What Hunter McGrady’s Spread Tells Us About 2017 Swimsuit Trends

Last year, Sports Illustrated broke ground by featuring a plus-size model on the cover of its famous Swimsuit Edition. Though it wasn’t the first time a larger lady graced the pages of the mag ― the first plus-size model to bare skin in SI was Robyn Lawley in 2015 ― Ashley Graham’s feature heartened most American women by increasing nation-wide body positivity and encouraging other magazines to consider non-typical sizes and shapes, too. Finally, larger ladies are seeing themselves represented in magazines and catalogs not just as set-dressing, but as stars, and it is causing a fashion revolution.

What Hunter McGrady's Sports Illustrated Spread Tells Us About 2017 Swimsuit Trends - Life in a House of Testosterone

This year, Sports Illustrated has only furthered their positive and powerful message with the undeniably gorgeous Hunter McGrady claiming a significant spread in the 2017 issue. Her painted, bright one-piece more than dazzles; it motivates others to find swimsuits that are as eye-catching and flattering. Once you see her spread, is no surprise that McGrady is influencing plus-size swimwear trends for this season. If you want to look confident and comfortable at the beach or pool, you should consider the following fantastic plus-size swimsuit styles for 2017.


The past few years have been dominated by dainty details on swimsuits, like fringe and beading, but this year styles are trending toward the practical. Sporty suits are no longer unrevealing and unflattering; in fact, the previous year’s embrace of fit fashion has encouraged designers to play with sensible and structured styles that look hot. You can find sporty suits in all styles and colors ― even McGrady’s tie-dye one-piece has a streamlined, athletic look.


Cutouts are easily the hottest swimsuit trend this year for every body type. As opposed to the teeny-tiny string bikinis popular in the early ‘00s, geometric holes and intricate latticework allow you to feel more comfortable and covered while strategically showing your skin. Most cutout swimsuits come in solid colors ― particularly black and white ― but you can rock a brightly colored and patterned suit with cutouts and feel in-style.


An age-old plus-size fashion trick is paneling, which tricks the eye into following lines away from “trouble” areas. Many see paneling as veritable magic because it has the power to make your waist look cinched while your hips and breasts look beautifully full. Panels are a good option if you feel less comfortable baring as much skin as Graham or McGrady. Instead of wearing a suit with a cutout pattern, you can find one with mesh or multicolored panels that have the same sexy effect.

Zips and Laces

With clothing, a popular trend is visible fasteners: Instead of hiding buttons, zippers, and lacing, designers are highlighting them, using them as visual interest in outfits. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the same is happening in swim fashion, as well. Suits that feature zips and laces on the hips, back, or front are in-style, allowing you to flirt with being revealing without showing too much skin.


Perhaps the biggest change brought by Hunter McGrady’s SI spread is the addition of color to plus-size swim lines. For years, larger ladies have been told time and again to stick to monochrome ― typically black ― to avoid artificially inflating their size.

However, McGrady’s eye-catching tie-dye proves that plus-size women can embrace bright colors and look irrefutably sexy. While neutral hues like black and nude remain popular, you should feel comfortable moving away from your traditional tones and picking up a few brighter suits with fun, flirty patterns.


Finally, after seemingly decades of triangle bikinis, the one-piece is back in style. For larger ladies, this is a major relief, since one-piece suits tend to provide more support and comfort than the scanty, string bikinis of yore. Plus, other trends, most notably cutouts, allow one-pieces to show more diversity than they have in the past, so you can show nearly as much skin as you would in a bikini without losing any reinforcement.

If you are gravitating toward a two-piece, there are a few trends that you might want to watch for. High-waist bottoms are more flattering on most body types, including larger ladies, and it is imperative that more-endowed women seek tops that contain underwires ― or at least thick straps. No matter who you are, it is always embarrassing to lose one’s suit at the beach.

Rather than hiding behind frumpy, uncomfortable frocks, more plus-size ladies are celebrating their bodies with wild and fabulous swimsuit styles. Thanks to Hunter McGrady, Ashley Graham, Robyn Lawley, and other extraordinary women, as well as the forward-thinking folks at SI, larger ladies can feel important and inspired for swimsuit seasons to come.

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  1. I love that they are doing this. Most of us do not have that perfect body. It is something almost impossible to achieve and it is not always healthy. Thank you for sharing this great article

  2. Love love love seeing a plus sized model on SI!! Yay!! I was hoping it wouldn’t just be a one time thing 😉

    • I agree Amber – I remember when I was a teenager and the SI swimsuit edition would come out I would get so depressed seeing those thin-as-rail models on the cover and knowing that I would never be able to look like that. Not only are the finally representing a large consumer base – they are finally representing what REAL women look like and that’s fanfreakingtastic!

  3. Love all the different kinds of swimsuits out now, with panels, cutouts, zips & laces. Much more flattering than the string bikinis of the past. Thanks for an awesome article & giving us full-figured folks a better option 🙂

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