New York Magazine

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Scratchpad: Browsing for Bathing Suits

Illustration by Mark Nerys  
  • Of all shopping missions, picking out a bathing suit is hands-down the worst. There’s the usual questions about price and selection, of course, but it’s the trying-on process that’s truly torturous. I looked into dozens of candidates to arrive at five lesser-evil choices.

    5. At Quiksilver (519 Broadway, nr. Spring St.; 212-334-4500), the service was nonexistent, so I grabbed a few Blue Crush–inspired bikinis (separates from $42) and wandered into the fitting room. From what little I could see in the mirror, I had suddenly acquired a six-pack. But, alas, it was an illusion of shadowy lighting, which unfortunately does not exist poolside.

    4. Canyon Beachwear (1136 Third Ave., nr. 67th St.; 917-432-0732) was packed with jazzy bikinis and sporty one-pieces (from $104). An upbeat saleslady showed me to a cabana–themed fitting room, which was so tiny my half-naked self kept bumping into the cold mirror wall and my backside kept poking out of the curtain.

    3. Peddling sequin and frilly bikinis ($100 to $400), Pesca Boutique (1151 Second Ave., nr. 60th St.; 212-813-0546) had extra-dark changing rooms, which were not individually equipped with mirrors, forcing me into the public realm in my skivvies. One nice touch, though: They offered disposable thongs and sample heels.

    2. Up on the tenth-floor swim section at Saks (611 Fifth Ave., at 49th St.; 212- 940-2818), I was impressed with the selection ($54 for Ralph Lauren pieces; $340 for a Jean Paul Gaultier one-piece). As soon as I eyed a Betsy Johnson bikini top, an eager clerk escorted me to a big room with its own trifold mirror. If my suspicion about ultraflattering trickery was true—could I really look this toned and tan in March?—so much the better.

    The Winner!
    1. From the moment I rang the doorbell at Nolita’s Malia Mills (199 Mulberry St., nr. Kenmare St.; 212-625-2311), the minimalist boutique was the clear champ. A shopgirl pulled options based on my bra and pant sizes, and laid them in a spacious, well-lit dressing room. At about $300, these bikinis weren’t cheap—but the anxiety-reducing experience will save me at least that much in therapy.

    What Is This?
    Each year, everything you see in “Best of New York” has been rigorously tested by a small army of discriminating critics. That’s a given. What you don’t typically see is so much as a glimpse of the process by which we reach our conclusions. To provide a taste of that (and to sneak in a few more picks), we’ve invented the Scratchpad, a brief look at the paths our testers followed in six categories.

From the 2011 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine

Order the Issue Today

Cover of New York Magazine's Best of New York issue

Order This Issue

Other Best Of Guides

So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).