Shopping for a swimsuit can be a daunting task for any woman, but throw a bilateral (or unilateral) mastectomy into the mix and it can be even more of a challenge. Although there are some great brands specifically targeting post-mastectomy needs such as Nicola Jane and Clover Lewis, I thought I’d share other more traditional resources and tips to help you find the perfect swimsuit.
I reached out to some of my favorite fashion experts and friends in the breast cancer community to weigh in on shopping for swimsuits by sharing some of their favorite brands and silhouettes available this season.
It’s no secret that Dana Donofree, founder of AnaOno Intimates, is an expert when it comes to post-mastectomy bras and finding the perfect fit. The same rules apply to swimwear. “Having a mastectomy makes swimwear shopping even more difficult than it was before surgery, and similar to what we see in the bra market, searching for swimsuits may be challenging because of your needs in the chest area,” explains Donofree.
Bikinis may be especially challenging since it’s best to avoid underwires as well as triangle tops. “The underwire will likely be ill-fitting and uncomfortable just like your bras, but the triangle tops don’t usually have enough material to wrap around your new f(oo)bs,” continues Donofree.
The bottom line is that coverage is a very personal preference. Showing your scars versus not showing your scars along with style are key factors to consider when finding your perfect match.
Breast cancer thriver and fashion blogger Anna Crollman of My Cancer Chic has been doing a great job of researching the swim market and sharing her findings with her loyal audience. She says finding the right post-bilateral mastectomy swimsuit is all about building one’s confidence. “For me, I love bright colors and tops that are both comfortable and flattering on my reconstructed body,” she says. “This pink suit by RUHHEE is so bright and fun, and I love the wrap detailing. It feels so comfortable and the color just makes me feel cheery and confident.”
Kelly Thomas (@talkischeapxo) believes that, “A bathing suit after breast cancer should still be fun, flirty and comfortable, just as it was pre-breast cancer. I love a mix-and-match combo with a leopard print on top, which is always in season!” Thomas’ favorite bralette bikini top can be found at Target.
For those who are reconstructed, take a close look at SummerSalt. They offer a wide range of full coverage silhouettes that don’t sacrifice style. Most importantly, the suits have great compression without being too binding which is a key factor to consider, especially when you have breast implants.
Summersalt offers up beautiful colors and fashion-forward styles, such as the one-shoulder which is a big trend this season. In fact, I just picked up the “Sidestroke” style, and not only does it fit beautifully, but the lava, hibiscus and white sand color combo is such a nice departure from all of my black swimsuits!
Another brand that I gravitate toward each summer is Athleta. I pick up a new suit each year because Athleta makes sporty separates that you can easily mix and match to create a swim “wardrobe” to build upon each season. They also have great one-piece styles, and this one shoulder in army green is truly a stunner! For more modest options, check out Land’s End which offers beautiful, full coverage silhouettes.
As for those of us who have chosen to go flat, Dana suggests looking for suits that “play tricks” such as asymmetrical necklines, ruffles, and high necklines. A perfect example is this white one-piece with ruffle from J.Crew. It is a timeless beauty that you can wear season after season.
Shopping for the perfect swimsuit has never been easy, but I’m hoping this overview makes you feel armed and ready to hit the store (or internet) with confidence! Be patient and keep your mind open to trying new styles now that your body has changed. The best news? AnaOno Intimates will be launching their own line of swimwear next year. I can’t wait to check it out.