Among the somewhat universally loathed shopping experiences for women is the search for a bathing suit. It’s the only instance where I’m more likely to cry in a dressing room than when I’m jeans shopping. On top of that, it can be pricey: One survey found that one third of women will drop $50 – $100 on a suit, and one in 10 will spend more than $100. And a recent New York Times piece entitled “What Makes a Bathing Suit So Expensive?,” noted that fabric, labor and manufacturing are among the many reasons some suits can top $200 a pop.
But, thanks to hours of research and deal hunting, we’ve found a number of affordable places to shop with options for both standard and plus-sized swimmers (because size inclusivity is important, and the key to having a bikini body is putting a great bikini on your body).
Best for buying sets: Adore Me
If, like me, you really do need to buy separates in order to get the best fit, Adore Me is our top pick. After years of lamenting why bathing suits never fit my body as well as underwear, I discovered Adore Me’s swim line. Friends of all sizes that I’ve recommended Adore Me to have loved their stuff.
Pricing: Most suits start at around $50 if you buy them outright. If you decide you’d like to spring for their monthly membership at a refundable $39.95 (you can skip, get a refund or cancel at will), you get $10 off any bra and panty set, your 6th set free and access to other savings. Your first set will be $24.95.
Nina Contour (XS-XL; A-D Cup Size)
$59.95 $49.95 with ViP
You can mix and match with this contour plunge top that comes with either a matching high-waisted bottom or a printed bikini bottom. Comes in black/leopard, purple/floral, or a fully print stripe set.
Enisa Contour Plus (1X-3X, DD-G Cup Size)
$59.95 $49.95 with VIP
I own this supportive, high-waisted bikini with cool strappy details on the top and mesh panels on the bottom. Comes in red, black or blue.
Best for stylish suits at low prices: Cupshe
I was admittedly skeptical about Cupshe since it was one of those brands getting pushed to me constantly on Instagram. And that’s always hit or miss. But I couldn’t help but give them a shot once I saw how cute their stuff was. Color me surprised, and every suit I’ve purchased from them has not only been true to size, but high quality.
Pricing: Around $25-$40 for sets and one pieces, $15-$25 for separates.
Dusty Cedar Tall Tri & V Front High Waist Bikini (XS-XL)
This glittery triangle top bikini comes with a V-shaped high-waisted bottom in a pretty dusty pink.
Wild Ronarce Molded Twist Front Plus Size Bikini Top + Bottom (0X-3X)
$21.99 top/$17.99 bottom
This pretty light blue top has twist details, adjustable straps, a criss-cross back tie and removable cups. The high-waisted bottom comes with tummy control and has full back coverage. The downside is these pieces are separates, but they’re still pretty affordable. It does give you some flexibility if you’d like to mix and match.
Best for cool one pieces (but price points are higher): Summersalt
The one piece renaissance has been building for a while now, and Summersalt has been leading the way. These suits are incredibly well-made (their cover ups are too) and almost all of them come in sizes 0-26 and have options for longer torsos.
Pricing: At around $100 each, they’re a bit pricey, but they are high quality.
The Sidestroke + The Long Torso Side Stroke (0-26)
You’ve probably seen this striped, one-shouldered one piece around — the Today Show called it “the Unicorn of Swimsuits” and Elle magazine named it its most “wildly flattering” one shoulder suit, after all. I own one and can confirm it does offer some great compression, but note it is totally unpadded and can be a little unsupportive for women with larger busts. Comes in 13 different swatches featuring stripes, solids and prints.
Best for sustainable swimsuits: Carve
One of the main draws of Carve’s suits is that all of them are 100% recycled. Made entirely from plastic bottles found in the ocean (about five per piece), these suits have been created with watersports in mind. Most of their offerings are separates, so they come on the pricier side, and unfortunately they have yet to offer any extended sizes. There are, however, some fuller-coverage options for folks trying to surf or who just want to get a little more coverage and sun protection (many styles come with 50+ UPF).
Pricing: Around $60-$80 for one pieces and sets; $45-$60 for separates
Kona Rashguard (XS-XL)
This rashguard is great for a little extra coverage, bodysurfing (can confirm the risk of actual rash can be real) and surfing and comes with 50+ UPF. It has long sleeves and color block details throughout and a half zip in case you would like to zip down for a little more sun exposure. Comes in nine different color block swatches.
Lorenzo Short (XS-XL)
We like that these are actually shorts and not conventional bottoms. They’re made with aquatic activities in mind, have internal briefs so you don’t need to wear two suits, are medium-rise and come with a small pocket where you can stash any (waterproof) items you need for a day at the beach.
Best for when you need a bathing suit fast: Amazon
We’ve all been there before, the “oh s***” moment where you’re about to head on a trip and just realize there’s a pool. In these cases, Amazon really does help in a pinch without busting your budget. Quality isn’t always as high as a lot of these other options — however, they do have a couple of nice Cupshe suits for sale — but you’ll be able to get them fast, and a lot of the best-selling suits are pretty cute. Plus-sized options are a little tougher to find, but not impossible.
Pricing: Around $25-$40 on average.
SPORLIKE Women Ruffle High Waist Swimsuit (S-XL)
$32.99 – $38.99
I really dig the unique flutter-sleeved top and ruched high waisted bottom on this bikini that comes in 25 different swatches (colors and prints). It gets an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars from Amazon reviewers who say it’s great for women with larger busts — though some contend it gets a little heavy when wet.
Yonique Womens Plus Size High Waisted Bikini (10-24)
$29.99 – $34.99
This simple, high-waisted bikini is both classic and attractive and comes in 16 swatches (solids and prints), with ruching and criss-cross mesh details. It gets an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars from Amazon reviewers — who offer a lot of helpful tips on sizing and photos for reference to help you land on the perfect size for you. Full disclosure, I’m getting one of these.