(Swim)suit Up!

This post is underwritten by Old Navy. Whether you’re looking for a tankini, bikini, or a one piece, Old Navy has you confidently covered at a great price.

I’ve talked about my fake-it-’til-you-make-it bikini confidence before. I spent years living in full-coverage tankinis and strategically colorblocked one-pieces that did nothing for my self-confidence (nor for my tan lines), constantly telling myself that “one day” I’d be thin enough, gorgeous enough, confident enough to strut my stuff on a beach in a bikini. Well, as it turned out, “one day” was evidently not soon enough. As I began to lose even the slightest bit of weight, my confidence rose skyrocketed. Even though I wasn’t (and still am not) at what my former self would have considered “bikini weight”, I started to care less and less. Why shouldn’t I be able to rock the adorable patterns and silhouettes that seem to be almost exclusively reserved for two-piece suits? Why shouldn’t I be able to get a tan stomach and back? (It helps hides the stretch marks, after all! Hahahahaha.)

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So last summer, I really took the plunge. I had lost a considerable amount of weight, my prior swimsuits no longer fit particularly well, and I finally starting to really see myself in my new body. It wasn’t anything quite as poetic as purchasing my very first bikini, putting it on, and strutting out with all my confidence shining. No, I had already clandestinely purchased one or two bikinis in the past. I think I had maybe worn one of them in public one time before self-shaming myself into tucking them into the back of my underwear drawer, and trying my best to forget about them. But I did take the plunge in that I picked out an adorable halter-topped ‘kini from Old Navy, put it on, and actually felt good about myself in it.

 

And that’s how it all began. I know, I hardly have the “ideal” bikini-wearing body. I’m still curvy and squishy and soft, I have stretch marks on my stomach, and I have sometimes seemingly untameable bazoomas… but I also have long legs and a lean back and skin that gets beautifully golden brown. Surely those latter attributes deserve their time in the sun (heh), even if society might not think the former ones do.

Sure, there are still times when I feel too bloated or too self-conscious or have some other excuse for not getting out there in the swimsuit I really want to be wearing. Luckily, I have a couple of cute and flattering one-pieces for those days. It took a little while to come to the realization that don’t have to resign myself to “old lady suits” just because I’m not feeling the ‘kini on a particular day either.

 

I was absolutely ecstatic when I got an email from the Clever Girls Collective, notifying me of a sponsored post opportunity from Old Navy swimwear. I actually had just come to the realization when I was in St. Maarten last month that every single bathing suit I own is from Old Navy. So you see, I was already a convert long before this opportunity arose and thus my opinion is all the more valid, no? Ahaha. I firmly believe that any woman, no matter what her size, can look beautiful in a bikini as long as she has the confidence to go along with it. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true! I also believe that said confidence comes not only from learning to appreciate your body as it is, but also from knowing that you’re in a flattering and supportive bikini for your body type.

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I know from one horrific dressing room experience that I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be able to wear a triangle/string bikini. Even trying one on was a serious mistake, hahaha. I think that thick-banded halters like the paisley, zebra, and navy tops above, tend to suit (heh) my body a little better, but as far as style goes, I really love retro-styled bandeau tops like the yellow polka-dotted one above. If I was looking to supplement my swimsuit wardrobe any more this summer (I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t, I really shouldn’t… right?), then these current styles would be the first ones in my cart:

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My personal aesthetic tends to stray towards fun patterns, like polka dots and paisley, bright colors, and hardware. I’m a big fan of anything with a touch of vintage, and for bottoms, I am all about a wide band. Not too wide, though: I find boy-short or hipster-cut bottoms are incredibly unflattering on me. If the sides are adjustable, even better!

Nobody’s saying you HAVE to wear a bikini. It’s not as if I’m trying to say, “You only wear one-pieces, therefore you must be ashamed of your body!” Please. No. I’m just saying that if you WANT to wear a bikini, but for whatever reason have always felt like you can’t, or shouldn’t, or both… well, I’m just saying that’s a fat load of crap. You can, and you should! I bet you’ll look gorgeous. No matter what your preferred swimsuit type, it’s really just about wearing what you want: something fun, hopefully flattering, and that makes you feel beautiful all summer long.

Thank you again to Old Navy for sponsoring my post. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.

12 Comments

  1. I think you look great! I definitely agree with your fake it until you make it take on the whole thing.

  2. You look incredibly happy in all those pics!

    I also bought a bikini for the very first time this summer, even though I don’t have what society considers to be a bikini body. I finally just felt like, “Screw society! I want a cute swimsuit for once instead of an all-black tankini!” Mine is a retro pin-up style bikini, with high-cut bottoms and a bra-like top. I’ve worn it in very public places several times, and I don’t think anyone has really even noticed me that much (or at least, I haven’t gotten any terrible looks or mean comments). I’ve gotten lots of compliments though!

    • I agree! It’s not like anyone’s ever come up to me and been like, “Aw, sweetie, no…” hahaha. I definitely get compliments when I’m wearing a cute suit — tons more than when I’m wearing a boring-but-slimming one-piece or tankini, that’s for sure!

  3. I think you look fan-freaking-tastic 🙂 and i ADORE the navy polka dot suit 🙂

    I haven’t felt confident enough to wear a bikini since my honeymoon but this year just might be the year because you’re right – to hell with society 😀 (and stupid fitness magazine for making me think i NEED a bikini body – haters)

    • What does that really even mean, “bikini body”? Am I physically incapable of donning a swimsuit that is cut into two pieces just because I’m not a size 4? Haha. I think it’s much more physically demanding to wear a one-piece than a two-piece, especially if you ever need to go to the bathroom when you’re at the beach, hahaha. 😀

  4. awesome post! you look great! from a male’s perspective, i’ve been the same way before….not wanting to show my frail pasty white body in front of tanned muscular people…always wearing a t-shirt.. i’m not as self-conscious as I used to be, and while I still can’t tan to save my life, I throw on a pair of board shorts and enjoy myself. 🙂

  5. Belindasays:

    Gretchen you are so brave and I really admire how open and honest you are. For almost nine years I’ve frequently let my insecurities about wearing swimsuits destroy my ability to enjoy spending time with my friends. I had let a few comments someone close to me go to my head. In fact, up until this summer, I refused to even buy swimsuits because I can’t get past how I look in the dressing rooms.

    I remember hearing a speaker say that white Caucasian women tend to be the worst about their self-esteem. Many other ethnicities around the world can strut their stuff and be proud of their curves.

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Love this and you. I think you look great rocking a bikini. I can totally relate to wearing one once you’ve lost some weight even if you aren’t at your goal or the “ideal” body (eh). It was a tiny bit scary the first time I did that but bikinis are fun and usually way cuter than one pieces! Keep rockin them! 🙂

  7. Katie Gsays:

    Thanks so much for this post Gretchen. I’ve been considering buying a bikini lately, even though I haven’t got that “bikini bod” yet and you’ve given me the push I needed (might buy some fake tan first though lol)!

  8. You look great. Loving the confidence. Trying to get my own bikini confidence up there.

  9. You look amazing in those pictures! I really think the suits fit you well & are in fun prints.

  10. Awesome post!!! After your last swimsuit/vacation post, I went to Old Navy and bought my very first bikini! And I actually wore it in public. I don’t have a bikini-worthy body by any means, but I wore it and I felt proud… so proud!!! I think I might actually blog about it and post a picture.

    Thank you for continuing to be my inspiration 🙂

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