With the weather hitting unseasonably high temperatures across the East Coast right now, we’re beginning to think about summer vacations a little early this year. And when it comes to beach getaways, there are two types of people: Those who relax with a book under an umbrella all afternoon, and those who split the day between swimming, surfing, paddle-boarding, and whatever other water sports they can get involved in.
If you’re the latter, it can be tough to find a chic bikini that looks good, feels flattering, and also won’t slip. So to help—and save you a potential public nudity scandal—team Sporteluxe put six chic-as-hell swimsuits to the water sport test, taking them surfing, swimming, and stand-up paddle-boarding to find the best bikini for your next active vacation.
Because of Forever 21’s high neck design, I assumed I would be completely safe from nipple-slips and accidental flashing while surfing and swimming in this bathing suit. This, friends, is called a false sense of security. I didn’t account for the fact that bikini tops can slip up from the bottom band as well—particularly if you don’t have large boobs to help keep the elastic seam in place. I had a few near-miss disasters, but managed to exit the ocean with a sliver of dignity still in tact. For a $30 swimsuit, this Forever 21 two-piece is perfect for sitting by beach or taking a quick dip in the pool. I wouldn’t, however, recommend it for anything particularly active.
Oh, how I love this bikini. The soft-cup bralette gives flat-chested girls (me!) a little shape, and while the bottoms are a little fuller than many modern swimsuits, the cut is flattering. I took this pair stand-up paddle boarding, an activity that’s actually pretty physical. My only qualm is with the straps—despite being adjustable, I wasn’t able to make them short enough for my body, so they would occasionally slip down my shoulder. Have you ever tried to readjust your bikini top while holding a paddle and balancing on an oversized surfboard? It’s tricky. Also, the broiderie anglaise leaves tiny sheer holes all over the top and briefs. It looked great on, but I inevitably became burnt and later in the evening noticed the sun had penetrated the tiny cut-outs to leave a not-so-cute red spotted pattern all over my butt. Still, I felt like a million bucks in this pair, and will wear on them by the pool all through summer—and deal with the polka dot print butt cheeks.
Mikoh swimwear looks beautiful because it’s seamless and hardwire free, and the super-soft fabric feels incredible against the skin. The brand is also owned and designed by two surfer sisters (one of whom is dating legendary surfer Kelly Slater), so I had high hopes for this swimsuit. I picked a full-coverage brief and one of the more functional tops to wear for a day swimming in the surf (their strapless bandeau bikinis look like a disaster in the making for water sports). I can’t really find any major faults with the pair, although I didn’t love the tan lines left by the strappy design, and the bottoms did slip a little whenever I ducked under a wave. I also think the sizes run small, so if you’re on the fence about which size to by, consider going up rather than down. Other than that, they were brilliant.
I don’t usually go for a full brief, but I love how this top looks paired with the Ron Bonded Bottom when I was browsing Fella’s online store. Once they arrived, I realized they’re actually cut in a super-flattering, skimpier shape at the back. The Italian lycra sculpts and contours the body, and felt supportive, mostly because of the top’s thick cross-over straps and the fuller pant. I didn’t love the tan lines this swimsuit left, but can’t fault its quality, support, or aesthetics.
The last pair I tested also happened to be my favorite. Admittedly, I was initially drawn to Peony Swimwear’s two-piece because of the flattering design and print—the bottoms are just skimpy enough while the top has a subtle 3mm of foam padding, which lends a little shape to small busts. Even the tan lines are discrete, thanks to the simple design. However they were also sturdy and didn’t budge, even after diving into the pool to swim laps. Winner, winner!
It was Sporteluxe founder Bianca Cheah who alerted me to this winning swimsuit. “I LOVE it!” she told me, adding that the style is “very flattering” and keeps you supported in all the important places whether you’re in the surf or strolling along the beach.