This article is part of one that I originally wrote for the River City Gems Group in Sacramento during International Transgender Day of Visibility in 2020. Today in Wisconsin as I proof this article it is 20 degrees with some drifting snow but soon it will be hot again and maybe this article will help you at the pool.
I am basically retired, but work during the summer as a part-time lumberjack and during the winter as a woman’s costumer. I know many people both love and hate the thought of swimsuit season so I thought that I would show you how I adjust women’s swimsuits and bodysuits to fit various shaped individuals. The purpose is to construct a suit that you can actually move around in or swim in and not just use for photos. This usually works for most body types but today I will explain the process for a more male body. I usually begin with a suit that is a size or two bigger than needed. This will give me the extra material I need to be able to cover the crotch and avoid spillage of bits. When using an oversized swimsuit other alterations will also have to be made. Above is a picture with the area of alterations marked with red lines. If you’re doing this for the first time I suggest you go to a resale shop and buy a cheap swimsuit to practice on. There are several places on the suit that will need to be marked and altered. If you’re unable to sew, you will need to take the marked suit to someone who can sew it for you. You can find these people by asking your dry cleaner or searching using “local seamstress” or “mending” as your search terms.
Now, how to proceed. First, put the swimsuit on inside out. Then while looking in a mirror grab any extra fabric at the crotch, the sides and the straps and mark that area with some playground chalk. These are areas that will need to be sewn together to take out the extra fabric. The first picture shows the swimsuit with the lines that I have marked in blue chalk. In order to allow you to see it better I covered my chalk lines with pieces of red tape. I also opened the first material layer of the bust cup so I could insert a breast form or padding. Most bust cups are made of layered material and all you have to do is separate the layers and make a one inch incision in each cup about one third of the way in from the armpits. It is important not to make the cut at the cup middle or the fabric edges constantly chafe the nipples. I like forms from the Breastform Company but will also use fiberfill, memory foam or silicone breast forms or enhancers depending on the final look that I feel is needed. The key here is to not overload the suit with extra weight and make droopers (so stuff cautiously and you will get the perfection you want). This is especially true if you are working with a person who has breasts of differing sizes or has had a mastectomy. Also, if the bust cups do not allow separation of the layers just sew a covering over them and then make your cuts. You can always get material from another old swimsuit or buy some spandex at a fabric store. Next it’s time to sew along the chalk lines at the straps, sides and crotch. Make sure that the suit is inside out when you are sewing. I just use a common straight stitch. Now you can try the suit on. If you like it, you can just cut off any extra material and you are done. In reality you’ll probably have to try it on a few times and make some small adjustments before it’s perfect. With a little bit of luck and some patience you will have the fit of your dreams and not be worried about trying to buy a suit that fits your body exactly.
A side note of caution here from having worked professionally in the performance and production industry. I am fully aware that what seems like a perfect flawless “10 Image” is what we might all aspire to be. That is what we see in our media but in reality it just isn’t so. This article will hopefully share some techniques (that my industry friends call “The Fakery”) to help you achieve your ideal you. So yes, the real swimsuit models that you see in the media are many times quite different looking in real life. Those images are created with electronics, software, cosmetics, tape, pins, clips, lights, hair, forms, pads, and undergarments. I think that you all know this already but it’s easy to get lost in the fog. Just know that all of this takes time and practice. When you see me in the above pictures please know that I look very plain. My intention was to not glam up and fool you but to show you how the suit actually looks. That is the reason that I haven’t done things like use makeup, cinch the waist, wear a corset or supersize the bust. The pictures are straight from my old iPhone 5 with only cropping and no special effects.
In the first picture you see the suit inside out with markings. The second picture you see is the suit with sewing done and a bust cup enhancer. The third picture you see is me wearing the suit (the bust is padded with the enhancer and I’m also wearing a simple thong gaff but everything else is me including the hair). The fourth picture shows me in a two piece suit prepared according to these instructions. And for those that are interested in particulars, I’m a genetic male on the Intersex Spectrum who is 5 feet 5 inches, 125 pounds and a 1970 Army Volunteer.
Special thanks to my wife who laughs with me every day and helped me choose the pics. Also great thanks to Jenee Davis, and Carollyn Olson who first encouraged me many years ago. Please also note that I hold ownership of my writings and images and you need my permission to repost. Additionally, I want to let you know that I have a lot of family duties to attend to and may be limited in my ability to respond to any questions so please be understanding and patient.
Have fun and remember the sunscreen.