Bathing suit shopping isn't for the faint of heart. You can work up a sweat just putting one on. Then you look in the mirror and instead of appraising how the bathing suit looks on you, you study your body like a plastic surgeon trying to decide where to start. I don't know how to make plus size bathing suit shopping easy, but I do have some ways to make it less agonizing.
Whether you're trying on bathing suits in a department store dressing room or in your own bedroom, it's a physically grueling undertaking. Make a drinking game out of it. Sip some water before you start the whole rigamarole, take a drink once you've wrestled yourself into a bathing suit (before you look in the mirror), and then drink again after you peel it off.
No, it won't make you look bloated. It will make you feel a little better about the whole thing.
Shopping with a deadline leads to bad choices. Yes, I realize that means going through this whole process when you technically don't have to, but it's worth it.
Nobody worries about how they look in a bathing suit while they're underwater. They all worry about how they'll look sitting around the pool. A good coverup will get rid of those worries and help prevent sunburn, skin cancer, and all that not-so-good stuff. Jersey caftans are perfect for lounging around the pool or at the beach. A sheer topper or a jersey t-shirt dress are also excellent choices.
For the suit itself, you may want to get something with long sleeves and/or shorts. They'll protect you from the sun and prevent inner thigh chafing. Search for "rash guards."
I don't mean a bikini. I'm talking about tankinis and the like. The top covers your middle, but since it's separate from the bottom the whole thing a lot easier to put on and take off. Restroom breaks are no longer an ordeal.
Swim separates include loose-fitting shorts - my favorite. Paired with an empire-waisted swim tank, they're comfortable and cute. They also mean that I can go swimming without having to think about the state of my bikini line.
Think About What You'll Be Doing
Forget about how you'll look in a bathing suit for a moment. It's a functional garment and needs to be up to the challenge.
If you'll be wearing a bathing suit every day, you may want to buy more than one to give each one enough time to dry completely. If you're going to be tossing around a frisbee or herding kids and grandkids, you'll want a bathing suit that's more sporty than va-va-voom. If you spend most of the day lounging on deck chair with only occasional dips in the pool, you won't need as much support from your bathing suit.
Maybe you only need a bathing suit for a week at the lake. It's tempting to spend as little money as possible. A $70 bathing suit marked down to $30 is one thing. A suit that costs $20 before markdowns is quite another. Don't think of it as spending a bunch of money for something you'll only wear a few times. Think of it as insurance against wardrobe malfunctions that can keep you from enjoying your vacation. Plus it means that you'll have something to wear the next time you want to go swimming.