It may seem clumsy to start a discussion of queer identity with a definition, as the very idea of queerness is meant precisely to elude definition.
Whether you identify as trans or cis, swimsuit shopping can often be a loaded experience—and for good reason! The idea of bearing your almost-nude body to the world is a vulnerable experience by definition.
And yet now that it’s finally hot out, I think most of us are ready to get outside to enjoy the sun and swim. Each summer, I inevitably get tons of calls and emails from clients who are transitioning from male to female about what women’s swimsuits to buy— and not to buy—in order to look high femme on the beach or by the pool.
As far as I’m concerned, online shopping is a great way for anyone and everyone to avoid the discomfort that tends to accompany trying on skimpy suits in fluorescently-lit fitting rooms.
Below is a guide to women’s swimsuits for trans women who are looking to feel more femme and flirty when headed to the beach or to the pool. . Along with each photo, I’ve included short explanations of why a given suit is a “do”...and even included a couple of “don’ts” at the end for comparison. PS: Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
1. Swimdress by Gottex
If you’re non-op or pre-op and are looking for more coverage down below, this black Gottex swimsuit is an ideal choice. The ruching at the lower abdomen and pelvic area will conceal a bulge, while the ruffle adds volume to the hips and a feminine flirt.
2. Bandeau Bikini by Kate Spade
This Kate Spade bikini is great for those with athletic figures. The horizontal lines exaggerate the width of curves at the chest and hip area, adding a sense of feminine softness and creating the illusion of a fuller bust and hip area. It’s great for somebody that has an athletic figure. If you desire more fullness in the bust, you can always ask your local tailor to sew soft cups in the top for more volume.
3. Underwire + High-Waisted Bikini by Ted Baker
This Ted Baker suit has several great features for trans women looking to feminize their figures. The high-waisted bottom conceals the tummy, and its coverage can also conceal a bulge. The bottom also creates the illusion of a curvier physique, while the underwire bikini top adds fullness and volume, perhaps to a newly developing chest. You can always sew half cups in the lower half of the cup to give more lift or volume.
4. Halter + High-Waisted Bikini by Issa de’mar
This Issa de’ mar bikini is similarly curve-enhancing. The halter cut of the top breaks up the upper body to give the illusion of more narrow shoulders. The high-waisted bottom and higher-coverage bikini top shorten the look of the torso. While many trans women look to one piece swimsuits for more coverage, they often find they don’t fit as well because of torso length. For those who are especially tall, I think it’s better to opt for a high-waisted bikini, as it gives coverage and sex appeal.
5. Bikini with Ruffled Briefs by Jessica Simpson
If you are tall, low- and regular-rise swimsuit bottoms will inevitably elongate the torso. That’s why higher-rise bottoms, like the ruffled briefs on this Jessica Simpson suit, are a better choice for those looking to feminize their body. In general, this suit is striking without being gaudy. The underwire top gives an opportunity to add cups or forms (and also gives support if you have implants or significant breast development). The flirty floral pattern on top and bottom adds a sense of softness to the bust and hip/butt area, which, by default, also minimizes focus on the thighs and waist. The ruffled bottom is modest, giving extra coverage, and sexy all at once.
6. Halter One-Piece with Ruching by Magicsuit
The eye-popping turquoise of this Magicsuit one-piece makes this an appealing choice for summer. The ruching is great for concealing a tummy or slight bulge, and the extra fabric on the bottom helps accommodate those with longer torsos. The gathering of the fabric near hip and butt area helps give more volume, thus feminizing the body shape. The halter top breaks up the width of the body, and already has soft cups in it. If someone wanted to add adhesive breast forms, they would stay in place. Plus, of cleavage isn’t necessarily expected with the sleek yet modest cut of this suit.
Finally, below are two examples of suit types to generally avoid if you’re looking to visually feminize the look of your body.
String bikinis, while notoriously sexy, are also notoriously unflattering for every body shape, I think. The narrowness of the strings barely offer any coverage, and exaggerate even an ounce of body fat—on anyone! String bikini bottoms are always super low-rise, so if you already have a long torso, it will look even longer in a suit like this one. The skimpiness of the halter string ties also tends to highlight the width of the back. Showing the most skin isn’t always the sexiest.
While some one pieces with flirty details like ruffles or ruching can give the illusion of curves, those that emphasize the verticality of the torso (like this one!) will emphasize the body’s more masculine, vertical shape.
While removing facial and body hair can feel like a liberating step toward feminization...