This week, InStyle is diving into the changing look, complicated impact, and undeniable power of summer’s uniform: the swimsuit.
I don't know many women who welcome swimsuit season smiling, arms wide open. Whether you are a size 0 or a size 24, have the "perfect" boobs or no boobs at all, shopping for swimsuits can be (read: most likely will be) an emotionally rocky experience. As editors at InStyle, we're fortunate to hear tons of tips and tricks from designers for finding the perfect [insert any garment] for your body type. But we know that even if a supposed expert tells us what looks good, it takes a certain level of trust in oneself to feel fully confident.
The past few years, we've seen some wild swim trends, like a bathing suit that has so many cutouts, you're unsure how to even start putting it on, and swimwear made from a material that has SPF inside of it. I can almost definitely say that there's something out there for everyone.
All it takes? A little courage in testing the style waters. We had four women each test a trend that they SWORE they would never wear—because they thought it was just too odd, not functional, or, most often the case, because their self-doubt was getting in the way. Here's what happened.
Name: Sarah Peterson
Occupation: House Manager/Singer/Actress
First bathing suit memory: Wearing a sturdy, slip-free Speedo one-piece at summer camp at a young age when I was learning how to swim. I was constantly self-conscious in my own skin as a young girl, and being in swimwear was totally humiliating as a teenager! It was avoided at all costs, unless mandated by camp or swim class.
What swim fear did you face today? A two-piece! I have only ever worn a one-piece bathing suit. As a girl that has always been bigger, I perpetually feared a bathing suit that may not give me full coverage. I have been extremely concerned about my self-image in the past, and will still avoid certain situations if I know that I will need to wear a revealing outfit. My teenage years were riddled with self-doubt about my figure, so much so that when I became a camp counselor, I wore a towel around my waist even when I was in a one-piece. I have since flipped that script and mostly embraced my curves.
What’s your verdict? This suit held me up in all the right places, was completely slip-free, and gave me the coverage I was looking for while being completely adorable. As a curvy woman, I was originally nervous about showing skin in my midsection, but the high-waisted silhouette made me feel more beautiful and confident then my old sport suits ever could. I especially loved the mixed patterns and realized quickly how flattering it can be!
Did you learn anything from the shoot? That I can look as sexy in a two-piece as I do in my favorite dress. It is always exciting for a plus-sized woman to be able to expand her wardrobe, and now I can add this cute, new silhouette to the mix!
What Sarah's wearing: Torrid Gingham Floral Underwire Bikini Top, $48; torrid.com; Torrid Floral Gingham High-Waist Swim Bottom, $32; torrid.com; Alison Lou Large Jelly Hoops, $165; alisonlou.com; Snowe Home Bath Sheet, $48; snowehome.com; Giussepe Zanotti Ada PVC & Patent Leather Mules; shop similar at net-a-porter.com.
Name: Cheyenne Adler
Occupation: Freelance Brand and Social Media Strategist
First bathing suit memory: My first swimsuit memory has to be when my aunt was babysitting me and my cousins on a family trip to Denver. I think I was about five or six at the time! It was one of my first times at a pool and I didn’t know how to swim yet, but that didn’t stop me from running full speed and jumping in without floaties. Let’s just say my first swimsuit experience is definitely one my family and I still talk about today!
What swim fear did you face today? A super low-cut one piece. I always thought to be flirty and fun, you had to be wearing this skimpy one piece. In two pieces, I tend to get a little self conscious about my stomach, especially after a few rounds of tacos and margs! But at the same time, I don’t want that to limit how confident I feel in my swimsuit. I think there should be a middle ground. Honestly, I just want to be comfortable, which is why I love one-pieces. I really want to be able to feel sexy and comfortable at the same time.
What’s your verdict? I immediately fell in love with this suit. Not only was it a pop of color that I probably never would have immediately picked out for myself, but the plunging neck and tie detail gave my body a shape that left me feeling so, so cute! I was free to swim, dance, and live comfortably in my suit.
What was the hardest part of the shoot: Being photographed in a swimsuit. I’ve struggled a lot with my body image, especially as I recover from being unhealthy and now have been gaining the weight back. I’m proud of myself for the journey I’ve been on and this shoot was a huge step for me in finding that comfort again with my body and with myself at this healthy weight.
Did you learn anything from the shoot? Sexiness and confidence don’t come from a bikini or any type of swimsuit. It’s about the babe inside it! This swimsuit helped me realize that I can feel my best in a one-piece, especially a poppin’ Eres one like this! I’m ready to slay.
What Cheyenne is wearing: Eres "Studio Spray" Belted Swimsuit, $540; net-a-porter.com; Tory Burch T-Tiles Beach Towel, $118; nordstrom.com; Roxanne Assoulin Rainbow Brite Bracelets; roxanneassoulin.com; Jimmy Choo Denise Studded Espadrille Sandal, $390; nordstrom.com
Name: Sofia Belhouari
Occupation: Actor/Model/Co-Founder of The NYC Women’s Art Collective
First bathing suit memory: When I was younger, I always felt nervous when swim season was approaching. Like most kids, my body took a while to adjust to the effects of puberty and growth spurts, and there were many times where I was made fun of for my rounder size. I couldn’t seem to find a one-piece that fit me properly or made me feel special and confident. At the time, I wanted to wear suits like the other girls my age, who were wearing trendy bikini tops, but I simply needed more support.
What swim fear did you face today? A lingerie-inspired swimsuit. I was a little hesitant because the last time I wore a one-piece bathing suit, I felt awkward and out of place.
What’s your verdict? When I put on this swimsuit, I immediately felt different. Not only does the shape and cut give me the support I want, but the detail of romantic ruffles make the look unique, and I felt beautiful wearing it! The hardest part of the shoot was taking the swimsuit off!
Did you learn anything from the shoot? Even though swim shopping can be a pain, there is a something out there that WILL WORK! Now more than ever, I believe the fashion world is embracing beauty in all shapes and sizes. There are more options, and many brands offer full-coverage suits. We all deserve to feel good in what we’re wearing; not for anyone else, but for ourselves, and we shouldn’t have to settle for anything less.
Occupation: Model (MUSE Management)
First bathing suit memory: My first memory was when I was 9 years old and my mom bought me my first two-piece swimsuit. It was for my birthday and I wore it the entire day up until my swim party. I thought I was a celebrity!
What swim fear did you face today? A crazy cut-out style! I feel like cut-outs kind of readjust themselves if you get out of the water too fast, if you know what I mean.
What’s your verdict? That there were no slips! And the color, which was gold, looked really good on my skin tone!
Did you learn anything from the shoot? That there are so many ways to accessorize a swimsuit. The matching turban was a very good accessory that I wouldn’t normally wear.
Location by Jimmy at the James Hotel. Photography by Tiffany Nicholson. Hair by Yukiko Tajima. Makeup by Risako Matsushita. Fashion Editing by Ruthie Friedlander. Assistant Styling by Christine Nicholson. Photo Art Direction and Production by Emily Shornick.