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Bikini styling is inherently at the mercy of the environment in which bikinis are typically worn: namely, outside, and often in the presence of water and intense sunlight. Throw trillions of particles of sand into the mix — not to mention sunscreen residue — and you’ve got yourself a really interesting challenge. Needless to say, it probably isn’t the best time to whip out your expensive suede shoes or a special-occasion silk top. While that might be obvious, other aspects of this particular styling equation are less so. For example: How does one concoct a thoughtful “look” around what are essentially two scraps of waterproof fabric without cosplaying as a Love Island contestant en route to a group date?
Keep scrolling for some pointers.
When you are starting with a bathing-suit top
Make sure whatever you choose is comfortable, ideally with a waistband that doesn’t leave any unwelcome marks or indentations around your stomach since you’ll likely be baring your midriff at various intervals.
Add a necklace or ankle bracelet
I like to keep my accessories simple when I’m at the beach or pool and usually limit myself to just one item of jewelry so I don’t have too much to keep track of when I shed layers to go swimming. A necklace is always a reliable choice given that you’re already showing off your bikini top, but an anklet can be a great surprise alternative, especially if you’re wearing shoes that you want to draw attention to.
Finish things off with sunglasses
And a hat or headscarf.
When you are starting with a fun bathing-suit bottom
Your lower half deserves its time in the sun, too — hence the occasional leg-baring bikini ensemble.
Layering a tank or tube top and a short-sleeved button-down over a bikini is one of my go-to templates for this scenario.
Pair with an oversize top
Add a (flat) colorful shoe
There’s a lot of room to play with in terms of footwear here, but personally, I’m not a fan of heels or wedges with a swimsuit.
Flats are the move — either a strappy leather sandal or something practical like Birkenstocks or Tevas in a fun color.
When the focus is a full-coverage look
When cultivating a fuller-coverage pool or beach look, I like to get creative about how to still make the bikini a cohesive part of the outfit. That aim can manifest in a variety of ways, from colorful straps peeking out from underneath my tank top to showing off a high-waist silhouette through a slightly transparent cover-up. The idea is to be clothed enough that I could sit down for lunch at a beachside restaurant, but not to the extent that what I’m wearing veers into fussy or impractical territory.
Let’s put it like this: After washing down my last French fry with a sip of spritz, I should subsequently be able to take a nap on my stomach in the sand without a second thought.
No shoes needed
It’s a barefoot-boy-summer after all, right?