Dive in: Where to find swimwear for every size, shape and style
It’s taken me many years to realise that being beach-body-ready has nothing to do with age, size or body shape, and everything to do with the right swimwear. Finding the best style for you may take some time and effort (few purchases cause such angst) but fortunately, there are a raft of stylish brands aiming to make this search a bit easier. Many score top marks for tackling common issues such as sizing; a decent fit (adequate support/ cheek coverage); promoting age, size and body positivity; and utilising the latest sustainable fabrics and practices.
When shopping for swimwear, follow the same cues you would use to buy clothes and underwear. Big boobs? Look for in-built structure and cup-sized options. Long torso? Bikinis might offer you a better fit – less fabric doesn’t always mean less flattering. Want to smooth your midlife middle? Supportive panels and structure will downplay any wobbles. Look for colours to light up your complexion and a silhouette and design details that speak to your style aesthetic. And the good news is, no more changing room challenge; now it’s easy to order online and try-on in the comfort of your home. And whether you wear a bikini, swimsuit, tankini, rash vest, skirted one-piece or swim dress, thankfully, there are more options than ever to have you feeling comfy-while-chic.
As a starting point, here are eight TNMA-approved brands which excel in sensational and supportive swimwear:
Great for: Unfussy swimsuits, mix and match bikinis (including high-waisted briefs) in a colourful palette.
Scandinavian label OHOY have mastered the art of creating simple silhouettes. No frills, fuss or faff here – just clean lines, block colours and restrained elegance of its swimwear range. OHOY tests all their swimwear in real-life conditions, and has been designed to be twice as resistant to chlorine, sun creams, and oils than most other fabrics. Whether you like a can’t-go-wrong mono or functional bikini, the label puts the emphasis on a perfect fit that stays put when you swim. Even better, OHOY’s ethically produced products are made sustainably using regenerated plastic and fishing nets at a small factory in Portugal. I wish I’d ordered the longline Marrakesh bikini in time for my holidays, and I’ve also added the Emma square-back swimsuit to my shopping basket since I got back.
Swimsuits from, €70. Bikini tops from, €35 and briefs from, €35.
Great for: A decent selection of styles in an array of cuts including cup-sized, padded and underwired swimwear, plus mix and match bikini sets at good prices.
Boden delivers what the label is loved for: print, colour, frills and florals. All of its swimwear is made from a recycled nylon fabric called Mipan generated from 100% waste materials, such as fabric and yarn scraps. Their decent range of sizes (6 to 20) focus on a flattering fit with design details like under bust support, hidden boning and sculpting panels. Also, if you prefer a cup-sized style, theirs go up to a DD. A friend who is a size 12/34G and laments the lack of supportive options for bigger busts recently bought the Cross-back swimsuit, and is delighted with the fit and quality when she road-tested it on a Mersea Island recently. There are also some printed rash rests (industry speak for long-sleeved swim tops) if you like full coverage on your upper half. I like the LaDoubleJ vibes of the Elba Halterneck swimsuit and Arezzo bikini, and the universally flattering Santorini which is Boden’s biggest seller. Lots of pieces have recently gone into the sale, so be quick if you want to snap something up.
Swimsuits from, £26. Bikini tops from £19, and briefs from, £18 in the sale.
Great for: Quality construction and bra-like support up to a size F.
I’ve always thought that lingerie companies make some of the best swimwear out there, with their expert knowledge of fit and construction. French underwear brand Maison Lejaby, founded in 1930, has had almost a century to perfect it’s expertise in lingerie-making and now they’ve applied the same processes to produce a swimwear range. The result is a chic and colourful collection of two-pieces and swimsuits, which support and sculpt the body. Simple, comfortable and swim-worthy, the bonded stretch fabrics, underwired cups and premium fabrics take the designs to the next level and I love their summery colours – easy to mix and match. Top of my list; the Nouvelle Vague bikini and zip-fronted one-piece.
Each costume or set is £99 (some currently reduced in the summer sale)
Great for: Affordable swimwear up to a size 24 in a wide range of colours, prints and cuts.
I have quite a few friends who head straight to the swimwear department at M&S every year to select their summer cossie of choice. As well as your standard one pieces and bikinis, M&S has options for swim dresses, tankinis and styles with tummy-sculpting panels in keeping with the demand for shape-wear. Plus, it all comes at prices that won’t break the bank. This season I like the animal prints, summery ginghams and bold brights across the range. On my hit-list; the incredibly chic plunge swimsuit in navy and expensive-looking high waisted black bikini. If you want functional swimsuits for proper swimming, the Good Move range has some fun, printed sporty styles worth a try.
Great for: Swimwear designed to support a fuller cup – up to a G.
If you need more support up-top, you’ll be looking for built-in boning and underwires to provide the same level of support you get from a bra. Enter Form and Fold – an independent Australian brand making waves with its incredible swimwear, specialising in supportive and comfortable swimwear for larger cup sizes. The team test their pieces at least 20 times in the water to check fit, form and function – and model their pared-back pieces on older women, too. They also concentrate on achieving a perfect-fit so designs are simple and understated, in a neutral, earthy colour palette. Check out this fab printed swimsuit or the best-selling high-waist bikinis.
Swimsuits from, £180. Bikini tops from, £120 and briefs from, £60.
Also worth a look: Deakin + Blue
Great for: Stylish post-surgery and pocketed swimwear designed with hidden pockets for wear with prostheses or push-up.
The options for chic and comfortable post-surgery swimwear have come on a long way over the last few years. Most options are still lacking in the style department, which irks me no end. Fortunately, things do seem to be improving and I’ve a new label on my radar, Garance Paris. They design lingerie and swimwear for women who have had breast operations, with a particular focus on those who have had breast cancer. Each piece is made with comfort and style in mind, including front and back support, soft fabrics, wire-free cups, straps which avoid pulling on or stressing the skin, and hidden pockets for prostheses. I like the ruffle swimsuit in green and black and the classically chic monochrome bikinis.
Swimsuits from, €45. Bikini tops from, €65 and briefs from, €40.
Great for: Fit and function if you’re a serious swimmer or into water sports.
Designed with function and durability in mind, Davy J design swimwear is perfect for serious swimmers and sporty vacationers because they are ‘designed to survive a dive, pull off a cliff jump or handle a waterfall.’ This small, independent brand based in Devon was created by Helen Newcombe, a keen sportswoman, with experience kite-surfing and entering triathlons. She saw a gap in the market for swimwear that fits somewhere between the beachwear and sportswear. Functional, sporty pieces define the offering – and all pieces are double lined; have hidden rubber edging to help to keep them in place; and a high elastane composition for strength, shape and durability. The whole collection is manufactured in the UK and made using Econyl, a nylon yarn regenerated from 100% waste materials. I’m a big fan of the cross back swimsuits and longline bikini tops.
Swimsuits from, £125. Bikini tops from, £60 and briefs from, £50.
Great for: Understated, functional swimwear with a timeless aesthetic
Several fashion journalist friends swear by the swimwear at Cossie + Co. The label is all about simplicity and there are just ten classic, flattering designs, in a variety of prints and colour-ways. All swimwear is made using a double-lined honeycomb fabric that gives natural support without the need for underwires or complicated panels; then tested relentlessly for fit and function to avoid any maritime malfunctions. I like the universally appealing Ashley wrap style and then the mix and match bikini sets – in particular the sporty Gemma scoop neck bikini top.
Swimsuits from, £140. Bikini tops and bottoms from, £70.
Dive in: Lots more lovely swimwear here:
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