Returning to the ocean is one of life’s simple pleasures. The sea breeze sending tasty negative ions into your face, the sand between your toes, the sense that at any moment you could revert to your primordial lizard form and slip away gently between the waves never to be seen again. Bliss.
You know what kills bliss? Struggling to find swimwear that considers your bod, whether it’s smaller, bigger, queerer, differently-abled or otherwise generally a little different to the normative idea of a body. While the ocean (and swimming) is quite socially leveling in some ways—the tides do not care if you’re a transgal in a bikini or a size 18—finding swimwear that you feel chill and comfortable in can be a challenge.
While body positivity has come a long way and many swimwear brands are putting a focus on size-inclusivity, we thought it’d be nice to shine a light on some options for those of us who might still need something a lil more specialised. So we’ve included options for transgender and enby honeys, honeys w disfigurements, and honeys who want a bit more coverage. Dw, we’re still popping in size-inclusive options if you were looking for them too.
Swimwear for different figures: Miga Swimwear
Created by Maria Luisa Mendiola, Miga Swimwear is a line for “all women-identified.” The swimwear line has consideration of difference, disability, disfigurement and chronic illnesses embedded into its DNA. Mendiola was galvanised to create the line because of her own experience with disfigurement and how unconscious (and conscious) biases deeply impact people like her. By highlighting, rather than hiding, she hopes to open up the conversation around all kinds of disfigurement and empower everyone from burn survivors to people with cleft palates to amputees.
The swimwear itself is as stunning as it is inclusive. Mendiola used people’s specific needs, such as having scars or burns that need more UV protection, or needing to wear a stoma bag to inform the design of the suits. In terms of their fabrication, the line utilises recycled fabrics, have a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 50 and go up to 3XL. Outstanding.
Swimwear for diverse identities: Chromat
From the trailblazing creator and lead designer, Becca McCharen-Tran, we had to shout out the deeply inclusive and fashion-forward swimwear label Chromat. When speaking to Them, McCharen-Tran emphasised that as a queer designer, “the male gaze is zero percent of my motivation when I’m designing looks. It’s not on my radar…ever.”
Of a recent collection, she says she was actually inspired by the self-consciousness swimwear can evoke, and that gut-twisty last minute throwing on of a giant t-shirt over your swimmers because you’re too afraid to go without it. She says that she wanted to, “reimagine that moment of vulnerability some people have with swimwear and make it something to be proud of instead.”
Chromat swimwear designs forground queer, femme, POC and nonbinary folks, wrapping diverse bodies in bold, futuristic styles and colourways. The line is a celebration of difference, not a minimisation of it. Yeah, Chromat can take all our coins.
Swimwear for bigger bods: Gabi Fresh X Swimsuits For All
If you’re a lil tired of trite messaging around plus-size swimwear (please obliterate any copy that says a swimsuit “slims” “flattens” “hides” or “smoothes”) and are looking for something bold n confidence boosting, ya girl Gabi Fresh has the goods. The plus-size influencer and model collaborated with Swimsuits For All on a collection that celebrates and emphasises bigger bodies, rather than trying to disguise them.
The line is inspired by the desert, and features one and two piece swimsuits with both super-supportive underwire and wire-free styles for people with ample chests—certain styles go up to a 26G/H. We’re big Gabi fans and even bigger fans of the beautiful campaign, which features the late, great disabled rights activist and model Mama Cax. Rest in power <3
Swimwear for bigger bods: Lonely Swim
If you’re looking for a more low-fi/soft focus/analogue inclusive swimwear vibe, you can’t go past the antipodean classic Lonely Label. The brand also makes gorgeous swimwear in adjustable sizes up to an XL. Though tbh, we’ve also been known to just wear their lingerie to the beach too. The designs are feminine without being aggressively girly (tho if that’s ur bag u do u) and the brand has long showcased people of diverse ages, races n sizes in their campaigns.
Swimwear for all sorts of bods: Hunza G & You Swim
On the minimal, sporty, fash-pack approved end, there’s the crinkle swimsuit. Popularised by celeb-fav Hunza G, the suit is made of a crinkly material which adapts to sizes from 6 to 14. While Hunza G is a gr8 sustainable, hand-made in London version, you can also find less expensive versions of this stretchy wonder from You Swim, shown above. You Swim’s version fits a 6 to 18 and the stretchy nature of both versions makes it a great one if your weight fluctuates a bit or you’re a “one and done” swimsuit kinda person.
Mastectomy-friendly swimwear: Hapari
Born from a desire to give people confidence, regardless of their body shape Hapari is one of our faves if you’re self-conscious in a swimsuit because of your chest. While of course, dismantling normative ideas about what a body should and shouldn’t look like is the main mission, sometimes you just want to go to the beach with a vague semblance of unthinking freedom.
“Nearly all of our bikinis, tankinis and one-piece suits are made with pockets sewn into the bust that can be fitted with our silicone inserts (or prostheses),” which makes them a really good shout for people who might want to adjust their chest size or augment the appearance of a mastectomy.
Higher coverage swimsuits: Duskii
Empathising for a moment here with people who may want to cover their bodies a little more. Whether it’s because of modesty, scarring or burns that need protection from the elements, hyperpigmentation, or self-created marks that you feel uncomfy about—tonnes of brands offer higher coverage swimwear styles. Whether you’re wanting to cover keratosis pilaris on your arms, or just get a bit more sun protection, we’re really into the long-sleeve swimsuits from Duskii.
Full coverage swimsuits: Lululemon
If full-coverage all-over is more your styles, but you don’t want to compromise mobility, hit up Lululemon. Not just for yoga-jerks (me), the brand offers a bunch of athletic n protective swimwear styles. The only con is they unfortunately don’t have the world’s most inclusive sizing.
Modest swimwear: Speedo
Another sporty brand making cute things for even the non-sporty among us is Speedo. They have a range of modest swimwear, and if you’re looking for something to cover your head and neck during a dip (perhaps you’re a hijab wearer usually), they also have a swim hood that’s supposed to be suitable for both light and vigorous use.
Swimwear for Transwomen: Danae & ASOS
Okay, so the beach and other sitchos where you’re wearing swimwear can be a site of a lot of body dysmorphia for transgender people (even IRL angel AJ Clementine has felt this). Swimsuits by their nature are usually more form-fitting, and the majority of women’s swimsuits are designed with cis-women only in mind.
There are a few different ways you could go about clothing yourself for watersports, especially if you’re pre-op or non-op. Two-piece swimwear with slightly more coverage (esp in the form of ruffles or a skirted bikini bottom) can give you a bit more coverage.
You can also opt for less traditionally “feminine” two-pieces in a darker colour, and if you feel like it, pop on a pair of boardshorts or a cute beach co ord when you’re chilling on the sand. The reason we’re suggesting two pieces here is because there’s one less thing to think about with regard to accommodating your height, but if you find a one piece you’re into, go for it.
If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, you can also try the brand Danae, which makes swimsuits specifically for transwomen or transfemme folk. Different styles feature space for breast prosthesis, specialised elastic to comfortably and effectively hide genitals, and designs meant to emphasise your waist. They’re definitely on the pricier end, but are extremely high quality and can also be custom made.
Swimsuits for Transmen: Danae & Shapeshifters
In much the same way that the typical women’s swimwear is mainly for cis-women, so it goes for transmen—the problem here being that the normative male swim gear is usually topless, consisting of your choice of board shorts, swim briefs or lil budgie smugglers
While you can probably find boardshorts in your size, and some brands offer swim briefs that you’re able to pack, there are fewer up-top swimwear options for trans men who haven’t had top surgery. A couple of brands that are out there doing the lord’s work are Danae (again!) and Shapeshifters.
Danae offers a range of transformative swimwear, with binding tops in muscle-singlet cuts and swim trunks that are specifically made to be worn with a packer. Shapeshifters have a range of binders in spandex, with some much bolder designs if you’re up for it.
A small note about binders and swimming (which I’m sure ur across already but safety first!!). Anytime you’re wearing a binder, you’re constricting your chest—be careful that you’re not getting out of breath or becoming overtired while you’re swimming. That is not a recipe for a good time for anyone, my friends. If you feel okay going without binding, there’s also the option of a rash shirt.
Gender neutral swimwear: Outplay & Rebirth Garments
Rounding out our list is the gender neutral swimwear brand Outplay, who make clothing that fits a bunch of different bodies and presentation styles. Different pieces hold, hide, bind or show bodies in a multitude of ways, so if nothing on this list so far has been quite right, Outplay might be the go for you.
The other place we’d suggest having a look is Rebirth Garments, you can find a bunch of colourful gender non-conforming lingerie and swimwear in more colourful, geometric styles.
While this list is in no way exhaustive (DM us if there’s a brand u love that we missed), we hope it serves you as a shopping starting point and a gentle reminder that you can absolutely demand better, more authentic inclusivity and diversity from brands.
Go forth and get those sea ions.