Swimsuit Shopping Made Easy

Finding the right suit can be a harrowing experience, but you have more options than you might think. Here, Sweet editors break down the swimwear they swear by—and why.

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One-Piece Swimsuits With Serious Flair

Maia Schoenfelder, social media editor, @maiaschoenf

Whether your style is modest or eclectic, a one piece should—can!—be your beach-day best friend. By providing tons of coverage, they take away any fears you might have about having a body that is somehow—due to its perceived paleness, perhaps, or a lack of recent exercise—not ready to go to the beach (FYI: all you have to do to have a "beach body" is bring your body to the beach). And they can look pretty cool, as it happens! One-pieces no longer need to be thought of as modest, boring, or for moms only. Featuring ruffled bells and lace-up whistles, there are a whole slew of one pieces on the market that deserve your utmost attention!

Out From Under Lace-Up One-Piece Swimsuit, $68, urbanoutfitters.com.
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This suit hits all the important points I look for when shopping for a one-piece: it's a flattering shape (no cut-outs in weird places), it has flair (hello, very low strappy cut!) and it doesn't go overboard (it's black, after all). Plus, since everyone has hopped on the criss-cross top bandwagon, I should note that this suit can double as a bodysuit—to be worn under jeans, or a skirt, or shorts, or whatever it takes to get from the sand into the beachside restaurant.

Mara Hoffman Off-the-Shoulder Ruffled Printed Swimsuit, $260, net-a-porter.com.

The off-the-shoulder trend has graduated from your T-shirts and is ready for the beach. Mara Hoffman, known for her colorful prints and crazy suits, balances an aloe-leaf print with a flowy strapless detail.

Aerie Ruffle One-Piece Swimsuit, $23, ae.com.
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Got something basic and boring that you need to turn into a party? Just add ruffles. Add water, too, and all bets are off. A white suit is not the easiest to wear (no colorful snowcones near this one, please) but with this fun, low-cut silhouette, I just can't say no. Want to find me this summer? I'll be frolicking by the pool in my ruffles, thank you. 

Swimsuits That Are Technically Not Swimsuits

Mallory Rice, deputy editor, @mallory-rice

A bikini by any other name still...smells like chlorine. And can look great in the water! Bras, athletic gear, T-shirts—everything is on the table.

Front O-Ring Strappy Bralette by Silence + Noise, $19, urbanoutfitters.com.

Some people (such as the person who writes product descriptions for urbanoutfitters.com) refer to this top as a "bralette." I refer to it as "what I bought when the actual bathing suit top I ordered online didn't arrive in time for my vacation." This one, despite being a bra meant to be worn in dry conditions, under clothing, is almost identical to the one I had ordered, and it matched my plain black bottoms just fine. Even though my intended bathing suit top eventually arrived (it's also black and similarly strappy), I still prefer wearing this one a lot of the time.

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Leotard by Onzie, $55, fitnessfashions.com.

My Onzie yoga leotard came into my life the same way so many wonderful things have: one of my friends got it as a gift and didn't want it. "Oh, sure, I'll take it," I said, despite having no need for a yoga leotard due to, at the time, having never stepped into a yoga studio and being generally disinterested in exercise or sports of any kind. A few months later, I needed a suit to wear to a spa, and felt like something a little more modest than a bikini was in order. This leotard—which dries quickly and is cut with a cute little boyshort silhouette—was just the ticket, and it has been for similar situations ever since.

T-Shirt by Stray Rats, $34, similar styles available at openingceremony.com.
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Over winter break last year, I went on my first-ever vacation dedicated to surfing. (Guess I'm sporty now?) Since I knew I was going to be out in the water for a lot of the time, I figured I would probably need some skin coverage that wasn't going to wash off. I decided to bring one of my favorite graphic T-shirts and just wear it over my bathing suit top the whole time, sort of like a rash guard. The one I picked was from Miami streetwear brand Stray Rats, but you can pick any T-shirt with a really strong graphic you like and it will look cool. My advice: Don't try to be sexy and tie it in a knot to make it more form-fitting or anything, just let it do its thing.

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Swimsuits You Can Stockpile, Guilt-Free

Chantal Strasburger, assistant editor, @chantagold

No need to invest your life savings on a swimsuit top—just find one great pair of bikini bottoms and mix and match with wallet-friendly, one-hit wonders instead! Buy it, wear it, love it or hate it—it was only $20. 

Bikini Top in Pink/Batik, $18, hm.com.

I am never satisfied with just one suit. My choice of cut and design depends on whether I'm riding roller coasters at Coney Island (full support, please!), braving the waves at Rockaway Beach (sturdy clasps are a must), or trying to get some sun in Prospect Park (as much SPF-covered skin showing as possible, thank you). So this H&M bathing suit is the perfect solution: It's flirty, frilly, and costs less than two rides on the Cyclone. With a comfortable amount of coverage and a hue that matches my favorite popsicle flavor, it's perfect for hot summer days. Until I start to hate the color pink, that is, and then I'll just get it in black, too. 

Bikini Top in Kukkatori Print Primary by Marimekko for Target, $20, target.com.
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Marimekko can do no wrong in my eyes, and its much-hyped collaboration with Target is a welcome affordable entry point into the Finnish brand's beloved flowery designs. In addition to being colorful and bold, I also particularly like my swimsuits to be as sports bra-like as possible, so if a spontaneous game of beach frisbee pops up (and it always does), I'll be able to spike without fear. 

Bandeau Bikini Top in Sea Mist, $15, jcrew.com.

Remember: Sales are your friend! Quite frankly, no one should be paying more than $20 for a strip of material this small. So as soon as temperatures rise above freezing, I scour my favorite sites for markdowns that allow me to buy from the brands I love for prices that aren't totally irrational. Oh, what's that? I spilled a raspberry margarita all over my bikini top on the first beach day of the summer? At $15 a pop, I'll just order another one—and a second marg, too, while I'm at it. 

Swimsuits That Are Two-Pieces but Not "Bikinis"

Chanel Parks, assistant editor, @chanelinezp

If you're tired of getting the same old stringy swimsuit every single summer, try something different this year: a two-piece set that has more fabric, and much more style. They're comfortable and have interesting details that go beyond bikinis in both function and looks. In fact, let's just forget about the word "bikini," OK?

Square Cut-Out Deep Triangle Bikini Top, $30, asos.com; Square Cut-Out High-Waist Bikini Bottom, $26, asos.com.

In order for something to even be considered a bikini, the bottom should follow the guidelines of a strict bikini cut: a low-rise that doesn't come near the belly button. So, technically, this red number isn't a bikini at all. No, it's not! But the two-piece is definitely eligible to join my swimsuit lineup this summer. The tiny cut-outs show just the right amount of skin, and the triangle cups are contemporary complements to the retro high-waisted brief (that's right, brief).

Love the word or hate it, tankini is the unsung hero of the swimsuit world. It's the best bathing suit for a day out at the beach that doesn't require swimming—it's more of a splash and chill kind of garment. The magic of tankinis is that they are, obviously, stand-ins for tank tops, especially when they have a flowy silhouette. Also, everyone needs a black swimsuit in their wardrobe for easy pairing with a multitude of cover-ups.

Wild for the Night Wrap Bikini Top by Minkpink, $59, nordstrom.com; Wild for the Night High-Waisted Bikini Bottoms by Minkpink, $49, nordstrom.com.

Another great thing about two-piece suits is that they have more fabric than a bikini, but are less bulky than a one-piece. The halter neck, geometric print, and sharp cut-outs on this one from Minkpink make most traditional bikinis seem uninspired. 

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