Fashion & Beauty

Suit Up for Summer

Get in the swim of it. From left to right, a M.M. LaFleur-Andie Swim collaboration, a stunning hibiscus print from Loro Piana and a stretchy suit for every body from YouSwim.  

ME, GO SWIMMING? Wear a bathing suit? I’d almost rather set my hair on fire. Nonetheless, a few months ago, I signed up for a water aerobics class—across the street from my house. (I’d wear my suit under a long kaftan, which I’d swiftly take off and slip into the water.) Still I canceled a couple of times before I decided to take the plunge last week.

Well, dear readers, I had such a ball playing with weights and noodles in the pool, I felt like a kid again at summer camp. My advice is, Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of swimming because you don’t like how you look in a bathing suit. My wise colleague, Valerie Monroe, would undoubtedly counsel you to accept your body.

And, oh, should you need a new bathing suit, I’ve got a bunch of suggestions that are comfortable, functional and flattering.

Note: I have mostly stuck to one-pieces because it’s my preference but all the brands mentioned below offer two-pieces.


When I asked my kitchen cabinet where they buy bathing suits, my pal who swims a few times a week, gave the nod to Lands’ End for the “tugless” sporty one-piece. A UPF 50 sun-protected blend of 88% nylon and 12% chlorine-resistant Spandex (for longer wear), its jacquard texture camouflages tummies. It’s available in black, white, turquoise, pink and blackberry in regular sizes 2 to 18 and in plus sizes 16 to 26 in blackberry, pink, and turquoise. Use code LOVE to halve the regular $72.95 price tag.


I told my savvy daughter-in-law I needed a bathing suit, and she immediately said, “You have to try one from Andie,” so I investigated. Among the brand’s four “icons” (most popular), I liked the look and details of the Tulum One Piece (above), which comes in a classic or long torso, in a smooth, compressive fabric (80% recycled nylon and 20% Spandex) as shown, or in a ribbed or satin finish. The site describes its seat coverage and compression as medium and bust support as maximum, which you can change with removable cups. I like its cross-strap back for making sure everything stays in place. Available in extra small to XXXL, it comes in basic colors (black, red, navy, and white), as well as this fun papaya shade. I’m also attracted to Andie’s Malibu style, which offers full rear coverage and snap-front buttons for more cover up top.


This sculpting suit, also from Lands’ End, uses the company’s patent-pending WaveShaper™ technology—built into the UPF 50 fabric—that targets the mid-section. Draping detail along the chest accentuates the bust, while a sewn-in soft-cup bra lifts it up. It’s available in regular, petite, and long. On my ad hoc advisory board, a friend who spends most of her time in a museum with a summer break on the Cape, gives a thumbs-up to Lands’ End for its slew of tankini tops in regular and plus sizes that you can mix and match with swimsuit bottoms (bikini bottoms, swim shorts, and skirts).


My Paula Beachwear suit in the swordfish pattern (black body with a square white neckline) has seen better days, unfortunately. It was exceptionally comfortable—in a textured lycra, which was compressive but not overly so—and had a generously cut bottom. Now I’m eyeing the Sorrento in the same fabric but with a high neck, which ties in the back. Besides this black, it comes in seven other colors. Bonus points: It can also do double-duty as a top.


I’ve never worn a tankini because I thought they might rise up to reveal a stomach I’d rather not show. This cute Santorini Tankini Top with contrasting halter-neck stripes from Boden looks like a flattering shape, but I think the matching bottom looks too skimpy. There is a high-waisted bikini bottom in navy that might work; alternatively, there’s the Santorini Halterneck Swimsuit with boning at the side seams for good support, and it’s available in regular and long. 


You have to hand it to Lands’ End for the sheer abundance of its styles. This slender suit, available in regular and plus sizes, is made from Slendertex® fabric with UPF 50 sun protection and flatters with a V-neck and criss-cross pleats for tummy control.


Those who want to show more skin may prefer Andie’s Mana One Piece with its V-neck and feminine bows. A nylon-satin fabric with a light sheen offers the same compression as its Tulum and Malibu cousins.


Up for a splurge?  The hibiscus leaves look as if they’ve been painted on this Loro Piana one-piece suit. In a lightweight jersey fabric that hugs and smoothes the body, it’s also practical for plunging in without fear of a wardrobe malfunction.


YouSwim wants to fit Everywoman with its soft, flexible tops, bottoms and one-piece suits that come in two sizes — Stretch I (size 2-14) and II (size 14-24). Made in England, the fabric acts like a second skin. This ribbed Aplomb One Piece ($139) will stretch in all directions to accommodate big busts, no butts and the in-betweens. It’s also available in two pieces with either a standard high waist or a cheeky (thong-like) bottom.


I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on coverups, especially when you can pop a big T-shirt or an oversize button-up that you already own over your swimsuit. But this Garnet Hill linen midi coverup with a high-low hem, fluttery sleeves, and pockets is on sale for a third of its original price.




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5 thoughts on “Suit Up for Summer

  1. Nancy G says:

    I actually have 2 Lands End tankinis. Versatile, flattering, easy to get on and off. And great patterns.

  2. Carol says:

    I may (or may not) shop for a new suit this year…. Thanks, Janet, for the suggestions.
    I have one black one (hardly worn) that I can wear in case a new one doesn’t happen.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Black is always a good fallback!

  3. Val Monroe says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Janet! I’ve found a few great one-piece suits at…Target. Inexpensive and surprisingly chic!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      You’re welcome, Val. Thanks for the tip about Target; I like that combo–inexpensive and chic.

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