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Shopping for Bathing Suits Online Is Its Own Circle of Hell

Shopping for Bathing Suits Online Is Its Own Circle of Hell
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Shopping for Bathing Suits Online Is Its Own Circle of Hell

Shopping for Bathing Suits Online Is Its Own Circle of Hell

Emily Ratajkowski designs hers. Kim Kardashian has hers made to measure. For just about everyone, buying a swimsuit (online, at least) can be a bit like walking through an endless hallway of one-way mirrors: nothing is as it seems, your every step is watched. , and no movement brings you closer to finding a garment that fits you.

There seem to be more options than ever. Search Google for swimwear and you’ll be bombarded with ads on every possible platform for brands like Summersalt, YouSwim, Lively and Andie – newbies aiming to disrupt the market with wider size ranges and wetsuits. different.

The profusion of choice has been accompanied by an expanded marketing lexicon. There are suits tailored for “long torsos”, as well as suits offering “minimum”, “medium” and “maximum” support and coverage.

There are step-by-step guides with diagrams and qualitative analyzes of each style; some are recommended for specific occasions (‘tan, but around grandparents’,’ an active day at the beach ‘), while others are assigned archetypes (‘ extra AF ‘,’ literally everyone “). There are terms like “underbust,” “high shoulder point,” and “low hip” – all apparently meant to enhance personalization.

But despite all the talk about inclusivity on these sites, one of the most difficult fit measurements is often almost overlooked: bra size.

There are a few tips. Many sites have algorithms and filters that reduce inventory based on all kinds of metrics. Some even show how swimsuit sizes match up with bra size.

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Still, trying to make sense of all the alphanumeric designations can feel like you’re trapped in the Math Lady meme, reconciling equations that just don’t calculate. If someone wears a DDD – the average cup size for women in America, according to True & Co. – is it a 1, 2, or 3? L, XL or XXL?

Even for those who can decipher the graphics and the lingo, the sizes themselves make virtually no sense. “There is no standard,” said Deborah Beard, president of engineering design and pattern creation at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Instead, companies size their clothes with the average customer in mind. As a retailer, Ms. Beard said, “You have to be known for a size. “

From a technical point of view, she explains, the larger cup sizes are not a particular problem: “It’s the same construction whether it’s small or large. Either way, DD + swimwear remains an area of ​​specialty.

There are a few mainstays in the category including HerRoom, Bare Necessities, Freya, Fantasie, and Panache. Each offers a wide selection of plus size swim tops.

But while most companies are shifting their inventory according to the trends, you may have noticed all the French cut bikini bottoms? – many fuller bust companies offer variations on the same styles year after year. They range from too young to downright matron: bright colors, garish prints, aggressive frames, lace and frills, bows, buttons (???). And then there are the “belted” and “skirted” stockings which tend to be paired with them.

The sporty and supportive full-bust swimsuit is more elusive; some people, exhausted from the hunt, end up settling for a water-resistant sports bra. Or they could waste a week doing risk-reward analyzes on J. Crew and Lululemon’s C and D cup swimsuits. In recent years, both brands have offered extended sizes. This summer, however, those options have all but evaporated. “Bring back D-DD PLEASE !!! Is a common refrain in their reviews.

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“Consumers want brands that take into account unique body type,” said Kristen Classi-Zummo, apparel analyst at the NPD Group that focuses on swimwear. She noted that over the past year, half of the dollar growth in the women’s swimwear category came from separate pieces at the top and bottom, which allow for a more personalized fit.

Ms Classi-Zummo also pointed out that in an NPD survey, 40 percent of women said they were a different height now than before the pandemic, which may make online shopping more confusing than there was. is one and a half years old.

So I decided to take my research offline. The inventory of most department stores had been heavily picked up. (It was July, after all.) Among the Miraclesuit suits and Tommy Bahama style models, I haven’t found anything that suits me.

As most women of a certain cup size know, the only one true The experience of the real fit can be found at an old fashioned bra store. This is how I ended up at the Town Shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Customers are greeted at the entrance and transported almost immediately to the fitting rooms, where handpicked bras are brought to them, their sizes sometimes judged by sight alone.

A sales associate named Allison has released a line of premium swimwear from brands I’ve never heard of, like Shan and Karla Colletto. Some were fitted with hidden underwire, others seemingly magical spandex.

As I tried on swimsuit after swimsuit – probably a dozen in total – Allison urged me to be open-minded (“Remember,” she said, “that’s a swimsuit. bath, not a blanket ”) and shared bits of confidence-building wisdom: shoulders back, head held high, walk like you own the beach. She made a tough sell, even citing at one point the staggering death toll from Covid-19 as a reason to live life to the fullest (i.e. YOLO $ 300 on one coin).

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Indeed, as Ms. Classi-Zummo of the NDP told me, people are finally rescheduling their vacations thwarted by the pandemic and, in turn, “splurging on swimsuits”.

Then? I spent a lot of money on two costumes that cannot be returned. I also spared myself several inevitable episodes of buyer’s remorse (and trips to the post office to send back errors). And although I don’t swim particularly well or often, I feel lighter, carried by my purchases, as if summer has finally started… in August.

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