As much as I enjoy shopping for other things, I don’t particularly enjoy shopping for swimwear. I think women of all ages, shapes and sizes face similar issues when picking out swimsuits — it can take a long time to find just the right one.
I have long been a fan of two-piece suits, not only for convenience but also because they look better on me. I have a long torso and shorter legs, and most one-piece suits tend to make me look… well, long-bodied and short-legged. I am also very straight-bodied with no hips and few curves to speak of. We all dress to minimize our flaws, right? I learned long ago that an exposed midriff breaks up that long body line and balances out the appearance of my shorter legs.
My kids and I pretty much live in swimwear most of the summer — between backyard time, beach time, pool time, and vacations, one suit just won’t do. We’ve had quite a few weeks this summer where we were all swimming at least five days in the same week. At any given time, each of my boys has four or five pairs of swim trunks that fit them, so I don’t need to do laundry every day when their suits get dirty.
I’m guilty of swimwear-cloning too. A few years ago I found a brand of swimsuit (Skye) that I really like — their full-coverage bikinis look great and are made well. Once I bought one, well…
Yes, I have seven identical bikinis. Fabric-wise, they’re not the same, of course, but the styles, sizes and cuts of all seven are identical. (Having identically-styled swimwear for each day of the week also completely eliminates the issue of non-matching tan lines!) Once I realized how much I liked them and how well they fit me, I bought another, and then another… and then I found some more on clearance and bought them to have on hand as insurance against future style changes…. and this was the result.
My bikini overbuying was also partially spurred by how much I like my one-piece swimsuit. While I wear two-piece suits the majority of the time, I just won’t go to a water park in a two-piece. I love water slides, tube flumes and speed slides just as much as my children do, but bikinis and speed slides aren’t a good match unless you like occasionally having your top blasted off in public. (I’m sure it’s no coincidence that many water parks have bleachers set up for spectators at the bottom of the speed slides..!)
I hadn’t owned a one-piece suit for years until my husband, daughter and I began planning our first trip to Walt Disney World together in 2002. We wanted to spend time at the water parks, which meant I’d have to find a one-piece suit that I actually liked. I remember going to a variety of stores and trying on a bunch of suits that made me look like a tree trunk. Then, at Marshalls, I struck swimsuit gold. I found a one-piece suit that was designed like a two-piece:
The top and bottom parts of this suit are connected by a thick mesh fabric. I loved it — it looked flattering because it still broke up my waistline. There was no chance I’d lose my top going down a crazy, wedgie-inducing speed slide, and bonus: you can tan through the belly mesh too. I bought it, we took it to Florida… and I’ve continued wearing the same suit on all of our waterpark adventures since 2002. Proof?
Here’s our family photo album from that year. Our daughter is six years old in these photos. Now she’s 19! This swimsuit definitely lasted a long time — I have always taken care of it and washed it in cold water after wearing it. Plus, only wearing it to water parks likely lengthened its lifespan too.
Inevitably, though, this spring my favorite suit started showing its age:
With more water adventures planned for this summer, it was time to find a new one-piece suit. I started looking, and I tried more than a few suits on. This process only served to remind me how much I hate buying swimwear. I could not find anything I remotely liked, and I kind of wished I could go back in time and simply buy another suit identical to my current one. I looked up the brand (Jag) online, but none of their current swim styles came close to resembling this one. (Yes, I’m highly resistant to change, but you likely already knew that.)
Then, inspiration struck. I’d look on Ebay. What were the chances I’d find a brand-new version of this exact 13-year-old swimsuit on Ebay? And, oh yes — one in my size too? Was it even possible someone, anyone, would be selling a new-old-stock suit identical to the one I already owned? Any color was fine with me if all the stars could possibly align on everything else.
I opened my web browser and began searching. Ebay sellers had many Jag swimsuits, but I had to narrow the results a bit. I added “mesh” and “Nordstrom” to the search, vaguely remembering that my Marshalls-purchased suit originally had a Nordstrom tag on it too.
I struck gold. Again. There it was — the same suit, new with tags, from a Chicago-area seller, no less. And it was the right size! (Yep, this suit is tagged as a size 12, something I thought was funny when I first spotted it on the rack at Marshalls. Most of the other clothing I wear is in the size 4-6 range, but this suit fits me perfectly. Perhaps the Jag brand is not in the business of vanity sizing.)
I bid. Then I bid again to raise my original bid, just in case someone else was also looking for a hot deal on an old swimsuit.
I won the auction, and a few days later…
It arrived! My old suit’s on the left, and the new one is on the right. How’s that for time-travel shopping? I realized that there was a chance that the elastic in the suit could have dry-rotted over the years, but the suit indeed arrived brand-new with tags as advertised, and it stretches just fine.
According to the tags on my new version of this suit, its original price was $29.97. I paid $23.94 with shipping and have been enjoying my new suit on all of our waterpark adventures this summer.
And, to the Chicagoland new-with-tags clothing reseller who bought and apparently held onto this item for more than a decade — thank you. You made my time-travel shopping possible. (And, shh… I would have happily paid even more…)