Summer’s about to start and we’re guessing that pool season will be in full swing any weekend now. For all the girls out there, that means it’s time to bust out the bikinis. Hunting for this must-have summer staple can be a frustrating reality of ill-fitting skirt-laced printed messes and over-padded bust lines, so to make it a bit easier here’s our guide to suiting-up for the pool.
H&M has the largest and most affordable selection. Here you can find a complete set for under 200rmb, with a variety of styles, colors and sizes to choose from. You can mix and match the sizes and styles of tops and bottoms for a perfect fit and the most flattering shape. They have styles ranging from ruffled bandeaus to a Lycra long-sleeved, zippered one-piece (reminiscent of Cynthia Rowley for Roxy’s paneled shorty wetsuits).
H&M long-sleeved, zippered one-piece, 150rmb
We got a cute pink ruffled number with criss-crossed adjustable back for 49rmb – score! These suits are great for one or two seasons but require some gentle washing and careful storage if you want them to last. For tips on how to care for your swimwear, look here.
Itching for a vaycay? Check out designer Brittany Harris’s Voyage Swimwear (725rmb) that features a cute map print, making the common query “where are you from?” a funny game of search and point at the pool. Her men’s version goes for 500rmb. These puppies have been available this spring at local events like DAFF and the Jiashan Marketplace, but since she’s based in Shanghai, you can order directly from the source by contacting her here.
Voyage Swimwear two-piece, 725rmb
HolieB swimwear has some cute, playful suits and is a great option to support another young Shanghai-based designer offering suits online through her ASOS boutique. Prices range from 396-785rmb and she’s offering a special deal for SmartShanghai readers this summer on ASOS. Enter the code SMSHOLIEB when ordering from ASOS and receive free local delivery on all items. Payments by credit card and Paypal. Alternatively, you can meet her (by appointment) at her apartment/showroom for custom fittings and where you can mix and match sizes. We love her black and white bikini – low bottoms like these are a hard find. Got a great tan? Show it off with this turquoise one-piece.
HolieB black and white bikini, 496rmb; HolieB one-piece, 784rmb
Zara has some cute options – mostly in the shape of bandeau tops this season. Choose from their bright orange and pinks, or embrace the printed floral trend with this cute bandeau, u-ringed halter. If you’re afraid of tan lines, wrap the halter ties around your sides and tie them in the back. All Zara pieces are 169rmb.
Zara's bandeau, U-ringed halter, 169rmb, bottoms: 169rmb
American Apparel has some funky finds for a decent (yet still inflated) price. They have lots of options - some pretty sweet, including styles to curb your Baywatch nostalgia, retro chic high-wasted nylon numbers (black and tan offers mesh see-through paneled bottoms), and a few low-backed one pieces that look demure but, when tried on, are so high-cut we dare not post the pictures.
American Apparel, high-wasted nylon twins, top: 256rmb, bottoms: 287rmb
We would recommend Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch’s beach brand, but the staff there were so rude to us when we went down that we just can’t recommend that anyone goes. Just avoid.
For function-over-fashion folk, we also checked out the myriad of stay-put one pieces and sets at the Speedo stall in New World City Mall in People’s Square. We have to say, their women’s suits offer some flattering and sport-friendly styles that were totally wearable and surprisingly cuter than we remember from our days of high school one-piece-enforced pool time. The women’s Speedos range from 400-800rmb. They also have a stock of swim caps and goggles for anyone actually swimming (as opposed to us lounging-pool-side people).
Speedo one-piece, 799rmb
For those not afraid to cross into Pudong, Decathalon stocks a large supply of swimwear – both sporty and fun. Most suits are pretty affordable and run from 39-79rmb for separates, with one-pieces as low as 59rmb. This is also the place to go if you’re looking for swim accessories, as they have everything from water wings to towels and toys.
Jing’an shopping mall also has a wide selection of suits on their 3rd floor. Although many lean towards the gaudy-side, there are still some good finds worth a look. We liked the polka dot bikini -- no, it’s neither tiny-weenie nor yellow, but still cute enough to try on, and the price is right at 320rmb for the full set. This mall also houses a Roxy-Quicksilver section on the 3rd floor that has some cute bikinis ranging from 598-628rmb. Don’t be turned off by the massive padding inside the tops – it’s all removable. They also have a selection of board shorts that are crucial in preventing wardrobe malfunctions while partaking in water sports (these will cost you 398rmb/pair).
Polka dot two-piece from Jing'an Temple mall, third floor, top: 200rmb, bottom: 120rmb
Assorted makes at the Jing'an Temple mall, from 598-628rmb
At the other end of the practical spectrum we have some gorgeous finds from Alter in Xintiandi. This high-end boutique stocks brands such as Jets and Melissa Odabash. They had us drooling over the amazing shiny cut-out black number, below. However, don’t expect any cheap threads here – their pieces run in the range of 2000-4000rmb.
Jets one-piece, 2000rmb
Melissa Odabash one-piece, 3100rmb
For those of you looking for real-shape wear made by an expert, look no further than our man Calvin Klein, who has some great, sturdy suits available in limited sizes (we only found M and L at their Raffles City store). Their sweetheart-shaped, studded one-piece would be perfect for curvaceous babes out there (it has a detachable halter strap), and even comes in a two-piece option as well. From our experience, Ck swimwear is always a good investment – it fits well and lasts more than one season. The one-piece goes for 1390rmb. The two-piece version rings in at 1080rmb.
Calvin Klein, nail-studded one-piece, 1390rmb
We headed over to The Source to check out their selection and were pleasantly surprised to learn that their entire stock of swimwear (both men’s and women’s) is available on a buy-one-get-one-free basis. We’ve sent friends over who have scored two suits for as low as 500rmb – for good swimwear brands such as Rip Curl, Insight, and Volcom. Hit this place up while sizes last – and check out their women’s apparel while you’re there.
Insight two-piece from The Source, 498rmb
In case that wasn’t enough inspiration for a shopping outing or 10, you can always satiate your passion for poolside fashion on one of a thousand Taobao sites, featuring everything from lingerie-inspired bikinis to classic and recognizable Victoria Secret (real?) suits.
Thanks to Richard Leon Liston for the first picture at the top of this story. Boys, if you're in a quandary about where to find the hottest, sexiest, tightest, most revealing beachwear, don't worry. We'll get you next week.