There’s been a swimwear revolution in the last few years, with brands throwing themselves at the task of creating brilliant looking swimwear you can actually swim in. Our team tested some of 2019 styles, all made from Econyl: recycled fishing nets. Here’s our pick of ten of the best
DEAKIN & BLUE SWIMCROP
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 5ft 10/ 32G in the 12 Hendricks
LOVES: Deakin & Blue has been a revelation to swimming women, offering bust-sized swimwear designed for swimming. Their gear comes in three bust sizes (Hepburn, Monroe & Hendricks), up to an 18-20, and this season the brand has added some sportier cuts. Five stars for the Swimcrop bikini. First, it is the only one of its type on the market – it has been 10 years since any brand made a sporty bust-sized bikini designed for proper swimming.
Second, the innovation of a zip in the top makes it possible to get on and off with ease (saving the embarrassment of getting stuck half in half out of your bikini top on the riverbank, rotator cuff straining). And finally: great colours. Really flattering on the skin – the teal and yellow both. Feels very secure in front crawl – even doing tumble turns – and the seams are so soft it seems highly unlikely ever to rub.
CONS: The top feels slightly bobby in breaststroke, creating it’s own eddy – but this wouldn’t put me off.
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 38FF size 16-18 in an XL costume
LOVES: Pleasantly surprised that these costumes fit really well and are so comfortable. The prints don’t fade, the colours stay incredible. They are very well made and I have had no stitching issues with them. I can machine wash them no problem. They don’t fall down and no parts fall out if you catch my drift. So far, out of the many costumes I go through in a year, these have been the best.
CONS: The shoulder straps come out quite wide across the shoulders so occasionally one will fall down, but this is probably due to my body shape rather than the suit shapes though!
DAVY J THE RED SWIMSUIT
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 5ft 8 in Size 12 costume
LOVES: Davy J launched in 2018 with a very clear identity: they’re high end, cleverly cut, stylish, sporty and functional. The Red Swimsuit ticks all those boxes: it’s cut in all the right places to fit. The scoop back with the cross of fabric and black detail is a lovely addition – it shows off skin (and muscle) but not in a way that makes you feel you’re reducing yourself to being decorative or ornamental.
The medium-high leg cut was actually more modest than expected on me but still looked flattering and felt comfortable when swimming. The material feels luxurious and built to last while keeping everything where it should be! This swimsuit is so versatile I wore it as a top with shorts. If the colour is a little bit too ‘Baywatch’ for you, they also have a black version in sizes 8-18.
CONS: Due to the double layered fabric, it does take some time to dry. And it’s expensive.
The fabric is pretty thick and durable, and doesn’t thin, but also doesn’t give drag or sag at all. They totally retain their shape. And they attract dogs to give you a smootch. Hurrah, finally a swimsuit that attracts dog love.
CONS: I suppose if you don’t like dogs, then watch out for those sloppy kisses, or just point them my way. They’re quite a snug fit, that’s about it.
FINISTERRE ZIZANIA BIKINI
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 5ft 10 and curvy in 12 bottom, 14 top.
LOVES: This is the third year I’ve opted for a Finisterre sporty bikini and this is their best yet – supersoft, brilliant fit (even though bust wise I’m not a standard size), and with good detail – there’s an interesting cut away back. I like the look of the high neck, but in summer also love how it protects that area of skin when I’m on the beach or paddle boarding – much more effectively than suncream.
The bottoms come with a draw string which is excellent for security.
CONS: In the past I’ve found high neck suits tends to rub under wetsuits for longer swims. For me, the top was not quite so flattering wet – some stitching on the (quite small) padded cups appeared like tiny crescent moons, where your breasts should be (but aren’t).
LOVE AND HONOR MARGOT UPF 50 LONG SLEEVE SUIT
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 5ft 6/ 32DD in the size S Margot
Love and Honor produce sustainable swimwear, with high UV protection, for women and children. Made using only recycled and regenerated fabrics, their garments are produced in small batches in a family-run factory in Northern Europe. The current collection features soft hues and ice-cream pastels, with plenty of mix and match options.
LOVES: The fabric is made from 78% Recycled Polymide and 22% Lycra (produced from 100% regenerated ECONYL yarn), giving it top notch eco-credentials as well as a luxe look and feel. It’s soft but stretches in the right places, allowing for ease of movement in the water.
The Margot suit offers great coverage and, although it was designed with sun protection in mind, the sleeves took the edge off the chill of the river I tested it in. The arms are long, coming down to the wrist, and the bottoms sit low and don’t ride up in the water. The two-tone colour block accentuates the waist and adds to the flattering cut. With a classic glamour about it, this suit would come into its own on evening outdoor swims when there’s a chill in the air, or long beach days when you want plenty of water time without too much sun exposure.
CONS: Although the coverage is great and the front is double lined, those with larger cup sizes would probably want to add a bikini top underneath for support and modesty. The tie on the back looks lovely but does leave some skin exposed, so the sun lotion would still need to be handy. I also fear for those pretty pastel colours after a few muddy river bank encounters, but the first wash left it looking as good as new.
DEAKIN & BLUE X-BACK
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 5ft 6 size 14 / Hendricks size 14
LOVES: I loved the colour – bright but classic. And I loved how the X back fitted – it comes high enough at the back to make the front feel secure, but the X is lower than any other style I would wear for more than pool lounging. It felt prettier than mere ‘training wear’ and as ever with this brand, the stitching feels mercifully secure and the fabric (made from recycled fishing nets!) has the sturdiness of something between traditional high street costumes and surf wear. Basically, as good as indestructible.
CONS: Someone taller than my 5ft 6 (or longer in the back) might need to go up a size as I feel the ‘ins and outs’ of my body are pushing the length of the suit as far as it will go.
DAVY J THE BODY TOP AND ‘THE JONES’ BRIEFS
£65 and £60, www.davyj.org
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 5ft 8 wearing size 10 top and bottom
LOVES: This bikini will stay put even when fighting through the biggest of waves! Sold as separates, it’s nice to be able to mix and match the colours and sizes, if you are a different size up top compared to your bottom half.
The ‘super high waisted’ briefs have taken the high-waisted trend to new extremes coming up high enough to reach the bikini top to give the illusion of a swimsuit. What’s also great about these is that you can roll them over to make them slightly less high on the body and show the contrasting lining colour for a different look. Davy J has coined these as the ‘Spanx for swimear’ and they do not disappoint – tight enough to pull you in yet still comfortable. The top has real staying power with similar Spanx-like qualities. The squared neckline and scoop back make it feel sporty while still flattering.
CONS: Getting in and out of this isn’t always the easiest due to its high elasticity. At £125 for the set, it isn’t the most affordable but if you are looking for high quality items that do the job then the price is worth it!
OCEANPOSITIVE MARGO SWIMSUIT
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 5ft 6 / costume size 10
LOVES: OceanPositive swimwear is made using recycled nylon from ghost fishing nets and other discarded waste, which is a mega positive. I’m a colour fan, so I love these bright, bold colours. It reminded me of superwoman, and sometimes I pretend I’m her when I run into the water.
It’s also got inner support for the ol’ babalons, which is handy as I’d normally prefer to wear a swimsuit which is cut to go over the shoulders.
CONS: I like practical things. I like to fling something on and go. The top is a little fancier than I’d normally wear, and sometimes I have to check I’ve not got side boob slip. But other than that I pretty much love it.
FINISTERRE OSTREA BIKINI TOP AND BOTTOMS
£50 & £45 www.finisterre.com
TESTER & COSTUME SIZE: 5ft 4/34A in the size 10 top & bottoms
LOVES: This bikini is an office favourite for 2019 – because of the colour, natural shape (no push up here) and laidback, slightly 70s vibe. Finisterre have been providers of great quality activewear since 2003 with a focus on functionality, sustainability and understated style.
The bikini is sold as separates in sizes 8-16 and is best suited for cup sizes A-C. There’s removable padding adding extra coverage for those nippy cold water swims and the straps are adjustable just like a bra, it can be worn cross-back if you prefer. The bikini briefs offer good coverage, not too skimpy but not the ‘big knickers’ look either. I tested it with crawl and breaststroke and was pleasantly surprised – very little slippage, all felt fairly secure, no wardrobe malfunctions here, though I perhaps wouldn’t trust it with a tumble turn! It’s sporty enough to wear in the pool or open water and would be a great addition under a wetsuit too. The yellow darkens to an ochre when wet, which looks event better.
CONS: A-C cup only.