In complete disclosure, the fit was so spot-on because Mills was able to make small tweaks to the suit to fit my shape. “Often we meet gals like you who need the cup depth of the bigger band size and then we take in the back band,” she says, explaining that alterations like these are free of charge and done in their Brooklyn studio. More involved tailoring, like adjusting boning or moving straps, she adds, will start at $40.
The Best of the Best: Aerie’s Strappy Back One Piece Swimsuit
When I started this experiment, Aerie was one of the first names I had on my list to try. I’ve always appreciate the brand’s commitment to Photoshop-free ads and body positivity, but I never had much luck finding something in my bra size from them…or most mass brands, frankly. I was kind of shocked I found two options from the store that fit me well, my favorite of which was this classic one-piece.
The Aerie team told me the style is a best-seller for the brand. It has a stretchy-but-not-too-stretchy material that made me feel held in and the adjustable criss-cross straps along the back allowed for a more personalized fit. What I also like about this suit is its price, it’s range of color options, and it’s sizes (currently running from an XXS to XXL, with long torso options available, too).
The Best of the Best: The Fold’s The Line Top
I did about two laps around my apartment and this bikini top from Australian brand The Fold hadn’t moved. Not a bit. The material is very thick so it holds your body firmly in place, which is ideal for someone like me who can’t be sedentary for too long.
The Best of the Best: Panache’s Elle Tie Dye Balcony Bikini Top
This style fit just like one of my bras. And it was true-to-size, a factor that simply makes it easier for me (or anyone) to find what they’re looking for. What really won me over, though, was how, despite having a substantial amount of cleavage, the cups in the top stayed in place even when I was moving around. As Mills suggested in my search, a bra top should provide the majority of support in the band, not the straps—that’s what I found in this style, and why I’d happily wear it again.
The Best of the Best: Primadonna’s Myla Dalbesio Bikini Top
I initially reached out to model Myla Dalbesio because she’s outspoken on topics of body positivity and her own challenges with dressing her busty frame. As timing would have it, she was in the middle of launching her own swim collaboration collection with Prima Donna, hoping to address those very issues.
“When we discussed what we wanted for the suits in my collection, I was always stressing sexy but comfortable,” Dalbesio tells me over email. “I think that with larger busts, we’re not able to wear a lot of the cute trendy styles, because we can’t fit into the brands that are making them.”
While Dalbesio suggested a couple bra-silhouette styles, I liked this triangle-shape top from the line best of all. Typically, this silhouette can call for a lot of adjusting to get the desired shape and avoid side-boob. However when I tried it on, it was obvious it was made for a bustier frame in mind. While the top is one-size-fits-all, it’s easily adjustable—I could wrap it tighter for a more snug fit but also found there was room to adjust for someone a couple sizes larger than me, as well.
The Best of the Best: Mikoh’s Portugal One Piece
As mentioned before, finding a well-fit suit is only partially about size. Ultimately, a suit I feel fits me and makes me feel comfortable, confident, and like myself. In trying each suit, I realized “fit” wasn’t solely based on the number on the tag, but also in how confident I’d feel wearing it beyond the walls of my apartment. Did I feel supported but not constrained? Was my shape defined but not exposed beyond my comfort? Did it complement my personal style? The best options did all these as well as physically fit as far as measurements go. So while this Mikoh’s style was cut smaller on me than other one-piece options, it feels amazing and easily qualifies as a favorite. Mikoh’s fabrics are some of the softest I’ve tried in swimwear, but they’re still stretchy enough that they emphasizes my natural shape in a way that makes me feel good. And though I wouldn’t normally choose a very flimsy strap, these delicate ones somehow don’t dig or fall.
The Best of the Best: Malia Mills’ Rose Swim Top
I enjoy dressing my frame much more now than I did as a teen, but I’m admittedly still self conscious about showing a lot of cleavage. Not in this swimsuit: It offers what a good bra should—an underwire that doesn’t cut into you and a secure hold so you can enjoy cleavage without fear that it’s out of your control. I also like that the straps adjust to a criss-cross in the back to provide a slight extra lift, but that’s more a personal preference.
The Best of the Best: Land of Women’s Neva Cross Back One Piece
If you don’t need or want a ton of lift and prefer a more natural breast shape, this swimsuit is a must-try. It’s comfortable, soft, and refreshingly easy to wear. Also with its wide straps that curve slightly along the side of the body, there’s a subtle bit of extra support along the side of the bust, too.
The Best of the Best: Lonely’s Connie Bikini Top
As previously mentioned, narrow, shelf-bra swim tops have not often been my friend, but I love that this style from Lonely cuts a bit more generously. here was no potential underboob or spilling out the top—which is, personally, ideal. And it’s available from XS to XL.
The Best of the Best: Parfait’s Farah High Apex Unlined Bikini Swim Top
Ruffles on swimwear aren’t typically my thing, but at the recommendation of Grace Baker, Parfait’s Director of Technical Design and Fit, I made an exception. “We like to use fabric with more spandex content, use inside special lining fabric to help support the bust along with the underwire and even molded foam cups to give shape,” she says of this suit’s key features. As soon as I tried on this top—with its underwire, criss cross straps, bra clasp, and tiny X-shaped detail just at the cleavage—I felt ready for anything. A swim, a jet ski ride, or a Baywatch sprint along the sand.
The Best of the Best: Andie’s The Tulum Ribbed
For starters, I spent a few extra minutes sitting around in this swimsuit just because the ribbed material is so comfortable.The shape is impressive, too. While Baker suggests that low back styles don’t offer the best support for a bustier frame, the criss-cross detail on this one helps to remedy that while still creating a pretty, open silhouette.
As for the others…
I’m glad to report there were no major disappointments in this experiment. In fact, there were plenty of other suits I ended up really liking. In no particular order, here are some honorable mentions—and what they got right.