The Chicago Chronicles: My Great Bikini Hunt

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Bikinis are not my friend. In all honesty, they never were. Back when I actually looked decent in one, I was too insecure and critical to enjoy it. Fast forward a few years and two precious little girls… Two c-sections in a year and a half did nothing to improve matters, either in my actual or perceived bikini-body readiness. So I’ve avoided them, taking cover under retro-inspired maillots and cute coverups.
When I have dared to bring the string bikinis out of hiding, it was strictly for the privacy of our own pool. Still, Eva almost unraveled my whole bikini bottom by pulling a single string, and I felt like I couldn’t move or do the things I needed to do poolside with my girls when I was constantly adjusting. So my goal: Find a bikini that fits, that flatters, and that offers a little more support and coverage. I found myself in the overwhelmingly huge bathing suit department at the Bloomingdales on Michigan Avenue, under the expert guidance of the sweetest sales associate in the world, Florica. Her encouraging words? Think positive. Remember that my girls will appreciate it if I feel good about myself. Great advice. I had started the seach a couple of hours earlier at the Juicy boutique, but the lighting, and a recent lunch, made bikini-buying conditions unfavorable. I tried on this bandeau topped bikini first, and even though, in retrospect, I love it, I wasn’t feeling it at the time:

RUCHED BIKINI TOP
My other option, a one-piece swimdress, wasn’t enough of a departure from the blue gingham Juicy suit I already own. It was similar to this one, only white and strapless.
SOLID RUCHED HALTER SWIMDRESS

So, back in Bloomingdale’s, I tried on what felt like a million suits. The brands ranged from Splendid to Marc Jacobs to Juicy. I even took some pictures, but I have decided to spare you, so I will just show pictures of models in the same suits I tried on, along with my comments:

1. Splendid Bandeau Bikini (in navy, not yellow as pictured): Loved the fit and style of the bottom, and the floral print, but the top was made of a flimsy fabric and offered no support for the twins. Sigh.

2. Marc Jacobs Folly Floral and Tutti Frutti Ruffled Bandeau Top and Bottom: I could only find a picture of the bottom. I loved this, but the fabric was a little too flimsy and didn’t offer a lot of support. If I had bought three bathing suits, though, this would have been a contender.
Marc by Marc Jacobs-marc by marc jacobs bella striped bandeau bikini top
MARC BY MARC JACOBS Stripe V-Neck Cover-Up
3. Marc Jacobs Bella Striped Bikini: I loved this one, and the fit and flattery were fabulous. Very supportive on top. But I didn’t want to spend $250 on the coverup, and I didn’t want to leave it behind. Also, I’d already decided on two suits and wasn’t about to buy a third at the same time. Even I have my limits. : )
PRINTED HIPSTER BOTTOM
4. Juicy Couture Printed Bikini: The so-called hipster, or high-waisted, bottom, is a look I’ve always wanted to try. I hoped it would helped camouflage my tummy. Instead, it drew a very unflattering line straight across my midsection and made matters much, much worse. Pass. (Note: On a short-waisted person, like myself, the top of this hipster bottom fell just below the belly button.)

And now, for the winners of BeautyMommy’s Annual, Torturous, Bathing Suit Search:
DOTTED CLASSIC BIKINI BOTTOM
1. Juicy Couture Dotted Bikini: The combination of ruffles, polka dots, and stripes had me at hello. And the fact that it is really well made, and that the bandeau top offers a surprising amount of support, made me even happier. I also love how the ruffles maximized my top half. It fits beautifully and I can move around in it too. Yippee!
Nanette Lepore
2. Nanette Lepore Vixen Banded Swim Top and Siren Swim Bottom: Love Nanette, but had no idea she made bathing suits until now. Just when I thought I could never wear a triangle top again, I find this very supportive, ever so slighly padded one with a band underneath that helps lift the bust. The bottom fit well and offered just enough coverage without being frumpy. Also love the jeweled details. So pretty!

Almost set for a summer at the beach, the pool, and the yacht club… Now all I need is a coverup!

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