Saturday, June 2, 2012

Shopping Bathing Suits 2012

I am prudishly modest.  During the summer when a large part of the human body tends to be exposed, this can be problematic and extremely stressful.

One of the main problems I have is purchasing and wearing a bathing suit.  It sucks.  It's paralyzingly difficult for me.  Am I pear shaped?  Apple shaped?  Watermelon shaped?  Is my "problem area" my buttocks?  My hips?  My boobs (or lack of)?  My stomach?  All of the above?  Why is that never a choice?

Two summers ago after much painstaking decision making, I settled on two suits I thought I liked.  After I wore them each about twice, I decided that I hated them both and that they looked positively awful on me.  Because I am frugal and I had not gone cheap on these suits, I begrudgingly wore them for two full summers so that I could feel justified throwing them away and getting new suits.  Since I could still not bear to throw away perfectly good suits, thankfully this year one of them came unsewn in the bust (poor workmanship, not big boobs).  This was probably something that could have been repaired by someone who knows their way around a sewing machine (not me), but it was excuse enough for me to shop guilt-free for two more suits and let some fortunate soul at Goodwill mess with the two disappointing suits.

So, thus began The Hunt for New Bathing Suits.  Does it sound like an epic film?  Good, because it *kind of* was.

A fashionista friend of mine had recommended this bathing suit store to me a few years ago and after a miserable run with online shopping for suits (turns out I am no real size in the bottoms or the tops), I was ready to brave it.  Now, I think we have covered that I am no shopper, nor am I a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination.  I hate to shop and I know fashion about as well as I know tenth grade chemistry.  So, shopping for me is next to torture.  Shopping for bathing suits is actual torture.

But, I would have made all of you proud.  I got a good night's sleep, I dressed myself in approved clothing, I put lots of make-up on (not hookerish, just nicely covered), I drove myself to the mall where this shop was located, and I marched myself into The Bathing Suit Shop (name changed to protect its identity, and I don't know why because now I kind of want to marry the cute gal that works there, but not the Mister that tried to see me naked).

As soon as I was through the door, this super cute, well-rounded (as in - I am sure she would look lovely in any type bathing suit), very young gal came up to me and asked if she could help me.

I have found through the years that I look okay in Boy Short Bottoms that are kind of high waisted (you know to cover all the war wounds I have on my stomach?) so I immediately asked where I could find those.

And, naturally she said, "Oh, boy shorts (like I had said, "sh*t on a stick.").  We carry everything but those.  Is there something else I could help you with?"

That threw my game off, but I quickly recovered and said, "Well, do you have any suits that um, ah, cover a lot of my body because I have body issues and I don't know what kind of fruit I am?"  And, yes, I realize that sounded completely nuts.  I know my limitations and I basically wanted this cute young gal to tell me and show me what kind of bathing suit I should be wearing.

This is kind of what I had in mind.
photo from

This lovely gal did not look at me like I was insane, but instead told me about some different style suits they had, guided me around the store, and left me to my own devices while she helped some other customers.

While I was left to my own devices I noticed there were a lot of men in the store.  This made me:  1.  Wonder what the hell was going on these days, and 2.  More nervous than I already was.  Because if there is anything I don't want to see when attempting to pick out full coverage bathing suits, it's lots of men.  Yeesh.

Then my phone rang really loudly.  It was hubby.  I was thankful to be able to excuse myself (to no one in particular, but some nice, young guy nodded in my direction when I said it) from the store to speak on the phone.  Hubby asked what I was up to and I said, "Funny you should ask.  I am trying to buy a bathing suit and apparently it is a husband's or boyfriend's job nowadays to go with the woman to do this.  So, what are you up to?"

Hubby didn't know what to say and quickly said he had to go.

So, I went back in the shark tank and acted like I knew exactly what I was doing and started to pull some suits off the racks.  The lovely girl finally came back to help me.  Apparently she is psychic because she took one look at what I had selected and said she was going to select some more suits she thought I would like.  How did she know?

It is apparently custom in high-end swim suit shops to 1.  Not be modest, 2.  Have the sales attendant select your suits for you, 3.  Be able to speak honestly, and 4.  Not have to really do anything, but try the suits on.

I stumbled around for awhile and finally figured out that she had put all the suits she selected for me in the back somewhere.  So, I went back to the dressing rooms and found a room where there were about 10 suits she had selected for me hung over the rod at the top of the dressing room door opening.  Problem 1:  the doors on the rooms were cloth.  Lots of room for peek-throughs.  Question 1 and 2:  How did she know my size?  How did she know what I like?  Am I that transparent (yes, I know that's three questions)???

So, I pulled the flimsy cloth curtain as tightly closed as I could and proceeded to strip.  Now, girls know the Golden Rule in trying on swimsuits and I am referring to your undergarments.  And, there in a cute little basket (they don't have these at Target) I saw some disposable panties.  I refrained from pulling those out and taking a look-see, so I cannot write about them (you're welcome).  I prefer to keep my own undergarments on my own arse (thank you, anyway).

I am standing there, naked on top, when I heard a man's voice very close to me (like right outside the flimsy curtain).  He was calling, "Babe, are you here?  Babe?"

I freaked out a little.  And covered myself.  With my hands. 

Then I heard a saleswoman say a little forcefully, "Sir, you are not supposed to be back here.  I'm going to have to ask you to return to the sales floor."

Then, "Oh, I just wanted to see my wife."

Then a different woman's voice, "I'm right here.  Can he just step in the dressing room with me?"

Um, hello???  What kind of a flim-flam operation is this???  Sweet mother of GOD.  (While I am now standing completely enthralled with my ear pressed to the curtain and my hands covering my upper regions.)

Then I heard the sales woman again (thank you, Jesus), "No, I am sorry, sir.  Only women are allowed in the dressing area.  I can have your wife exit this area when she is ready to show you her suits."

Thank you very much.

Relieved I backed away from the curtain and relaxed my arms.

Just then the curtain was sprung open by the cute, well-rounded sales woman who said, "HOW ARE WE DOING HERE?"

"Great!"  I said a little too enthusiastically and frantically. 

Then I died a little.

The sweet sales woman saw me naked a few more times (I think we bonded) before I was able to decide on two suits.  Or, I should say, she decided on two suits for me.  I am now convinced that I should not be wearing any kind of two piece anything after the meh responses I got from her.  And, I am totally sure I should be wearing "rouched tops to accent my 'smaller bustline' and semi-high waisted bottoms to provide some coverage."  She positively gushed at one of my suits - it's fit was "perfect" and it's color was "perfect" and complimented my skin tone "to the tee."  And, she picked both of them!  I did nothing!  But try about 25 suits on and expose myself a few more times.  It was almost delightful and I was out of there in about 45 minutes.  And, I didn't even need hubby!

Whew.  Bathing suit shopping 2012 over!  And, I've already worn each suit once and I think I love them.  I *might* want to go back and buy more suits in a few years.  But since there is a faintly high price tag (as in, you faint when you see the price tag) for this type of bathing suit buying, I might be wearing these suits well in to my seventies.  Let's hope my body cooperates!

Happy shopping, friends!


Shannon said...

Why are there not pictures of you?

I have to say that I have considered the burkini look. At least I wouldn't have to deal with smearing sunscreen all over my whiter than white, burn in 15 seconds skin.

I want pics of the suits! With you in them.

Monica said...

@shannon - oh, no honey. i love you, but i will not post pictures on my blog of me in my suits. i considered arranging the suits on my bed and photographing them like that. they are very nice. me in them? well, i look meh, okay. the saleswoman gushed over me, so that was nice.

Mind Margins/Run Nature said...

My god, we're twin daughters of different mothers. I have exactly the same issues (small bust, big butt) and HATE, loathe, feel sick shopping for a new bathing suit. It is traumatic. I also resorted once to paying big bucks to solve the problem, but that was sometime way back in the 80's when I was younger, thinner, and childless. So nice to know I'm not the only one out there who struggles with this issue.

Anonymous said...

I love the part, "I don't know what kind of fruit I am." Hysterical! You must tell me the name of this store if you really love those suits b/c I need a new one too. But I'm gonna punch that sales chick in the nose if she throws open the curtain on me.

Monica said...

@mind margins - well, i may have mislead you a bit. small bust, no butt here. i am kind of flat like a boy (and not even a buff, six-pack ab man/boy either. more like a nerdy, flat all around type boy). i am a teensy bit more eager to shop for suits next time around. i EVEN saw a cute suit at old navy today and had the fleeting thought, "hey, that rouched suit might look good on me." but, then i remembered that i might have to refinance the house to pay for the two i already have. @whatimeant2say - la cantera - everything but water. it's right outside of nordstroms on the right. please don't tell them i sent you just in case you do end up punching the sales lady. ;o) i don't want my suits repossessed. (oh, and if you do go - let me know how the paper panties work out ;o)

Anonymous said...

I knew it was that store! I've always been afraid to go in, and now I know my paranoia was justified! Ain't no way I'm trying the paper panties, though!

WeezaFish said...

Curtains in a bathing suit store? Lady, you are brave. They would have needed thick steel doors on those changing rooms for me to get semi naked!

Monica said...

@weezafish - ha! i know, woman!!! i WANTED steel doors - with LOCKS. HELLO! at nordstroms when i am bra shopping i always double check the lock like 115 times and those sweet bra ladies are so discreet. yeah - this was a whole new experience. that's for sure. ;o)

crispinross said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gretchen said...

Why do we worry about it? Go to any beach and you will see hoards of fleshy awfulness who seem not to have any body issues at all. Why can't we be like this?

Monica said...

@gretchen - i try to be like that, but wow. it just doesn't work.

Kellie said...

There's nothing more soul destroying than buying togs. I'm glad your experience was successful.

Monica said...

@kellie - thanks for the read and comment. i am sooooooo happy to be DONE and to have only really experienced a few moments of horror. ;o)

cb said...

that is too funny my issue is big bust i went to nordies with said fashionista friend(thank you) and the sweetest bra girl helped me i was a little floored when she said no i will help you try them on ....we bonded too... anyway after i calmed down i ended up with great stuff and now i feel i should take her on a date......the grass is not always greener in the boob department she brought one in and said this has padding which will give you an extra size i wanted to tell her i did not have room in my car for my boobs to ride shotgun and extra size i didnt know bra sizes went that far into the alphabet......btw i love the one you wore to the river it looks great on you

La Mode Operandi said...

Bathing suit shopping is always so overwhelming for me. So much selection, colours, patterns, designs. There are even bathing suits that your not supposed to get wet! How absurd! hahaha, but once its all said and done with the shopping, its fun to finally enjoy the warm weather in the bran new bathing suit!

Heather said...

Thanks for making me laugh about a subject I usually prefer not to even think about - Big bottom, big thighs, biggish arms, and no bust. Bathing suit shopping is about the only thing worse than shopping for dress slacks. I usually just stick to my "old lady" suit (seriously, it could pass for a sundress if I was willing to model my style on a skanky teenager with a daisy fetish), but lately I've been feeling like I might want to venture out and try something more age appropriate. I think I need to find one of these stores - It's so much easier when someone else does the hunting for you!!!

Monica said...

@cb-hahahahaha. Ah! You made me laugh. NO boobs riding shotgun! I think you can get a ticket for that. Oh, and yes. I *kinda* felt like I should've taken this gal to lunch! @La Mode amen, sista'! @Heather - 'tis far better to laugh than cry! And the store is "everything but water." They might have one near you.

Nancy Roman said...

Oh, we are definitely on the same wavelength! Tidal wave, that is!

Monica said...

@nancy - ha! tidal wave, indeed. ;o) love that.

NYParrot said...

Hey, if there any consolation, you are not alone - finding the right kind of bathing suit is always a huge , and mostly - stressful, project for me... when I find the one I like, I am super happy, but.. I "grow" out this new found favorite soon after the purchase... I have a theory - my bathing suite might be shrinking on purpose - to sabotage me;).

Monica said...

@NYParrot - ha! funny you should say that. i am still in love with ONE of the two suits i bought. the other one: meh. my boobs shrunk or something because now the bust seems huge. i seem to "swim" in it. so, my body is sabotaging me?

Girl to Mom- Heidi said...

So funny! I probably need to be a little more modest, myself.

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