The Ultimate Guide to Shopping for Women’s Bathing Suits

Shopping for a bathing suit, quite frankly, sucks. I’m all for body acceptance, but being confronted with all of your body parts being (almost) exposed to the general public understandably causes anxiety in most people. So that whole joke that goes: How to have a beach body? Have a body. Go to the beach — it doesn’t work for me. Call me uptight, but I want to feel at ease when I’m swimming, so an ill-fitting swimsuit is a no-no.

Here’s my list of what to consider when choosing a bathing suit that suits your personal style, makes you feel confident, and is actually comfortable. I’ll cover fabric, style, and fit. Did you know I offer a quick and easy online swimsuit consult (with or without shopping)? If you’re looking for curated advice about finding your perfect swimsuit, just click here.

Determine Your Swimwear Needs:

Before hitting the stores or browsing online, take a moment to figure out your swimwear needs. Are you planning to pose by the pool, play water sports, or maybe take a boat ride and have a leisurely swim? Knowing your goal, role, and audience will help determine whether you need a more decorative or functional suit and make shopping more efficient.

Understand Swimwear Fabrics:

Swimwear fabrics play a crucial role in comfort and durability. The number one ingredient is stretch. And a swimsuit is about the only time I will advise you to buy polyester, because it dries fast, fits snugly, has excellent colorfastness, and holds up well to chlorine. Nylon isn’t chlorine resistant and it doesn’t last as long as polyester. Regardless of fiber content, be sure to hand wash your swimwear in a mild detergent and roll it in a towel to dry rather than twisting it, to minimize microfibers breaking off.

Explore Different Styles:

Stephanie Yeboah

Women’s bathing suits come in a myriad of styles, including one-pieces, bikinis, tankinis, and burkinis. Each style offers its features and benefits, so experiment with different styles and cuts to discover the ones that make you feel your best.

Pictured in the photo is award-winning digital creator and body image advocate Stephanie Yeboab. She has this to say about the stigmas around wearing certain styles of swimwear: “All bodies are deserving and worthy of being totally free and soaking up the rays. You don’t have to look a certain way in order to feel good. The confidence I get from wearing a bikini doesn’t lay in how others view my worth. It comes from the freedom of being able to love my body loudly and being able to allow it to exist in the shape it’s always been, free of harm or dieting or restriction.”

Here’s my take on embracing your ‘flaws’.

Assess Coverage Options:

Coverage preferences vary from person to person, so it’s important to find a bathing suit that aligns with your comfort level. Some options to consider include high-neck, halter, bandeau, or underwire tops for additional support. For bottoms, you can choose from high-waisted, mid-rise, low-rise, or even biker short and capri-length styles. A burkini should not be overlooked as an option, whether for religious reasons, if you have extra sensitive skin, or are just hyper-conscious about your body. Remember, the goal is to find a bathing suit that makes you feel confident and comfortable in your skin — however much of it you decide to show.

Focus on Fit:

I refuse to talk about body shapes like fruits here and tell you what to wear accordingly. At the same time, a well-fitting swimsuit is essential if you plan on doing more than just lounging around the poolside with a book. Look for adjustable straps, ties, or other closures that allow you to customize the fit. Additionally, pay special attention to the amount and firmness of the elastic at leg openings and waistbands. And if you’re busty, make sure you have enough support for the activities you’ll be participating in.

Embrace Colors and Prints:

colorful swimsuits

If you like colors and prints, don’t shy away from them when selecting your bathing suit. Remember that prints are more forgiving, so if you’re self-conscious about certain body parts, a print will “disguise” better than a light-colored solid. Experiment with different colors and prints to find what makes you feel confident and expresses your style.

Consider Additional Features:

Some bathing suits offer additional features that can enhance your experience. For example, suits with built-in UV protection or features like tummy control panels or removable padding for extra comfort, support, and modesty.

Check for Quality and Durability:

Investing in a high-quality bathing suit is essential for long-lasting wear. Price does matter here. Just like the New York City suitcase salesman asked me, do you want “good or cheap”? Before making a purchase, inspect the stitching, seams, and overall construction of the swimsuit. Look for double stitching, reinforced edges, and quality hardware to ensure durability.

Read Reviews and Ask for Recommendations:

To learn about the fit and quality of particular swimsuits, read online reviews from trusted sources. Pay attention to feedback from customers who mention having similar body types or swimwear needs. And ask around friends or family who have favorite brands or styles.

Try Before You Buy:

If shopping online, be sure to check return policies, as swimwear and undergarments are often non-returnable. Since the fit is so important, you’ll need to try on each bathing suit you’re considering purchasing. As with clothing, sizes can vary wildly across different brands.

Book A Swimsuit Consult

Investing in a swimsuit that makes you feel good is essential. That’s why I’m offering an online consult to take all of your needs into consideration. I’ll even find the suit for you, if you don’t like shopping or don’t know where to shop. Here’s what C.A. has to say about the service:

The Swimsuit Consult will have you dressed with less stress in no time. This service includes:

  • 30-minute video consult
  • Post-call images of suggested suits uploaded into your private Virtual Closet so you know what to shop fo
  • Optional personal shopping of your ideal swimsuit

Tammy helped me pick out a swimsuit last summer and I’ve never felt better in a suit (EVER!)! She welcomes and encourages body acceptance but is also very much aware that stripping down to one’s swimsuit can be anxiety-producing (even for the most body-positive folks). If you’re dreading getting into a swimsuit or finding one that works for YOU, book her consult. – N.S.

Book your session today and dive into summer with confidence.