A fun swimsuit is a summer wardrobe staple, so find an on-trend one that flatters your figure.
Nothing beats a summer day lounging by the pool or relaxing on the sand on your favorite beach blanket. Shopping for a swimsuit? Not always as fun. While the process can be notoriously tricky, knowing what will work for your body will help make it go smoothly.
1. Petite but mighty
“Petite women can definitely wear prints—just make sure to pick one that doesn’t overwhelm your frame,” instructs Amanda Kraemer, style director at Loft. “A ditsy, floral print is a great option, for example. Taller women should take advantage of their extra inches and pick a one-piece with some fun side detailing. An athletic frame looks great in a scoop neck or scallops—these feminine details instantly add softness. Curvier body types get extra accentuation in tops with twist-front detailing.” For men, classic trunks are always popular because they tend to work for most body types. If you’re looking for a little more coverage, board shorts are a longer version, while briefs offer the least length.
2. Double duty
Looking to torch a few calories under the sun? You don’t necessarily have to buy separate suits for lounging and exercising. “I think you can have both,” Kraemer says. “Regardless of my beach agenda, I always look for a bottom that has a bit more coverage at the sides. Not only is it uber-flattering, but I know I can go from chill to Frisbee and my suit will stay put. Halter tops are key—you can do a hands-free frolic in the waves or even a mini workout and know your top will still be in place.” For men, board shorts were originally developed for board sports like surfing and paddleboarding.
“The distinction between beachwear swim and exercise swim all depends on your personal style and what you’re most comfortable in,” says Julie Luker, Old Navy’s P.R. and digital engagement director. “When looking for swimwear for exercise, focus on coverage and support. Avoid bikini bottoms with adjustable string ties. Our hipster bikini bottom is the perfect versatile bikini bottom that can be worn swimming laps or hanging out poolside. The hipster bottoms pair great with our underwire V-neck tankini top, which is offered in a variety of colors.”
For women, mix and match styles make it easier to personalize and find the right fit—and you don’t have to sacrifice style for performance with a variety of bottoms that can be paired with tops in all levels of support. “At Old Navy, we offer a range of chest support and bottoms coverage so our swimsuits can work with your needs,” says Lauren Kazemi, senior director of women’s merchandising at Old Navy. “For example, we have a halter with underwire and removable cups—it’s great for women with a fuller bust. In bottoms, we offer the high waist, which is amazing for extra tummy coverage.”
Regardless of your style, swimwear should be fun, so play with a few popular looks. “The biggest swimsuit trends are found in the shape, design details and prints,” explains Kazemi. “In terms of silhouette, one-pieces, square neck, off the shoulder, one shoulder and high-waisted bottoms are all on-trend cuts. Ruffle and cutout details are found everywhere this season and in palm prints and Havana florals.” Kraemer is a fan of the one piece with a side design. “Solid brights and tassels also look super fresh this beach season,” she says. “Loft’s lace-up, peek-a-boo and cut-out one-pieces are so cute, I’m buying each. I love our bright sun-yellow romper, and I’m a sucker for our tasseled two-pieces, cover-ups and carryalls.” Men shouldn’t feel like they have to stick to just the basics. “Don’t be afraid to play with print and color as well as length,” Luker says. “Also, experiment with shorter styles.”
When it’s time to hit the dressing room, go with an open mind. “I always say pick one or two suits you wouldn’t normally try on,” Kraemer says. “Sometimes a new cut or color might surprise you in the best way.” Be sure to avoid the common pitfalls when shopping for a new suit. Kraemer says men and women are both guilty of the same mistakes: “We buy things that don’t always flatter. I don’t care how much you think you love it; do not buy a top that cuts you off or doesn’t hold you in. Also, bigger is not always better. More coverage on the bottom can equal sag.”
Those bright lights in fitting rooms aren’t exactly your best friend, so make the most of it by remembering that the sun is a lot more forgiving. “Dress comfortably and wear seamless undergarments to get the best representation of how bottoms will fit,” Luker advises.
And don’t forget all the accessories that tie everything together. “The ultimate function-meets-fashion beach musts are sunglasses, a big hat and an equally large tote,” says Kraemer. A straw bag and strappy sandals can elevate any look, while guys can’t go wrong with a great pair of sunnies.
To keep your swimsuit looking fresh all summer long, care for it properly. Never stick it in the washing machine, which is too rough for the delicate fabric. “Always rinse your suit in cold water after any dip—it prevents color and fabric damage caused by salt and chlorine,” Kraemer says. “And I always air-dry my suits because a dryer is too hot and breaks down the elasticity.” Whether you opt for a polka-dot bikini or an athletic-inspired one piece, or board shorts in a quirky print, always lay your swimwear flat to dry to maintain the shape. After all that work finding the perfect suit, you’ll want it looking bright and sharp through the season.
Photo credits: (hero) All king of people, Adobe Stock; LOFT