We're officially turning our attention to summer. Whether you're off to the aquamarine waters of Europe or a wellness retreat in Asia this year, or will be spending the summer on a staycation chilling by the pool, now is a good time to add to your swimwear wardrobe.
Trend-wise, popping polka prints, classic retro patterns, sustainable fabrics, stylish colourblocking and modest body-sculpting pieces are the items to look out for. A handful of swimwear labels now use fabrics bolstered with extra UV protection, too.
If you're struggling to find the right costume to suit your shape, tastes and interests, we've found brands to put you at ease on the beach, by the pool or out on the surf making the most of your days off.
Make a splash
Designed for the "woman who is going somewhere", the Boogaloo line of swimwear is ideal if you're the sort of person who is more likely to be playing volleyball or running wildly into the ocean as soon as you hit the beach, rather than sitting on a sun lounger with a good book.
Inspired by founder and photography enthusiast Melina Giolva’s year-long sabbatical in South America, this fun line of colour-spiked one-pieces is stamped with her bold, highly saturated photographs of deep orange sunsets and famous landmarks, as well as the vibrant locals she met along the way.
Made from soft but sturdy Italian fabrics, the costumes are made to be active, which means you can splash about as much as you like. Each print is offered in three signature styles: a halter-neck plunge, rib plunge and crossback, for a shape that best suits your body type.
Those who plan to spend much of their time out in the sun should look to Sweaty Betty, which has launched its Offshore Training bikinis with SPF 50 added for better skin protection. These pieces also happen to be made from chlorine-resistant fabric, which is good news for swimmers who are tired of their faded and chlorine-ravaged costumes.
Support and comfort is the aim of the brand, so the line, which sells tops and bottoms separately, is designed to train in, from ribbed swimsuits to surf tops that will keep you protected when you're catching waves on your board.
Another brand you can turn to if you're looking for separate tops and bottoms is Solid and Striped, which is injected with the preppy vibes of the West Coast of America, and offers myriad pick-and-mix styles and shapes to suit your body type, from long sleeves to supportive balconettes. This season, retro patterns reign supreme in the label's swimwear line, with polka dots and houndstooth motifs stamped across the range. Our favourite is the belted Nina, which channels the classy polka-dot dress Julia Roberts's character wears to the races in Pretty Woman, in swimwear form.
The Lisa Marie Fernandez label, meanwhile, blurs the lines between boho and glam, offering swimwear with a retro-mod feel. Think belted bikinis, button-down bralets and gold two-pieces inspired by Star Wars' Princess Leia. Don't find teeny bikini bottoms terribly relaxing? No worries, the label also offers high-waisted options and even terry cloth shorts, so you can stride on to the sand with confidence this summer.
In a modest mood
In fact, entire Pinterest boards are being dedicated to the burkini and modest swimwear with aesthetic appeal, yet it can be hard to find a style you like. One British brand that makes hitting the beach and dressing modestly a lot easier is Lyra, which was born out of the designer's own need to adopt modest dress while swimming and enjoying the outdoors.
"Ever tried going swimming in a DIY get-up that looks like it's just been thrown together? Fishing out your brother's oversized T-shirt and some leggings from yesteryear, and a makeshift wrap for your hair, so you feel covered and comfortable before heading to the pool? I've been there," says Ikram, the brand's founder. As a result, she decided to develop her own sleek, sophisticated line of swimwear that is a cut above the baggy burkini.
At Lyra, top-spec Italian carvico fabric with high UV protection is sculpted into minimalist looks that flatter, making them elegant and refined as opposed to bulky and weighty. The ruffled turban head covering, available in jewel tones, is a nod to the golden age of Hollywood, and is the final touch to complete the full set, which is available all together or separately, depending on the level of coverage you prefer.
Another platform that offers on-trend burkinis that are not too flashy is Modanisa. Its options range from bold colourblock pieces – replete with geometric shapes and patterns inspired by the 1960s, and the designs of Mary Quant – to cool camo, which takes its inspiration from fashion's current obsession with the 1990s. Modesty does not have to be monochromatic any more.
If you're becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of plastic being dumped in our oceans, you'll be pleased to know that there are several labels recycling this waste to create directional swimwear. The Reformation, for instance, uses Econyl – a material made from industrial plastic and recycled fishing nets, combined with scraps of other fabric – in its flattering, fashion-forward swimwear. The brand is also developing costumes that won't shed microfibres when washed. In the meantime, its Guppyfriend wash bag limits the fibres that make it into the water cycle during every wash.
A primary colour palette, shapes that cinch in at the waist and flattering options for every body shape make up the Mara Hoffman collection of swimwear. Choose from flattering high-waist bikini bottoms and bandeau bikini tops, to one-piece costumes and crop tops, which are modelled by women of all sizes, races and body types in the label's photo shoots, to show the diversity of its offerings. By employing Econyl fabric, Mara Hoffman was able to prevent almost 5,000 kilograms of waste from heading to landfill in 2017, while the brand also repurposed about 1,250kg of fishing nets before they were thrown into rubbish heaps that same year.