Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jingle bells, swimsuit hells

It's time for the annual winter ritual that fills many Winnipeggers with dread

  • Print
Pat Lewyc owner of Hula Hut, says people need to feel comfortable and sexy at their age.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Pat Lewyc owner of Hula Hut, says people need to feel comfortable and sexy at their age. Photo Store

It's the most wonderful time of the year -- if you're 5-11 and weigh 95 pounds. But for the rest of us, that teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikini looks better on a sales rack.

Every year, many Winnipeggers are busy booking their flights down south -- but they forget (or block out) the nasty little chore that comes with it: bathing-suit shopping. Don't worry, we're quickly reminded when we see that faded suit at the bottom of our dresser after last year's vacation.

After checking their own dressers, hockey moms Kristen Champagne and Chantel Hildebrand devoted a day to wiggling their way into the microscopic bits of fabric.

The two friends head to Cancun in January.

"I was thinking, I can't eat for two days," said Hildebrand, who tried on more than 20 bathing suits. "I find that I can't just buy a set because my sizes are so different."

It's true we can't all look like Kate Moss in a bikini, but we deserve brownie points for trying.

"We're our own biggest critics," said Champagne, who spent the past five years avoiding any store that had to do with water. "If we could take pieces of each other," she says, thinking of her friend Hildebrand, "we'd be the perfect woman."

After lugging around a mountain of potential suits, the friends did the walk of shame to the dressing room.

"For me, it's tough because of my size, but they're nice bathing suits," said Champagne, holding up a bikini top from the reject pile. "This one fit me very funny; it reminded me of being a kid and putting on my mom's old bra."

Both Hildebrand and Champagne refused to display the suits they tried on. Instead, they giggled through the change-room walls over body parts that were either too small or too big.

Both women left the store with a new suit and a new bump they hadn't noticed before walking in.

"You're looking at all your little dimples and all your little lines," said Champagne. "At least when you're buying underwear you know you're covering it."

Sadly, we're not the body type of a fake mannequin, but owner Pat Lewyc of the Hula Hut encourages women to embrace those extra bumps along the way.

"A lot of people will come here and look at themselves and lament over the fact they don't have their 18-year-old body but it's like 'hey you look like a woman now,' " she said. "You have to get people feeling sexy and comfortable for their age."

According to Lewyc, December is one of the busiest months for the store. Regardless, it doesn't make squeezing into a bathing suit any more enjoyable, especially for Winnipeggers. But we can't stay under those winter parkas forever.

Swimco at St. Vital Centre has also seen quite a bit of traffic this holiday season. In December, more than 100 people come into the store each day.

"Many people who come in don't want to be bothered," said Rachelle Balak, sales associate at Swimco. "People aren't comfortable when bathing-suit shopping.

Although the swimwear store's motto is "Feel good half-naked," many customers like to cover up with tankinis.

"They (customers) aren't comfortable with how they look and they want to look perfect," she said. "But everybody's different."

Alice Claeys and her husband of 64 years were planning to spend the winter in British Columbia to avoid the Winnipeg winter. Sadly, in January, she'll be making the trip alone.

"He hated the snow and it was something to do," she said, carrying her shopping bags around St. Vital Centre. "Sometimes I go to the mall just to get away."

This time, Claeys is getting away by shopping for a new bathing suit for the trip.

"I find I look everywhere for bathing suits and the bathing suits are very beautiful, but they cater so much to the young people," said the 80-year-old. "People my age have a hard time finding bathing suits."

For the past three years, Claeys avoided swimsuit shopping altogether.

"The styles are very bold and very skimpy," said the grandmother. I wore them when I was 85 pounds but not now."

But with a little determination and a good eye, Claeys found what she was looking for at Swimco.

"I like this style," she said displaying her new, one-piece bathing suit decorated in blue flowers. "My husband would probably flip if he saw the price I paid for this. I hope he's not looking down right now."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2013 0

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

In the Key of Bart: Can’t It Be Nice This Time?

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • July 1, 2012 - 120701  -   Canada Day fireworks at The Forks from the Norwood Bridge Sunday, July 1, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google