Is there a fashion category that has exploded as quickly as the women's plus-size swim market? Once a collection of "full coverage" suits in 50 shades of black with cascading peplums and skirted bottoms, plus-size swimwear has transformed in recent seasons into a cornucopia of silhouettes, textures and prints.
Think off-the-shoulder tops, cutouts and cheeky pineapple patterns, as well as updates on classics such as Brigitte Bardot-inspired gingham and the ultimate summer icon, that itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, yellow polka-dot bikini.
It doesn't just make for a more fashionable scene on the beach, but also a confident and inclusive one as well. With the emphasis off hiding one's body and rather on expressing personal style, brands are getting more creative. They are collaborating with bloggers such as Gabi Gregg of GabiFresh, who teamed with Swimsuits for All, and celebrity stylists including Timothy Snell, who has worked with Queen Latifah, among others, who was tapped by Always for Me. These collaborators often are well-loved in the plus-size community.
Alex Michael May, a Los Angeles-based, body-positive style expert, recently modeled in Eloquii's swimwear look book. "When I shop for swimsuits, I'm looking for the same things I seek out in clothing," May says. "Interesting details, pieces with movement, and fun patterns — something that's going to make me feel confident, not covered up."
While bigger brands get savvier to that way of thinking (check out Lane Bryant's textured peekaboo monokini), niche brands have continued to push the envelope. Brooklyn-based Nakimuli put out a brilliant and versatile suit, a rainbow-hued one-piece that can be tied multiple ways.
The bottom line? Just as there's no one way to have a beach body, there's no one way to dress yours.
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