Style + Weekend

Four Summer Swimwear Tips

Last week, a reader pointed out that it has been two years since I last wrote a post about swimwear.  That’s probably because it’s been two years since I last wanted to wear swimwear.

Being in my late thirties, shopping for and wearing swimwear is a much different experience than it was in my twenties or early thirties.  Gone are the tiny bikinis, replaced with searches for suits that offer flattering coverage, but aren’t the frumpy skirted-suits that many of the moms wore in my youth.

And, admittedly, most of the influencers I follow are no help here.  When they fret about their minor, 27-year-old imperfections (as we all once did) while looking fresh from a Summersalt ad, I swipe left with unprecedented speed.  When they talk about a swimsuit top that’s “flattering on every body” but covers less square footage than a standard Kleenex tissue, I must banish the thoughts of self-shame from my mind.  So here I am, a woman with flaws that she wants to conceal, but who still wants to look cute at the pool, to make swimsuit suggestions for all the women who fit into that category.

Swimsuit Tip No. One: Bright Colors

Black is a classic.  But if you want to look like you came to party and relax, bright colors are the ticket.   Plus, you’ll get endless compliments on your suit, which helps you feel better about wearing a swimsuit in public.

This Land’s End suit is my current favorite.  I’m sorry to say that since I bought it 10-days ago, it sold out down to size 10.  But if that’s your size, this is the cutest most fun suit ever.  It’s also available in plus-size.  If it’s gone in your size, this Anne Cole suit is one-shoulder and comes in bright melon.

If you prefer a suit with ‘tummy control,’ Land’s End has the widest selection of cute, fun one-pieces.  I also bought this long-sleeve suit to wear tubing later this summer so I don’t have to worry as much about getting scorched.

I own this J.Crew Square Ring Suit.  I wear it with the optional straps though, because without them, I gives me a uniboob.  But the color and the slightly higher cut leg are really fantastic.

Swimwear Tip No. 2: Mix-and-Match

We’re all pretty comfortable with the idea of mixing different bikini top and bottom styles, but mixing up the color combinations is one of my new favorite things.  Cossie + Co has a lot of fun colors that you can switch up along with the styles.  I really like these bright pink bottoms with this orange top.

Old Navy also has a lot of different colors and prints that would be fun to mix-and-match.  Try a pale blue or hot pink top with these tropical-print bottoms.  Athleta has several mix and match styles as well.

Swimwear Tip No. 3: Fun Prints

I bought this Anne Cole high-neck suit, in a seersucker-textured, palm print, for my birthday trip in May, and I loved it so much that I also bought the open-back one piece suit.  If you like this suit, I should warn you that it would be tough to a woman with a large bust to stay in either of these styles.  I know that will be a let down for some of you, but I wouldn’t want you to order it and be disappointed because of the cut.

Athleta has some fun prints this season.  I like this tropical Bora Bora print.

Athleta is also a nice option for several reasons.  1) All of their pieces come in a bunch of different styles and colors.  2) They sell tops in bra sizes, so you know how to find the right fit.  And 3) the more athletic style is a better solution for chasing kids around the pool or if you actually like to swim, than most fashion suits.

Swimsuit Tip No. Four: Don’t Be Afraid of a Modest Suit

Not everyone wants to be half-naked at the pool.  Maybe it’s a comfort thing, a sun damage thing, or a religious thing.  Either way, if you don’t want to show off your body, you don’t have to.  More and more brands are making modest swimwear for those who need or want it.

A number of brands are making rash guards this season.  I like the simplicity of this Madewell one.  Shopbop also has a few styles.  And J.Crew has one in a lot of great, bright colors.

Board shorts are also a great option for the pool or the beach.  I like to stand up paddle board, and I would much rather do that in shorts than in swim bottoms.  These La Blanca shorts are a nice option.  And a lot of the 90s surfing brands — O’Neill, Billabong, Roxy — also make nice shorts.

I also bought this pair from Athleta earlier this year.  It’s selling out, but if they have your size, I really like them.


Body image struggles are normal, especially as we age.  And growing up in a world that emphasized small, fit bodies, I’m just not to a place of body acceptance when it comes to swimwear yet.  So I like to focus on picking a swimsuit that I really like and try ignoring the rest.

If you have a specific area of your body that needs flattering — bust, hips, tummy — and you’ve found a suit that works for you and makes you feel great, leave the recommendation in the comments.  My body isn’t your body, so what works for me, may not for you.  So let’s crowdsource some other options.

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  1. Cait says:

    This is not as on-trend as your recs, but I’ve been looking for a bandeau suit and was pleasantly surprised by this one (also Anne Cole). I struggle to find swimwear with enough rear coverage for my comfort level and this suit has a generous cut in the back, not so much “tummy control” that I feel like I’m suffocating, and grippy strips that help hold the top up, plus an optional strap. I got the navy, but it comes in a wide array of colors and patterns.

    July 12, 2021/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Exactly. I’m not looking to suffocate in shape wear. I just want some things smoothed out, not sucked in.

      July 12, 2021/Reply
  2. Mary says:

    I got this:

    from Target and I really like it – I’m 5’3, size 8, in my 50s. It’s not a granny suit!

    July 12, 2021/Reply
  3. KateL says:

    Senita athletics creeped in my Instagram feed – using tip 2 I bought a navy high waist bottom and red top and was pleased with quality for the price(<$35 per piece). Sizing is small-medium large and medium top was supportive enough for D cup frame (I wouldn’t swim lapsin it but I was supervising a 5 year old in the ocean with no worries)

    July 12, 2021/Reply
    • Claire says:

      I bought a two piece from Senita last summer and it’s held up great, especially for the price! Loved that the bottom was higher waisted but not like, almost up to your boobs high waisted.

      July 12, 2021/Reply
  4. KL says:

    Five months postpartum here but, more importantly, very pale and always searching for shade. Along the lines of the recommendation for a long-sleeve suit, I picked up this one from Target a couple of weeks ago:

    July 12, 2021/Reply
  5. Liz says:

    I haven’t tried your specific Land’s End suit but it’s where I get all of mine because you can get many one pieces for a D cup. I find the quality to be solid, too.

    July 12, 2021/Reply
  6. Diane says:

    Boden also has lots of suits that check a lot of the boxes on your list. I have several, but particularly the Santorini and Talamanca Bright colors, fun prints, unique but practical and flattering cuts, plus they are well made. I get compliments all of the time.

    July 12, 2021/Reply
  7. Clara says:

    I’m 38 year old with a small bust, cellulite, an ample derrière, and a stomach larger than I would like. Both of these swimsuits make me feel confident and covered, but not frumpy.

    July 12, 2021/Reply
  8. Monica T says:

    +1 for Athleta. They use all the same colors so I like to mix and match solids with patterns in that color and then I can wear whichever top I feel like (keyhole or high neck today…). They make a cute pair of swim shorts that is swimsuit material, but has enough inseam so I’m not worried about flashing anyone while playing with my daughter at the pool or beach. I’ve been wearing the same few pieces for years now, their expensive but they really hold up.

    July 12, 2021/Reply
  9. Lisa says:

    I always struggle with my stomach as a “trouble spot” — I have no waist to speak of, nor any chest or hips to distract from the tummy fat — and this suit, while black, was surprisingly flattering: I sized up to M even though I’m typically a 2-4 dress size.

    July 12, 2021/Reply
    • Cait says:

      I’m an 8-10 dress size and got an XL and I also love this suit! It’s an interesting design while still feeling really secure up top. Fair warning to apply sunscreen beneath the straps though. I have some pretty weird tan lines right now!

      July 13, 2021/Reply
  10. Julie says:

    I’ve had great success with this suit: I recommend sizing up 1-2 sizes consistent with review.

    July 13, 2021/Reply
    • Emily G says:

      I have this as well – it’s a great look for the low price.

      July 15, 2021/Reply
  11. Sharon says:

    Trina Turk suits are my absolute go to when I need something flattering. In full disclosure, they are stupid expensive (think $140ish). BUT, they are well-made and will last forever. The one-piece styles are unique and flattering in the most beautiful bright colors and patterns. I recently discovered that Amazon carries some and you can do Prime Wardrobe to find your size.

    July 13, 2021/Reply
    • Holly Burke says:

      TJ maxx and Marshall’s online carry Trina Turk!! If you go to TJ’s website, it’s easiest to go to the runway section, swimsuits. I got one of her more current suits for $40!

      July 13, 2021/Reply
  12. Jessica says:

    All hail the Lands End swim dress. I’m a 42 mom of 2 and this suit lets me play with them in the pool or walk comfortably to/from the bathroom without a coverup. AND its super comfy. This is all I wear now.,44093,44967,46322

    July 13, 2021/Reply
  13. CitrineDC says:

    Thanks for posting this – as someone who is short and busty (and trying to lose some COVID weight) it has been challenging to find a swimsuit that I need as we head to Europe later this month. I wanted a comfortable 2 piece but struggle finding DD tops, especially ones that are not black or navy. After returning a bunch from Athleta that didn’t work for me, I caved in and bought the Summersalt sidestroke suit. I like it but there is not a whole lot of support but I plan to just lay around on the beach / pool and not do any intensive sports. It gives me a little bit of uniboob too, but at least it is comfortable. I also bought this Hilor one from Amazon that is really comfortable and has an underwire that I like for better support. The ruching is flattering:

    July 13, 2021/Reply
  14. Lucy says:

    Do you have any tips for where to find one-piece suits for long torsos? You’ve mentioned you have a long torso, and while I have one long torso suit from Speedo, I’d like some more options.

    July 13, 2021/Reply
    • Lost says:

      I will 2nd or 3rd the recommendation for Boden swimsuits. I have bought several one pieces from them over the years. They are flattering, hold up well, and come in long torso options.

      July 13, 2021/Reply
      • Diane says:

        Yes! I recommended Boden above and I tried them to begin with because I am 5’10” and need a long torso size. It is amazing to have a one-piece that actually comfortably fits!!!

        July 13, 2021/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Albion fit has a long-torso friendly section, and Summersalt makes long torso suits. I’ve also found that J.Crew sometimes makes tall suits.

      July 13, 2021/Reply
  15. NJL says:

    I’ve had a lot of luck with Swimsuits For All as a size 18-20 with a large tummy and butt.

    July 13, 2021/Reply
  16. Meg says:

    As someone with thick thighs and weight fluctuations mostly in my bottom half, I love Bikini bottoms that have multiple loop ties for adjustability. However, now that I’m running after nieces, going to waterparks, and paddleboarding, I’m living in these amazon high waisted shorts with ties down the legs. I don’t feel like my legs are losing circulation and I don’t have to worry that I’m losing my bottoms. And I can pair them with any top I have in my drawer or a rashguard.

    July 13, 2021/Reply
  17. Amanda says:

    Title Nine makes paddleboard shorts that I adore. I find most board shorts to be uncomfortable, with not enough stretch. These allow for a lot of movement, aren’t too low-waisted, and make your buns look great!

    July 13, 2021/Reply
  18. Morgan says:

    I bought this suit from Land’s End two years ago. It is durable and has held up so well from water parks, canoe trips, pool time, etc. It comes in lots of fun colors and is super flattering on! I’m a size 18 and love it.

    July 13, 2021/Reply
  19. Jenny says:

    Rash guards are GREAT. After a few years of putting them on my toddlers, I thought “I should get one of these.” Got a swim shirt from lands end that I throw on over the expensive bikini I got pre-kids that I will never wear on its own again (thanks, kids). It looks really sporty and cute on, and I love not having to worry about burning my shoulders and chest.

    July 13, 2021/Reply