Nancy Roman

Shhh…I’m Sharing Secrets For Successful Swimsuit Shopping

And I sell seashells by the seashore.

But seriously; this is serious stuff.

Shopping can be fun. Bathing suit shopping – not so much.

That’s why I haven’t shopped for a new swimsuit for six years.

So imagine my surprise that I have just endured this process and I am still partially sane.

And I am generously sharing my secret.

I started my swimsuit search two weeks ago by spending several hundred hours in internet research. I thought it would make sense to see what options I had…styles, brands, prices.

This is not my secret. Except to advise you not to do this. I read sixteen thousand reviews. Bleeding colors. Poorly made. Stretches when wet. See through. Weird bra. Too long. Too Short. And mostly – TOO SMALL.

After looking for several days, the satanic web-stalker then followed me wherever I went. Words With Friends, Yoga philosophy, and political editorials were (and still are) decorated with bathing suits. They’ll probably still be lurking around in November.

I did make one decision based on my web searches though. I decided to stick with the same style I have worn for the last six years. What is rather inanely called a Tankini. Separates that meet in the middle. No bikini for me. My gallbladder scars are tiny but my belly is not.

For you men (I have at least two males readers) who are now confused:  put on your sleeveless undershirt and your underpants. You are now wearing a tankini.

I like this style because I can choose a top and a bottom separately. Separates work very well for me considering my top and my bottom were certainly on separate people in a previous incarnation.

Just before I headed out to shop, my mother told me a story.

Not long after they retired, my parents went south for a little vacation. On one particularly nice day, they decided to spend some time at the hotel’s pool. My mother was lounging by the pool and a young woman walked by. She froze – completely stricken – in front of my mother. She was wearing the same bathing suit as my sixty-three-year-old mom.

My mother laughed as she related this moment. “That young girl must have thrown away that suit the same day!”

The thought that I am close to the same age now as my mother was then, and that I could possibly cause some young skinny girl to cry…well…it cheered me right up. I cranked up my James Taylor CD and drove to the store.

I decided to shop at a big store known for its eternal ‘specials’.

The back of the store had been converted to a huge swimsuit department. All the suits were half-price, and there were racks and racks of Juniors, Misses and Plus all jumbled together.  If one suit was a size six, the next one was a 24W.

Bathing suits run small. It’s like the manufacturers want to make sure you feel as rotten as possible. As if standing untanned under fluorescent lighting in bulge-revealing skimpy material isn’t enough. They want to make you need a really big size too.

And that’s when it hit me.

The secret of successful swimsuit shopping.

I went into the dressing room with suits three sizes too big.

And I worked my way down.

I felt great.

And I bought TWO tops and TWO bottoms – in sizes much smaller than my original selections.

I’m ready to ruin a teenager’s day.

I hope her boyfriend sees me too.

I need a smaller size!


  1. I knew there had to be some kind of trick to it. Thanks for sharing! I’m going for the 24W! I need a self-esteem boost!


    • There’s nothing quite like going back to get a suit TWO SIZES smaller!


  2. Bonnie

    I just buy a suit at Lands End every year. I know the styles that work and the size. I buy a tankini top and swim shorts, separately, so I can choose the right sizes. Very little thought has to go into it.

    Now, if someone would just solve the problem of buying swim shorts for a skinny 6 year old girl who won’t wear pink, when the available swim shorts all are sized for hippos, my swimsuit shopping trauma would be over. Why do stores think that no-elastic waists, and fake drawstrings, would ever work for little girls who don’t have hips to hold the shorts up???


    • Speedo.


      • Bonnie

        Speedos are all one-piece, which seriously do not work when your 6 year old has to go to the potty NOW, while soaking wet from the pool. They also do not allow for wearing the all-important shark rashguard, which is a key part of that 6 year old’s summer pool “look”.


  3. Am sending this to my sister—we just had the swimsuit discussion the other day —I like your strategy!! I think it makes perfect sense and it makes you feel great in the process!!! Am definitely going to try it!!!


  4. You kill me! I have worn tankinis for years for the very same reason as you, size selections top and bottom. I do love your trick, though for the top I don’t think it would work for me (I buy based on cup size and lets just say I was blessed).


    • You may have been blessed… it appears I was hiding behind the barn when the boobs were passed out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hahahaha. NOTHING really could beat ruining a teenagers day like that! You might enjoy this post: also a tale of bathing suit shopping.


  6. You are brilliant! I’m going shopping right now : )


  7. Kudos for a phenomenal shopping strategy!!


  8. I am definitely going to try the 3-sizes too big plan!!! Yes, you are brilliant for sure.


  9. Genius! Now, why didn’t I think of that?


  10. Now that I’ve read your and Monica’s posts, I finally feel fully equipped to go swimsuit shopping!


  11. Nancy

    I shop online for swimsuits. Really. I swim competitively, and get them from Speedo. Sounds so very wrong, but it works. Especially since the dressing room and I are mortal enemies.


  12. Great strategy – I love it! Problem is, you still can’t count on the “too-big” sizes to be too big. I went T-shirt shopping yesterday. Bought two extra-smalls, a small, a medium, and a couple of larges. They all fit the same. Go figure.


    • I see your point! Here’s what you do to ensure that you will need a smaller size. Make sure the suit wraps around you twice….while still on the hanger.


  13. Great idea! I had sort of the opposite happen to me the other day. I was out by the pool here and a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 5 years old came up to me and said… “Is that your bathing suit or a dress? Cuz my Momma has a dress just like that.”

    Yes, I wear a mommy suit, with a spaghetti strap top that is fitted to the waist and then flares out into enough skirt at the bottom to cover my bum and the tops of my thighs. But a dress? I think not. I wanted to push the little snot into the pool. Ooops… did I say that out loud??

    Enjoy your new suits!


  14. I have to go bathing suit shopping at some point. My current suit is going to disintegrate. I wish they made suits that lasted 25-75 years.


  15. The last suit I bought was a size 7 string bikini. Course, that was 35 years ago. LOL. Never again!


  16. I have a very different bathing suit buying technique. It’s a bit expensive though.

    You know those suits that advertise “lose 10 pounds in 10 seconds”? I layer them.


    • If you do that right, you could look about 40 pound thinner!


      • That’s the idea. It’s a line I’ve used for about 20 years since the suits were first invented –nobody ever gets it though. You have renewed my faith!


  17. Here in France, a large is size 0. 🙂 Perhaps a tentmaker is in order?
    It is difficult living so close to the Mediterranean and loving to swim.


  18. Great post! This is the season for angst…I’ve been stressing over my now-exposed upper arms, and bathing suit time is coming soon. Good advice for the shopping torture! Thank you!


  19. Very funny post and one that all women can relate to. I buy tankinis, too, but for the reason that it makes it easier to go to the bathroom. I buy from L.L.Bean and they always seem to fit me and hold up very well. No matter how well they fit, though, I hate seeing myself in a bathing suit.


  20. LLBean BeanSport tankini. And now they have a skirt bottom.
    Holds up in the chlorinated water exercise class.


  21. Oh, this made me laugh. 🙂



  1. Swimsuits. Seriously. « notquiteold

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