There are some mainstays in the category, including HerRoom, Bare Necessities, Freya, Fantasie and Panache. Each carries a wide selection of extended-size swim tops.
But whereas most companies shift their inventory in accordance with trends — maybe you’ve noticed all the French-cut bikini bottoms? — many fuller-bust companies offer variations on the same styles year after year. They range from too-youthful to outright matronly: bright colors, screaming prints, aggressive underwire, lace and frills, bows, buttons (???). And then there are the “belted” and “skirted” bottoms that tend to be paired with them.
The sporty yet supportive full-bust swimsuit is more elusive; some people, exhausted by the hunt, end up settling for a water-resistant sports bra. Or they might waste a week conducting risk-reward analyses on C-cup and D-cup swimsuits from J. Crew and Lululemon. In years past, both brands have carried extended sizing. This summer, however, those options have all but evaporated. “BRING back D-DD P L E A S E!!!” is a common refrain in their reviews.
“Consumers want brands that take unique body type into consideration,” said Kristen Classi-Zummo, an apparel analyst at the NPD Group who is focused on swimwear. She noted that over the last year, half of the dollar growth in the women’s swimwear category came from top and bottom separates, which allow for a more customized fit.
Ms. Classi-Zummo also pointed out that in an NPD survey, 40 percent of women reported that they were a different size now than prepandemic, which may make online shopping more confusing than it was a year and a half ago.
So I decided to take my search offline. The inventory at most department stores had been heavily picked over. (It was July, after all.) Among the Miraclesuits and Tommy Bahama-style patterns, I couldn’t find anything quite right for me.