I decided to write this article about the best plus size tankini bathing suits after shopping for myself. You see, I’d recently realized that it had been more than five years since I’d purchased a new swimsuit.
Now, granted, five years ago we lived at the Jersey Shore. So going to the beach was no big deal. Most weeks during the summer I would put on a bathing suit of one kind or another on at least one of those days.
However, then we moved to Western Pennsylvania. The closest thing to the beach we have here is Lake Erie. And while lovely, it’s no Atlantic Ocean. Plus, it’s more than an hour away.
Then we decided we would be moving back to the East Coast. Starting soon we’ll be living about 10 minutes from the beach again. We visited last month and spent time at the beach. And it was then that I knew I needed new bathing suits.
Why I recently bought a plus size tankini bathing suit
Normally, I wouldn’t consider myself plus size. But there are two things that make plus size tankinis relevant for me and possibly for you.
One, I’ve always found that when buying swimsuits you need to go up a size. So, for me, a bathing suit that fits is at least a size 14. Maybe a size 16. And if you know the definition of plus size, size 14 is definitely in there.
Two, women of a certain age may prefer a bathing suit that’s a tankini. Not familiar with a tankini? Well, it’s a two-piece bathing suit, like a bikini, but with a more modest top for covering your midsection. To be honest I started wearing tankinis after I had children. I continue to wear them to this day.
Benefit of tankini swimsuits
Besides the midriff covering of a tankini, there’s another big benefit. And that is this: when buying a tankini, you can mix and match tops and bottoms.
So when you go to a store, you won’t see a tankini top “attached” to a tankini bottom. You don’t have to buy the pieces together. This allows you to mix and match.
Mix and match swimsuit colors
And when I say mix and match, this means both design and size. For example, on my outings for these tankini bathing suits, I purchased size XL black women’s swim shorts at L.L. Bean and a floral, ruffled tankini top in size large (12/14) at Target. The florals in the top are red, blue, purple and black. So I know they’ll go with the bottoms from LL Bean.
Also, I purchased two other kinds of swim bottoms at Lands’ End. One is another kind of swim short; the other is a swim skirt with an attached bottom. These were all in size 14.
Tankini tops and bottoms in different sizes
The other benefit of the tankini swimsuit is the fact that you can buy different pieces in different sizes. For example, not everyone is the same size on the top and the bottom.
So, if you need a size 16 on the top but a size 18 on the bottom, a tankini bathing suit is the way to go.
In addition, by being able to buy pieces separately, you may find bathing suit shopping more affordable. For instance, if bathing suit bottoms are on sale but tops aren’t, then you stock up on the bottoms. Then, when the tops get marked down, you buy those.
In fact, on my most recent trip to Target, I looked at tops only because I was good with bottoms. I did find some tankini tops on the clearance rack in the plus size I needed.
Where to shop for plus size tankini bathing suits
Here is a brief list of stores where you can find tankini bathing suits in plus sizes. I know because I checked them out or I shopped there myself personally.
Also, if there is additional information I can share with you about these tankini options, I will. For example, which brands or stores carry tankini swimsuit tops with built in bras or underwire or both. Because if you’ve got big boobs like I do, this is a must have.
Lands’ End plus size swimsuits
The Lands’ End website has some of the best filters for narrowing down your swimsuit options. For example, when shopping by size, you can go right to plus size swimwear.
Or, you can shop by style. So, for the purposes of this article, we can look at tankinis only.
Finally, Lands’ End lets you shop by body shape or special considerations, if you will. Those options include:
- Bust Support Swimwear
- Chlorine Resistant Swimsuits
- Curve Creating Swimwear
- Flattering Swimwear
- Fuller Bust Swimwear
- Long Torso Swimwear
- Modest Swimwear
- Mastectomy Swimsuits
- Maternity Friendly Swimsuits
- Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended Swimwear
Also, in addition to Lands’ End brand plus size bathing suits, there’s a whole line of swimwear from Draper James. That’s the collection that actress Reese Witherspoon designs. And, yes, there are Draper James options (really cute ones) in plus sizes.
FYI, most plus size bathing suits on the Lands End site go up to 26W. Also, Lands’ End is having a sale right now. If you click through this link, the Lands’ End sale code should be automatically applied to your purchase.
Plus size tankini separates I bought
Lands’ End really came through for me in my quest to find tankini separates. I ended up buying five pieces all together. That included three bottoms and two tops.
One of my tankini tops was a solid black V neck with a built-in underwire bra. The other was the same top but with a tropical pattern. The pattern is called deep sea navy tropic palm; you can check it out here.
Both tops were size 14 and included my bra cup size. They were the perfect fit.
Of the three bottoms, two were in the same tropical pattern and the third was solid black. Two are swim skirts with built in bottoms, and the last one is another pair of bathing suit shorts.
LL Bean plus size bathing suits
We happened to visit LL Bean in person during my “I need a new tankini bathing suit” phase. As luck would have it, bathing suits were on sale. That’s the benefit of waiting until halfway through the summer and into back-to-school season to shop for swimsuits. You can find some decent prices.
Unfortunately, none of the tankini tops at LL Bean worked for me. Honestly, they were too matronly. I don’t mind showing a little cleavage at the same time that I’m covering up my tummy. Does that make sense?
Can’t get to an LL Bean store? You can shop for plus size swimsuits on the LL Bean website.
Or you can shop at Nordstrom or online at Nordstrom.com. Nordstrom now carries LL Bean clothing, including plus size swimsuits and tankini separates.
Plus size tankinis at Nordstrom
Speaking of Nordstrom, while perusing the Nordstrom anniversary sale, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many plus size tankini options the store has. At last count, when I put in my size and then went up one size to 14W online, I got hundreds bathing suit results.
Many of these tankini tops say “regular size and plus size” right in the description. So, it was easy to skim through and see which ones could work.
Some included bra sizes as well. For example, this tankini top, which also featured a plus size model, comes in a D cup size. Good to know if you need some flexibility with your bathing suit tops outside of simply looking for plus sizes.
Target mix and match plus size tankinis
These days Target is stocking bathing suits (and pretty much everything else) for women of all sizes. So when I decided I needed a new bathing suit–specifically, pieces for a tankini–I headed to the plus size section of Target. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed.
It felt to me like the demographics for these larger sized bathing suits was for women way younger than I am. And that’s great.
I wish I’d had these options in my teens and 20s. But I wasn’t interested in two piece bathing suits that were more bikini than tankini.
Where I found plus size tankinis
So it was over in the regular bathing suit section where I found the tankini tops I was looking for. I know it’s a bit of a stretch calling these swimsuit pieces plus size at Target. That’s because I wear a Target large, which is a size 12/14.
The size 14 is definitely plus size; the size 12 is questionable. But I think you get what I mean.
The first Target I visited had a terrible selection. Then I went to another Target that was closer to Pittsburgh (the area where I live). Maybe it was because of its proximity to the city. However, the selection was so much better there. I ended up taking six bathing suits into the dressing room with me–that’s how many I could choose from in my size.
Pricing at Target
Finally, one of the benefits of buying bathing suits at Target is the price. None of the pieces I tried on cost more than $30. And the tankini top I ended up purchasing comes in extended sizes on the Target website, if you can’t get to a store.
Also, because I have the Target app on my phone, I’d earned money off via the Target Circle rewards program. So my tankini top was even less than $30.
Final thoughts on the best plus size tankini bathing suits
All told I’ve purchased seven tankini separates in my plus size, size 14. I’ve got four bottoms and three tops. With these alone, I’ve got 12 different bathing suit combinations.
What I haven’t shared is that I have two other tankini separate pieces from a few years ago. One is a top, and one is a bottom. I can easily mix and match these with my new pieces, giving me even more options for going to the beach or the pool.
Finally, I really think that the stores I’ve recommended here will give you your best options for finding plus size tankini tops and bottoms. However, if you have additional resources for bathing suits you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.