A humiliating and shame-inducing ritual, also known as summer in the suburbs.
After several years of pairing stretched out bikini tops with board shorts and using my children as body shields, it was finally time to buy my first official mom suit.
I left my kids at home (don’t even think about taking them with you) and drove straight to the mall first thing that Saturday.
It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t pretty, but several hours later I came out triumphant, having nabbed a sexy, black one-piece that completely covers my ass and makes me look like I have boobs. Score!
Plus, a cover-up, of course.
After trying on armfuls of suits that didn’t work, I started to see a trend in what was working and what wasn’t (alas, bikinis). Of course, different body types and gym memberships (if actually used) will factor in, but here are some pro tips that helped me find my first official mom suit and not hate it, at all.
Having extra support, as a general rule, is a good thing, plus there’s the whole gravity situation. Also, if you have young children who are still breastfeeding, or just like to stick their hands down your shirt for nostalgia’s sake, you are going to need some straps. I tried on and liked a sleek strapless number, but then immediately imagined my 3-year-old son pulling it down to say hi to his old friends, the “nursies,” in front of the entire pool. No thanks.
2. Full Coverage (Skirt Optional)
Okay, I need to be totally upfront here. I did not want to buy a skirted suit. I much prefer the board shorts option even though the end result is the same. But much to my surprise and delight, I discovered that when you’re not shopping alongside teenagers in Old Navy, most grown-up bathing suits provide adequate ass coverage. Also, I spotted several stylish skirt options. No relation at all to the gaudy floral one burned in my childhood memory. Sorry, Grandma.
3. Solids Are Your Friend, My Friend
Hey, I like a good pattern, but patterns can be busy and eye-catching. Something you may want to avoid if you’re like me and haven’t used a thigh machine at the gym since you were in your 20s. I recommend solids or color blocks, which are more sophisticated, though stripes aren’t bad. I happened to end up with a black suit, but don’t let my funereal color preference stifle your look. If they had that retro red halter in my size, I totally would have bought it.
4. Seek Out Bling and Strategic Frills
I never thought I would recommend bling, but it can definitely spruce up a mom suit. I saw several sexy gold clasps and plenty of tasteful and well-placed ruffles. Most important of all, do not underestimate the importance of ruching! Ruching is like the secret weapon of a mom suit. Strategic ruching hides the fact that the last time you did a sit-up was by accident. Ruching enables you to eat your child’s leftover pool pizza and fries without bulging out. Do I need to say more about ruching? Because I could.
5. Be Kind, and Don’t Rewind (the Clock)
Look, you can break all my other rules. Wear a wild animal print bandeau bikini studded with rhinestones, but don’t break this one. We can’t rewind the clock. Most of us don’t have the bodies we had in our 20s, or at the very least, pre-kids. Unless you’re a celebrity with a personal trainer or can afford Gwyneth Paltrow’s juice cleanse, your body probably doesn’t come close to Jada Pinkett Smith or Cindy Crawford’s.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t rock the body you have now. Forget finding a suit that makes you look flawless. Instead, look for one that emphasizes what you like about yourself and (try to) shrug off what you don’t. If you can follow this rule, you’re bound to have a lot more fun at the pool this summer, and probably in life in general.
Now, where did I put my cover up?