Fact: summer is not yet over. With travel and outdoor events repopulating, it’s that time again to look for the perfect suit. That said, who really knows their size or how a suit should properly fit? “[A swimsuit] should be firm enough that you can wear it in the ocean or pool and it won’t easily fall off, but also not too firm that it digs in,” says Eloise Monaghan, founder Honey Birdette.
We also argue that the main takeaway of a good swimsuit is how you feel in it. “A swimsuit properly fits when you feel exclusive, comfortable, confident, and unique,” says Sandra Bedoya, CMO at Smeralda.
Whether shopping IRL or online, take inventory: Are you happy? Confident? Supported? Or is it digging into you and making you self conscious? Remember, a good suit should work well in any circumstance, whether you’re playing a water sport or catching up on the latest novel. So how do you determine if a swimsuit can last from season to season? Turns out it all lies in the material of the suit, the chlorine intake, and the way you care for it.
Regardless of your body shape, find inspiration for your next vacation or day on the water with bikinis, one-pieces, and everything in between. Ahead, discover the four designer-approved tips and practices to select your next swimsuit.
Meet the Expert
Eloise Monaghan is the founder and creative director of Australian lingerie brand, Honey Bridette.
Sandra Bedoya is the CMO of Smeralda, a Colombian swim and beachwear brand based out of Medellín.
Alissa Bristow is the creative and design director of L*SPACE, a California-based womenswear brand.
Focus on the Material
Finding the perfect-fitting swimsuit for an upcoming vacation is like an aha moment. Equally, spending money on something that doesn’t last past that vacation is like a slap in the face. A good suit should fit well, feel supportive, and be durable enough to last you through the season.
Since extending the life of a suit starts before you purchase, the right material is paramount. Fortunately, if you follow the care instructions, a swimsuit should stand the test of time.
According to Monaghan, swimwear is generally made from a combination of nylon or polyester, with elastane or spandex. Polyester tends to hold the shape, dyes, and prints found on suits. Monaghan recommends avoiding, “super thin, loosely-knitted fabric, and fabrics that don’t bounce back when stretched,” as they are more prone to sagging.
Another great option to prevent sagging is looking for suits with spandex and shape-retention technology that will sculpt and shape to the body after every use.
There Should Be No Adjusting
Once you’ve selected the material right for you, try the suit on and test it out. A well-fitted suit should not have to be adjusted, so if you notice the straps fall or you constantly have to re-tie the bottoms, this is your red flag. Our experts recommend squatting, lunging, and walking in the suit before purchasing to see what moves and what doesn't—the goal, of course, is for nothing to move. Remember, the less adjusting, the less chance of pilling, leading to more wears in your favorite suit.
Avoid the Washing Machine
Although tedious and timely, suits should be washed after each use. Failure to do so can create unwanted odor. “Even if you don’t go in the water—sand, sunscreen, and your body’s natural oils can still wear down your bikini,” Alissa Bristow, L*SPACE’s creative director, tells Byrdie.
Although the washing machine is a quicker clean, tossing suits in a machine can severely deteriorate a suit as the dye will fade and fabric will pill. Instead, rinse suits in cold water and air-dry them. Bristow recommends filling a basin with cold water and adding a couple drops of bikini wash or gentle detergent and kneading the soap into the suit.
Next, allow the suit to soak in the soapy water for 10-15 minutes, rinse with cold water and hang or flat dry in a shaded area. Keeping it out of the sun will also prevent the color from fading, according to Bristow. Drying the suit flat is a crucial step in stopping the chemicals and chlorine from accumulating at the bottom and decreasing the quality or stretching out the suit.
Of course, if you happen to be pressed for time, and the machine is your only option, Monaghan suggests washing it on a delicate cycle with a gentle detergent, and do not tumble dry.
Be Careful with Chlorine
Sadly, chlorine is extremely damaging to swimwear. “Chlorine breaks down the yarns, especially the spandex in the fabric that affects the elasticity,” Bristow shares. Even if you’re in the water for a quick dip or practicing your breast strokes, the chemicals will negatively impact the fibers of your suit long afterward.
To combat these side effects, opt for suits made with UV Ray protection fabrics, or soak suits in fresh water before exposing yourself to chlorinated water.
Ahead, shop some of our favorite swimsuits that are not only stylish, but built to last.