The SY Swimsuit Edition 2016 (how to feel great in a swimsuit)

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 45 Comments

Listen up, ladies. Just when you thought it was safe and I’d stop banging on about how to feel great in a swimsuit, I’m back.

I’ve been putting my body on the line – well into a pair of cosies, togs, bathers – for a few years now to compile the annual SY Swimsuit Edition.

I don’t consider it a brave thing but it’s definitely out of my comfort zone to be photographed in next to nothing.

(I do enlist hair and makeup, a spray tan and forgiving light to help the process. And I photograph myself using my Olympus camera, phone app and timer so can play around and check how I’m standing)

See, the thing is, I have this swimsuit soapbox that I like to climb up on each spring-summer in an effort to get every woman out there enjoying the water. And it would be hypocritical of me to get on the soapbox if I weren’t prepared to don a swimsuit – or five – to lead the way to the water.

Life’s way too short to sit on the sand or beside the pool when the heat is on and everyone else is having a splash of a time.

I’m old – and in tune with my own body issues – enough to know that the fun stuff happens in the water and if I want in on the fun then I have to drop my own hang-ups.

And I’d like you to do the same too.

Look away from those magazine covers that suggest you need a bikini-ready body before even so much as stepping foot on the sand.

You’ve got a body. It’s bikini ready. Put one on.

Or put on a one-piece, a tankini or a swim dress. Wear whatever you bloody well like but wear the swimsuit and own it.

Bombshell Bay one-piece swimsuit | Jam Jam sarong

Bombshell Bay one-piece swimsuit (I’m wearing XL. I’m in love with this print and the cut of the swimsuit is super flattering. The bust may not have enough support for above a D cup) | Jam Jam sarong @ Sequins and Sand

How to feel great in a swimsuit

1. Calm the voices in your head. They are noisy buggers but they are the only voices who will express any negativity towards how you think you look in a swimsuit. Everyone on the beach and in the pool is too busy with their own internal chatter to critique you. Sorry to disappoint you on this note.

2. Take your swimsuit lead from European women. Ask anyone who’s ever visited a beach in Europe … women of all shapes and sizes don’t hesitate in getting it all out.

3. Don’t give up the search for the best swimsuit for you. There is a swimsuit out there for you. Once you let go of the “imperfections” and embrace the freedom that comes with being able to wear a swimsuit and fully participate in summer, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Queensland Swimwear Company tankini | iland co kimono

Queensland Swimwear Company tankini top (the straps are removable, there is great support in the bust and the ruching and print panel work a treat over the stomach area) and pant (I’m in size 16 in both) | kimono (maxi length – love this ombre – if you love kimonos, make sure you check out this range)

4. Do not fear the bikini – at any size. It can create the illusion of making you look smaller because less fabric is involved. Try it for yourself in the mirror.

5. Boardshorts with bathers have the opposite effect of what you think they are doing. Instead of wearing them, make peace with your legs. (Or wear the boardshorts if it makes you feel more confident and gets you in the water.)

6. 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.

Bella Bathers one-piece swimsuit and sarong

Bella Bathers one-piece swimsuit (I’m in size 16. I love the one-shoulder styling. The strap is detachable and you’ll find ruching and a tummy control lining) and sarong

7. Everyone’s budget for 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 withstands more frequent use.

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

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

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

11. 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.

Lilly & Lime bikini top and pant | Island Jade kimono cape (from Sequins and Sand)

Lilly & Lime bikini top and pant (I’m wearing size 36DD in the top and 16 in the pant. This swimsuit label offers a selection of supportive bikinis in cup sizes up to HH. Not all styles go to that cup size and the back size limit is 38 – a size 16. I sized up in the cup to accommodate the smaller back size. Love the print and the shape of these pieces) | Island Jade kimono cape (from Sequins and Sand)

12. Don’t be afraid of shopping online. It really does take away the whole change room angst because you get to use your own mirror at home and control the lighting. Look for companies with return policies that allow you to buy, try and decide with hassle-free returns.

13. Don’t be afraid to seek out help from a bricks-and-mortar swimsuit specialist retailer, either. Staff in these stores are trained – much like a trained bra fitter – to get you into a swimsuit you’re happy with.

14. Rash vests have come a very long way. They offer sun protection but they also can look good too. I don’t hit the beach in summer without one.

15. Do invest in swimwear cover-ups. I find these help boost my swimsuit confidence but also (depending on the fabric) help with sun protection.

Capriosca long rash vest, bikini top and pant | Carolyn Unwin hat

Capriosca long rash vest (I’m in size 16 – love that you can use the ties at the side to make this shorter or longer to suit), bikini top and pant (I’m in size 16 in both and am totally in love with this print. The bikini top offers incredible support) – from Sequins and Sand | Carolyn Unwin hat (this is the second hat I’ve bought from Carolyn – she makes to fit my big head!)

So tell me, how’s your swimsuit confidence? Share your battle of the bathers.

Location: (my balcony during a storm last week) Anantara Seminyak Bali

Hair and Makeup: Yenny Gunawan

* All of the above swimsuits and cover-ups were gifted to me for editorial consideration. I’ve featured them because they work for me and they might be brands and styles you would like to explore for your body shape and size.


Independent online swimwear and beachwear company Sequins and Sand this summer continues its #CossieConfidence campaign and I’d love you to get on board with. #CossieConfidence is aimed at empowering women to get into a cossie/swimsuit/bathers/togs – and sharing that look with the hashtag so that more women find the confidence to enjoy our summer lifestyle to the fullest.

Check out all the fabulous women on our Hello Me trip to Bali this week. Sequins and Sand kitted us out with our cossies and we couldn’t resist a pool shot. Typical Aussies, we mostly spent time in the pool in the morning when it was in full shade from the hotel!

* All of the above swimsuits and cover-ups were gifted to me for editorial consideration. I’ve featured them because they work for me and they might be brands and styles you would like to explore for your body shape and size.

More swimsuit confidence love

Robyna May for Champagne Cartel: Wear a bikini this summer … or don’t

Kirsten and Co: How to feel good in your swimsuit this summer

Styling Curvy: Bikini confidence at any age

Comments 45

  1. Great post Nikki. Love it when you keep it real. You look fabo in all of those swimsuits. I think the navy with white frill might be my favourite. Your hair/make up looks gorgeous too.

  2. Love that rashie. I do love this feature. Would love to see more images of you like the last one with head up and a great smile, looks much more confident and powerful than the looking away ones. You look fab, the cossies are great. I love the print on the top one too but my cossies get a severe bashing so it’s been just Speedos for years. Last time I bought a more glam cossie was on a holiday in Noosa. Need to get one and have a bit of more-lounging-and-cocktails-less-swimming…

  3. Loved all the swimsuits 🙂 But I especially liked the last one with the Capriosca long rash vest cover-up. Not to cover flesh through embarrassment but for sun protection. I’m all for that these days 🙂

  4. I love that bikini on you, looks so good! I just bought a new one piece after trying on heaps. I always have trouble finding decent support for the girls (size 8-10 E) I found a Milea one in a gorgeous tropical print.

  5. I love a tankini – the modesty of a one piece, but the ease of wear (toilet time anyone?!) of a bikini. I think the part of my body I feel least confident about when in a swimsuit, is my thighs – so bright white compared to the rest of me – same for my tummy if I wear a bikini! I wonder if I should try spray tanning only my thighs?!

  6. I wear a two piece and just go to the beach on my own…My body is my body and I have warned friends who take the plunge to come with me sometimes that I will be in this attire and not to have heart attacks!!!!. I love the feel of the sun on my body – life now is too short to “sweat” the small stuff ! Embrace your body, your life and enjoy everything!!

  7. Ah Elise, my tummy is far from flat, just positioned well in the photos! And I LOVE your story because it’s so true. We shouldn’t miss out because we think we have to look a certain way in our swimsuits. So glad you and your friend notice that American lady and had a fun day of it.

  8. You look great in all of them as per usual Nikki 🙂
    I’m always in a bikini even though i don’t have the best stomach or thighs. My tips are don’t look down, don’t compare yourself to other women and just own it! This year it is a new experience though as I am currently 21 weeks pregnant with my 1st child and obviously will be very pregnant over beach season. Any tips for beach going with a baby bump? Wondering what people’s opinions are of bikinis with a bump?

  9. A couple of years ago I invested in Nancy Gantz cozies, they just suck all the wobblies in, I love them, well worth the $$$$. I find that especially when you are visiting international hotels there is always someone bigger than you in the pool & you cant get into a swim up bar in a kaftan!

  10. Perfect timing! We fly out for Langkawi on Sunday and I’ve bought a new print tankini and gorgeous rashie from Cabana Life to add to my swimwear wardrobe. Oh and a gorgeous new kaftan from Bondi Beach Bag Co was purchased at Myer yesterday.
    I think the piece of advice that worked best for me was number 13: a problem with my swimmers that was noted on the first swim of a beach holiday lead me to fabulous store in Kingscliff in Northern NSW. The ladies there were absolutely brilliant at picking out the best styles and colours for my body. They showed me how much better I could look and feel in a print and bright (even fluro) colours

  11. I look forward to your annual swimsuit post. You not only look fabulous but the advice is brilliant. You’ve curated a beautiful selection of swimmers, I really love the bikinis, I bet they sell out after this post!!!! Thanks for sharing Robyna’s post.

  12. Love all of those swimsuits and makes me excited for summer!! Last year in Italy my husband commented that there were women by pool/beach bigger than me (& older) wearing bikinis (& I mean bikinis!) obviously it prompted a response from me that they obviously feel comfortable wearing them – good for them. Meanwhile I’ll stick to my Seafolly Goddess one piece!! But dare I say it hubby has a point!!!

  13. Nikki, I finally learnt to swim this year, age 39, having nearly drowned as a kid. It’s opening up a whole new world! I headed to your site to re-read the swimsuit advice because I remembered it from previous years. I have a very functional Speedo one-piece for my swimming lessons and lap swimming (the Contour collection – great for control and has some clever ruching), and for the summer I’ve bought a Seafolly tankini. What was probably most helpful was two days at a spa resort in Rome earlier this year. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes wore whatever they wanted and no-one batted an eye. Body confidence is to be celebrated, and I can’t wait to get this size 16 body in the water this summer.

    1. Oh Kali, your story has brought tears to my eyes. Yay for learning to swim, YAY for getting a great one-piece for those laps, YAY for the tankini and YAY YAY for the lesson from Rome. Got to love those European women x

      1. Thanks so much Nikki! I should have said, your advice about ordering online was also really valuable. It certainly removed a barrier of trying to get the courage to shop in store.

  14. Bombshell Bay one piece… Bombshell indeed!! You look fabulous Nikki, and your advice is spot on. The water is so much more fun than the sidelines. Thanks for sharing my post x

  15. Wow you look amazing as usual…….and such a great inspiration for us to all emulate. You are so true with number 2. in Greece last year Joanne and I loved all of the ladies who just wore their bikinis on the beach and walking around and here we were so focussed on not showing the bum and flabby bits. X

  16. Nikki you look beautiful in all the swimsuits❤️️I especially love the first one in the green print and the bikini on you!
    I’m a tankini girl and you are so right having my own pool means I need cossies and cover ups at the ready,great post Nikki,gorgeous swimwear thank you Xx

  17. The print on the bikini is awesome! My shopping tip is to get the rashie with whatever togs you will wear underneath. Gotta make sure they’re comfy together.
    Also, if you’re nervous getting into a pool; do a bomb dive!

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