How to buy swimwear: Shopping tips from 3 Canadian designers

Tips and trend info to check out before diving in.

Tips and trend info to check out before diving in

(Courtesy of Fortnight)

Buying a new swimsuit can be a confusing process, especially if you're shopping online and can't ask for help, feel the fabrics, or try everything on at once. Similar-looking designs can be priced significantly differently, and it's not a matter of simply buying the most affordable option, especially if you care about things like UVB protection and supporting locally-made fashion.   

To help you navigate the swim market this spring, we talked to three talented Canadian designers — Beth Richards, Camille Forcherio of Mimi & August, and Christina Remenyi of Fortnight — about shopping for swimsuits both online and offline, the colour trends of the year, and the hot cuts to consider. Ahead of swimsuit season, here are their top tips.

Try on these versatile silhouettes

Swimwear collections are often released just once a year, trends will often percolate through the industry for multiple seasons, and certain classic designs won't ever really go out of style. Still, there are a number of popular cuts that you can look out for right now.

For Forcherio, tube and tank tops are a must this season, as are suits with high cut, cheeky bottoms. Remenyi recommends one-piece swimsuits and the pullover bikini bra, both of which can be worn outside of the pool or beach. "One-piece swimwear [can] transition well from swimwear to daywear," says  Remenyi. "I'm also really excited about the athletic look of a pullover bikini bra that can double as a summery layering piece or activewear."

Have your pick of the year's buzzy colours

There isn't a consensus on the moment's must-have colours; instead each designer has clear preferences, and you'll likely spot all of these hues on the beach this summer. "Metallics and sporty neon colours are super hot; both to be worn with futuristic and sporty accessories," says Richards. Remenyi recommends vivid, concentrated colours and tropical brights, and Forcherio has noticed beige tones — from light sand to terra cotta and burnt orange — trending everywhere this season.

(Courtesy of Beth Richards Swimwear)

Know your fabrics

"Fabrics are continuing to evolve and advance, which is particularly beneficial for swimwear. A few fabric features you want to be on the lookout for is UV protection (not only will it protect your skin, it will prevent any colour fading of the fabric itself), and resistance to pilling, abrasions, chlorine, sand, suntan creams and oils," says Remenyi. "It's important that the fabric you choose is soft and flexible, but has excellent stretch recovery to ensure your suit won't stretch out after getting wet." She also recommends looking for swim fabrics with a quick dry time, for extra convenience on-the-go.

If you decide to go for a metallic-look bathing suit, be aware that the material might require extra care and can have a higher polyester composition, says Richards.

Look for bonus features

Beyond general style and performance characteristics, well-made swimwear can offer additional features that might make a higher price tag worth the investment. Forcherio recommends looking for fully-lined styles and a good quality fabric, and notes that eco-friendly textiles made from recycled plastic are very popular this year. "Styles with seaming and tailoring will ensure that your swimsuit has more structure and hold for excellent all day wear," says Remenyi.

(Courtesy of Fortnight )

Read the fine print

Richards highly suggests reading the fine print when shopping for swimwear online, since there are often helpful style and fit notes specific to each brand and design. "Our suits should fit on the tighter side as the fabric relaxes and softens when wet; if it's on the loose side it's too big," says Richards.

"Refer to each company's sizing chart, don't just assume for example that you always wear a medium; some companies have different sizing," says Forcherio, who suggests swimwear shopping in person if possible, for the convenience of trying multiple sizes and styles on at once. "Also look for a return/exchange policy. Some companies don't offer exchanges or returns for swimwear, especially if you buy online."

(Courtesy of Mimi & August)

Ask more questions

"Don't be afraid to reach out to customer support with questions about fabric performance, quality, fit and feel, as these are all important factors when determining fit," says Remenyi. "[Ask] whether one-pieces fit long or shorter in the torso, or how the sizing correlates to ready-to-wear." Remenyi also suggests sharing the reason for your purchase with the retailer, because they might be able to help you determine the suitability of a style for your intended activities.

Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?