What people wear to swim at the beach, pool, lake, or resort runs the gamut these days. What you choose might depend on how active you are when you swim, and whether you’ll need extra sun protection. There’s everything from one-pieces, tankinis, and bikinis, to swim shorts and skirts, swim dresses, long-sleeved one-pieces, rash guards, and swimwear with built-in SPF skin protection. There are all sorts of cover-ups to choose from too. Like board shorts, wide leg pants, shirts, pareos, kaftans, skirts, dresses, tunics, and whatever else tickles your fancy.
When I help my clients look for swimwear, or when I’m looking for a new bathing suit myself, we begin the search with some or all of the brands in the list below. They generally create structured, flattering, and supportive styles across a range of sizes, silhouettes, colours and patterns. There is no particular order to the list, but the most popular swimwear brands with my clients are La Blanca, Lands’ End, Magicsuit, Bleu by Rod Beattie, Tommy Bahama, and Athleta. Over the years, I’ve personally done well with Boden, Gottex, Freya, Seafolly, and I’m now looking at Norma Kamali.
- Bleu by Rod Beattie
- Kate Spade
- La Blanca
- Lands’ End
- Lane Bryant
- Norma Kamali
- Sea Level
- Tommy Bahama
- Trina Turk
There is a much, much wider assortment of swimwear styles, sizes, and cover-ups to match online than in brick-and-mortar stores here in Seattle, so that’s how we shop. It can be better to try them on in your dressing room at home where there is privacy and better light. We order a bunch of suitable styles online, and before long my clients have fabulous options. It can take a while to find the right swimwear, so try not to leave things to the last minute.
Unfortunately, swimsuit sizing is all over the place. Read the size charts and the reviews, and be patient. Swimwear used to be sized a size or two smaller than your clothing size. But now swimwear can be sized like regular clothing, in sizes XXS to 5XL, or in bra sizes. I’ve found that buying a bikini in a size that approximates my bra size achieves a much better fit. It’s not exactly the same size, but choosing a cup size that is bigger than a B-cup for my 28/30D bustline helps enormously with bust coverage and spillage. The width can be adjusted with correct hook placement, which helps too. Remember that swimwear can be altered, and breast pads can be inserted.
Here’s a head start with a collection of top picks. These styles have worked well on my clients, or have great reviews online. Some silhouettes are more supportive, structured, streamlined, and covered than others. Click the links to see colour options and back detailing.
I like Modern Retro swimwear that looks like it’s from the ‘50s and ‘60s. I have a great retro style bikini in big navy and white polka dots from Boden, and am on the lookout for a one-piece with the same sensibilities. I lie in the shade most of the time, and am not in the sun or water for long. I don’t do water sports, so I don’t need a rash gard. I cover up with a big cotton tunic shirt and hat if I’m in the sun and not in the water. I like denim shorts or a sarong as bottom coverage if I need it. I like the idea of a bright caftan but have yet to find one. Feel free to suggest swimwear brands that have been winners for you in the comments section.