Woohoo, it's hot girl summer! Or feral girl summer! Or horny vaxxed summer! (It's also… the summer of love, according to Bill de Blasio?) The point being, we were all cooped up and miserable for damn near a year and a half while the world totally went to shit outside, and now it's the hot 'n' happy time to get out there and hit rooftop kickbacks, backyard barbecues, pool parties, beach volleyball tournaments, and any other forms of potentially sexy social interaction we can get our vaccinated, grubby little hands on.
But… for those of us with big boobs—or maybe you prefer the term tits, tatas, breasts, knockers, jubblies, or BFTHY—in bra sizes that exceed a DD, it's also a time of misery. There's the merciless band sweat, the strap marks, and the perennial frustration of wanting to mindlessly wear all the skimpy crocheted tops and breezy backless dresses, but having to choose between feeling overexposed or being relegated to what feels like a nun habit. Being stacked, it turns out, can feel like both a blessing and a dreadful burden. Sometimes the vibe is Baywatch lifeguard; other times, it's matronly misery.
The frustration of having big boobs rears its ugly head the worst whilst shopping for bathing suits and bikinis. Being in the E-L cup size range can make you feel like a pariah when so many styles max out at "XL" or D, despite the fact that the average bra size in America is a 34DD. Why does it feel like we're eternally getting shafted on all the super cute suits, man??? Good news: There's hope. It doesn't have to be that way, and there actually are plenty of smokin' hot swimsuits that can wrangle your boobs in style.
I've got some tips for bathing suit shopping written down right here on this folded up piece of perfumed paper pulled straight out of my 34G Chantelle bra and accrued from 20 solid years of bikini-hunting trial and error. There are plenty of guides out there that will promise hot BFTHY bikini action and then deliver stuff that looks like it belongs in a septuagenarian water aerobics class, and no. We wanna keep it hot. Bathing suit sizing is getting more inclusive (and thoughtfully customizable) than ever, but there are also some tricks that can help you quickly find a bikini that will make you feel supported and babely. Here are the best bathing suits for the big-busted DD+ crowd, plus some general tips from navigating the wide world of swimsuits.
Get mix 'n' match tops and bottoms whenever possible
Divorcing your top size from your bottom size is the first step to swimsuit-shopping happiness as a woman of tata. Maybe you'll need a bra-style top, or maybe you can get away with a straight-size top (sometimes a large or even extra-large top can work as long as there's enough fabric and stretch) if it's designed for moderate to full coverage and has adjustable straps or a thick, supportive band. Accepting that not all bodily proportions are the same (and that there's absolutely nothing wrong with getting two wildly different sizes for your tops and bottoms) is crucial to reducing stress. Fortunately, many brands have caught on that separates are the move, and these days, it's becoming the norm to sell tops and bottoms à la carte.
Bra-size tops are your friend
As many as 70% of women are wearing the wrong size bra—which is actually no surprise if you consider that many popular lingerie brands only size up to DD. Wack! Getting an in-person fitting is surprisingly easy (pretty much all lingerie boutiques offer free fittings, or you can hit a department store like Nordstrom)—and you can now even get fit virtually on multiple sites. Or, get a soft tape measure and DIY. It's super-easy math.
OK, now that we're certain you know your real size, check out the Fuller Bust/DD+ sections on ASOS, HerRoom, Boux Avenue, and Bare Necessities, or grab one of these feisty lil’ handpicked options that are all available in a G cup or higher. Cuup, known for its highly rated undies, recently started making bikinis in identical cuts to its bras, such as the Balconette style above, available in up to an H cup. What even is a "medium" or "large" or "extra large," anyway? We need specifics, people.
Go for square necks and longline cuts
Square-neck and scoop-neck tops are a great way to flex a little cleavage without feeling like your top could betray you at any moment. They still have enough fabric in the straps and sides to offer support, but are zero percent dowdy. We stan. Ditto longline cuts—if you're not familiar, that means the band under your boobs is extra-wide, adding major support and creating a cool, corsetty look (or a sleek, athletic silhouette, like with the Athleta top below).
… and adjustable straps
As we know too well, one size does not fit all. Some of us have wide boobs, round boobs, dense boobs, teardrop-shaped boobs, or, who knows, maybe boobs shaped like McDonalds chicken nuggets. That's why having adjustable straps and bands can be a game-changing lifesaver—they let you mess around and customize the fit to get it juuuust how you like it. This Aerie suit practically has a cult following for its ability to flatter a wide range of figures—and these Shein styles have hundreds of positive reviews from happy buyers, many of whom included helpful photos and infos about their cup size.
One pieces actually can work
If your tittaaayyys are heavayyy, it's easy to dismiss the idea of wearing a one-piece since so many have no interior scaffolding to keep those babies where they belong. However, there are a number of brands (like Freya, Anita, and Wolf & Whistle) that now make one-piece suits designed to have a roomier (and more supportive) chest situation. All of these ones come in cup sizes (up to an I).
Avoid flimsy triangle tops…
Of course, ultimately, do you. Some people certainly enjoy embodying the attention-grabbing Kardashian-esque/Miami Beach look of mega exposed side tata, and a top clinging for dear life. If, to you, a bikini is nothing more than a pair of pasties attached with dental floss worn only so that you don't get arrested at the Luxor pool party, cheers. But if that's the case, I don't think you need to be reading this—you've clearly got your own
thong thing going. That all being said, there are definitely well-designed triangle tops in many of the aforementioned brands' fuller bust lines—they’re a better bet.
… and halter tops. Sorry.
Boobs are heavy. Unless you wanna risk serious shoulder pain and nasty red marks on the back of your neck from the straps, steer clear.
Don't forget some cool bottoms
It's all about balance. High-waisted bottoms are the bomb if you have a long torso or aren't a fan of exposing much below your belly button. If you have a short torso or wanna lengthen the look of your legs, look for high-cut legs and a v-shape with a little dip in the middle. Or go with what feels right for your bod: boyshorts, mid-rise, low-rise, a G-string, whatever feels good. When you're top-heavy, the bottoms are usually the easy part.
Mourn your losses, but use them for inspo
Last summer, January Jones posted a selfie in one of the most drop-dead gorgeous Oséree bikinis I've ever seen:
I wanted it. I needed it. I would have spoon-fed it caviar. But in addition to being exorbitantly expensive—far beyond what I would spend on any swimsuit—it also came in a pitifully narrow line of sizing. I looked at the measurements. I looked at my boobs. It wasn't gonna happen.
(Here’s a link anyway, if you have better luck and more money.)
So I tried to think about what I liked about it. Was it the Lurex, which made your body glisten with tiny metallic threads of elasticized stardust? You could instead grab these similarly Lurex-laced tops from Elysiian and Frankies Bikinis, which have better coverage and go up to size XL:
Was it that kinda va-va-voom 1940s-ish retro cut, too? Well, on Etsy, you can send your measurements to sellers like AmoreByVIPA and get a custom suit (for way cheaper, too) that has both pin-up vibes and sparkly trim:
So if a specific suit doesn't work for you, hope's not lost. The internet and the industry are vast places. There's something for everyone—even your giant tatas.
May your breasts reign happy, well-supported, and perky forever. Now let's go sit by the pool and have some piña coladas.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. VICE may receive a small commission if you buy through the links on our site.