Swimsuit season?

Swimsuits at Target.jpg

Yes, now.

By Aja Lownes

Cold, rainy weather or not, the time has come to think swimwear. Vacation season is on the horizon (yay!), and swim suits are an integral part of it (yikes!).

I generally avoid buying swimsuits because I find it to be an... experience. But, there are couple of things I have learned both as a shopper, fashion enthusiast, and former sales associate. If you are in need of a new suit, do not wait until like, Memorial Day to buy one. Chances are, you will be disappointed.

Because the time to actually wear swimsuits is rather limited in our chilly corner of the country, and retailers are always thinking months ahead of shoppers, stores tend not to get much replenishment of swimwear. This means, if it isn't a pretty basic cut, in a basic color... you snooze, you lose. And the stores do start to stock them when there's still snow on the ground, so in their minds, you've had your chance.

Here's a quick look at what's out there now and a few tips that might make the swimwear shopping experience a little less painful.

One of the nice things about swimwear, more than probably any other article of "clothing": you don't have to spend much. A one piece or bikini from Target, Old Navy, or H&M will run you about half (possibly less) of what you would pay at Gap Body, or most department stores. And frankly, aside from brands like Speedo, they will probably be of similar quality.

Here are some of the suits in stock now at Old Navy for $15 to $20:

Old Navy Suits 5.jpg

Old Navy Suits 6.jpg

Old Navy Suit 1.jpg

Old Navy Suits 2.jpg

And here's a look at Target's selection for $15 - $40 :

Target Suits 5.jpg

Target Suits 7.jpg

Target Suits 3.jpg

Target Suits 9.jpg

There is only one major trend that I've seen emerge in the last year or two, and that is the bandeau top (pictured below at Old Navy).

Bandeau Suits.jpg

Seriously, 90% of women should probably stay away from bandeau tops (even though they seem to be the bikini top du jour). And 100% of women should probably stay away from the frilly ones. Bandeaus are unflattering on almost everyone, and the frilly kind looks like you may have saved it from your kindergarten days.

If you're the bikini-wearing type, I would suggest sticking with the classic triangle and halter-style tops. If you're a fan of boy-short bikini bottoms, I won't say you're out of luck, but you might have fewer choices than in years past. They're not gone... but they're not exactly in favor, either.

The important thing to keep in mind is that once you've seen a swimsuit that you like, the clock is ticking. Trying to find one a week before you leave for Cape Cod in mid-July is just asking for trouble. The pickings will be slim and... picked over.

And the only kind of sale rack that is kind of creepy is the bathing suit sale rack.


Swim suit shopping is the kind that makes me cry in the dressing room. Seriously. I stick to mail order these days.

I'm putting my two cents in for those green and yellow mock-tie bottoms in the second Target picture. I bought it in black a couple of months ago and it's really nice-- good, solid coverage, without looking like your other pants are mom jeans. It might be a nice alternative to a boy cut, if you're willing to show a smidge more leg.

As for the bandeau top, I'm in total agreement-- no matter what age or size, nearly everyone I've seen in one looks like they've been wintering in a Boca retirement community. I'm convinced that any girl who looks perky in a bandeau has either had their inevitable sag airbrushed out or signed a deal with the devil.

Why do I have the feeling I'm left out...

I think bandeaus are for women who don't actually go in the water either. Come on, one dive in and that top will be navel-bound.

-S, I'm sure the AOA staff would love it if you documented some speedo shopping.

Yeah, for those of us who need a support-system (I'd take one with trusses and beams if I could find it), Target and Old Navy don't fill the bill. Depressing fact: I found an awesome swimsuit last year that kept everything locked and loaded. Brought it home and realized it was intended for the blue-haired crowd when I read the tag: "Hey ladies, don't let them tell you you haven't still got it! Wear this suit in your sunset years!". Nice.

My most favorite swimsuit is slowly crapping the bed so this is a timely post.

As a former GAPInc employee, let me tell you that while the Old Navy bathing suit is cute and waaay cheaper than the Gap Body one, the Gap Body one is much higher in quality. Seriously, you people have no idea the number of defecting bathing suit returns I took. (If the bathing suit falls apart after one dip in the ocean, its defective and we damaged them out.) Also, the people that shop at Gap Body are more likely to keep that nice sanitary strip on the suit and wear their undies. Too many tweens at Old Navy not following the sanitary request we'd give to all them. Yuck!

If you're looking for a reasonably priced, durable and sort of trendy, TJ Max! I got a Ralph Lauren one-piece that is both flattering (it's cut to hold the cellulite in), but classic without being dowdy. And supports a good sized bust. I paid $23.99 + tax.

okay..before anyone jumps to "WHOA..those are only for old ladies" I highly recommend seeking out separates at the Land's End "boutique" at Sears..
again..CALM DOWN...
the suits are really good quality and many of the pieces are downright...dare I say..funky?bright colors, *not*frumpy.

The tops (especially for women who like/need/appeciate underwire--yep, underwire in a swim top) are a great find. Last year I found a totally cute halter..with underwire... let me tell you, the "girls" got a little support and didn't look too bad either!


That was going to be my next suggestion, but sometimes Lands End via Sears can get pricey.

With all the responses here, I believe we're going to need a ladies of AOA photoshoot to show off all of these great swimsuit deals y'all are talking about.

I third Land's End, especially if you've got a little something going on up top. I mail ordered my top from there, figuring I'd make do with what I got. Not only is it cute, but everything stays precisely where it's supposed to be.

I think it cost in the $20-30 range, which isn't awful for a piece. I think girls are always willing to shell out a little more for a suit if it makes what your mama gave you look a little better.

I ordered mine from Victoria's Secret. It was about 60 bucks for set, but it's lasted a few summers and I need a suit with an underwire to feel okay. Those little tie-on triangle tops just don't cut it.

I second B's suggestion for a ladies of AOA photoshoot.

A few months ago, the boyfriend and I went to the indoor waterpark in Lake George, for our anniversary (and to pretend it was summer when it was actually snowy and cold), and while there I saw a really cute swimsuit on a young girl (12-ish?). It was a tankini, but the top was ruched and came down to about the hips. I thought to myself, "I'll bet that suit would be really slimming and flattering."

The NEXT DAY I was in Target with my mother, and what did I find but that exact swimsuit, for under $40! Of course, I bought it, and I'm actually excited to wear it this season.

Best suimsuit I bought was from JCrew. Very good material.

To be fair, I also offer to be a subject for an amazingly attractive guys of AOA shoot, and -- hey, why are you laughing?

Rebecca (and other ladies)

I AM NOT JOKING when I tell you I went to Sears today (on your recommendation) & got myself a Lands End underwire bathing suit. God, what a difference. I had resigned myself to always wearing a T-shirt at the pool, because bathing suit tops always supported me the way dental floss would support a couple of bowling balls.

No more swimming in T-shirts! Thank you! I've waited years for this moment!!

rock that swim top, dude!

*chuckle* You called me dude. I wonder if you think I'm a fat guy with man boobs. Hey, whatever, that's fine with me. I wish more dudes would wear a bro-ssiere. It would just be better for everyone involved.

@pantaloons: dude, it's all too convenient that you didn't show up to the AOA party... The jury is still out :)

i'm all about the underwire in the bathing suit.

@jess..that's what I'm saying..re:underwire swim tops..

that is before Pantaloons turned it into a mockery! a joke! a trifle! do NOT trifle with our lady parts...! (or man boobs--they could use some underwire love, too!)

Next time I'm so there, I promise. And you'll see for yourself that I don't possess a Y chromosome.

I'm not joking! I swear! Here, I'll take a picture.

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