Back in the day, I used to toss a pile of flimsy triangle tops and string bikinis into my suitcase and call it a day. But it’s not the Y2K era anymore and I’m a grown 40-something mom of twins now. So when I’m selecting swimsuits for a resort vacation, the calculations are rather different these days.
Now, I’m all about swimsuits that offer not just more coverage but also plenty of support. (I prefer my suits to have the engineering of a major public works infrastructure project.) I look for bra tops with underwires and high-waisted bottoms with compressive properties. But I’m also in it for style as much as any non-mom: I want to feel cute, confident, right on trend, and not at all matronly.
As not just a mom of 8-year-old kids, but a travel writer and frequent traveler who goes on a half dozen beach trips annually (or more on a good year), I have a lot of experience in shopping for and testing out flattering swimsuits in real-world conditions. Whether you’re looking for a bikini or a one-piece suit, these are my recommendations for the most comfortable and flattering swimsuits on the market.
I said I don’t love matronly swimsuits — and I meant it. But I love this full-coverage swimsuit for its versatility as an actual outfit — perfect for a day out on a boat, in and out of the water with no need to change clothes.
To buy: amazon.com, $170 (originally $184)
Sporlike Ruffle Bikini
I love how this swimsuit offers significant coverage while staying cute, flirty, and youthful. It pairs a ruffle bikini top (with far more upper-arm coverage than most suits) with a high-waist bottom. This one comes in 36 colors and prints so you can find the one that fits your style — or buy more than one and mix and match.
To buy: amazon.com, $37
Aerie Shine Pique Banded High-Cut Cheeky Bikini Bottom and Underwire Top
Aerie’s brand messaging is all about celebrating real bodies — and in my experience, it really does deliver on that message. That’s why I’ve bought many Aerie suits since becoming a mom, and they’re some of my all-time favorites.
For this season, I scored this underwire top and matching high-cut bottom. It’s comfortable and supportive, with underwire cups that come in bra size, and it has adjustable straps. But it’s also stylish, with a shiny surface and eye-catching colorways. (Note: Sizing for the bottoms runs on the small side, so I ended up buying a second bottom to size up for better comfort and coverage.)
Cleobella Harlow One Piece
This suit very much evokes a summer-on-some-European-riviera vibe. (Or that might just be because I’m planning to pack it for my own family vacation on the Amalfi Coast and Cote d’Azur.) It’s flirty, feminine, and eye catching, with a vibrant blue-and-white Azulejo print, ruffle details, and a flattering high-leg cut. A keyhole front cutout adds drama beneath the supportive V-wire at the decolletage.
To buy: cleobella.com, $228
Victoria’s Secret Essential Wicked Bikini Top and Boy-cut Bottom
Say what you will about Victoria’s Secret, but I have always loved its swimwear. In particular, I appreciate that Victoria’s Secret fears no engineering and typically comes in bra sizing. I bought this set when it was deeply discounted — motivated by the incredible sale price point — and not all sizes or colors are left in inventory. But if you find one that fits, I highly recommend jumping on this mix-and-match set. It is so soft — it feels like terry cloth — and the silhouette has a very vintage pinup vibe. So cute, and so comfortable.
The whole TA3 swim concept has to be seen to be believed: The idea is strategic lacing up the back cinches at the waist for a fully snatched — and seriously va-va-voom — look. I’ve had various versions of this ultra-supportive and compressing suit over the years, and this year I scooped up the new Lifty version. It’s the first one with a bra-sized underwire style. Cups are lined and fully opaque — with no removable pads prone to bunching or getting lost. The wide straps are adjustable for an even more customized fit. And the size range is inclusive up to 4X and J/K cup size, with long torso suits available as well.
To buy: ta3swim.com, $178
JMP Barcelona Underwire Top and High-Waisted Cheeky Bottom
There’s something so classic and timeless about this bikini pairing. The top has wide — and also wide-set straps — for a vintage vibe. The underwire top doesn’t come in bra sizes, but it does tie in the back so you can fully customize the fit. The high-waist bottom has a high-cut leg with an elongating effect — with a tinge of retro flair. The material is so soft and comfy; it doesn’t cut or get weighed down when you go in the water. This suit is the real deal and it’s made to last.
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