EACH SUMMER brings a new swim trend, from crochet bikinis with matching wrap skirts to teeny triangle tops with high-contrast trim. But a lot of those splashy fads soon dry up. Twelve months later, once-Instagrammable suits are languishing at the back of your dresser drawer: scrunched up, regretted, never to lounge atop a tippy pool float again.
This summer, instead of buying a fleeting style, why not take the time to hunt down a more timeless suit that you have at least a fighting chance of happily wearing for summers to come? Confront yourself with questions that go beyond how many “likes” a suit might yield: Do you honestly prefer a classic maillot over a bikini? Are you concerned about avoiding strappy tan lines? Will you be swimming laps on the daily or sunning yourself in a lounge chair while indulging in your second daiquiri? Take a cue from these four stylish women. Below, they share their swimwear must-haves and the signature suits they rely on year after year.
Kimberly Drew, 30
Co-editor of ‘Black Futures’
Go-To: Luchia Top, $125, Luchia Bottoms, $135, lemlem.com
Staying Power: Of all the different ways that we dress and adorn ourselves, swimwear makes me feel the most vulnerable. It invites all of these questions about the body and presentation. I love a high-waisted bottom and a triangular bikini top. That combination echoes the bathing suits of the 1950s and ’60s. It’s a silhouette that works well on me and makes me feel really confident in my body.
Checklist: First, how the suit is made—the thoughtfulness in terms of production and the ethical considerations. Second, the person behind the brand. And then third, how the brand is represented and by whom.
Lauren Chan, 30
Founder of women’s fashion brand Henning
Go-To: Sidestroke One-Piece, $95, summersalt.com
Staying Power: The one-shoulder style is modern and a bit cool without being overly trendy. The linear design—the way that the suit has lines that flow diagonally across the body—is very flattering. I like that the back still has coverage; I want to put a suit on and not think about it for the rest of the day. I want to focus on swimming, or pouring a drink or chasing my dog rather than if I’m having a wardrobe malfunction.
Checklist: As a size 14-16, I want something that has a thicker strap in the back and is supportive in the places where a traditional bra or underwear would be supportive.
Aminatou Sow, 36
Writer and cultural critic
Go-To: Mesh High-Neck One-Piece, $92, swimsuitsforall.com
Staying Power: There’s something about this suit that looks very old-school. I love a high neckline. I think it’s great if you want to stay covered, and it’s very chic. And who doesn’t love a sheer moment? Very sexy. I notice that a stumbling block for a lot of people is trying to go with the trendy swimsuits, whatever the trend is at that moment. “Trendy” is usually very treacherous. Stick to what you like and what you feel good about.
Checklist: I’m very nitpicky about fabric because I actually like to go in the water. “Fashion” swimsuits are irritating to me. And I love a full butt-coverage situation. I need to feel confident in it.
Mimi Thorisson, 48
Author and cook
Go-To: Whitney Bandeau Swimsuit, about $285, alexandramiro.com
Staying Power: I don’t like to have too many tan lines because I like to have bare shoulders, so I tend to go for swimsuits with spaghetti straps, or even better, just a bustier swimsuit. This Alexandra Miro one is really pretty and it’s so flattering. It’s very Grace Kelly. It’s got this belt, but you can also remove it. I can wear it with a skirt as well. When you’re on the beach, you just put on the skirt and then you can go for lunch. Double-usage. I’ve kind of been living like that.
Checklist: I tend to go classic. It’s difficult for me to stray away from black or white or nude—but I do have some turquoise.
—Edited from interviews by Sara Bosworth
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