Shopping for swimwear online can be time consuming. There are a lot of styles and brands to choose from, although most people usually have a general idea of what they’ll be looking for. Determining what size will be ideal can also be tricky. Of course, there are also distinct advantages to buying a new suit online, far from the fluorescent lights and crowded aisles of a department store.
Depending on your plans, you'll want to choose from one of the following swimsuit categories: competition, fitness or fashion. Although you can wear just about any type of suit in a pinch, you’ll probably be more comfortable if you select a suit style that fits with your activity. In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the info you need to choose a style and size that will work well for your needs.
Because swimsuit sizes can differ from lingerie and dress sizes, it's a good idea to measure yourself every year before buying a new swimsuit. All you need is a flexible measuring tape and a mirror. It also helps to wear as little clothing as possible, since bulkier clothes may throw off your measurements. Remember to keep the measuring tape straight, not twisted, and keep it pulled snug, but not so tight that it's pinching your skin.
Most swimsuit manufacturers have their own set of sizing guidelines. In this guide, we've compiled size charts from several different brands to give you a better idea of how sizes vary. If you are looking at a particular product on the website, click on the “Sizing” tab to view the chart for that particular brand.
Important note: If you’re in-between sizes, go with the larger size in the fashion or fitness suit categories. For competition suits, you may want to go with the smaller size.
Again, the kind of swimming you’ll be doing (or no swimming at all) will determine the type of suit you should buy. In the following section, we’ll break down the three categories of women’s swimwear, and offer some fit recommendations for each.
If you'll be swimming competitively or training at a competitive level, you’ll benefit greatly from owning a competition swimsuit, also called a racing suit. These suits perform extremely well in the water by providing a tight fit, reducing drag and maximizing mobility.
Remember: Competition swimsuits fit much tighter than fitness or fashion suits because compression is essential. This type of suit is not for hanging out poolside with the family or lounging on the beach. If you don’t plan on racing or training in your competition swimsuit, you’ll probably be better off with a fitness or fashion suit.
Competition swimsuits don't have internal shelf bras or any added support. Instead, they incorporate a tight, body-hugging fit for a streamlined shape. Most racing suits are unlined, although some training suits may feature a front lining for longer life and extra durability.
Durable, performance nylon and lots of spandex for stretch is standard. Many suits also incorporate chlorine resistant fabrics, which will make them last longer.
All competition swimsuits are one-piece suits. Most have moderate leg openings, fairly high necklines, racerbacks or high backs for a secure fit.
Speedo is one of the leading competition swimsuit brands, although they also make fitness and fashion suits. As you compare your measurements to the chart below, keep in mind that it will be a tight fit. If you're in between sizes, consider choosing the next size up. For comfort, order a full size larger. For racing, buy true to your size.
Frequently chosen by Olympic athletes, TYR suits are tight and run small. Compare your measurements to the chart below and add one full size for the most comfort. Buy your true size for racing only.
Built for competition and triathlon training, Zoot swimsuits offer performance features in aerodynamic packages with modest coverage. For a more comfortable fit, order a full size up. As usual, only buy your true size for racing.
If you swim laps or participate in water aerobics as part of your fitness regimen, but don’t swim competitively, you’ll likely be most comfortable in a fitness swimsuit. These suits will still fit snugly and provide good hydrodynamics, but won’t be quite as tight as a racing suit.
Remember: These suits are geared more toward comfort, so many people prefer to buy a size up and go with a style they’ll feel confident wearing during moderate activity. If you're buying a competition-fitness hybrid suit from Dolfin or TYR, for example, you'll probably want to go up a size.
Most aquatic fitness swimsuits incorporate added support. Note: Support is necessary, especially for water aerobics (you wouldn’t take a step aerobics class without a sport bra, right? Same principle applies here). Support typically comes in one of three forms:
Performance blends of nylon and spandex are most commonly used in swimsuits designed for fitness. Look for chlorine-resistant blends for a longer life.
You have a little more leeway when choosing a fitness suit. These swimsuits typically come in one-piece, but there are also two-piece styles available. Again, choose the style you’ll be most comfortable moving in.
For fitness as well as competition, these sleek suits are always in the top tier. As with all fitness swimwear, TYR swimsuits are tight and run small. Compare your measurements to the chart below and add one full size for the most comfort.
Dolfin swimsuits offer fitness performance with more conservative coverage, modest leg cuts and a wider range of sizing. Be sure to go up one size with your Dolfin swimsuit to achieve maximum comfort. Compare your measurements to the chart below.
If you don’t plan on doing much swimming, a fashion suit is a fine choice. Fashion suits may also be called recreation swimsuits or casual swimsuits. The iconic bikini is probably the most quintessential fashion swimsuit, although that is certainly not the only option in this category.
Fashion swimsuits frequently have added support, shaping and, at the very least, a lining. Support typically comes in one of three forms:
You'll find the most diverse fabrics in the fashion category. Nylon, spandex, polyester and even cotton blends will show up here. Fashion swimsuits often incorporate embellishments and added design elements as well, from beads to metal hoops.
There are many different types of fashion swimwear. You can lounge poolside in an itsy-bitsy, polka-dot bikini or go with a tankini for added coverage. For even more coverage, you can always add a beach cover-up or a pair of board shorts over your bikini. Of course, there are many fashionable one-piece suits available, also.
The surf's always up in a Body Glove swimsuit. Bikinis and recreation swimsuits from Body Glove are stylish and perfect for hitting the beach or waves. Body Glove tops and bottoms are often sold separately, allowing you to create the perfect outfit.
A swimsuit from Carol Wior can take an inch or more off the waistline. Shape Detector swimwear accomplishes this by incorporating patented fabrics and features, like shirring and side wraps, to comfortably shape, smooth, lift and slim the body. Fit Tip: Carol Wior recommends buying their swimsuits in your true size, rolling the suit on like pantyhose, and properly positioning the underwire and waistline for maximum comfort and shape.
Swimwear from Miraclesuit uses a special fabric called Miratex® to slim and shape the body. The extremely high Lycra® content within the fabric provides excellent support. Fit Tip: Miraclesuit recommends going up one size from your pant size. So, if your pant size is 10, order a size 12 for an ideal fit.
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