Nothing like a fresh onslaught of winter wind and weather to make you want to put on a bikini, am I right?
Oh guess what, it’s snowing again, how new and fun, we’re all thrilled, my commute was a joy today, wheeeeeeee.
It’s really unfair: right when most of us in the Northeast USA are ready to crawl into bed forever and have given up hope of ever going outside without 14 layers on, along come every single lingerie brand’s swim collections. It seems weird, but now is prime bathing-suit shopping time, especially if you wear a full-bust size. You try to find that cute bikini you wanted around Memorial Day or the 4th of July? Good luck, friend– that bikini is sold out. I have learned this the hard way: if you see one you like now, now is the time to buy it.
I’ve always avoided black swimwear in the past because I am PALE, SO INCREDIBLY PALE, and then you shine the sun on me and I’m blinding, and I thought the contrast of the black swimwear with BRIGHT WHITE skin was just too harsh (for me personally! I appreciate other pale ladies working the black swimwear– y’all carry on). But when Aisha of Zathiya, a wonderful new online full-bust lingerie boutique, asked me if I wanted to try Curvy Kate’s Luau Love collection, I was intrigued. There are several different shapes available in a wide range of sizes, and I found myself taken with the classic pin-up potential of the high-waist bottoms. It had been years since I last tried a black swimsuit, so I thought, why not?
[Note: Zathiya provided this swimsuit for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Luau Love is an all-black (or all-pink, if you select the Flamingo colorway) swim collection with several available pieces: a convertible bandeau bikini top, padded balconette bikini top, tankini top, fold-over bikini brief, high-waist brief, and skirted swim brief. Each piece is trimmed with two leopard-print buttons. I selected the balconette bikini top (with adjustable, though not detachable, straps and a plastic clip closure) and high-waist brief. The bikini top features lightly padded cups with smooth black swim fabric gathered lightly at the center gore. The high-waist brief features a moderate, full-coverage legline and a fold-over waistband with button detail on the right.
Aisha advised that she and some other customers found that the balconette bikini top runs small in the cup. I’m between band sizes, and I went with my larger one (I prefer a slightly looser fit on the beach, since I have a squishy torso) and then sized up in the cup. I’m really glad I did: this bikini runs smaller than my Curvy Kate bras, so I strongly advise sizing up, at least in the cup. I’ve even been wearing the top around the apartment a little bit to loosen the band some before taking it out to the beach. It’s not too tight, but again, I personally prefer a slightly looser fit in my swimwear. In this size the center gore tacks nicely against my sternum, and the underwires fully encapsulate my breast tissue. I get a surprising amount of lift and some lovely rounded cleavage.
In the bottoms I went with my current underwear size, and I’ll be honest: I go back and forth on whether or not it was the right one. My waist is thicker in proportion to my hips, and I feel a little like this brief is designed for a more pronounced hourglass figure with a more nipped-in waist. On me, the hips and rear fit perfectly, but the waist is a little snug, and the fold-over waistband keeps wanting to curl up. This is actually a really good fit for swimming, since suits expand and get heavier when they’re wet, so I won’t have to worry too much about it slipping off underwater. On the other hand, for just lounging around by the beach or pool, I suspect I might be a little self-conscious. And on yet another hand, it IS only March– I might still be a little puffy from the never-ending winter. So…know thyself, and maybe size up if you don’t want the waistband to dig?
It’s worth pointing out that I really like the height of these high-waist briefs. I have some from Panache that hit just a hair too high– they give me uncomfortable squish between the waistband and the bikini top, and I don’t find them personally flattering on my short-waisted torso. The Luau Love briefs, on the other hand, have a lower rise (they just cover my belly button), and I like that level of coverage much better.
The bikini top is very comfortable! The wires are a moderate height, so they don’t jab into my armpits, and because they’re encased in padding, they sit comfortably against my ribs. I mentioned some of my concerns about the brief above, but honestly? I will probably be self-conscious about my stomach no matter what size it is and no matter what I’m wearing. It’s a deeply ingrained mental habit (I think the first time I tried to “look skinnier” I was in the little reading area of my kindergarten classroom, and that was BEFORE the 13 years of ballet, and also I was a SCRAWNY child, what the hell?), and while I’m working to break it, eh, that’s easier said than done. Don’t get me wrong– most days I feel great about my body. I’m super-healthy! I walk briskly everywhere! I can run 20 miles a week and I can climb stairs and I’m sleeping better than I have in the past and I’m feeling good about my skin and generally things are A-OK and I’m one very lucky duck. But in the same ways I wish my stupid feet were smaller so I could buy more danged shoes already, I will always wish my stomach and its size/degree of squish weren’t something that constantly tugged at my attention.
[Man, every bikini I’ve ever talked about has raised body image demons for me, huh? Certainly in a way that lingerie doesn’t, even though they’re pretty similar garments. Maybe I’ve imbibed more cultural hangups about bikinis (which I wear in public), whereas lingerie feels more personal and therefore something I can claim as my own?]
It had never occurred to me before that I might want a “basic bikini” in the same way I have some “basic” lingerie pieces, but you know what? Now that I have one I am really, really glad. I don’t make it to the beach as often as I’d like (although if anyone wants to hook me up with a tropical private island in the next 24 hours I am waiting by the phone), but it’s nice to know that no matter how I’m feeling or how my style changes (I may not want to wear that tropical flower/tattoo print bikini for the rest of my life), I have a classic, timeless swimsuit waiting for me to pull on at a moment’s notice. With so many shapes and sizes available in this (soon to be a continuity) style, Curvy Kate has created a winner!
* * * * *
Bikini: Luau Love by Curvy Kate, courtesy of Zathiya. Available in sizes 30-40 D-K ($70) and 8-22 (XS-4X) ($55). Curvy Kate is a UK brand, so the cup size progression is D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K.
Shoes: T.U.K. Shoes. The solid red is sold out, but you want the red with POLKA DOTS anyway, come on. Oh fine if you want the solid ones Pinup Girl has some too.
Umbrella: Tatyana Boutique
Photos: Studio Rezin
The Lingerie LesbianMarch 5, 2015 at 2:31 pm (8 years ago)
Love everything about this review! I totally get where you’re coming from as far as swimsuits bringing out body issues– they are weird garments and they definitely seem like they can shine a light on anything you may feel sensitive about. Also all of these photos are the cutest! And the styling is spot on! High marks all round.
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm (8 years ago)
Thank you thank you! Yeah, I’m surprised, looking back, how much more anxious swimwear makes me than lingerie. Maybe it’s all that bright sun and I’m a delicate, easily-burned flower. But now I have a fancy umbrella so I feel better about things 🙂
RachelleMarch 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm (8 years ago)
Love it! You’re beautiful…and I need this bikini…
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm (8 years ago)
Thank you Rachelle! It’s a great bikini– the whole collection is so strong, and there are some great pieces to mix and match.
Lee RiversMarch 5, 2015 at 2:40 pm (8 years ago)
Padded wires? Be still my heart. What’s the closure like? I’ve had a few swimsuit closures rub me the wrong way.
Bikinis used to terrify me and I still feel exposed and very squishy, but I hate wet fabric on my stomach. It has gotten easier over time.
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 3:01 pm (8 years ago)
The closure is one of those typical full-bust bikini closures, with the plastic clippy thingie (not hooks and eyes). It’s not the loveliest, obviously, but I haven’t noticed any discomfort yet. I’ve come to love bikinis if only for the ease of, um, calls of nature 🙂
Angela FriedmanMarch 5, 2015 at 2:49 pm (8 years ago)
Oh you saucy minx!! This has to be one of my favorite posts to date… I know you keep saying that black swimwear doesn’t suit you, but I think we all know you’ve proven that one wrong! I love your cheeky (no pun intended) but informative review on this one. Can’t wait to see more soon! xoxo
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 3:01 pm (8 years ago)
Thank you Angela! I’m so glad I tried this one– I wound up liking it a lot!
technicolor loverMarch 5, 2015 at 3:14 pm (8 years ago)
I think you look stunning in this! I have a preference for minimal, classic swimwear (and I love those shoes). <3
I also appreciate your candor regarding body image demons. I recall my mother telling me I ought to suck in my stomach around the same age (5-6 years old). I've been self-conscious ever since. It's bananas how early we're inundated with this stuff.
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 4:27 pm (8 years ago)
It’s 100% bananas, and it breaks my heart, because I look at the little girls I know and the LAST THING I want is for them to be worrying about their stomachs, good grief, I want them having fun and climbing trees and reading books and stuff! And yet so many of us experienced this. I hope we can eventually reach a point where it doesn’t happen any more.
FlorenceMarch 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm (8 years ago)
First of all, you look FANTASTIC and this is probably the best photoshoot you’ve ever done. The red umbrella and the vintage pinup look is killing me. Love it!
Second, the bikini looks very cute. I hope you feel confident when you wear it 🙂
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 4:28 pm (8 years ago)
Thank you so much, Florence! I was telling my sister that I first saw that umbrella ages ago and though “no, no, you already have work-appropriate umbrellas, don’t buy that” and then the opportunity to do these pictures came up and I bought it immediately. 🙂
CharliMarch 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm (8 years ago)
I love the review and the styling! You look amazing in this bikini! Is it supportive enough for vigorous swimming and being thrown about in the sea?
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm (8 years ago)
Thank you! Yessss to most swimming, including the sea, but for super-intense stuff like surfing and competitive swimming I imagine folks will be better off in athletic swimsuits like Panache’s Sport swimsuit and the Freya Active swim collection.
JeannaMarch 5, 2015 at 4:10 pm (8 years ago)
1. This is a super helpful review for those of us who are so very, very new to fancy swimwear. (For me, this qualifies as fancy swimwear.)
2. Your candidness and vulnerability in reviews is the best. Seriously the best. <3 Also I just want to second everything you said about having more hangups about swimwear than lingerie. PREACH.
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm (8 years ago)
1. I agree that this certainly qualifies as fancy swimwear. I think it’s priced a little higher than some competitors’ bikinis, but the quality is excellent, and once I fixed the size issue, the support and shape are really excellent.
2. I hadn’t realized until I finished writing that it really is bikinis that seem to set me off, at least much more so than lingerie. Very weird. Maybe because I don’t wear swimsuits as often? A few years ago I wouldn’t have DREAMED of wearing a bikini, so I hope I can continue to tackle those hangups and make them go away, or at least get quieter!
AntoniaMarch 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm (8 years ago)
If there’s one thing about your blog that I love, Sweets, is that you always inspire me to feel more positively about my own body. You look beyond gorgeous in every photoshoot, and I love that I’ve found so many brands and styles through your blog that make me feel confident in the way I look.
SweetsMarch 5, 2015 at 6:11 pm (8 years ago)
Antonia, this makes me so, so happy. I’m just thrilled that you’ve found things you like through the blog– that’s a huge reason I started writing it. Thank you!
AntoniaMarch 5, 2015 at 6:19 pm (8 years ago)
It also doesn’t hurt that you’re a huge ballet fan! Having gone through the training and associated body issues growing up, your blog has been a huge outlet for me in finding styles I love.
StephanieMarch 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm (8 years ago)
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this. You look absolutely magnificent and this bikini is freakin’ gorgeous!
SweetsMarch 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm (8 years ago)
Thank you, lovely!
QuinneApril 12, 2015 at 9:51 am (8 years ago)
More swimwear reviews please!! I am a lot weirder about swim fit than lingerie fit and I knew we had very similar body types, but like, I feel like we might be twins (short-waisted, comparatively narrow hips, squishy torso!).
I’ve struggled with the tummy-consciousness for forever too. Changing how you see yourself is about 500 times harder than trying to change your actual body. I think about it a lot less than I used to but you’re right, it might always be there. I know it won’t help but I think your stomach is too cute, & obviously loks great in everything you post here!!
SweetsApril 12, 2015 at 11:22 pm (8 years ago)
I’ll be honest: I’m not sure more swimwear reviews are in the cards, just because I so rarely make it to the beach that I don’t budget for swimwear. But now that I know there’s interest I will definitely reconsider!!