Swimsuit shopping can be a harrowing experience — this we all know way too well.
Enter Amazon with its seemingly endless variety of super cheap, size inclusive swimwear. If you don't mind scrolling through multiple pages of stock models with bikinis awkwardly Photoshopped onto them, you can find practically any swimsuit style on Amazon for under $30.
It seems perfect... but what are these swimsuits actually LIKE? Do they arrive looking like deflated sea monsters, or can you trust the sometimes dodgy-looking images on the site? Do the suits fit? Are they actually cute? Jess and I decided to find out.
We leapt into the summer breach and ordered a bunch of swimsuits from Amazon — you know, so you don't have to.
The first Amazon bikinis Jess and I tried matched — completely by accident.
I know... are we dressing alike again? Not intentionally! The first rule of Amazon swimsuit shopping is that colors onscreen can be VERY different in real life. Jess' suit was supposed to be an orange-red and the description of mine just said "RED," but we both just ended up with hot pink numbers.
Despite the fact that it wasn't red at all, I was not totally disappointed in this $8 swimsuit.
I'm wearing the Gotswim floral print bandage bikini in red ($8, Amazon). I sized up to a medium. Initially, I — a noted luxurybitch — was VERY hesitant to buy such a cheap swimsuit. The cheaper a bikini is, the worse it'll fit me... or so I thought.
While the suit itself was cute and the bottoms fit like a dream, the top was padded within an inch of its life.
Obviously, I can't show you my breasts in this top; rest assured, they're hiding at the bottom of these vast, empty caverns like a pair of frightened mice. While it was temporarily funny to see what I'd look like with (comparatively) huge bazooms, the fact that the padded cups collapsed under pressure made this top a no for me.
At first, I wondered, stupidly, if the problem was with my body — maybe if I had bigger boobs, the top would sit right!
First: Your body doesn't have to change to fit into swimwear. If a bathing suit doesn't fit you, that's the bikini's problem — NOT YOURS.
Second: Even if I had bigger boobs, this cross-your-heart top would have strangled me to death. But I've paid way more for swimsuits that fit me WAY worse. So overall, this was not bad.
"A a plus-size woman, I'm used to not having a lot of swimsuit options," said Jess. "But on Amazon, I had SO MANY."
"I liked the cut-out, high waist, and bright color. I sized up to a 4X ($19 Amazon)because the reviews said the plus-sizes ran small, and I'm happy that I did."
We could shake our heads at the straight size suit being $11 cheaper, but with random brands on Amazon, you can't really expect rhyme or reason.
"This top made my breasts look AMAZING, and the bottoms covered my entire ass," said Jess. "There was only one thing wrong with this swimsuit for me."
"The places where the swimsuit pulled the most, the material looked thinner," Jess said. "The color got a little lighter and the print warped. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it made the suit look cheap."
Though the first Amazon bikinis we tried weren't perfect, we were still impressed.
It's not often that Jess and I can easily shop for our sizes together — not even online — so being able to find swimsuits relatively easily while sitting next to one another on the couch was pretty amazing. And the fact that we found not-terrible swimsuits for SO cheap? Even better.
We were ready for our next swim-venture.
OK, so Jess SNEAKILY got me into the color she likes me in best — but I wasn't feeling it.
Your girl is in the Amourri high-waisted retro bikini ($24, Amazon) in a medium, and she's *really* not into the ruched and floppy swimsuit bottoms.
This suit highlighted a common issue with these cheap swimsuits: Because you can't buy the tops and bottoms seperately, you're expected to be the same size all over. That's rough on those of us who aren't.
Once again, I found my thigh-thunder correctly contained, but was unable to fill out my bikini top. It's fine, I'm not crying, I'M GOING HOME TO WRITE IN MY DIARY, LEAVE ME ALONE, GOD.
Jess was also not feeling this bikini. "I liked the bold colors, retro styling, and '90s print of this suit online," said Jess. "But when it arrived, it only worked for me in pictures."
"This is definitely a 'snap a selfie and go inside' bikini. I would never go swimming in this; the bottoms feel like they'd melt away. I sized up to a 4X, and I'm glad I did — the bottoms felt tight." ($20, Amazon)
"I had this top on for less than five minutes to take these pictures," said Jess. "And I felt something digging into my chest. The entire top had broken, and the underwires were poking through!"
"I'm lucky it didn't stab me through the heart!" Jess laughed. "But this is something that happens sometimes to plus-size women. We have to deal with these cheap suits that don't accommodate bigger bodies, so as soon as we put them on, they break. If this happened to me on the beach, I'd be traumatized."
While these cheap suits had promise, we were ultimately disappointed. "I thought these bikinis would make us look cute, but we just looked like grandmas," said Jess.
"But hey, I made Alle wear color. Worth it."
I got this $5 blue lace-up number — and incredibly, it actually fit me.
Listen. You show me a THOT swimsuit that costs less than a cup of coffee ($5, Amazon), I AM GOING TO BUY IT.
But more importantly, do you know how long it's been since I've worn a one-piece that fit me? Tall girls will feel me — if you're over a certain height, trying to get a suit that doesn't try to cut you in half is a revolution. I honestly thought that only expensive swim brands were getting it right... but it turns out cheaper alternatives were on Amazon all along.
And while it was cute and did fit me, I couldn't deny the fact that along with the high-cut legs, my entire ass was out.
I realize that the '80s-style one-piece is back in fashion, but holy hell, I feel like there should be a warning on this. I had no idea the back of this suit was first cousin to a thong.
And while the lace-up front did make my boobs look incredible, I was unable to solve the greatest mystery of our time: WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE ENDS OF THESE TIES?
They looked ridiculous tied in a knot. They looked ridiculous tied in a bow. Eventually, I just gave up and tucked them in. Out of sight, out of mind.
Meanwhile, Jess was falling in love with this $20 printed bikini. "It doesn't look AT ALL like it did online. It's kind of more 'Jersey Shore' than I was expecting, but I like it."
Lalagen strappy high-waist bikini ($20, Amazon). Jess sized up to a 4X.
"A lot of cheap swim brands think that plus-size women are plus EVERYWHERE equally. But really, we all have different shapes and sizes. This top was made for someone bigger in the boobs than I am. And because it comes as a set, I couldn't size down."
"If brands REALLY want to serve the plus-size market, they should make tops and bottoms that you can mix and match. Because this is ridiculous."
For our final Amazon swim purchases, we went off-script and just tried to find a couple of swimsuits that we'd actually wear ourselves... with mixed results.
While my — thankfully black — bikini arrived in two days, Jess' purple two-piece took nearly two weeks to ship. While Amazon's shipping system is pretty decent, it's not perfect.
My $18 bikini, while not technically objectionable, came with some MAJOR issues.
I mean, it looks cute, right? INCORRECT. High-waisted cutout bikini ($18, Amazon)
Meanwhile, despite following the size chart to the letter, Jess couldn't get her cut-out purple bikini bottoms to fit.
"I ordered the 4X, which was the biggest size they had. The bottom still wouldn't go up over my thighs. I was disappointed, but I'm used to things not fitting me. The fact that only ONE thing I ordered was too small still felt like a win." Off-the-shoulder ruffle swimsuit ($24, Amazon)
In the end, we both thought these particular suits were HALFWAY awesome.
If my top fit me and Jess' bottoms fit HER, we would have given these suits full marks. As it is, we halfway liked them.
Overall, Jess and I were pleasantly surprised by our Amazon swimsuit experience. Emphasis on "surprised."
After our many awful experiences with both swimsuits and cheap fashion, we were both expecting this to be a complete nightmare. Hell, PRICEY brands screw up swimsuits on a regular basis, so finding multiple bikinis (and even a one-piece!) that we liked, that didn't fit terribly, and that were really inexpensive felt incredible.
That said, shopping for swimwear on Amazon isn't a perfect experience. Because sellers vary wildly, size guides are practically useless (our tip: ALWAYS size up). While there are many plus-size swim options available, the variability of the sizing means that you may still struggle finding items that fit. And because Amazon product images only ever KIND OF resemble real life, you may end up with a swimsuit that looks nothing like what you ordered.
But those are all things that happen regardless of where you shop online. You may as well save some money and buy a super cheap swimsuit, right?