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December 03, 2020 5 min read

How Retro Swimwear is Incredibly Flattering for Plus Size Women

One of the best things about retro style swimsuits is that they look incredible on plus size women. Retro swimwear is made to define plus size bodies, the high waists flatter and show off curves while the halter necklines provide maximum support for women with bigger busts.

The idea of plus size swimwear came into fashion due to curvy bombshells like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly. The hourglass shape became all the rage, achieved by a belted, cinched waist and a flowy skirt. The 50s was all about pin ups girls, with a curvy red-head named Hilda becoming a massive success. Unlike women of the time, Hilda was created with realistic proportions to represent the average woman.

Plus size pin up girl, Hilda wearing a red bikiniPlus size pin up girl, Hilda wearing a green bikini

Image - Duane Bryers/toilgirls.com

Here are some of our best styles in retro swimsuits that flatter plus size bodies:

Want to get straight into shopping? You can shop our full vintage swimwear collection here ➯

High waisted

High waisted swim pants are easily the most recognisable retro trend, and look fantastic on every body shape and size. They offer a modest, yet feminine look while smoothing out your tummy and accentuating your waist. The high waistband cinches in your waist allowing you to embrace and show off your fabulous curves.

We also have a number of high waisted swim pants that include shirred and ruched panelling at the top and front to give you more coverage over your stomach and extra support. These styles are a great option if you’re looking for ruching in a bikini style and still allow you to rock the high waisted retro look!

Our high waisted swim pants also come in a skirted or boyleg look for that extra retro feel.

We think you’ll love:

Woman wearing retro bikini

Navy & White Dots Bandeau Top and High Waisted Skirted Pant, Top available in sizes 10-22 and fits a D-G cup. Pants available in sizes 10-22. 

Ruching

Ruching was a big part of 50s era swimsuits; the style was used to create a waist-cinching effect and define women’s curves. Ruching is used the same way today, with a focus on accentuating the features you already have and minimising the parts you might want to hide. 

Our retro pieces that feature ruching will assist in flattering your stomach area, disguising any unwanted folds. The Power Mesh lining will work towards creating a slimmer silhouette and a defined waistline.

We think you’ll love:

Woman wearing retro bandeau swimsuit

Honey Comb Navy Twist Front Bandeau One Piece, available in sizes 10-22 and fits a D-E cup.

Panelling

Panelling is another tummy control feature that was created in the 40s and 50s. Panelling is an optical illusion that makes your body look longer and leaner. It does this by running a large print down the middle of a swimsuit with black panels running on either side. This helps create a slimming effect and draw in the sides of your stomach.

If you’re looking to lengthen your torso or minimise your bust, panelling is an excellent and popular option.

We think you’ll love:

Woman wearing navy retro swim dress

Chlorine Resistant Navy and White Dots Wide Strap Swim Dress, available in sizes 14-30 and fits a D-G cup.

Ruffles

Ruffles in retro swimwear were likely to be decorative accents on skirts or shorts. Now, they’re being utilised as a tummy control design option. Used to slim and disguise the mid section, ruffled swimsuits flow over your bust, belly and hips covering you in a flattering and feminine way.

One of our most popular styles is the 3 Tier Tankini Top that comes in a range of retro designs and patterns. It features a built-in shelf bra for maximum support and adjustable straps to customise the fit. Fabric from one tier covers the bust, and the torso follows with the second and third fabric tiers. The tiered tankini tops are designed and cut on an angle that helps create an hourglass effect for those who might want to hide their tummy.

We think you’ll love:

Woman wearing retro tankini

Chlorine Resistant Paisley Pop 3 Tier Tankini Top, available in sizes 12-26 and fits a C-G cup.

One-pieces

A retro one-piece swimsuit is a classic and glamorous look from the 30s - 50s. They came in a boyleg or skirted style that provided the coverage and modesty women of the time were looking for. Modelled after rompers and playsuits of the time, boyleg swimsuits look great on every body type. They provide more coverage over the booty area and have a lower cut leg line to create a seamless line from your hips to your thighs. Skirted style one-pieces feature  a flowy or loose skirt at the bottom of the swimsuit. This is designed to flow over and hide parts of the stomach and elongate your figure.

We think you’ll love:

Woman wearing retro polkadot one piece

Navy & White Dots Retro One Piece, available in sizes 10-22 and fits a A-G cup.

Off the Shoulder Tops

Off-the-shoulder tops were popularised by Brigitte Bardot in the 50s and 60s, and quickly became a must-have swimwear neckline. The style exposes the shoulders, accentuating your neckline and collar bones while supporting and highlighting your bust. Our off-the-shoulder tops feature a built-in shelf bra and moulded cups for a stylish and comfortable fit. A style with frills or ruffles adds to the retro look while being ultra flattering.

Style it with high-waisted swim pants for the classic retro look!

We’ll think you’ll love:

Woman wearing retro bikini top

Plain Black Frilled Bikini Top Swimwear, available in sizes 12-22 and fits a D-E cup.

Halter Necklines

Halter style necklines became popular in the 40s as women started to bare more skin. The neckline features wide straps that are tied behind the back of the neck leaving the shoulders and back bare. This style is a favourite for many plus size women as it suits a variety of body shapes and is very flattering for large busts. The ties allow you to adjust the top to be as loose or fitted as you would like making it a very comfortable fit. Halter necklines draw the eyes upward, taking attention away from your midsection and focusing it on the shoulders and bust.

We think you’ll love:

Woman wearing retro halter one piece

Navy Floral Halter One Piece, available in sizes 16-28 and fits a C-DD cup.

Bandeau Tops

The bandeau neckline emerged in the 40s and 50s as a way to improve and structure the shape of the body while showing off some skin. The bandeau style is strapless with thick bands of fabric on the top and bottom to keep you secure and comfortable. They’re a very versatile top, because you have the option of adding straps for additional support. Our bandeau tops include an underwire feature for even more support and security for your bust. Bandeau necklines can be found in both one-piece and bikini style retro swimwear.

We think you’ll love:

Woman wearing retro bandeau bikini top

Navy & White Dots Frilled Bikini Top and Navy and White Dots Tie Side Swim Pant, Top available in sizes 10-22 and fits a D-G cup. Pants available in sizes 10-22.

Swim Dress

Swim dresses are a modest style swimsuit, usually with a built in bikini bottom underneath. First worn in the 30s, swim dresses feature a skirted bottom that hangs loosely around your hips. A modern addition to the style is a more A-line swim dress that includes panelling and ruching for tummy control. Our swim dresses feature a tighter bust with a rounded neckline and underwire or a built-in shelf bra for extra support. The style of a swim dress is great for plus size figures, as the flowy fabric provides more coverage and accentuates your curves.

We think you’ll love:

Woman wearing retro swim dress

Flamingo Swim Dress Set, available in sizes 18-28 and fits a D-G cup.

We think you’ll fall in love with our range of retro plus size swimwear. Whether it’s a polka dot, gingham or floral print, or one of our solid navy or black styles, there’s something everyone will love!

 

 

Shop Vintage Swimwear

 


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Size guide

All of our swimsuits are true to size. This means you should follow your normal sizing.

The best guide is your underwear - so what you would wear in a bra and undies is the size you order from us in tops and bottoms. For example, in you wear an 18E bra, you should order a size 18 swimsuit top from us.

If you are looking for a one piece and are in between sizes, say an 18E bra and a 20 in underpants, we recommend choosing the larger of the two sizes - so a size 20 in this case.

If you have any issues with your new swimsuit, we do 30 day refunds for full priced items and exchanges for all items - so you can swap to a size or style that is more suitable for you!

International Size Conversions

AUS 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
USA 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
CANADA 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28
UK 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
EUR 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56
AU USA CA UK EUR
8 4 6 8 34
10 6 8 10 36
12 8 10 12 38
14 10 12 14 40
16 12 14 16 42
18 14 16 18 44
20 16 18 20 46
22 18 20 22 48
24 20 22 24 50
26 22 24 26 52
28 24 26 28 54
30 26 28 30 56