Whether lounging by the pool or getting the lengths in, we ask the experts for their top choices for both men and women
Whether you want a simple suit for the beach, performance wear for getting your laps in or a statement style for lounging by the pool, there is a wide selection to choose from when updating your swimwear.
If you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the water, our experts emphasise the importance of a secure fit.
“What we would always recommend to our clients is tight, well-fitting swimsuits,” says Susan Dillon, co-founder and head coach at Swim Camp, which offers pool and open water swimming lessons around Dublin. “Looser fitting garments will create drag in the water and can make any swimming a little more difficult.”
For women, that means finding a suit with good support that will hold its shape and stay put when wet, while for men, she advises against the trend for board shorts.
“The key is to stay away from loose-fitting shorts if you are doing any sort of swimming,” she says, suggesting tight-fitting trunks, briefs or the knee-length jammer instead. “Men generally aim towards jammers these days.”
Here, we bring together 12 of the best swimwear options for men and women.
Speedo Endurance Aquashort,
€29.99, Sports Direct
Paul McCambridge and Maureen McCoy are swimming instructors and founders of open water swimming site OpenSwim.ie, based in Co Down. While Paul agrees that most men now opt for jammers, he prefers a cropped style, which he describes as shorter than the jammer while providing more coverage than the classic ‘budgie-smugglers’.
“The one that I wear is like an in-between, it’s more like a boxer short,” he says of the aquashort, which is available in plain navy or black and sizes 28 to 42. “Speedo would still be top of the range for most swimmers, training wise and [for casual] swimming. Endurance is the name that they class some of their stuff — it mightn’t be the most colourful stuff, but that is one of the best.”
Arena Jammers, €35, Next.ie
Those who favour a less revealing style may prefer the jammer, which Paul notes is “like a cycling short”. They will give more coverage than shorts or briefs, while also allowing more freedom of movement than board shorts because of their close fit and light, stretchy material. He recommends the ones from Arena, which come in bright blue, red or black and in sizes 30 to 40.
Baggies Shorts, €65, Patagonia
If you’re not comfortable with a tight fitting suit, a lightweight pair of shorts is the next best thing. Patagonia’s Baggies are a long-time favourite, designed for use in and out of the water.
They come with a five-inch inseam as standard, so they aren’t as “baggy” as your traditional board shorts and will perform better in the water, plus they are made from quick-drying nylon so they won’t be dripping once you get out and head to the bar. The Baggies come in a variety of colours and patterns, from sky blue to rust red to this sunny orange floral print, and in sizes S to XXL.
Akron Men’s Bicolour Brief,
For a shorter brief, try Italian-made Akron. “The Akron ones are nice because they’re colourful,” says Paul, who has them in a range of shades.
“I think we’re starting to break away from all the blacks and the dark colours, particularly for the blokes — it’s been a hard one to coax them to put a bit of colour on going into the sea, but I think they’re slowly but surely coming around to it.” This style is available in sizes 28 to 36 and colours including blue and orange, black and red, or blue and fluorescent green.
Uglies Trunks, €45.15, ProSwimwear.ie
Paul notes that Australian brand Uglies is another favourite thanks to its bright colours and vibrant patterns. The chlorine-resistant fabric is designed to withstand hours in the water without losing colour or going transparent and is suitable for training or casual pool use. This graphic Prism print is more eye-catching than solid colours, in wearable shades of blue and green, and sizes 30 to 38.
Vilebrequin Shorts, €205, Brown Thomas
The fashion insider’s favourite, Vilebrequin is the perfect choice for those looking to make more of an impression by the poolside than in the water. The French luxury label is known for its striking patterns and vivid hues, along with its super-soft, quick-drying twill fabric and elastic waistband for an adjustable fit. On top of that, the shorts offer great freedom of movement when swimming, with eyelet details to prevent ballooning in the water. Available in sizes S to XXL.
Funkita Eclipse One-Piece, €59, TheSportsRoom.ie
Susan names Australian company Funkita — which also sells menswear under the name Funkytrunks — as her top pick, catering to sizes 8 to 16.
“They have bright, fun designs and offer thicker straps for support and more coverage,” she says, noting they are also suitable for training. “It can be hard to get interestingly designed togs — they can be quite boring.”
Speedo Endurance Medalist Swimsuit, €32, Elverys
Maureen is also a fan of the Speedo Endurance range, praising its comfortable, durable material. “They’re guaranteed for maybe 50 hours, but I have got two years out of a suit like that, and I’m in the water every day for two hours at a time,” she says of the suit, which comes in sizes 32 to 42. “Endurance is the way to go, not a basic lycra suit — I would get a week out of a lycra suit.”
Susan is also a fan. “They tend to last longer and have more support for women,” she says. The medium-cut classic one-piece comes in a bold red, bright blue, solid black and striped navy or blue.
Kneeskin, €76.79 (reduced from €95.99), MaruSwim.com
“My favourite brand for teaching in and out of the pool is Maru. They do a really nice endurance suit called a Kneeskin — they are a bit like Paul’s jammers, they’re a ladies’ suit that comes down to about the knee like a cycling short and then the upper body is like a normal swimsuit,” Maureen says.
“For ladies who maybe want to cover a little bit more of their bottom or cover their thighs, they are a lovely suit. And I find them quite true to size as well.” It comes in sizes 24 to 40.
Uglies Double Strap Back Swimsuit, €53.50, ProSwimwear.ie
Maureen’s go-to for bright colours is Uglies, which she notes also give good coverage compared to other brands. “For ladies who don’t like the high cuts, they have a mid cut, and there’s plenty of bottom coverage,” she says of the suit, available in sizes 26 to 36.
“I find they’re quite supportive as well. They’re lined and if you’re a lady that’s not straight up and down, if you’ve got curves and you’ve got boobs, a lined suit definitely gives you a bit more support. I have to size down in them because they are quite generous, particularly around the bottom.”
Figleaves Underwired Swimsuit, €38.50 (reduced from €85), SimplyBe.ie
For fuller figures, Figleaves’ swimwear range is particularly reliable. Rendered in a sun-ready colour-blocked palette of yellow, orange and pink, it is underwired for greater support and the halter-neck tie is adjustable. The one-piece has ruching across the mid section to enhance curves, with medium tummy control that can be a real help if you’re feeling self-conscious on the beach. The suit is available up to a size 38G.
Sweaty Betty Bikini Top, €70, and High-Waisted Bottoms, €55, Brown Thomas
On the higher end, Susan points out that British activewear brand Sweaty Betty is becoming increasingly popular in the swimwear market. This style puts a modern twist on the triangle bikini, with thick cross-back straps and a wide underband for better support, removable pads and a high-waisted brief for added coverage. Sold separately, the top and bottoms come in sizes XS to XL.