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Itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie bikinis may be a summer staple, but they’re next to useless if you want to do anything more active than lying on a sun lounger sipping a cocktail.
If you’re surfing, swimming or just jumping into the pool, you’re going to need something sturdy and supportive to wear by the water.
Luckily, we’ve reviewed 12 of the best swimwear options for women that look great and let you get as active as you like.
We’ve included bikinis, swimsuits and surf suits in our roundup of the best swimwear for 2022 – our top picks are all comfortable, supportive and, crucially, tested against accidental flashing. We’ve also included a great full-coverage option, for anyone looking for a full-coverage top-and-trousers combo that they can swim comfortably in.
What swimsuit is right for my body?
The shape of the swimwear you shop for is up to you, but there are few design features we always recommend looking for. Anyone blessed with bigger boobs will get on better with underwires or moulded cups, and adjustable straps are handy for getting a custom fit.
Always try on a bathing suit in person before you hit the beach, and have a go at moving about to check it doesn’t ride up or dig in, that it feels stretchy and that you’re comfortable with the level of coverage it offers.
If you’re buying a bikini, it’s worth trying on tops and bottoms in different sizes to find the perfect fit.
The tide is turning – many brands now prioritise their eco credentials in their swimwear collections, and create one and two-pieces made from everything from recycled carpets to ghost fishing nets.
Buying a recycled or ethically produced swimsuit is a simple but effective way to show you love the ocean, even as you’re diving into it.
And once you own your dream swimsuit, make it last and look after it by hand-washing in cold water and drying away from direct sunlight.
How to stay cool in the heat - our best product guides
Want to stay chilled in your garden? These parasols and umbrellas will provide ample shade, or these paddling pools will allow a low-fi, fun way to chill out.
Keep your pooch cool with one of these cooling mats, and your drinks chilled with these excellent coolers. Heading out camping? These are are the summer sleeping bags to help you handle the heat.
Best women’s swimsuits at a glance
- Best plus-size swimwear: Adidas Positivisea Graphic Plus Size Swimsuit
- Best for swimming for fitness: Speedo Eco Endurance + Medalist Swimsuit
- Best for bigger boobs: Figleaves Frida Underwired Swimsuit
- Best for sculpting and shaping: Marks and Spencer Tummy Control Wrap Plunge Swimsuit
- Best bikini: Tide + Seek Bikini Separates
- Best one-piece swimwear: Davy J Classic Swimsuit
- Best for summer surf sessions: Quiksilver Long Sleeve Surf Set
- Best for swimming on your period: Modibodi Swimwear Hi-Waist bikini bottom
- Best for a short-sleeved suit: Monte & Lou Paraiso Short Sleeve Surf Suit
- Best recycled swimsuit: Finisterre Anella Reversible Swimsuit
- Best for full coverage: Finisterre Seasuit
- Best reversible suit: Roxy Pop Swimsuit
Proof that plus-size swimwear can be fun and flattering while still tough enough to tackle swimming for fitness, Adidas’ larger version of their popular Positivisea suit has supportive straps and a full jersey lining to keep you feeling comfortable in the water.
The chlorine-resistant fabric features a bright graphic print and is partially made with recycled materials.
Re-enact Baywatch in this simple, sporty red suit, our best in test if you’re on a budget. Ideal for clocking up lengths in the pool, the Endurance Plus feels comfortable and well cut around the legs, and the racerback straps offer good support.
The suit sizes small, so we recommend getting the next one up if ordering online. The Endurance Medalist is made from 50% recycled materials and available in lots of colours - we like this bright apple red.
Bigger-busted ladies will love this cheerful swimsuit, emblazoned with a citrus print that’ll brighten up even a grey summer’s day and with plenty of support built in.
Underwired cups offer good control if you fancy a swim, and the shoulder straps have adjustable ties for a custom fit. The Frida is made using recycled fabrics.
‘Shapewear’ sounds a tad old-fashioned and frumpy – but swimsuits that hold you snugly in can still look very swish indeed, as Marks and Spencer is here to prove with this plunging wrap number.
The wrap detailing on this suit is very flattering, and chlorine-resistant fabric will keep it looking new for longer, unlike many swimsuits that tend to lose their shape after a few washes.
We do recommend sizing up on this suit, which has a snug fit.
Tide + Seek’s bright bikinis and suits in pastel mermaid shades are handmade in Bali using Repreve fabric, which is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
Our pick of their designs are the surf bralettes, which are indeed perfect for surfing, and stay put when you’re swimming or paddling hard.
Tide + Seek’s bottoms come in three different designs, from ‘cheeky’ to full coverage, so you can mix and match cuts and colours to create your perfect beachy bikini.
Buy bottoms: https://tideandseek.com/collections/bikini-bottoms
These beautiful British-made pieces are created using 100% recycled materials, including ‘ghost’ or used fishing nets, which account for 10% of marine litter in the sea.
Davy J’s one and two-pieces over good coverage and are designed to ‘survive a dive’, and their high-waisted bottoms and crop top combinations are ideal if you want a little more fabric than a skimpy bikini for surfing or stand-up paddle boarding.
Davy J’s classic swimsuits such as this olive design are the perfect balance of stylish and sporty - beautifully cut, but still comfortable to swim long distances in.
Hang ten in this delightfully retro long-sleeved top and bottoms set – this two-piece surf suit keeps shoulders and arms warm and safe from the sun, but the bikini cut leaves legs free to be flexible for surfing, swimming or SUP yoga.
The stretchy fabric of Quiksilver’s design is made with ECONYL, a regenerated nylon made from ocean and landfill nylon waste.
, ModiBodiBest for: swimming on your periodYes, you can still swim on your period – and you can also save the planet by picking reusable, period-proof swimwear. ModiBodi, makers of popular period knickers, also make great swimsuits and bikinis in classic shapes and with leak-proof technology built in to the gusset. This high-waist bikini bottom in bright poppy print is flattering and comfy to wear any time of the month – and it’s recycled. Matching bikini tops are also available. Buy:
Tend to burn your shoulders out on the water?
This t-shirt-style swimsuit from Aussie brand Monte & Lou offers more protection than a standard suit without looking frumpy – in fact, this is a very flattering suit on any body shape.
We love the soft sleeves, zippered front and pretty tropical floral print, and there’s a built-in bra for extra support. The fully recycled lining is delightfully comfortable and quick to dry, too.
The high neck and sea-blue hue of Finisterre’s Anella stand out from the crowd, but this smart suit is also ready for sports, and is crafted using a salt, chlorine and sun cream-resistant material that offers 50+ sun protection.
The fabric of this suit is fully reversible – so you get two swimsuits in one – and is made using recycled ocean waste plastics. The supportive straps and well-cut bottoms stay in place whatever aquatic adventures you jump into.
Sizes small, so we recommend plumping for a size above your usual.
Swimwear doesn’t have to be skimpy – Finisterre’s innovative new Seasuit means that everyone can splash about in the water and feel confident.
This full-coverage two-piece set offers SPF50 protection and includes a built-in bra for extra support, a comfy high waist and a flattering looser fit that’s also designed to fit over a wetsuit for surfing.
There’s also a matching head covering available. The Seasuit is also an eco-conscious choice, made with 100% post-consumer recycled polyester and marine waste.
You can’t help but feel summery in this charming printed swimsuit, which has an all-over daisy print on one side and big bold flowers printed on the reversible side.
The classic cut of the Pop suit is very flattering, and the adjustable straps and back make it easy to get a figure-hugging fit that stays put however much you swim or surf in it.
The chlorine-resistant fabric of the Pop is recycled.