Off the Rack ~ Vintage-Style Swimsuits from Bravissimo, ModCloth, and PinUpGirl Clothing

I’m so glad vintage-style swimsuits are in style right now. High-waisted bikinis and 50s-style one-pieces (and even tankinis) are super easy to find, and they are all right up my alley. This week I’ll be comparing three vintage-inspired one-piece swimsuits, one of which I’ve owned for years, one of which I returned, and one of which I just got recently.

First up is quite possibly the most unflattering photo of me ever taken! When I saw this Sundaes by the Seaside suit by Letters From Evie on Bravissimo’s site a few weeks ago, I knew I had to have it. Vintage style, bra-sized, ice cream cone print, and at a price that’s actually not bad (about $60)? Yes, please! With my extra long torso, one-piece suits are usually a bust for me because they’re rarely long enough. But the description of this suit says Bravissimo made the length longer after complaints that the last one from this brand was way too short, so I had high hopes.

Oh boy, was I wrong. I normally wear UK 28G, though often with Bravissimo I have to size up to 28GG. In swimwear, I often size up in the band because I don’t need as much support and especially want to avoid phantom back fat at the beach. So I went with 30G.

The cups are about a size too small. The length is also not quite right on me. The underwire is sitting low, enough that even yanking the suit up and tying the halter tightly can’t keep the wires correctly in place. I was also disappointed by how boxy the suit made me look. Something about the red piping and the tightness overall makes my waist look more straight up and down and less hourglassy. And worse (way worse) is what it did to my poor butt:

Aaaaaaaah. Okay, why is there only 50% coverage?? Real vintage swimsuits were cut generously in back, almost like shorts. But this—this is way too much visible cheek. And it certainly doesn’t help that the butt is waaaaay too tight on my thighs. It’s pinching along the seam like crazy and makes me look like a marshmallow! Not. Cute.

Now, I could have exchanged this for a bigger size. I’d probably need to go with a 32G (up one cup and one band from the size I ordered). But I was just so disillusioned by the fit that I couldn’t be bothered. I sent it right back to Bravissimo.

After discovering how tiny the butt is on this suit, I noticed that even on Brav’s listing, they don’t show a shot of the model’s butt. Considering that even the front shot looks like it might be pinching her on the thigh seam a bit, it makes me wonder if this wasn’t intentional. I mean, how can you sell a swimsuit without showing customers what the back looks like unless you have something to hide?

Now of course I really want an ice cream-printed swimsuit. I did find a few on ModCloth, but none are quite right for me:

Don't like the Neapolitan ruffles (although they are clever).

Don’t like the Neapolitan ruffles (although they are clever).

Ugly tan color.

Ugly tan color.

So close! But the kawaii faces push it just over the edge of the cuteness level I'm comfortable with.

So close! But the kawaii faces push it just over the edge of the cuteness level I’m comfortable with.

Speaking of ModCloth, that brings me to my next suit, the Bathing Beauty One-Piece by Esther Williams. This suit comes in a ton of different prints, and many are available in plus-sizes too.

Super cute! Since ModCloth’s size chart is useless, I just went to the Esther website and looked at their chart. With 37″ bust and 29″ waist, it puts me between a 10 and a 12. Since MC has free shipping on orders over $50 and free returns, I just got both and planned on returning whichever one didn’t fit.

The 10 felt the best in the body. It sucked me in and held my boobs in place better than the looser 12. But once again my posterior posed a problem. A second look at the size chart places my 41″ hips between 12 and 14, it and looks like I really need a 14. Mercifully, even though the 12 is not really big enough, there’s at least enough coverage. The seam is very narrow and still cuts in, but certainly not as badly as the Brav suit.


Now, the boobs are their own issue. There’s actually a lot of space, so I’m not being squished. But I’m also not being supported whatsoever. This is an instance when my long torso (and my age, I suppose) is a boon, because although my boobs are hanging naturally, they still look pretty damn good!

It helps that there are soft shaping cups inside. They don’t provide support, but they do aid in giving the appearance of a nice, round shape.

As you can see, there is also a band under the bust, but it’s not tight enough to actually stay under your boobs, so it’s just kind of floating there and it’s a little itchy. I’m hoping the itchiness will go away when I’m swimming and the suit is wet.

There’s also a piece of vertical boning on each side of the bust, which again doesn’t give support but does help keep the breasts front and center as opposed to east-west.

The back of the suit is just one layer of fabric, so I hope it doesn’t wear out too quickly. The front, though, has three layers for excellent tummy camouflage! There is a layer of tan power mesh on the interior, which you can see in the photo above, followed by a smooth, flat layer of the gingham, and finally on top there is a panel of ruched gingham. So you’ve got two layers helping to flatten you out and one layer to give that vintage skirted look and also hide any remaining lumps and bumps.

You know, the more I look at these pictures, the more I like this suit! Here’s hoping the weather is nice this weekend for the Memorial Day holiday, so I can go to the beach.

Finally, we have Old Faithful: The Nautical Bettie Suit from PinUpGirl Clothing in size Medium. This was my very first PUG purchase many years ago, along with the Natalie dress. I’ve since sold Natalie because I wasn’t wearing it very often, but I would never give up my Bettie. Once again this is a suit that comes in a variety of colors, and most prints are available in plus-sizes. For those who want to be extra modest, there are also matching swim skirts available.

Man, I love this suit! It’s just so perfectly vintage-looking. Unlike the last two suits, it has full coverage in the back:


Oh, that's another not-so-flattering shot haha. I really need to figure out a better lighting situation.

Oh, that’s another not-so-flattering shot haha. I really need to figure out a better lighting situation.

The seams are so much more forgiving here. They’re sewn wider and are a single layer of fabric folded over once, whereas the Esther Williams seams have a flat piece of what appears to be foam rubber sandwiched in the fold. It also helps that this suit is essentially shorts, not bikini-shaped, so it’s not cutting across my butt cheeks at all. Though if you want to be a little flirtier, you can yank it up in back for slightly less coverage, like the PUG models do.

A comparison of Esther's seam and Bettie's seam.

A comparison of Esther’s seam and Bettie’s seam.

Bettie’s fabric is quite a bit thicker than that of the Esther Williams suit. The boob space is also less generous and the white band in back is gathered for extra tightness. As such, the boobs are held in place and feel more supported, but it’s compression-style support. It squashes your boobs and you have to intensely scoop and swoop to achieve nice cleavage and avoid a totally downward-pointing shape.

The bust portion is two layers of heavy duty swim fabric and the back and front are both a single suck-you-in layer, with the front topped by a second, slightly looser piece to achieve the skirted look and smooth profile. For comparison to Esther Williams, here’s an interior photo:

Note the black lining.

Note the black lining.

And here’s the interior of that gathered back band:

Even though Esther and Bettie fit differently, I really like both suits. Now if only they had underwire (or at least a tighter under-bust band), they’d be perfect!

Borrowing Drape Front Tops from Another Busty Blogger

Who knew I’d become so engrossed in sewing one of my shirts that I wouldn’t want to do anything else? Today is all about attaching the yoke, so for your reading pleasure I’m directing you to Wardrobe Oxygen where Allie has published a post about draped tops for large busts. Interestingly, she chooses tops in which the draping occurs below the bustline to help balance things out–something I’ve never considered but will now experiment with.

The Vince Camuto is my favorite from her post, and I like it even more on her on Instagram where you can see the balancing in action. The petite version is 40% off at Nordstrom’s (but click through her link if you purchase so she gets the credit), and the regular version is 20% off at Macy’s until May 26 (they tell you about the sale after you put it in your basket–they also have it in Sailor Blue in L and XL). It even has a built-in cami!

drape front top

I’d love to hear about your own experiences with, and tips for wearing, drape front tops.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, have any of you had success with crop tops? A few commenters on the Big Boob Problems subreddit like wearing them, and I’m keeping my eyes open for tops that might work on DD+ bosoms, or ways to otherwise adapt the trend.


Corporate Curves Report: Fantasie, Bravissimo or Change? Swimwear Search.

The first heatwave of the summer hit us early this year and we’re enjoying close to 30 celsius (86 fahrenheit) degree weather here in northern Europe. That of course meant for me as a Finn that we were off to the summer house to relax in the sun by a lake.

When I was packing I realized that, noooo! I have no swimwear. My trusted Athena tankini I wrote about last summer is all worn out and my bikini is too big for me currently (and hopefully permanently).

So now, I’m after either a one piece or a tankini. Despite my training routine, in my own eyes I’m not bikini-fit this summer–I would not feel comfortable. So far I’ve gone through Figleaves’ and Bravissimo’s offerings and only two items have caught my eye.

Criteria: no halterneck, adjustable straps, more serious than fun look, blue. Blue because I’ve noticed that with my ghostly pale skin it tends to look the best. I don’t tan; I only burn and get freckles (both of which are currently clearly visible after two days in the sun, despite the sunscreen).

The Fantasie Versailles Underwired Twist Front Control Tankini goes up to GG and promises to “flatter your figure in all the right places” with its “gathered fabrics and adjustable sides.” It costs US$105 on Figleaves.

Fantasie Versailles tankini

Fantasie Versailles tankini



I love how the gathers seem to flatter the figure and are merciful on the soft areas. Simple, yet stylish. And I adore the royal blue color! Royal blue has been my favorite nailpolish color this spring. The bottom is ideal, I prefer to wear “shorts” rather than anything higher cut. Adjustable bottoms are my swimwear go to for this reason.


The Bravissimo Santorini Swimsuit goes up to K cup with a “clever leg block colour” that “gives the illusion of a great shape.” It costs 49£ on Bravissimo.


Bravissimo Santorini swimsuit


An all-over pattern is something I personally find figure-friendly, and I really like this type of elegant and simple pattern. Blue and white is a classic combo although I prefer a little brighter blue. If the fit is right, then I do think this can support my figure well, and I can enjoy myself on the beach wearing this.

The only issue is that I don’t know which one to choose now!


Having said that I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a bikini, I was feeling adventurous on my lunch break today and ventured into Change. The sales lady was helpful and knew her stuff (I evesdropped her advice to a lady in the next changing room, and she got her to drop a few band sizes and go up a few). The closest thing they had to my Freya Deco UK 34GG was a Change EU 75I.


Change Aruba

I tried this change Aruba on in 70I, but it was too tight and the cup was too small. Then I tried the 75I, and there was unfortunately only a teeny tiny fit issue with over bulging. The cup was nearly there, and it wasn’t all that noticeable, but still–it did not fit perfectly.

But then, I would only wear a bikini at our summer house in a private yard so it got me thinking that maybe I’ll try one from their online sale and opt for a more fun look for summer house use.

Change Clearwater

Change Clearwater

It seems to be the same sort of balconette style I tried on in the store and it’s vibrant blue which I love! Also the red detailing works for me even though this is a more fun look than I would normally go for. But the price is excellent for a little unsure purchase!

Celebrity D Cup and Up List: Sandra Lee

Even though I live in New York and knew that our governor had a girlfriend, I had no idea she was famous for cooking with cleavage on her own show, Semi-Homemade. I only discovered Sandra Lee because I admire the work of her dressmaker, Dara Lamb, who Facebooked about the process of creating Sandra Lee’s gown ahead of the 2014 Met Gala. Sadly, Sandra’s gown made it onto several “worst-dressed” lists.

Sandra Lee Met Gala dress 2014

This dress tries to do too much by combining a Charles James pouffy ballgown with the train from his Butterfly gown. However, the fit of that bodice is a DD+ dream!

There are dozens more Sandra Lee red carpet looks on the internet, and this is my favorite. Like the Met Gala gown, it’s shiny and has a train; unlike the gala gown, it isn’t overpowering. Do you think it has sewn-in bra cups so that she can go braless in it? If so, there’s another DD+ dream!


Here’s a side-by-side comparison of how the gowns accommodate a large bust.

sandra lee gown bodice comparison