Shopping for Swimsuits, Post-Mastectomy

Swimsuit shopping is daunting, period. MORE sat down with post-mastectomy swimsuit designer Patricia Brett, who creates suits that let you feel your best—even after a procedure. Read on for her story and swimwear shopping tips

by Alana Peden, interview by Susan Swimmer
patricia brett image
Patricia Brett
Photograph: Veronica Brett

PB: It’s important to take a variety of sizes into the fitting room because designers differ in their sizing and cuts. Also, it’s worth trying on swimsuits that don’t have great hanger appeal. If you see a swimsuit in a color you love, try it on. Most suits look much better on the body.

If you’re buying online, be sure to look at the size guides. Many women go up a size in swimwear. For instance, if you are a size eight in dresses, you likely take a ten in swimwear. Don’t be afraid to email or call for fit questions. I’ve become an

expert on fitting women for swimsuits over the phone!

Think about whether you will be swimming in the suit (and actually getting wet) or if you'll predominantly use the suit for sunning or relaxing poolside. For swimming, you want to opt for a slightly snugger fit as suits tend to stretch a bit when wet.

Whether you buy online or in a boutique, put the suit through its paces. Bend over in it (I mean really reach for the floor!) reach up high, squat down. Make certain you get the coverage you need both at the bust and in the rear when you stretch and move in the suit.

MORE: Have you ever taken a design suggestion from a client?

PB: It’s imperative to listen to my clients. After I created the Convertible Bandeau Bikini, both individual customers and retailers asked for a one-piece version of the swimsuit, so I designed the Convertible Maillot. It has the same versatility (you can wear it strapless, halter style, cross-front) yet this maillot is for a slightly more sophisticated customer—a woman who likes the elegant draping at the top, but wants a more conservative leg. It’s perfect for the French Riviera!

Next: Best Swimsuits: Slimming But Not Uncomfortable

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