell Bay bikini $139

Rash vests

I don’t personally wear a rash vest. I wear a swimsuit cover up and sit under an umbrella except while I’m swimming. Yes, I’m just relying on sunscreen but I’m not out there for hours on end. Many of you do like to wear a rash vest. Finding one that sits well and looks vaguely fashionable is a challenge but I’ve found these at Bombshell Bay and I think I’d almost be convinced to wear them.

rash vests spring 2013

From left: short sleeve $79; long-sleeve $139; long-sleeve rash $89


Belinda posted on Facebook that she was after some flattering board shorts. Belinda, you’re not going to like what I have to say. Unless you’re doing something like water-skiing and getting in and out of a boat, please ditch the boardies this summer. I was a boardie-wearing girl until Mr SY and I started dating and he kindly suggested that if I were wearing them to make my butt and thighs look smaller then they were failing in the execution. I looked at them in new light and never wore them again. He was right. If you’re unconvinced, do the mirror test, it’s true. This is part of his less is more theory and he’s on the money. And if you’re tempted to go with a swimsuit that has a skirt attached. Please think again. Just get those thighs out there, instead.


1. If black makes you feel more confident in a swimsuit – or any piece of clothing – then wear it.

2. Consider enlisting the help of a patterned swimsuit for all kinds of optical illusion tricks – and a lot of fun.

3. Want to create an optical illusion around the tummy? Ruching is a your friend.

4. If your bust is a C cup and over then do hunt down a swimsuit with support. Just having the girls up where they belong will help with the confidence factor.

5. Do consider what you’ll actually be doing in your swimsuit. The needs of someone who regularly body surfs or wrangles small children will be vastly different from those who consider raising a cocktail glass to their lips sufficient exercise for the day.

6. Don’t be afraid of shopping online. It really does take away the whole changeroom angst because you get to use your own mirror at home and control the lighting. Sequins?

7. Don’t be afraid to seek out help from a bricks and mortar swimsuit special retailer, either. On the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, I can’t recommend Sundaze Swimwear highly enough. Staff in these stores are trained – much like a trained bra fitter – to get you into a swimsuit you’re happy with.

8. I understand that everyone’s budget to spend on swimwear is different. What I do suggest is that you spend the most your budget can allow if you have your own pool, live at the beach or spend a lot of time beachside over summer. Quality swimwear is made from fabrics that withstand heavier use.

Reader questions

Q: Any tips for big busted Mummas – I’d love a one piece. I gave birth in April and can’t find a size 10 to fit 10gg boobs. Shari

A: Freya is a lingerie and swimwear brand that caters for you. Here’s an example. Swimwear Galore stocks Freya in Australia but not this style but they may be worth contacting.

Q: Any cut-away one-piece suits that cover up a mummy tummy, but have a bikini look at the back? Good coverage on the front is mandatory, but I’d love to have something that doesn’t look like a Nana swimsuit at the back! Carol

A: How about this one from Seafolly?

Q: Best one-piece swimsuits for big hipped women? Nyree

A: The tricky part here is what I mentioned above – when our hips don’t match the size of our bust, a one-piece get fit well in one place but not the other. Avoid boyleg styles as this makes the hips and thighs look larger and opt for something like this where the stripes are working in your favour.

Q: Would love some advice on cosie look for new mum body (squishy tummy and tooshy) trying to look fashionable, remain sun safe while ensuring my toddler (or an unsuspecting wave) can’t rip my top off exposing me to the whole beach! Sarah

A: I’d opt for something like this one-piece – the halter straps are fixed so should keep things in place and the ruching will do its thing in regards to the squishy tummy. If you really want to strap the tummy in then opt for the fabulous Capriosca or Miraclesuit one-pieces above.

Q: I’d like a one-piece for a long body. Lisa

A: Most models you see in swimwear images have long bodies so use this as a guide when trying to get a visual on a one-piece that would suit. Adjustable straps may be helpful too. Something like this.

I’d like to end this post with an AMEN to SY reader Shelley …

Girls, I hear you. The thought that goes through my head is: “I am never going to see these people on the beach again so I don’t really care!”. 

So, are you with me? Ready to embrace the swimsuit this summer? Ready to at least think like Shelley thinks? 

Comments 61

  1. Great post, after recently having twins I was unable to find a bikini that was flattering on my body, to be honest I was self concious to wear any type of swimsuit, I tried on heaps of high waisted bikinis but none of them sat right, I ended up buying one online from pinkcolada swimwear Which is a high waisted bikini set other than that it was definitely a huge challenge to find a swimsuit that was a good fit for me

  2. Some women do not want to feel naked. Or are embarassed by their bodies and dont want to show it off. Or for religious reasons they may want to cover up what is more standard to show. MarSea Modest Swim & Casualwear offers solutions for women to “Cover what you want… in Style!” Please visit and we’ll be happy to help you. All products UVF50+ safe.

  3. Hi Nikki… great post! We hear it all the time in our business selling swimwear how women dread swimwear buying time! Most women are their own worst critics and we all need to lighten up a little and stop being so hard on ourselves (and each other)! Cheers from the girls at Shekki Swimwear in Perth and Broome!

  4. Great post Nikki, thanks for the inspiration – I wrote something along the same lines for my blog and would never have been able to reference the Caprioska range if I hadn’t seen your post, as we don’t have it here in S.A. It looks like a great range, thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Thank-you Nikki for this post. You have a way with words, a way of making those of us who are on the voluptuous end of the spectrum feel better about our inner voice, a way of making us / me feel like it isn’t just me that has these negative and destructive thoughts about our bodies. Our bodies that have been through pregnancy, delivery, child rearing, depression and life itself. We as women are not what is seen on the cover of a magazine. We are real, we are mothers, wives, colleagues, cleaners, nurses, counsellors, chefs, taxi drivers, friends…we are women, who come in all shapes and sizes, but still have hearts as big as anyone can imagine.
    xx manda

  6. Working overtime on building up the body confidence and body love in time for when our pool goes in. I’m thinking I’m going to hit up the online options this year. Sequins and Sand here I come!

  7. I made a point of noticing what women were wearing to the pool at the caravan park we stayed at on the weekend. Your comments about board shorts making us look bigger is true. Two girls who would have been very similar in size came to the pool, one was wearing board shorts and the other not. The board shorts made her look like she had bigger hips and thighs even though I don’t believe she really did. I am on a mission to ditch the board shorts now. I just need to find the right togs to feel comfortable. I love the look of the Kini site and what a great concept. The prices seemed reasonable too. I would love to hear your feedback about the quality of the fabric etc.

  8. I found a great one peice at Target last week. Excellent boob support , v neck, good straps – not flimsy spaghetti ones and ruching !! I NEARLY DIED with happiness and less than $50!!!

  9. Oh Nikki you are so right! I hate that I avoid the beach or the pool because I don’t like how I look in my togs (true Qlder here!). What a waste of time! I am not a supermodel (never was and never will be) but at the end of the day, life is too short to miss out on our beautiful beaches because of what some random person may or may not think!

  10. Once I realized that I was never going to wear a bikini again it alleviated a lot of my cosie shopping anxiety. Now I know what suits me & what brand I like ( Seafolly, always Seafolly) it’s not so bad….still not my favourite kind of shopping but I don’t hate myself afterwards anymore 🙂

  11. A great post Nikki! This is a good one to keep bookmarked for when I go to the beach and need to gee myself before I head to the surf!

  12. Shelley is so right. We were in Phuket and I had taken a one piece but when I saw all the fat older Russians in g strings and bikinis, well, I was straight to the shops for a bikini. I felt positively thin and I was never going to see anyone again either. They just loved the sun so much they exposed every part of their body that they could. Some were even topless! There wasn’t much sun protection going on either. I guess it’s so bloody cold in Russia.

    Great post, Nikki, and remember, no-one is looking at you, we are all too worried what we look like to worry about what you look like.

    I’m going to Bali for a wedding in April, will look forward to your posts and what you wear. Have a great time.

    1. It’s all perceptions, isn’t it? Fabulous that the Russian women you saw clearly weren’t worried about what your – other people’s – reactions would be.

      Stay tuned for more Bali updates – excited that you have a trip to look forward to!

  13. What a beautifully written, inspirational post Nikki. And I have to agree the older I get, the less I care about what others think. Love the reference to the SATC girls – I still miss that show. I loved the glamour but some of the scenes were just so spot on and real. Like poor Miranda not having time to wax her bikini line before going on Carrie’s honeymoon; she looked so glamorous in her retro one-piece and big sunnies, apart from the small forest escaping from her swimsuit!! We’ve all been there! Cue sarong 🙂

    I’ve actually gone the other way with swimsuits. I was such a bikini girl but have now embraced the one-piece once again, having fallen in love with the Jantzen Vamp. It makes me feel all Rita Hayworth-ish and is just so comfortable.

  14. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr SY, less is more.
    I still love bikini’s because I feel they are more slimming on me, even at 50. My thighs are my nemesis so wearing a one-piece won’t make my thighs any slimmer, infact I always feel covering my tummy, draws more attention to them.
    Do I feel confident? – Never
    Do I worry if people are staring at me? – All of the time.
    Will I try and take a leaf out of SY reader Shelley’s book? – Hell yes!

  15. So something that I needed to read today. Thanks Nikki. If Alison Asher isn’t totally 100% happy with her body, then I truly know that most women on the beach must feel as self conscious as I do. As of today, I’m gonna own it (well, I’m going to try)

  16. Nikki, thanks for responding to my question about a cutaway swimsuit! Your comments about us FEELING good in swimsuit, and being grateful for all that our bodies do for us, are great messages. Have a fab day ! Carol

  17. Ah Nikki, this summer I have embraced a bikini – yes! I bought one online that was massively reduced and thought what have I done? Then it arrived, then I chatted about it with two women at the beach who said Just Wear It. So I do. I imagine I am european and put it on and head down to the beach with my two tots and my darling husband, a caftan over the top and a broadbrimmed hat and imagine that I’m poolside at a resort!! The rashie goes on as we spend hours on the sand and in the water. But I wear it!!

  18. Fabulous post Nikki. I love the fact that it’s more about working with what you have and diving in then holding back because we think we’re not worthy. The reason why I absolutely love what I do is captured in treasured messages from women who are so grateful that they were encouraged to ditch the boardies and their hubby’s over sized T-shirts and enjoy their summers in a swimsuit. That’s what it’s ultimately about, is boosting a woman’s confidence and we can all do with a little more of that:) Thanks for again championing our cause and offering support.
    Oh and the best tip, totally agree, less is more. Keep away from those boylegs unless you have a shape like Cameron Diaz 🙂
    Anita. x

  19. I love that there are now so many more options out there for ladies with a D-K cup!! It definitely helps us to feel better on the beach when we’re in something that fits and supports 🙂

  20. I just came back from the Greek Islands – European women do not seem to worry about body shape, all were wearing bikinis (those that were wearing tops). The only one pieces were on Australians. We worry too much about how we look!! Most men don’t worry about how they look so why do we?

      1. Brilliant piece Nikki and you’re spot on, it’s our mindset! I was going to say the same thing as np. I was recently in the Greek Islands and European women, of any age, are comfortable with their bodies. After a few weeks there I bought my first bikini since my teens. My young adult children are thrilled (not embarrassed as I thought they would be). Women are our own harshest critics and it’s high time we were a little kinder to ourselves and each other.

  21. Thankyou Nikki I am not the sort of person to stand in front of the mirror to admire my body,but maybe I should give it a try,my most disliked parts are my tummy (though like your friend I am small,my sister calls me a stick insect!) She is a size 16 and would love my body and I always tell her the flaws yet I cannot see hers,I thnk she looks womanly and lovely we are very hard on ourselves aren’t we?I also dislike my leg ,the scars and swelling and more veins again ,I had them stripped 10 years ago but they came back ,but instead of hating I am going to make a new mantra”I am lucky I even have a leg” yes everyday I am going to say this to myself.I love no 2 once piece and I love tankini’s and I might even try on a bikini,just to see how it looks!
    I bought a lovely black and white Kaftan dress with leopard print and pompoms that is very sweet Bond Eye brand ,with a drawstring waist and tassles,which can be dressed up or down.Love this series and agree about the body loving and cannot wait to see your Bikini.

  22. Ok, I will swim at the beach no matter what, def not and never been a bikini body.
    Love the suggestions and down to earth advice here. Have a girlfriend who may not see this summer due to illness to reinforce getting out and about in nature with my family…
    I can vouch for Swimwear Galore in Melbourne or Brava in Armadale, esp if plus size and/or plus bust. Both have sensitive and polite staff, go off peak times for your own sanity.
    Buy two sets of bathers if the fit is good, I got a black practical and fancy number, set for a couple of years!
    My Camilla top puts an end to all my angst when I am frollicking on beach…

  23. That Caprioska top – me. Thanks for the research. I am a rashie girl when body surfing with the girls and went bright and cheerful this year.

  24. Nikki, what can I say – your advice is brilliant and research skills second to none. I have been trawling the internet for ages for swimwear – (love trying it on at home) but have never come across kini. I went straight to the link and am halfway through my first design!! Fabulous – as much fun as designing your own shoes at shoes of prey (and that is mega fun). Have a fabulous time in Bali with the girls!

  25. Very informative post, I’m liking the look of the kinis design your own website. I have recently been shopping with friends and I always try and get them out of black or similar and into bright bold prints- that way the fabric does the talking and you really don’t see the imperfections. Loving this resort week.

  26. Went to koh samui recently. There are women of all shapes and sizes. Comparing ourselves to others always bodes for unhappiness.
    Luff your work Nikki xx

  27. Nikki, thanks so much for writing this. It’s very timely for me. I have a two year old and have just gone swimsuit shopping for the first time after he was born. I tried on a number of one pieces and tankinis but just didn’t feel quite right in them. In the end I ended up buying a seafolly bikini. I definitely do not have a bikinni body but I still enjoy wearing it. I think it’s great that you are encouraging women to wear what they feel comfortable in.

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