How to Find Modest Swimwear
Dressing modestly is hard enough on a daily basis, but finding cute, modest swimwear for trips to the pool and beach? That’s a task that seems impossible at times. It’s tempting to forsake modesty in favor of style and function in the water. I experienced this struggle firsthand when I went to Maui with my mother last October. I ended up fashioning an outfit from a sarong and regular gray t-shirt, but I quickly learned it wasn’t the best outfit for actually swimming. (I had a particularly terrifying experience while trying to swim to safety in a lake while my sarong kept hindering my kicks…yea, it was rough.) Thankfully with a little research and help from my savvy Facebook friends, I was able to compile a list of ways to get cute, functional and modest swimsuits so you don’t have to struggle as I did (please note: there are affiliate links in this post)!
1. Buy a modest swimsuit from a modest fashion retailer.
When I discovered companies that specialize in making modest swimsuits, I was oh-ver-joyed! Modli has aggregated offerings from most of those companies — including favorites like Lime Ricki and Hydro Chic — and carries a collection of adorable modest swimsuits with varying levels of coverage. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Pink Waves Adele Two-Piece Swim Set – $80
Green Polka Dot Two Piece – $80
If you prefer your swimsuits resemble those worn by the Duggars, Wholesome Wear and Simply Modest Swimwear have some great options (fair warning: the full coverage swimsuits can get pricey).
For a full list of modest shops with cute swimsuits, check out this post.
2. Wear a rash guard or dri-fit shirt with men’s swim shorts.
This combination is a popular alternative to traditional swimsuits. Rash guards are highly functional shirts typically worn for surfing that are made of spandex, nylon or polyester, and “guard” against chafing and sunburn. Bonus: Rash guards are having a fashionable ‘moment’ due to designers’ fascinations with water sports and the sporty-chic look. Because some rash guards are designed to fit like second skins, you’ll need to be careful about fit (it may be best to order a size up). If rash guards aren’t your thing, you can wear a lightweight athletic shirt made with dri-fit or moisture wicking fabric.
Quick tip: The Swim Outlet not only has an incredible selection of rash guard and dri-fit shirts, it also lists how each shirt will fit in the product description. There are many “loose fit” options.
As for the bottoms, the men’s swimming section has several answers to our dilemma. (Sadly, most of the swimming short options for women are itty bitty (and ugly), while guys get to have all of the knee-length fun.) You can wear men’s board shorts, swim shorts, basketball shorts or even golf shorts! If you loathe the idea of wearing men’s clothing, you can also opt for capris with moisture wicking material and sun protection.
Quick tip: Wear a two-piece underneath your shirt and shorts rather than a one-piece. It will make your visit to the ladies’ room much easier (h/t to my friend Kirby for the suggestion).
If you need help finding affordable rash guard tops, swimming shorts or capris, here are some of my picks:
3. Try a swimming skirt!
Remember that Kosher Casual running skirt I reviewed? One of the many reasons I love that skirt is it doubles as a swim skirt! It offers quick-drying fabric and maximum UV protection (we’re talking UPF 50+). You can also find cute swimming skirts at Hydrochic and Coolibar. This skirt, in particular, is my favorite (I’m just waiting for it to go on sale):
4. Wear a regular one-piece bathing suit with a full-length cover up or caftan.
When all else fails, you can always rely on a cute caftan or cover up. Now, attractive cover-ups that provide full-length and opaque coverage are hard to find (some pop up in Victoria’s Secret from time to time). If you do find one, snag it quickly. Here are some options for creative inspiration:
Great tips! Shopping for swimming attire is one of the most frustrating things for me. Right now I wear a loose fitting (and long) tankini top with a pair of women’s running shorts (it has a lining and they dry quickly)! I always just try to think whether I would wear that outfit everywhere else and if not then it goes back on the rack!
I LOVE how you put that, Hayley — “would I wear that outfit anywhere else.” That’s also my rule of thumb for swimsuit shopping. I mean, I wouldn’t wear board shorts everyday, but the level of coverage is on par with the kind of coverage I would wear with regular clothes to walk around the city. Thank you for the good tips!
This is one of my favorite swimsuit looks. Chic and classy!
Love your blog!
Thank you, Margaret! Loving the price on that swimsuit 😉
Happiness at Mid Life
Shopping for swim suit is just one of the worst things. I recently just bought a one piece that I like and I pretty much use a tunic cover up while i am out of the water.
Hope to see you for TBT Fashion link up.
Elizabeth> Happiness at Mid Life
I agree — swimsuit shopping is the worst! Glad you were able to find something cute, though. I’m looking for cute tunics as well. Where did you get yours?
Unfortunately, a lot of Christian girls compromise in this area because they feel they have to choose BETWEEN being modest and enjoying water sports/the beach. That’s awesome that this post will help others see that you DON’T have to choose 🙂
Thanks, Elizabeth! That was my intent with this post; I’m SO glad to read that was your takeaway. 🙂
I laughed (good-naturedly!) when I heard your swimming outfit was a sarong (we call it a “tupenu” here*) over some shorts and a t-shirt: that’s the swimming gear for a lot of us here too! I totally know the problem with swimming with a sarong on, it does get troublesome. I usually wear a darker colored t-shirt and knee length shorts. I was already thinking about wearing a rash guard and guys swim shorts and was SOOOOOOOOO glad to see you’d already posted some options!
*I live in the Kingdom of Tonga, a tiny nation in the South Pacific. We’re a Christian nation and our culture encourages modesty – there used to be a law that guys could not go in public shirtless (even at the beach), otherwise they’d be fined and even tourists were asked to . Unfortunately, with the times that’s been beginning to change. But for the most part, our swimming gear is what we were wearing that day – we jump in the water fully clothed!
Elizabeth> Funaki Taufatofua
The Kingdom of Tonga sounds like a beautiful place I NEED to visit. Thank you for giving me a new travel destination. 🙂 seriously, I’m so impressed your nation upholds modesty as a virtue. I wish more nations held similar sentiments. And if you could’ve seen me trying to swim in a sarong after jumping off a waterfall, you would’ve laughed AT me. I laughed at me!
Funaki Taufatofua> Elizabeth
It is beautiful, but flat as a pancake (here on the main island Tongatapu), so there are no waterfalls to (further) complicate swimming in a sarong, ha! 🙂 Glad to have given you a new travel destination; if you ever visit, we’d be glad to welcome you – we’re not called the Friendly Islands for nothing! 😀
As a 15 year old, I’ve never realized that dressing modest included swimwear. Not that my father would dare let me walk out wearing a bikini, but this made me realize what I should be looking for! As I’ve gotten older and more comfortable with my body, last year I pushed the limits on what I should wear for a bathing suit. Thank you for this. It makes me more prepared for shopping!
I’m so glad this post was helpful for you! It’s easy to push the limits with anything we wear as we grow comfortable with our bodies, so I’m glad you’re seeking to dress modestly at a young age. If you ever have any Qs or need help finding modest swimsuits, please shoot me a message!
This is a very timely and wonderfully written Post !
I wear a tankini swim top and knee-length board shorts . This year I was thrilled to find a “coverup” dress at Target that resembles eyelet material . I got it in dark grey . The light mint tankini top looks so cute under it . It’s about knee length . The material hardly picks up any water and dries quickly for the bit that is wet. Ladies may try looking online at Target.com . They went like hotcakes at the store in my town .
Thanks again for this great Post on swimwear !
Elizabeth> Leticia Justus
Great suggestions, Leticia! That Target dress/”coverup” sounds like an awesome find, and now I’m going to scour Target’s website for something similar. 🙂
Modest can still be sexy, although I dont think thats the idea here..