'Light and tight or wet with regret: why fabric matters in a swimsuit'

When the summer season is in full swing, the shelves of clothing stores are stocked with all different types and styles of swimsuits and bikinis. Chances are, if you have been swimsuit shopping lately, you have been somewhat overwhelmed by the abundance of choices. In the stores, there are about as many styles and cuts of swimsuits as there are types of bodies to wear them.

While most women consider size, fit, and color when choosing a swimsuit, there is another significant characteristic of a swimsuit that many consumers often forget to think about when shopping for and purchasing a new swimsuit: fabric.

Swimsuit manufacturers like to introduce new swimsuits made from different types of fabric into the market in order to produce a more unique swimsuit product. However, while a swimsuit made from an exotic fabric will greatly add to the uniqueness factor of your swimming wardrobe, the type of fabric a swimsuit is made of greatly affects both the fit and the overall life of that swimsuit. With all of the different fabric options available for swimsuit consumers, a brief guide to the strengths and drawbacks of several of the most common swimsuit fabrics may be quite valuable.

100% Cotton:

As consumers become less and less fond of synthetic materials, swimsuits and bikinis made entirely from cotton are becoming more and more popular. While cotton swimsuits can be extremely cute and fashionable (not to mention light and airy), they do not always provide the best fit or the greatest overall longevity in a swimsuit. Cotton swimsuits are not known for staying in place on the body, and they have a tendency to ride up and bunch (an undesirable characteristic in any swimsuit). As a fabric, cotton does not stand up long to the destructive nature of chlorine and sun. It is likely that your cotton swimsuit will fade fairly quickly, especially if you are swimming in chlorinated pools.


Most swimsuits contain some percentage of spandex or Lycra in their fabric. These fabrics provide the stretchy fit that allows a swimsuit to stay in place on the body. Generally, the higher the percentage of spandex or Lycra in the swimsuit material, the more the swimsuit is designed for more serious or competitive swimming. While high-spandex materials cover the body well and smooth out any unsightly body bulges, they can become tight and uncomfortable. Also, spandex has a tendency to run if snagged on the side of a concrete pool or on a wooden lounge chair. Because high-spandex swimsuits are designed for use in serious and competitive swimming pursuits, however, they are often treated for chlorine resistance. While this chlorine resistance does not provide complete protection from chlorine, it does significantly lengthen the lifetime of the swimsuit.

Metallic Overlay:

Swimsuits with metallic overlay sewn into the fabric are designed to be glamorous and eye-catching, but not necessarily to hold up and endure extensive swimming. While metallic overlay certainly adds a level of pizzazz and style to any swimsuit, the overlay is guaranteed to fray and dull after only a short amount of time. In general, swimsuits with metallic overlay are meant much more for show than they are for getting wet.


Swimsuits made from velvet and other types of crushed fabrics have become more popular in recent years. A velvet swimsuit is definitely nice to look at and to touch, but it is not best for either swimsuit fit or longevity. When wet, velvet has a tendency to soak up water, and can become quite heavy and sodden. This heaviness causes a velvet swimsuit to sag away from the body, losing the tight fit that is so necessary in a swimsuit. Also, velvet is not a fabric meant to come in close contact with chlorine. Like swimsuits with metallic overlay, velvet swimsuits are much more valuable for their uniqueness and style factors than they are for their longevity.

In order to ensure that you receive your desired fit and longevity in your next swimsuit purchase, be sure to check the tag in the swimsuit before buying it. While all of the above fabrics can make a decent, good-looking swimsuit, each particular swimsuit fabric is designed for different reasons and activities. In general, the best way to acquire the best swimsuit for you, in terms of fabric, is to know what you plan to use the swimsuit for and where you plan to wear it.

About the Author:

Vanessa Lausch is a writer/editor for More Swimsuits, an online retail site with more swimsuit options and information for you. To find more information about swimsuit fabric or fitting options, check out http://www.moreswimsuits.com/