While we’ve already heard from several women on their bikini of choice, our investigation of the best bathing suits for summer wouldn’t be complete without a study of the eternally stylish one-piece swimsuit. Here, we asked a dozen stylish women of varied body types and professions — some are fashion people with an eye for design, others are dancers and models, while still others are writers and editors — about their favorite one-piece, including details on the style, comfort level, coverage, and how it works for their body type.
Some even included details on what they look for in a bathing suit in general, and whether or not the suit was appropriate for dabbling in water sports (because you might be looking for something more resilient if you’re an avid swimmer, surfer, or diver). We took their suggestions as a framework for categorizing the swim options and made a few alternate suggestions here and there, to give you a range of options to shop from.
If you don’t want to spend more than $100 on a suit, Australian TV host, model, and trainer Rachael Finch gravitates toward this affordable Billabong suit, which is her “current fave by a mile” for its design and stripy pattern. “I love the low-cut back and skimpy pant on this piece because I feel it balances the modesty of the full piece nicely. The vertical stripes are flattering and help to elongate the body, and this color palette works well with my skin tone.” Though hers isn’t on sale in the States, we found a similar style below that has a similar low back and striped details.
Should you want something even cheaper, we’d recommend one of Lively’s swimsuits, like this tropical, color-blocked option with thin straps (I own two of their one-piece suits and love them).
Or, in that sweet spot under $30, Uniqlo just re-released its Princesse Tam.Tam swimwear, which is a favorite of two Strat editors. Alexis Swerdloff says she especially loves the cross-back pattern, and adds, “People are always shocked when I tell them it’s from Uniqlo and it was only 30 bucks!” Staffer Mia Leimkuhler also has it and says she can vouch for its excellence: “It’s a really good ‘at the beach with family’ suit that looks flattering but not awkwardly sexy.”
The extra real estate on a one-piece bathing suit means even more space for prints and color-blocking, so we hear from Kurt Lyle founder Virginia Craddock, who points me to hers from French brand Sébastien: “I love the abstract black-and-white pattern and how this suit looks like a fashion suit, but performs like a sport suit.” She also loves the versatility, UV protection, and ecofriendly materials. “I could chase my 3-year-old all summer long in this suit, but still feel glamorous enough to have a $20 margarita poolside at the Soho House.”
Another swimsuit that’s sustainably made, color-blocked, and UV-protected comes from freelance journalist Sophia Li, who says this Summersalt swimsuit fits like a glove. “The material has compression, but not so tight where you can’t move. It’s thick yet breathable — I’ve worn it while surfing, swimming, jumping off a sailboat, and the shape hasn’t given up through multiple washes.” All Summersalt’s one-pieces also happen to be very reasonably priced under $100, too.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention uberpopular swim brand Solid & Striped for their colorful, printed one-piece options, like this bright tiger-stripe print.
Because you might want something less flashy, model, artist, and photographer Maly Mann suggests this swimsuit from minimal Aussie brand Her Line that ticks off all her boxes for a swimsuit: “The suit must feel weightless, must be ethically made, have a comfortable cut, but also stylish and made well.” She notes that the brand offers styles from V-necks to square-necks and adds, “I can run around in it without worrying about any malfunctions (you ladies know what I mean).”
Another simplistic brand that all the cool girls wear on Instagram (you’ll know it by the simple shape and spaghetti straps) is California label Nu Swim, which came recommended by Isadora Alvarez, the founder of Back Beat Rags. She loves the simplicity of the cuts, the colorways, and the designs that remind her of Baywatch. “I’m a full-coverage kinda gal, so I like that this one covers you up but is still surprisingly sexy.”
For something full coverage and supportive for bigger bust sizes, Elianah Sukoenig — model, social editor, and director of communications at the Break — directs us to a vintage-y swimsuit from London-based label Hunza G, which has also won over celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna, and Alexa Chung. “I chose this leading up to a much-anticipated vacation to Côte d’Azur and have been in search of a versatile, vintage-looking piece that can be layered with skirts, shorts, and denim. I am a busty gal, and in combination with having a long torso, I struggle to find one-pieces that flatter my body. At last, this one does the trick!” She said this one also hugs in all the right places, is supportive for her bigger bust, and most importantly, comes in a comfortable fabric. “The textured Lycra feels so luxurious clinging to the skin.”
In this category, we would also recommend Monday Swimwear, which goes up to a 36F in tops, or sites like Swimsuits for All (recommended by Bustle editor Amanda Richards) that carry a broad range of sizes. This one comes from Swimsuits for All’s collaboration with Ashley Graham, and has underwire for added support.
For a plus-size fit, writer Nora Whelan also suggests Swimsuits for All, plus Robyn Lawley, Eloquii, and ModCloth. Her favorite suit is from Torrid, though, which comes in sizes 00 to 6 (the retailer’s equivalent for sizes 10 to 30), and is also available in a standard (C to DD) and full cup (DD to DDD) options: “Its convertible, adjustable straps let you really customize your fit, so you never have to worry about popping out in the wake of a big wave.” She adds that the underwire is a nice addition “as a somewhat top-heavy, busty, “in-between” girl, and that the ruched front panel is especially helpful for anyone who’s self-conscious about their midsection.
Here’s another ruched option that we heard about from writer Jada Yuan, who wrote that this Bathing Beauty one-piece is sort of a universally flattering bathing suit, from petite to plus-size (Taylor Swift has worn a version in polka dots, for what it’s worth.) She said, “My size will fluctuate between an 8 and a 10, and I have an ample chest that spills out of almost any one-piece that fits the rest of me. The minute I put this one on, though, I felt like Marilyn Monroe. It had a lovely, eye-catching sheen, ruching in the front that minimized my belly, low-cut leg holes that covered the widest part of my hips, and a halter top and light boning for the kind of chest support that most bathing suits never give me.”
When it comes to swimsuits that will help you avoid wardrobe malfunctions on the water — without looking too Olympic — Carol Miltimore, founder of Seek Collective recommends Polonio’s Uruguay-based swimwear line. She says their prints have a wonderful sense of humor, but most importantly, the suits are tailor-fitted and flattering. “I feel like I can be active without worrying about exposing anything while still feeling sexy and fun in them.” Kicky Canadian shoe designer Charlotte Stone prefers this halter-neck Mara Hoffman suit for its Goldilocks fit: “It’s not too revealing and not too modest, has a sexy cut-out detail in the front (but holds you in when you’re swan diving), and the necktie can be worn a couple different ways.”
Danielle Ribner, the founder of Loup, tells us that she wasn’t even a fan of bathing suits until she met this Mollusk Saladita one-piece. “Now I’m a complete one-piece convert and can’t wait to put it on as soon as it gets warm.” She likes its mixture of coverage and elegance on her curvy figure, and says the structure at the bust “makes it great for lounging, but also totally secure when jumping in the waves.” Because you might be looking for something from a dedicated sportswear brand, we would also recommend Duskii’s rash guards and one-pieces, which are designed as high-performance activewear (and are worn by celebrities like Karlie Kloss).
Exaggeratedly high-cut designs are having a moment lately. Last year, Vogue declared that “the ’80s bathing suit was back” after celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, and Selena Gomez took to them, and the trend has trickled down even further. Two people of the Instagram set — Thrifts and Threads’ Brittany Xavier and ballerina Egle Andreikaite — also emphasized their love for high-cut swimsuits to me. Which, according to Andreikaite, is because “they make your legs look longer,” and if you buy a colorful one, it offsets your tan in a nice way — think Baywatch.
Xavier says she’s been all about unique details and textures, and has been photographed in this Norma Kamali suit recently, so we found one below that’s a little more affordable and muted.
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