Is bikini shopping the worst thing on earth? Possibly.

I spent four hours shopping for new togs last week. It was awful.

I don’t know why I did it.  Maybe because I was having too nice a weekend and I needed to ruin it.

The thing is, I love to swim. In fact, I swim between one and two kilometres every day after work.  I have three pairs of lap togs. Usually when I buy a new pair, I don’t even try them on.

But recreational swimwear is a whole other story.  For starters, the beach is an accidentally-nude hazard zone. I like to spend time in the water, not just lounge around on a towel. That means dealing with waves, and occasionally getting dumped. So to guard against a wave-dacking, a bikini needs to be robust.

To avoid accidental nudity you could try a rock pool.

Phase one: This is going to be easy. 

I started at David Jones. Big range, all the main brands, lots of change rooms that I know have mirrors inside so I don’t have to show strangers any terrible mistakes.

I tried on six different versions of essentially the same bikini. Lots of top coverage, full but not high brief and a cute matching rashie. Getting sunburnt sucks and I spend a fair bit of time at the beach alone, unable to apply sunscreen to my back, so a rashie seemed practical.

The rashie made all the terrible things about the various bikinis less terrible, but that is not a practical solution. You need the foundations to be solid.

I began to realise this was not going to resolve itself quickly.

Phase two: Why boobs? 

About 45 minutes into my odyssey the inevitable self-hatred began. And it was all focused on one thing. Boobs. Everyone has stuff they don’t like about themselves, and stuff they do. Usually my boobs fall into the stuff I like category.  That’s how awful this day was, I even hated the parts of my body I don’t already hate.

Not me. Not even close.

Here’s my question: Do swimwear designers ever test their products on women with actual large breasts? My whole life I’ve bought halter neck bikinis because they are the only ones that provide support and shape. But halters can be incredibly painful if worn all day – the weight your neck is supporting is far from pleasant.

This year, I told myself, I am not getting a halter top. Which is how I ended up in the DJs change room with six completely impractical bikini tops that squashed, pushed down, cut in half, cut in half the other way, barely covered, or provided absolutely no support for my boobs whatsoever.

I liked the rashies. Everything else needed to go in the bin.

Sidenote: Change rooms

A good change room should be three things.

Private: No curtains that don’t close properly or doors with weird gaps, please.


Well-lit, but not heinous: No one conducts their entire life under awful fluro lights, so we shouldn’t pick our clothes under them.

With a mirror or two, but not five: Seriously, don’t put your mirrors outside the change room, it is cruel. But also, don’t put so many mirrors in there that it’s like some kind of house of horrors where you have six stomachs and three butts.

Phase three: Desertion.

Who needs new togs anyway? The voice in my head was now saying, over and over and over again. If my life was a Pixar film, the little embodiments of my personality would have all been sitting in the corner of my brain rocking back and forth.

This pretty much sums it up.

By this point I’d also hit up Myer and a couple of smaller stores. I’d seen the inside of no less than 10 change rooms. I’d tried on every single non-halter top in my size available, and every single type of bottoms you can think of.

Nothing worked.

I looked at my watch. Somehow, three and a half hours had passed.

I decided to call it a day. Come back in a few weeks when the shops have more new stock. Continue wearing my four-year-old bikini that is grey in the places that are meant to be white. Maybe buy a rashie to hide it.

Phase four: Salvation.

I was on my way out of the shopping centre, and I walked past one last shop that was full of togs.

What the hell, I thought, you came here to get a new bikini, at least try EVERY shop.  This time I drew on the knowledge I had painfully accumulated in the previous few hours.

I picked two colour schemes I liked, and then just got all the tops in those colours. I tried all the tops on, before whittling it down to just two – neither of them halter tops.

Then I picked out bottoms based on the colours of the two winning tops. I tried both tops on with the bottoms, and picked the combo I thought was the best.

Thank you bikini gods.

I looked in the mirror.

I don’t hate this, I thought. I really don’t.

Worried I might just be delirious, I asked the girl in the next change room what she though. The answer was, thankfully, “they look great!”

(Always ask the girl in the next change room, NOT the salesperson.)

So I bought them. Which was a great relief because now I assume I am free from worrying about this particular form of torture for another four years.

Or possibly, forever.

A girl can dream anyway.