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The Best Swimwear for All Genders

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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Swimwear can be both exhilarating and stressful, especially if your body, style, or gender identity doesn’t fit into traditional “men’s” and “women’s” categories. Finding something that’s affirming and comfortable can be daunting, but no one should have to compromise on expressing themselves either. In the current swimwear landscape, that’s a tall order, so we spoke to 22 people across the gender spectrum — including stylists, surfers, models, and musicians — about the swimsuits that fit their bodies and personalities.

Our panelists’ bodies, styles, and identities varied widely. Some looked for gender-neutral or gender-free suits. Others sought, in culture and technology strategist Bruno Olmedo Quiroga’s words, to be more “genderful” in their presentation by playing with both masc and femme elements. Context mattered too: Several panelists felt safest not being visibly trans at the beach, others wanted to show off their bodies as gender diverse, and many reported keeping an eye out for different options depending on their own mood and on how affirming the crowd around them would be. Their suggestions were as diverse as our panelists, so we’ve marshaled a big (and still far from exhaustive) collection of recommendations, tips, and ideas. We prioritized suits with broad availability but did include some lower-stock favorites from outstanding brands in case they restock.

Best one-pieces and unisuits

Best retro unisuit

Frances Reed, a licensed bodyworker and binding expert, praised Beefcake Swimwear’s excellent quality and stylistic “nod to early-1900s bathing suits.” “What I like most about Beefcake’s retro one-piece style,” they told us, “is that it is something entirely different looking than men’s or women’s suits. As someone who identifies as entirely different from men or women, that fits me just right!”

Gender-affirming custom one-piece

This customizable suit gives major Audrey Hepburn glamour. It can be tailor-made in many areas, including body length, bust and underbust measurements, and gusset size, which allows shoppers to choose how much space they want around the genitals. As stylist and lingerie-consultant Monica Harrington explained, wider gussets are often an essential part of accessing “body-confidence” in swimwear for clients with penises. Three gusset widths offer options for a range of styles and anatomies: The roomiest for a comfortable untucked fit or extra space around the vulva, the middle for moderate compression (think shapewear) with or without tucking, and the narrowest for a traditional “women’s” cut. While these custom suits take six-to-eight weeks to make, experts swore that the brand’s products (like its chest binders) are worth the wait.

“Gender bendy” one piece

Culture and technology strategist Olmedo Quiroga told us that Patrick Church’s “gender bendy” thong-back one-pieces check all the boxes for being “more genderful” — heightening traditional gendered elements so the “very femme accentuates the very masculine” (and vice versa). Olmedo Quiroga also appreciates that their Patrick Church suit showcases, rather than hides, their whole body, unlike other suits they’ve tried: “The fact that they don’t have padding in the chest makes it much easier to wear on my body.” Those seeking a bit more coverage can pair it with a matching skirt — or try also much-recommended brand Rufskin’s printed and strappy one-pieces.

Best trunks

Short trunks

Chubbies Classic Swim Trunk

Kylo Freeman, founder of binder company For Them, finds short-shorts most flattering on their body when “hacking things together” from products designed for cis people. Other transmen and nonbinary people we spoke to shared Freeman’s preference for Chubbies Classic Swim Trunks with a 4.5-inch inseam. They also come in longer lengths and in over 50 colors, though stock varies.

Gender-inclusive trunks

Humankind Swim has a devoted following for its flattering cut —short and a bit slimmer than the often-baggy selection found in the “men’s” aisle. Cyrielle Malot-Moore, product marketing manager at Marmalade, and her colleagues chose to feature Humankind on their platform for its combination of stylish and functional design.

Stunning printed trunks

adidas x Farm Swim shorts

Adidas shorts are already a favorite among gender-diverse people: In their recent piece on shorts for transmen and gender-nonconforming people, comedian Lily Marotta recommends the Adidas Originals Adicolor 3-Stripes Swim Shorts for the flattering fit. This Farm Rio and Adidas’ collaboration combines vibrant prints with added attention to gender-neutral design, including a super-adjustable drawstring waistband and hip-skimming cut. While stylist Harrington pointed to Adidas as a model for major brands venturing into the gender-neutral category, she did note that the sports collection, which includes a pair of gorp-core trunks, does lean toward more masc styles.

Inexpensive packing trunks

Actor Jacqui Bardelang praises U.K.-based Spectrum Outfitters for a range of thoughtful designs. At $25 (before shipping), the packing trunks are affordable and can be paired with the brand’s foam packers (sold separately). The binders are also swim friendly!

Trunks for afab bodies

Both& Elliot

While it can be hard to get your hands on these popular trunks, those who do exalt the magical way they help minimize hip dysphoria. Both& brand ambassador Corey McAuley elaborated on the unique fit: “The boxy shape fits my body seamlessly without clinging to any areas and slits at the side ensure my thighs aren’t tight, which is pretty common with cis men’s clothing!” The shorts have a built-in packing pouch, and the brand sells matching and equally well-designed swim tops and packers.

Best bikinis, briefs, and booty shorts

Bulge-forward bikinis and thongs

Panelists of various genders sung the praises of bulges at the beach — and Rufskin’s playful bottoms. Dawn Heilung, the artistic director of Genderfucked Productions, prefers tucking or wearing a more covering suit in most settings but also enjoys “trans people seeing all of me” in affirming spaces where it feels safe to “showcase and share our bodies.” Austen Weimer of Kansas City highlighted Rufskin’s thoughtful touches, like “peekaboo cut-outs in the back,” as flattering and interesting. Rigel Gemini, a music artist and social-media influencer who recommended Rufskin’s thongs, noted that they offer a way of “embracing femme aspects of masculinity” while navigating a landscape of Speedos and jockstraps.

Tucking bottom

Photo: Retailer

In their shopping guide for trans youth, Strategist writer Erin Schwartz reports that three trans women mentioned Tuckituppp “for tucking underwear that can double as swimwear bottoms.” Evan Bialosuknia, who was the first trans homecoming queen at her Orlando, Florida, high school, appreciates the “gentle fabrics” and range of colors.

Versatile booty shorts

Harrington encourages clients to find swim styles they love and then figure out “what can I do to make it work for my body.” Mission-driven Play Out Apparel embraces this philosophy with their booty shorts in packer-friendly pouch-front and flat-front styles, so people can choose the bottom silhouette that works best for them. I also love this glamorous black and pearl swimsuit version of evening wear: It’s a tuxedo, evening gown, and string of pearls all in mere inches of fabric.

Snug hipster

Cassie Lujan, a nonbinary artist living in L.A., told us that she looks for “bottoms that cover and hold in the intimate zone and have a flattering cut so I can be totally secure while still feeling good about how I look.” Harrington highlighted TomboyX’s swim bottoms for wider gussets, secure fit, and “more neutral” cut, somewhere between a bikini designed for cis women and full tucking bottoms. In addition to this killer print, they also come in black and textured teal.

Best skorts and dresses

Sporty skort

Ann Thomas, founder of the production and talent management company Transgender Talent, recommended swim skirts as a “perfect fit” for people with penises who don’t want a visible bulge and prefer not to tuck. While many styles marketed for cis women will work, Urbody’s skort with built-in compression shorts is designed specifically for people who want secure coverage while swimming or lounging in the sun.

Hybrid dress

Dominique Pariso writes that model Anastasia Savelyeva admires “Kitty and Vibe’s size-inclusive swimwear” for its “adorable patterns” and “quality construction.” Similar to a swim skirt, this amphibious dress offers easy coverage from the beach to the bar.

Sexy skort

Heilung of Genderfucked Productions extolled the fun of twirling in a tennis skirt at the beach. They also lamented the lack of femme swimwear for gender-diverse people, especially items that show off “trans as sexy.” I thought of their comments when Reddit led me to Chromat’s bombshell-sexy, swim-ready skirt designed with people of all genders and bodies in mind. (If your size isn’t available, you can try repurposing this flouncy Athleta tennis skort.)

Sophisticated skirt

For those looking to wear their own bottoms under a skirt, UNTAG’s nonbinary A-line swim skirt, with sizes up to XXXL, may be the answer. I love that it comes in kids’ sizes too, from 8 to 16 years. The brand also has tucking bikini slip bottoms and a range of elegant swim tops.

Best binders, bralettes, and bikinis

Swim binder

Many Strategist-approved binders can be used for swimming, but For Them’s binder stands out for its smooth seams that don’t rub when wet, moderate compression designed for comfortable movement, and range of beautiful colors. While not every color is available in every size, they come in 11 sizes for chests measuring between 28 and 62 inches. As founder Kylo Freeman notes, the brand’s binders are not currently designed for swimming, so they may take longer to dry than typical bathing suits.

Other options include FLAVNT Streetwear’s groundbreaking inclusive range of “bareskin” nude binders, designed with swimming in mind and offering a more shirtless look. Urbody’s half-tank classic, racerback, and sports compression tops were also popular among panelists seeking moderate compression (somewhere between a sports bra and a traditional binder). Taping with TransTape or Kinesiology tape was also a favorite approach for swimmers, either on its own or under a rashguard.

Crop-top bikini

After hearing about a nautical Tom of Finland crop-top bikini, I tried to track it down. Unfortunately, it’s no longer for sale, but any quick-drying crop top with a bikini bottom or brief will accomplish the look of a masc bikini. I’m taken by this neon number from panelist-favorite Rufskin, along with a sporty mesh bikini top cut like a sports bra and a nipple-exposing harness top (made of quick-drying nylon and spandex). Cropped rashguards, like Play Out’s Mitchell top, are also a great option.

Light-support sports bra

For a sporty, gender-neutral look at an unbeatable price, I love my Adidas sports bra. Its light support doesn’t offer much compression, but its streamlined cut creates a sleeker profile than padded bikini tops. It’s simple design also pairs nicely with almost any pair of trunks.

Sammy Swim’s tops are meant to fit with or without boobs and offer a bit more coverage. Or, for a high support option, two-time Ironman triathlete and former president of the Brooklyn Tri Club Christine Frietchen recommends Athleta suits, like the Conscious Crop Bikini Top, available in A-C and D-DD ranges.

Budget-friendly long-line bikini top

Harrington encourages “looking at length” for a more gender-neutral look in bikini tops. She also emphasized budget-conscious options, like Target’s longline bikini bralette, which delivers on both fronts, at $15 with loads of colors, sizes, and removable breast pads for a flatter or fuller profile. She added that the pockets for removable cups in many bikinis will nicely support breast prostheses.

Best swim-shirts and rashguards

Printed rashguard

Many transmasc and nonbinary panelists recommended rashguards, like Play Out Apparel’s exuberant styles, available in sizes XS-5X and both cropped and full-length. For more understated options, Lands End offers a huge array of colors and prints, sizes, and cuts across their men’s and women’s lines.

Momo Hude, founder of queer and POC surfing collective Benny’s Club, noted that since rashguards cling to the chest when wet, layering them over a binder, sports bra, KTtape, or TransTape can help keep a flatter profile.

A swim button-down

Button downs were a favorite among panelists for minimizing hip dysphoria. Riley Hewko, who’s transmasculine, told us that once they get out of the water, they “wear an open button up to hide my hips a bit.” Hude sports one even in the water for a boxy cut around his hips, like this Jeff Probst-core button down specifically designed for the water.

Mesh rashguard

Rigel Gemini reaches for mesh when “embracing femme aspects of masculinity in fashion and style.” The fabric, he says, is a great first step to “helping people find their own place” in gender expansive and fluid dressing. Rufskin’s sexy see-through mesh tulle rashguard is designed for the water and can go in many gender directions depending on the day.

Zip-front rashguard

Hude told us that neoprene surf vests “do a good job compressing” because of their material and fit. Harrington explained that “anything with zips at the front,” including regular rashguards and bikini tops, will be “a bit sporty and flattening,” even if they provide less compression than surfing neoprene.

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The Best Swimwear for All Genders