There’s always that moment as you edge past a D-cup where you find yourself needing to drop hundreds of dollars on a good, secure and probably ugly bra that will actually support your chest.
The trauma of bra shopping for bigger breasts isn’t talked about enough, but even less so when it comes to swimwear.
Endless hours trying on bikini sets, only to find that you need entirely different sizes top and bottom is enough to make anyone stressed out. Add to that the panic of slipping out of something flimsy or feeling like you can’t do your water-based activity without bouncing around everywhere, it creates the perfect storm for a changing room meltdown.
It’s an experience I’ve had, and I know my friends have had, but for some reason it has taken a few mavericks within the swimwear industry to actually create their own purpose-built lines to really address.
The thing is, it’s expensive to manufacture collections that have hundreds of different sizes, shapes and variations. It’s also expensive to produce the extra supports needed for larger boobs: think side slings, strap reinforcements, moulded cups.
For too long, women with a larger chest (and an eye for fashion) have been forced to hazard a string bikini and simply hope for the best. It’s a predicament that swimwear designer Stephanie Korn at big-boob friendly label Form + Fold knows all too well.
“In 2014 by the water, we (Stephanie 32DD and Carly 32E) were comparing our swimwear and laughing about how ill-fitting and unsupportive our contraptions were,” Korn tells marie claire Australia.
“We couldn’t understand why brands were still discounting women’s curves by offering a limited size range.”
After bonding over the harrowing swimwear shopping experience, they decided that it made sense to design a collection that would deliver on their needs (and the many other women finding themselves in the same position).
“While women with a smaller bust can rock a string bikini with zero support, those blessed with a bigger bust require more from their swimwear,” Korn explains, adding that it took them three years to create the brand.
“Designing swimwear for a larger bust compared to a smaller bust is comparative engineering bridges that will withstand different weights. Larger busts require swimwear to be engineered to hold more weight, and so it requires expert technicians to figure out how the styles can lift, shape and support comfortably,” she says.
“We need to look for tops with reinforced construction, seems, supportive side slings, adjustable straps, premium fabrics that don’t stretch…the list goes on!”
Korn isn’t alone in wanting to offer more variety to Australian women with a larger bust.
RAQ Apparel’s Sophia Argyropoulos grew up with 8FF cups and grappled with the challenges of having a larger bust.
“Shopping for both bras and swimsuits was a constant nightmare,” she tells marie claire Australia. “I envied my smaller-chested friends who had an abundance of options.
“After years of frustration and complaining, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create the ideal bikini top that would cater to a variety of sizes. I launched an early version of our black Multi-Way Top in 12 bra sizes. Nearly 6 years on, this style is our best seller and comes in 66 bra sizes.”
Does Stylish Swimwear For Larger Boobs Exist?
Absolutely! Both Korn and Argyropoulos admit that when they started their brands they wanted to avoid “daggy grandma florals” that were a hallmark of bigger boob offerings. Young women with larger busts still want something sleek and cutting edge.
“We were uninspired by the tired floral prints, neon piping and full coverage shapes that trended amongst larger cup sized swimwear. Our newest fabric ‘Glitter’ is proof that stylish swimwear exists! Now available in cult 90s shapes with thick and thin strap options, the days of daggy swim are totally over,” says Korn.
Argyropoulos adds, “We draw inspiration from the 80s, 90s and 00s, as well as what’s popular now, our eye on current trends that we think will actually last the test of time.
What Should You Look For In Swimwear For Big Boobs?
Naturally, there is a lot more that goes into making a supportive bikini top for larger busts than two triangles of fabric and a string.
“In the design and production of our swimwear collections, we take extensive measures to ensure that our pieces offer optimal support and comfort,” Argyropoulos explains. “We focus on specific points of measurement, with each bikini top style encompassing over 50 such measurements. This precision is crucial because every point matters, and if one is off, the support level is compromised, altering the way the swimwear fits the bust.”
The team at Form + Fold similarly focus on the specifics, and boy is it a big list. Try to look for:
- Underwire or under bust support
- Side slings positioned to create the perfect shape
- Thicker/sturdier band and straps for support that are slim enough to not compromise on aesthetic
- Adjustable straps for customized fit
- Styles that are offered in bra sizes
- Bikini tops that are sold separately than bottoms so women don’t have to compromise on fit
Korn adds, “Our swimsuits are seamed which offers far greater support for fuller busts than seamless or molded cups. Seams act like support beams for your breasts so the tissue can be lifted higher and shaped better.
“Seams also stabilise the materials and help prevent stretching or distortion in the fabric. We use a combination of diagonal and vertical seams as the vertical seam provides upward lift, and the diagonal seam helps to draw breast in from the sides of the body for a centred profile.”
‘I Tried Swimwear For Big Boobs And It Changed My Life’
As someone who sits in the D/DD category, I sit right on the edge of the big-boobed community.
Having previously gotten away with the occasional unsupportive swimming costume, I was interested to see what the difference would be when it was properly engineered for larger busts.
However, after trying swimwear that actually caters to larger busts (and fashion) I have to say that it does not have to hurt to be beautiful. You can absolutely wear a costume that will support (and add beautiful lift) to your boobs, which you can wear to frolic around in the surf without pain, and still look cute.
Honestly, I think other major swimwear manufacturers need to catch up to what these trailblazing women are doing. If you have a larger bust, I would highly recommend looking into it.
6 Swimwear Styles We Recommend For Big Boobs In Australia
This half-cup style will contour and support the breast in a way that is both flattering and supportive. The moulded cups stop gaping around the top of the cup, and the thin straps are built strong and sans stretch to keep you held in place all day.
The Multi-Way top is the perfect accompaniment to any bikini collection, able to be worn as a halter, with straight straps, or crossed over at the back for extra support. Designed to reduce spillage and offering a thicker strap around the base, it’s as close to a triangle shape as you’ll get while still offering major support.
Featuring underwire cups that are designed to lift and mould, with adjustable straps and an adjustable tie closure at the back, this is a gorgeous summer option for those up to a G cup.
Bondi Born Eleanor One Piece, $295, THE ICONIC
While not all Bondi Born swimwear caters for sizes over a DD, they do have a series of pieces that are designed to fit and support a larger bust, including this gorgeous swimsuit that caters to DD, E and F cups.
Sea Level Australia Checkmate Twist Front DD/E One Piece, $149.95, THE ICONIC
Designed with their signature ‘powermesh’ lining for support around the breast and booty areas, the larger-cup designs also come with underwire support and adjustable and convertible straps to allow for better fit and support where you need it.
Not your grandmas florals, this beautiful summer design is purpose made for larger busts with a thicker back strap that is available in either tie closure or hook. The fully-lined, seamed top also offers adjustable straps.