The ultimate swimwear how-to buy guide

Sarah Ghobrial, swimwear buyer at Holt Renfrew,
Tom Mora, head of women’s design at J.Crew,
Fay Yeung, owner of Sandpipers,
Liliana Mann, owner of Linea Intima,

Q: How tight should a swimsuit be?
A: “Bathing suits and jeans should both be very tight when you buy them. The fabric will relax, and there aren’t many things less attractive than a bathing suit that sags.” —Mann

Q: Can you alter a swimsuit that’s not quite right?
A: “The straps are very easy to do, but I wouldn’t alter the sides because it would stress the seams. A swimsuit will stretch out a little bit, so you could wear it around the house until it gets comfortable.” —Yeung

Q: Why is it a good idea to shop for a swimsuit online?
A: “In the privacy of your own home, you can think about what you really like and feel comfortable trying on different styles without feeling pressured in a fitting room. Also, home lighting might be a bit softer.” —Mora

Q: When is the best time to buy?
A: “In the resort months of December and January, when we set up our swim shops and bring in the most merch-andise to fill them.”

Q: When is it worth investing and when can you scrimp?
A: “If you need more support, you need to buy a suit that has a bra built in, and they tend to be more expensive. But if you’re going to swim all the time, I wouldn’t worry about buying an expensive bathing suit because it won’t last a long time.” —Mann

Q: What’s the point of padded cups in a bathing suit?
A: “It’s not really meant to give bulk—it’s for support. The soft cups shouldn’t be too small or they’ll show.” —Yeung

Q: Should swimwear fit like underwear?
A: “When a bra doesn’t fit, your bust will be down by your waist or you’ll have a double boob effect. The same thing happens in a swimsuit.” —Mann

Q: What are a swimsuit’s enemies?
A: “Chlorine, sun, heat, body oils and the creams you use for tanning all damage the fabric. It is very important to rinse it when you come in. If you rinse, salt water won’t affect it, but chlorine will damage the fabric and the colour even if it’s rinsed.” —Mann

Q: How can you prolong the life of a bathing suit?
A: “Hand-wash it and never use harsh detergents or bleach—there are several swim wash solutions available. To avoid colour fading and loss of elasticity, lay it flat to dry in a cool spot away from the sun.” —Ghobrial

Q: What’s the worst thing you can do to a swimsuit?
A: “The hot tub is a killer. Wear your oldest suit or something in 100 per cent polyester with no Lycra. But polyester doesn’t feel as resilient—it just stretches, it doesn’t really bounce back.” —Yeung

Q: How do you know when to throw a swimsuit out?
A: “You can hold it against the light and see the tiny elastics in the fabric breaking, and when you put it on you’ll actually hear it breaking.” —Yeung

Q: We’ve all had a bad experience with a white suit. Can it be done?
A: “It has to be double-layer because of the sheerness. White gets dirty and changes colour faster, so I’d rather spend more money on a suit that I’d keep longer. Maybe you don’t wear it as often—you wear it when you go in for the kill.” —Mann


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