The Malia Mills Experience

So I got fitted for a bathing suit today, after 18 months of pandemic hermeticism and comfort food consumption. I think it is safe to say, I was not necessarily looking forward to the occasion. Standing in a dressing room while I surrender most of my body to be judged by another? No thanks. In the past, my bathing suit shopping consisted of 1. randomly ordering suits online and returning 80% of what I bought after making sour faces at myself in the mirror 2. grabbing a few things off the rack in a department store and standing in the dressing room trying to picture what I might look like without my underwear bunching out underneath the bottoms, while a rail thin teenage employee asks if I need a different size.

But today, finally, at the ripe age of almost 54, I had a grown up bathing suit experience thanks to Malia Mills, a fashion designer from NYC who flew in to do a trunk show at The Collective this weekend. Is there anything more intimidating than trying on a bathing suit? Not when you are with Malia. She has a calm, confident, approachable air about her that immediately makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. She is here to help you find THE suit that is comfortable and wearable, that highlights your best parts and makes your less than best parts look better. First, Malia gathers information about your normal sizing and any peculiarities that you might want to highlight or remedy, in my case sagging boobs that like to wrangle free from the confines of a bikini top. Malia is right there with me, in the dressing room, listening to my wants/needs/likes/dislikes/irrational fears. It is this kind of interaction that has allowed her to remain current in an industry that spits out designers like bad sushi. Her 30 years in the fashion world allow her to quickly discern what styles might work with my specific figure and issues, and she returns with 3 tops and 3 bottoms, and we move on from there. The bathing suits she delivers to my fitting room are not normally styles I would choose for myself, but they are surprisingly flattering! She adjusts straps and moves things around a bit. I relinquish control and allow myself to be guided by Malia’s expertise and unassuming manner. There is about 10 minutes of going back and forth – well Malia is going back and forth - I’m standing in the fitting room occasionally poking my head out into the store to see what else is going on out there. I hear 2 friends in the fitting room next to me oohing and aahing about their discoveries.

“What are you trying on?” I call out.

“This super comfy jumpsuit that I can wear a bunch of different ways, roll it up in a ball and throw in my suitcase and not worry about it!” my friend answers.

More women are drinking wine and exclaiming about the variety of treasures they have found. Two teenage girls are giggling as they try on their suits. Am I really at a bathing suit fitting? Everyone seems so happy and upbeat!  In the end, I choose the Damita style of top that I never could have imagined for myself, but the fit is perfect, and everything stays where it is supposed to, because I have worked with a professional, who knows women’s bodies and how her swimsuits fit them. Malia eliminates the guessing and opens you up to things you might not have considered before. The fabric feels thick and strong, but not so thick it won’t dry after a swim. The straps are adjustable and go over my shoulders, so I don’t have that tugging on my neck all afternoon that I experience with other suits. The bikini bottom is a low rider that my husband should approve of. Malia also points out that because the fabric is beautiful and supportive, I can wear the top as a piece of clothing, perhaps under a sheer linen blouse, or paired with a pair of high rise jeans and a light jacket.  I feel sophisticated, happy, confident and… efficient! I just accomplished what it takes most people several hours and gallons of tears to do. I can’t imagine shopping for a bathing suit any other way. Stop by The Collective this weekend to have your own customized experience with Malia and her team!

(Learn more about Malia’s journey in the fashion world  in our next blog!)