Choosing a swimsuit that looks great is one decision, but how will you know that suit is going to stand the test of time and the elements: sun, salt, sunblock, sand and chlorine? They have the potential to be pretty harsh to swimwear, particularly if the suit is poor quality or not cared for properly. Faded colours and crooked stitching are not a good look – so how do you make a smart choice?
Swap disposable fashion for investment pieces by choosing high quality swimsuits that continue to look great after many wears and washes. Here are the things to keep in mind:
When examining your bikini, you can tell just by touch the quality of the fabric. A poor quality suit will be made of thinner material that feels plastic, cheap or rough. Higher quality fabrics will feel thick and soft. Do the stretch test: pull the fabric in all directions and make sure it recovers well. Also check the lining; poor quality swimsuits often are only partially lined or not lined at all. High quality, fully lined suits provide better support and make the suit last longer.
Take a look at the materials used in the bathing suit's top: clasps, hooks, pads and wires. Do the closures look cheap and will break quickly or are they built to last? Are the pads lined and will wires stay in place? Feel the inside of the strings and ties; high quality suits have strings reinforced with elastic bands while low quality suits do not.
Examine the seams and stitching. Often poor quality swimsuits only have one row of stitching that can break easily; look for double-stich detailing (i.e. two rows if stitching along the seams). Make sure seams do not crack when you stretch them. Take a look at any details sewn on like ruffles, beading or sequence to make sure they are sewn on solidly. Seams should be perfectly straight with no bunching, inconsistencies or crookedness.
Looking at the inside of the garment will give you a good idea of quality. If there is loose lining hanging or anything looks unfinished, the manufacturer has cut corners on construction. A high quality suit will look seamless on the inside and out. All padding, wires and boning should be smoothly and securely attached and symmetrical.
After a day of dipping in the pool or splashing in the waves, make sure to rinse your swimsuit out in fresh water before laying it out to dry as extended exposure to chlorine and salt water will cause the fabric to degrade. Resist the urge to ring the suit out as this will cause the fabric to stretch; rather, squeeze it gently in a towel to soak up the water. Yes, it’s faster to lay your bikini out in the scorching sun to dry, but doing so too often will cause the colours to fade. Make sure to wash your swimsuit properly with gentle detergent before long term storage. Never store your bathing suit wet, nor leave it wet inside a plastic bag for a long period of time.
We know it’s super tempting to just toss your bikini into the washing machine, but that’s the easiest way to stretch out the swimsuit fabric and make it fall apart faster. Even in the gentle cycle, agitation can be destructive to a swimsuit’s many parts, such as elastic straps, padding in cups, and decorative elements. Hand wash your bathing suits with a gentle detergent made for delicates. If you absolutely must put them in the machine, at least put them in a mesh bag and use cold water and the delicates cycle. Never, ever put your bathing suits in the dryer; lay them flat to dry instead. Never iron your bathing suit.
Be careful when sitting or laying on harsh surfaces (e.g. concrete, rocks or bumpy surfaces around pools); even the best quality fabric will snag and pill if you rub your bum against something rough. Lay down a towel or sarong first. Also watch out when sitting on wooden docks, benches or chairs as splinters could tear your bathing suit.
Lastly, rotate your swimwear as much as possible. Wearing the same suit every day will cause the elastic to wear out and expose the fabric to harsh elements. And besides, this gives you a great opportunity to express yourself with many different styles!
Thinking of ways to help with ocean conservation? Check out our interview with Hong Kong-based actress and DEVE founder Hidy Yu (余曉彤) to find out what she's been doing to help and how you can be more conscious of the ocean's health.
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