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:
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: