I’ve started flirting with a guy who lives out in Rockaway, so I’ve been adding a lot of swimwear to my cart lately, you know, just in case. The other day, I was scrolling through Ssense when I came across what I thought was a pretty average black one-piece bathing suit. It was flattering in all the right ways, but not too plunge-y, and I thought, Great! But then when I went to click on it, I noticed that the price tag was $500.
Five hundred dollars! For a bathing suit! By a brand I’d never even heard of! Swimwear prices for women have always been punishingly high. (I was once told by a designer that this is because smaller things are actually much harder to make, and that the fabric costs more, even though there’s so little of it?) But this was beyond. If inflation is going to affect swimwear prices this much, I might have to stick to nude beaches this summer.
The whole experience reminded me that, in general, wearing very little can actually be very expensive. It’s hard to imagine wearing some of these trendy, high-cut swimwear styles without getting waxed or lasered, or whatever. “I want bathing suits with full-coverage bottoms that aren’t boy shorts to avoid grooming,” one reader told me recently, and I’m all in favor of this idea. Last summer, swimwear felt so complicated. People on TikTok were wearing teeny-tiny tops and bottoms upside down and inside out. They looked great, but it was a whole thing. Now, I’m done trying. I want to put in as little effort as possible before hitting the beach.
Swim Skirts Are a Thing
If you’ve read this column before, you know that I can never go too long without mentioning Norma Kamali, but she is the queen of practical yet hot swimwear, so I am obviously counting on one of her swim skirts or dresses to solve my grooming woes this summer.
I asked my co-workers if they had any other ideas, and they gave me some more suggestions. “Skirts are perfect if you’re lounging around because you can mix and match with the swimwear of your choice,” said shopping writer Chinea Rodriguez. She recommended Triangl.
Junior writer Asia Milia Ware says this skirt by Riot Swim is like a “second skin.” It also comes in a range of different colors for a “mix-and-match moment,” she added. “And the drawstring detailing can be adjusted based on preference, so you can have as much bikini-line coverage as you need.”
Available in sizes XS to 4X.
Available in sizes 12 to 24.
Available in sizes XS to 2X.
You Could Also Wear a Wrap
If you’re not someone who really likes to get in the water anyway, sarongs can be a good solution as well. Rodriguez likes this one by Jacquemus, and I do too, but on principle I can’t recommend buying something this expensive if you can’t also wear it as a scarf or shawl. Maybe go for a neutral one from J.Crew instead. Or I just literally wear my linen scarves as sarongs, which also saves room for packing.
Ware suggested these mesh pants by Fe Noel as well. “Netted pants always feel like a sexy poolside accessory,” she said. “Even though they’re see-through, the net detailing often camouflages your bikini line.”
Swim Shorts Can Double As an Outfit
If you are going to get in the water — cue Ryan Gosling in The Notebook yelling, “Get in the water!” — maybe try some swim shorts. Rodriguez suggests these two by RJ Swim and Rielli, and I love how colorful they both are.
Ware suggested a pair of board shorts that are more Carrie Bradshaw. “They have a matching bikini top too, so you can still feel comfortable in your swim with extra coverage that doubles as an outfit.”
I have a fear of wearing shorts that are too long to the beach because of the risk of unfortunate tan lines. In the past, when I haven’t felt like getting a wax, I’ve just worn my five-inch Patagonia baggies in the water. They’re just the right length, and they dry magically fast. They also come in a ton of different colors, so you can stock up.
Or Just Do You
Of course, another solution is just not caring what other people think. That’s generally the most cost-effective route.