I often hear people say, “Oh, I can never buy a swimsuit without trying it first. I also hate the hassle of having to go to the post office to return things. That’s why I would never buy a bikini online.” I'm here to convince you to buy swimwear online. What sounds better, having things delivered to you and trying them on at your leisure in comfort of your own home, or fighting the crowds in the shopping centre, wading through countless stores and trying on suits in bad lighting, cramped dressing rooms and with pushy sales staff? Listen, it’s easier than it seems, here’s how to do it:
1- Define your purpose & goals
Is it to look good in a sexy one piece, to train for a triathlon, or for a beach vacation running around with the kids? Your purpose will help determine the type of swimsuit you’ll need, keeping in mind fit, tan lines, coverage and technical capabilities. Also, understand ahead of time what kind of bathing suit styles flatter your body type so you don’t end up sifting through everything. Don’t know what flatters your body shape? Check out our guide here.
2- Narrow down your choices
Determine how much you are willing to spend and qualify your expectations. This will determine whether you shop from mass market retailers, swim lines from your favourite luxury brand, specialty online swim brands or lingerie retailers.
3- Read the description and examine the photos
Make sure that there are ample photos showing the suit from the front, back and close-up. Ok, so you might not have exactly the same body as those models – that’s cool, you should still check to see if there’s enough coverage in the butt and if the cut looks flattering. Read the description to find out what fabric the bathing suit is made from, whether or not it is lined, padded or has underwire. Ensure that everything matches your expectations for fit, quality and usage. For more info on picking a high-quality swimsuit, check out our guide here.
4- Take your measurements
You might think you’re always an M, size 10, or whatever, but each brand's sizing differs quite a bit, especially with the proliferation of vanity sizing. There are no standards anymore, so it’s best to trust a measuring tape and compare your measurements to the company's size chart.
5- If you’re not sure, order 2-3 sizes
As long as the brand has a good return policy, you have the luxury of trying swimsuits on, seeing which size works best for you and giving back what doesn’t fit. Order the size that looks closest to your measurements, and one size up and one size down if necessary. It also makes it easier and faster to just buy everything in one go rather than piece-by-piece if it doesn't fit.
6- Do the jiggle test
That’s right, put on some music and try the swimsuits on. Jump up and down, run around, bend over, do everything that you might do when you’re actually wearing the bathing suit. Do this when you’re in a good mood and with good lighting. Make sure that everything feels good – cups sit flush against your skin, the top gives you enough support, there is no pulling, digging or muffin top / double boob effects happening (it’s not going to get better after you break it in, I promise). Feel the fabric and examine the construction (more info on picking quality bathing suits here).
If it’s not perfect, send it back – a high-quality swimsuit should feel as good as it looks. The worst thing is dropping a bundle on an uncomfortable, ill-fitting bathing suit that you end up never wearing because, well, it doesn’t fit and it’s not comfortable! Just make sure that when you try them on, you leave on all of the hygiene stickers and tags. Most stores will not accept returns if any of these are missing or it looks like the bathing suits have been worn.
7- Choose your online shop carefully
For a fun and hassle-free online shopping experience, the most important thing is to choose your retailer carefully. Not every store is great to order from online (especially in Singapore where many brands do not allow refunds). You want to order from a company that makes returns easy and inexpensive, not one that forces you to go out to the post office and stand in a queue.
Give it a go, and I have a funny feeling you won’t want to fight the crowds at the shopping mall again.