A Pocket Guide to Buying Bathing Suits (Online & Offline)

parts of swimsuits and how you can find the right swimsuit by asking the right questions

“Every body is a beach body”

Unless you have a model-like body with measurements that fall into one of the average sizes, finding the right bikini is never easy. 

We are constantly bombarded with mountains of styles, countless try-on hauls, and never-ending markdowns. It costs time, money, and on some occasions, even tears.

We still have our insecurities over our bodies. We still think that the most flattering swimsuits only exist in magazines and celebrities’ Instagrams.

Don’t let a bathing suit ruin your summer again.

How do I know what swimsuit is right for me? Or which bikini should I wear?

Here’s the only life hack for bikini shopping:

Know yourself and what you want.

Questions to ask yourself before buying a swimsuit

These questions are for:

  • Women who are buying or wearing bikinis for the very first time.
  • Women who have been struggling with purchasing the correct bikinis.
  • Women who have completely given up on swimsuits.
  • Women who feel pressured to expand their bikini wardrobes.

1. Do I feel comfortable and confident wearing a bikini?

This is the first and foremost thing to check; being honest with ourselves can be hard.

Many of us choose to buy/wear a bikini because we have to or everyone around us is wearing them; once we think that way, we are inadvertently comparing ourselves with others, it’s unhealthy and can sometimes be mentally draining.

The approval should always come within yourself, not from someone else’s behaviors, expectations, or judgments. 

If, on the other hand, just the idea of wearing a bikini makes you shudder, try to:

  • Figure out why you dread it so much and how you can turn your self-consciousness into self-love.
  • Wear it inside your house to feel what it’s like and see how you can handle it.
  • Start with less-revealing styles like tankinis, swim shorts, and rash guards.

2. What is my budget for swimsuits?

You will likely overspend if you don’t have a swimsuit budget and weigh it against:

  1. how many suits you plan to have
  2. how frequent you will be wearing them
  3. how long you expect them to last
  4. How often you plan to update your swimsuits

Higher prices do not necessarily mean better durabilities, getting swimsuits out of your price range (unless somebody’s paying for you) is not a wise move. 

Instead of spending all your money on pieces you can’t afford, you should seriously consider cutting a small sum and using them for other essentials like sunscreen, glasses, cover-ups, or beach towels.

3. What activities do I plan on doing while wearing my bikinis?

It’s plain simple: different activities require different types of swimsuits.

Go with any swimsuit you like if you are one of those chill types who lounge and sunbathe all day long.

However, if you are more active and will be wearing bikinis for any water sport, you should avoid suits that have high cuts, ties, or cheeky designs and look for suits with pull-on styles, secure straps, and are made with water-friendly, chlorine-resistant fabrics.

4. What occasions am I wearing my bikinis for?

You have to be specific about the event or the intended use: is it a solo beach trip, a weekend getaway with your friends, a family gathering holiday, or a work pool party?

Skimpy styles can be inappropriate if you are around your colleagues or conservative family members.

For these formal or semi-formal settings, go for modest bikinis with decent coverage, fun prints, and not-so-crazy cuts.

5. Will I be able to mix and match this bikini with other pieces I already have?

Never buy a swimsuit without checking your wardrobe first, and be practical with your existing pieces in your wardrobe.


Consider this:

Instead of buying a new bikini set, get only a bottom to match that striped halter top you picked up on your last trip, or get a less fancy one-piece with that flowy cover-up you wore last summer.

Intentionally shopping for bikinis to pair with what you already own can not only save you money but increase your wardrobe flexibility and ultimately help you develop a taste for personal styles.

And if you are only getting your first bikini, think about the following:

  1. What will my next swimsuit purchase be?
  2. Can I easily match the color, print, or pattern of this one to my future wanna-buys?
  3. Is this bikini in line with my personality?

6. What are my measurements, body shape, and skin tone?

Buying bikinis in your cloth sizes (a normal US6 (or the equivalent of a small) may work for most people, but if you want to get the right fit on every purchase, you need to have your measurements (bust/waist) by hand.

And when the fit is no longer an issue, you can focus more on finding swimwear that complements and flatters your figure.

For that, you should have your body shape and skin tone in mind. This may sound old, but the basic principles still work wonders on helping you narrow down options and get bikinis that accentuate your best features while minimizing any areas you may feel less confident about.

7. Do I like tan lines?

The minute you are outside, you are going to get them.

If you like tan lines, you may opt for a swimsuit with thinner straps or lower-cut backs to allow more skin exposure to create more defined lines, and in the meantime, apply sunscreen more frequently and choose a lower SPF to achieve a quick/deeper tan.

If you want as few weird tan lines as possible, find swimsuits that provide enough coverage, preferably ones that are either tan-through, less strappy, or without side ties. Also, try not to get halter bikinis with spaghetti straps.

8. What level of coverage do I feel comfortable with?

This is a personal choice.

If skimpy swimwear doesn’t give you confidence, don’t feel pressured to wear them just because they’re trendy or popular.

If you prefer more coverage, you might consider swimwear like burkinis or tankinis, which offer nearly full-body coverage. Rash guard bikinis are also a great option as they cover most of your torso while still showing your legs.

9. Are there any particular features of the bikini that I require, such as adjustable straps or removable padding?

The features of a swimsuit you may need usually fall into two categories.

It could be function-related features like ties and zippers for fit adjustments, underwires and padding for chest support, or simply good-quality stretchy fabrics with soft seams.

Or style-related features like cut-outs, open-backs, V-necks, frills, modest cuts, cute prints, etc.
If you are not sure about where to begin, combine what you will do while you are in a bikini with what styles/elements with you like in your daily outfits.

10. Are there any promotions or discounts available?

Once your decision’s made, this should be the first thing to check on any swimwear brand you feel like buying. 

Whether you’re on a budget or not, it’s always a good idea to save some money where you can.

Most swimwear brands offer promotions and discounts regularly, especially during seasonal sales and special occasions, these deals can range from a percentage off your total purchase to free shipping. And if you already subscribed to some newsletters, you may already have a few.

Just be cautious with those bait promos that end up costing you more.

11. What is the return and exchange policy of this swimwear store or website?

Swimwear’s sizing and fit vary considerably between brands and styles, It’s common for a suit to look great on a website but fit poorly once received.

As a reasonable shopper, you should always prepare for unmet expectations.

Give the brand’s return/exchange policy a quick scan so you will know what to do if there’re issues that lead to returns/exchanges, what their terms and the allowed timeframe are, how they handle returns, and whether or not you need to pay extra shipping fees.

Now it’s your turn.

Did we miss anything? Are there other tricks you use to hunt for the right bathing suits?

Let us know in the comments!

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