Swimwear and beachwear guide


Modern women are so sparky and clever that we just know that it, like, totally, doesn't matter what we are like on the outside, it's what's on the inside that counts. But then, when it comes to swimwear, sometimes the inside is a little too close to the outside and we need a bit of extra help. Let's get to it.


It's like Obama says... Yes, you can. At least on holiday. Mumsnetters explain why:

"No one is too big for a bikini. We are backward when it comes to this in the UK. It's like asking, 'Am I too big for knickers'! It is beachwear and everyone in Europe wears it no matter age, size etc. What we really mean is, 'Will I look like a big fat lump as opposed to a supermodel'? Which I think would answer 'yes' for most people, but wear it with pride and enjoy your holiday. A swimming costume is no more or less attractive on different sizes in my opinion." noddyholder

"Have you ever looked back on your holiday and said, 'OMG, do you remember that woman wearing that bikini on the beach?' No? Well then no one will remember you or even pay you the slightest attention. You will see some sights on the beach, I can tell you, and will wonder what you were worrying about." cybbo

For the smaller of bust, all manner of tops are available that will push and primp what little Mother Nature has seen fit to bestow, making the bikini the swimwear of choice for the discerning skinny minnie.

Surprisingly, the string bikini often looks better on bigger girls - it may seem counter-intuitive but there is something to be said for not squeezing yourself into a too-small costume when you can tie one on every day, adjusting according to how much pasta was consumed the day before.


A controversial choice, given that it has clearly been designed for the woman who might like to wear a bikini but is too frightened to (see above, just DO IT). The problem with the tankini is that it solves none of the problems that it should.

Does your backside still hang out of it? Check. Is your tummy concealed? Weeeeell, ideally, but the truth is that the tankini is generally cut so that it still remains high over the bikini knickers or shorts, with the result that the stomach pokes out anyway. And if you do manage to find a long one, it goes all saggy and Miss Wet T-shirt when you come out of the pool.

The perfect tankini is one that allows for quick, semi-naked sunbathing, breastfeeding and trips to the loo, offers great support and still covers the gut. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to have been designed yet. If you find it, do post on the Mumsnet Style & Beauty Talk board and we promise, hand-on-heart, to update this.

"God no, not a tankini, the item of clothing designed to make even a skinny woman look four sizes bigger." mosschops30

"Lands End do nice tankinis, with a good mix and match of bottoms, which do cover your tum. I swear by them. Personally, I would never ever wear a bikini, and think tankinis are more holiday wear than a one-piece, plus I really like shorts with them as more coverage when chasing a toddler." CMOTDibbler

One-piece swimsuits

"Definitely get something under-wired." cupcakes

Amen to that, cupcakes. Nothing worse, regardless of cup-size, than being the woman exiting the pool with her waistband up to her nipples. And BroccoliSpears would like to sing the praises of, as she puts it, "spending a fortune on your swimming costume".

"I had always been the sort of person to tsk at having to spend more than £12 on something as boring as a swimming costume, then my MIL went out and bought me a superb Lejaby cozzie. It probably cost more than I spend on food for the week, but it is a thing of wonder and beauty. It does marvellous things for my figure. It is a joy."

Bravissimo comes highly recommended if you are a lady who needs decent support, ditto Lands' End. 

"Check out brastop.com first, as they often have bra-sized swimsuits cheaper" LyndaG.


According to Mumsnetters, halterneck swimsuits are perfect for those with small boobs or those with large (assuming aforesaid under-wiring), so they are a great place to start. They might be a little revealing if you're breastfeeding but they flatter the shoulder area and, basically, the 1950s silhouette is never going out of fashion.

Swimwear structure and cut

Tummy-sucking technology has improved immeasurably for those who are still carrying that baby weight (which counts even if the baby is at secondary school) and many supermarket and high street cossies now offer decent structure.

"BHS is surprisingly good." MrsBadger.

The higher-cut the leg, the longer your pins will look, but this must of course always be measured against what can escape and frighten the locals if you get athletic for some reason.

And don't forget the nudist option is available to all, naked swimming coming highly recommended on the MN Talk boards. It comes with a warning, however.

"Be aware that after you swim nude, you will never willingly swim in a costume again." TuiTetua

Just remember to share your best bikini options and bare-naked swimming locations on the Mumsnet Style & Beauty and MN Nudist boards. (Hah, gotcha, there isn't one. Yet.)

Last updated: about 3 years ago