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Is Old Navy's plus-size swimwear any good? I wear a size 16-18 — here's my honest review

Old Navy swimwear helped me fall in love with my bikini body — and they're on sale.

Old Navy swimwear is on sale - I tested their bikinis to see if they were plus-size friendly (photo via Old Navy)
Old Navy swimwear is on sale: I tested their bikinis to see if they were plus-size friendly (photo via Old Navy)

Swimsuit season can be intimidating, especially when you live in a plus-size body. Over the years, I’ve found that I feel most confident by the pool if I’m wearing a swimsuit that not only matches my personal style but also feels supportive of my large chest. Full transparency: I spent many years of my life swimming with an oversized t-shirt on top of my bathing suit. It wasn’t until I started focusing on swimwear that fit my shape instead of what was trending that I started to embrace my "bikini body." However, as a size 16-18 with a 40E chest, knowing what I need in a swimsuit doesn’t always mean I’ll be able to find one that will fit me. Over the years, I’ve found one retailer that consistently offers swimwear that is size-inclusive, affordable and offers designs I drool over every summer: Old Navy. To make the most out of this year's swimsuit season, I tested eight swimsuits from Old Navy to see which ones were supportive enough for my plus-size body. To read my thoughts, scroll below.

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Ribbed Underwire Bikini Swim Top (Photo via Old Navy)
Ribbed Underwire Bikini Swim Top (Photo via Old Navy)

I’m on the fence about this top. First of all, I love how it looks: the colour is vibrant, the shape is unique, and the texture elevates this piece. I even find the underwire comfortable, but where we run into trouble is the straps. I fear if my chest was even slightly larger or I performed a cannonball into the water, the very thin straps would break, and I would show a little more than I planned to. I purchased this top in an XL and still plan to wear it for relaxing days lounging by the pool.


Zip-Front Bikini Swim Top (Photo via Old Navy)
Zip-Front Bikini Swim Top (Photo via Old Navy)

I thought I would step outside my comfort zone and try a different style of top. Though this is one of my favourite-looking tops, the function is not entirely up to the challenge of a larger chest. The zipper front is not just an aesthetic detail; it glides up and down — and a little too easily. Sizing up to an XXL may help prevent this issue for me, but in an XL, I couldn’t even take a deep breath while wearing this top without it completely coming unzipped. There is a clasp in the middle that prevents the top from separately down the middle entirely, but without the coverage that the zipper provides, this suit is a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.


Scoop-Neck Bikini Swim Top (Photo via Old Navy)
Scoop-Neck Bikini Swim Top (Photo via Old Navy)

I used to think that a bikini top couldn’t be supportive without an underwire; this top proves that theory wrong. Spoiler alert: of all the tops I tried, this one was the best fit. I felt like I could jump in the pool, swim and play volleyball with my nieces without spilling out. Though the band did fit around my torso perfectly, it’s not adjustable, and that may deduct a point for anyone who’s proportioned differently than me. I purchased mine in an XL, but many sizes are almost gone, so shop now while you still can.


High-Waisted French-Cut Bikini Swim Bottoms (Photo via Old Navy)
High-Waisted French-Cut Bikini Swim Bottoms (Photo via Old Navy)

I wanted to try these bottoms because they match the adorable Scoop-Neck Top, and collectively, this just might be my favourite swimsuit of the season. The bottoms are double-lined and feel structured enough to give the effect of shapewear. I’m typically an XL at Old Navy but prefer to size up to an XXL in their bikini bottoms for comfort and coverage. Style tip: despite the name, if you're looking for the trendy "French-cut" look of the higher leg openings, this pair may not be for you. However the next pair may be just your style.


Extra High-Waisted French-Cut Swim Bottoms (Photo via Old Navy)
Extra High-Waisted French-Cut Swim Bottoms (Photo via Old Navy)

Though these bottoms are also listed as "French-cut," this pair is more true to the style, and because of these bottoms, I learned I might not be a “French-cut” kind of girl. I tried out these bottoms to match the Ribbed Underwire top, and though the set is absolutely adorable, I don’t find the cut of these bottoms fits my plus-size body. If you’re comfortable with showing the area right below your hips, you may love these shorts. However, even in an XXL, I felt like I was spilling out of places I really didn’t want to.


High-Waisted Crochet Bikini Swim Bottoms (Photo via Old Navy)
High-Waisted Crochet Bikini Swim Bottoms (Photo via Old Navy)

I’m the kind of girl who thinks about the sandwich I packed for the beach from the moment I put my towel down. I want to be able to sit cross-legged on the sand and snack all day long, and these bottoms may be the most comfortable thing to wear while doing it. In an XXL, they not only provided great coverage, but I never felt constricted while wearing them.


High-Waisted Bikini Swim Bottoms (Photo via Old Navy)
High-Waisted Bikini Swim Bottoms (Photo via Old Navy)

These bottoms match the sporty style of the Zip-Front top, and like the top, I ran into a similar issue with sizing. This fabric is not as stretchy as the other swimwear I am used to from Old Navy, making the bottoms a little too short in the waist and tight around my thighs than I am comfortable with.


High-Waisted Cargo Utility Shorts  (Photo via Old Navy)
High-Waisted Cargo Utility Shorts (Photo via Old Navy)

During a recent trip to Florida, I found another pool-side VIP piece from Old Navy. These cargo shorts were perfect for layering over my swimsuit, and the five-inch inseam helped avoid the dreaded “chub-rub” while walking around. They dried quickly, and I really appreciated their cargo pockets for busy days at the resort. They do fit a little big—I opted for an XL, and they felt extremely comfortable while lying by the pool.

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