Is anyone else out there a little too practical like I am? I adore colorful shoes on other people, but I always end up with black, brown, or navy for myself.  I adore all the gorgeous large bust bikini options out there, but then I go and choose the black Elomi Isis swim bra and brief because I reasoned that I should be able to find tankini tops from other brands to match the bottoms. When I browsed Bare Necessities’ swimsuit sale at the end of June, I thought I’d gotten the best of both worlds: a practical black base with a multitude of whimsical and inexpensive tankini options. I ordered the

Those prices are a big difference from the Elomi Flora ruched tankini in size 16 that I also ordered for $74.99. Unfortunately, the photos below demonstrate why someone might go ahead and pay the higher price for an Elomi swim top.

 elomi swim bra under non-elomi tankini tops

I now realize that most tankinis have a camisole back rather than the leotard back of the Isis swim bra; therefore many non-Elomi tankinis won’t fully cover the swim bra (another reason to consider using the less expensive basic black Isobel bikini top from Panache as a swim bra). If the Elomi ruched tankini top didn’t look so frumpy on me, even in the Flora fabric that I like, I might be persuaded to pay the higher price for it. Instead, I’m hoping Elomi will come up with sharper styles in upcoming seasons.

elomi flora front and back

This raises the question: Is a swim bra even worth it? My answer: Yes, yes, yes!

The following photos are my attempt to demonstrate how worth it the swim bra is, although I’m afraid they don’t do the best job. The top row is with the swim bra. The second and third rows are without. Can you see how my breast shape changes without the bra? It’s probably more accurate to say “how my breast shape changes with the bra”, because I’m essentially au naturel without it--lower hanging and slightly splayed. The side views in the bottom row show the absence of any lift.

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Basically, wearing a “mainstream” tankini without a bra is the closest that many of us will ever come to going braless in public. If I forgot my own suit and had to borrow one of these swimsuits from a friend,  I would still be able to enjoy myself at the beach because the slight compression from the spandex almost gives them a sports bra quality. In fact, the Beach House black and white tankini is so comfortable that I’m considering keeping it as a lounge top for home. However, it’s a far cry from an actual sports bra. To get maximum enjoyment out of my time in the sun, I’ll stick with swim bras or swimsuits specially designed for DD+ cups.

Nerdy asides: 

  • Notice how much of my side breast tissue is exposed in the paisley photo in the second row. Interestingly, it’s contained when I wear the swim bra.
  • In the collage above, the bottom left photo shows where the wireless shelf bra ends on me, as well as the nice gathers at the side (which the Captiva also has).  Although I’m quite overweight, I generally don’t fit plus-sized clothes, so it was a pleasant surprise to see how well the underwires worked in the Captiva. It was a little strange to feel all those layers–the swim bra with its own mesh lining, the tankini underwire, and the tankini itself on top of it all. But it was also amazingly secure.

captiva great underwires