Swimwear Shopping for Middle-Aged Women

Fanny Durrack (left) and Mina Wylie, Australia...
Fanny Durrack (left) and Mina Wylie, Australian swimmers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to buy new swimmers yesterday.

Shopping for a new swimming costume when you’re over 40 must be up there with admitting how much weight you haven’t lost at a Weightwatchers meeting; in terms of excruciating embarassment.

Because designers are still not catering for middle-aged women, and that makes it so hard for us. Not to mention our self-esteem.

There are two clothing items that no middle-aged woman likes to buy – swimming costumes and jeans. They’re just so hard to get right when your body decides to re-define itself with age.

Luckily, on this occasion, I wasn’t looking for impractical ‘fashion’ swimmers – the ones you flaunt your body in as you still try to pose provocatively on the beach hoping that you’ve still got it, (all the while knowing that you haven’t).

No, I was looking for a practical, full piece suit to aid my new Olympic training sessions at the 50m pool. (Yes, you heard right – I did say 50m).

My weekly dips have obviously pushed my loyal Target swimmers to the limit of their endurance. The chlorine rot is so bad now that holes have appeared in the nipple area and the fabric sags badly everywhere else, so my boobs free-fall to the sides mid breaststroke. It was obviously time to get the right equipment – I’m not averse to skinny-dipping in a public pool but the sight of my un-encased breasts is obviously causing a discernible awkwardness among the older set when I pass too closely to them in the lanes.

My mission should have been an easy one. As I mentioned, I wasn’t looking to make a style statement and I had a budget of around a $100 because a) I take my sport VERY seriously and b) I saved it on the food shop by cutting out all the old man’s favourite junk food.

I was quite excited at the prospect, for five minutes.

I think I must have tried on forty sets of swimmers in all, although the sales assistant did remain very calm and professional throughout our ordeal, (yet typically a tad invasive – what’s with them barging in when your tits are hanging down out?). By the thirtieth costume, I had had enough and was ready to capitulate fully and buy this horror of a floral 50’s retro cozzie, partly to get out of the shop, but mainly because it was the only one I could contort my body into that was a size 14.

Generally I am a size 14 12, but do you think I could pull any of the size 12s over my muscular thighs? And even when I did, they were all so damned short in the body that they did a better job than gravity at pulling my boobs further down towards my ankles.

The experience was beyond mortifying for the assistant.

She looked at me pityingly as I stubbornly tried to squeeze my body into each tiny cozzie like sausage meat into a skin. The more I persisted requesting size 14s, refusing to consider any diaphanous suggestion in a size 16, the more she shoved those big motherf*cker maternity costumes in my face.

It was the principle of the matter.

I must have worked off 10kg in that changing room. Ever tried changing swimming costumes with straps that test your IQ, padding in unobvious places, and in a space the size of a toilet cubicle?

But finally, I found the one.

The sales assistant cracked open a bottle while I sat on the floor and wept with joy, sweat pouring down my face.

The Men’s Over 60 Swimming Club is definitely going to be a little disappointed this week, now that my breast tissue has now been firmly strapped in. Thanks Speedo.

This post was inspired by Nikki Parkinson’s post Am I Fashion’s Invisible Woman at http://www.stylingyou.com.au.

12 thoughts on “Swimwear Shopping for Middle-Aged Women

  1. Oh no. Too, too funny. I remember I once bought a gorgeous swimsuit (halter neck, one piece/longtop and frilly bottoms) that was pink and white with big spots (I love spots and polka dots – you should see my dinner setting!) and a black bottoms. I got it home and tried it on… and was mortified to find a sticker proudly proclaiming “I’m MATERNITY wear!” Anyway, once I had peeled that off and disposed of it appropriately, I really did like my swimsuit. 😀

    So what colour are your speedos? I reckon speedos are the way to go. 🙂

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    1. Oh that’s so funny! And the cossie sounds awesome. I remember once visiting a friend who had caught chicken pox from her son and she opened the door in a polka dot bikini – to coordinate with her spots no doubt – it was an awesome look! Mine is very plain, but it fits and it’s a 14!

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      1. Haha. Well, it fits and is a 14, that is all that matters. I take sizes with a grain of salt these days. I’m a 16 (used to be a 12.. those were the days!) and when I worked at Commonwealth Bank, just because their uniforms were/are designed by Lisa Ho (said in a snooty tone) I had to get a size 24 jacket and size 22 pants!!! COME OFF IT!

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  2. I know that awful feeling of going to the shops – money in pocket – and finding the whole experience mortifying. I bought my last pair of swimmers in summer this year and I thought (as I had just lost 10kg) it would be an easy experience. It was eerily similar to your story. I finally bought a pair that weren’t exactly what I wanted, but it was that or do a nudie-run at the kid’s swimming lessons.

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    1. I think my problem with clothes shopping is that I go out with a fixed idea of what I want and then can’t find it and get pissed off. Now I try on things I would never usually try on and often find something amazing. My body has changed and I need to changed my fixed outlook to clothes.

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  3. Hahaha! Boobs free- falling! LMAO It doesn’t help that they have so many mirrors giving us angles we’ve never seen before. Lol Over all its a painful experience, no matter what size you are.I’ve lost 6 kilos and are now a size 8 and still hate the changerooms. The joys of being a woman! LMAO I hug you a woohoo for the new costume! Have a great weekend. Hugs Paula xxxx

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    1. Thanks Paula, you are always so generous in your comments. I guess we all suffer from that old devil self-image in certain situations. One of my next posts is going to be on ‘the changing room’ because space definitely helps. Have a good weekend too. Louisa x

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