We don’t want to alarm you, but swimsuit season is almost here. And while we’re all for the arrival of summer, there’s one thing we’re not so keen on: Swimwear shopping. There are few things more traumatic that trying to decide on a bathing suit while crammed into a tiny dressing room with unflattering florescent lights, pasty winter skin, and and a line of shoppers impatiently waiting behind you. That’s why this year, we’ll be buying our bikinis online.
Unlike buying say, a new cocktail dress online, swimwear comes with its own unique set of challenges. To help tackle them, we spoke with MIKOH swimwear designers and sisters, Kalani and Oleema Miller to grab their top tips for buying a bathing suit online this season. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Use Instagram to your advantage.
Instagram is an endless source of style inspiration, and a great place to go if you want to see how different people are styling a trend. Oleema recommends using social networking apps to see what a certain style looks like on different bodies: “Cross reference with other sites and platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to see how different styles look on different girls. We like to check online to see how different prints, styles and colors look on different bodies and skin tones. It’s also a great way to see how different people are styling the piece.”
If you’re planning on using Instagram to see how a specific swimwear style looks on real women, we suggest visiting the label’s Instagram page, then seeing which photos the brand has been tagged in. That way, you’ll get a good mix of real women sharing their thoughts on the design, rather than just the photos that the brand chooses to regram.
2. Buy separates.
Most women aren’t perfectly proportioned, which can mean you might be a size 12 bikini top, but a size 10 bottom. Kalani and Oleema recommend buying bikinis that are sold in separates to tailor the size for your body: “For us at MIKOH, we sell everything as separates, encouraging our consumer to mix and match suits and make it their own. It’s an easy way to set yourself apart.”
3. Look for online promotions.
“Often sites will offer free shipping or a percentage off,” the sisters explained. “A key time to look is during holidays throughout the year like spring break or Black Friday.”
Simply Google searching the brand name or retailer and words like “discount code” or “offer” could bring up available offers that aren’t being publicized on the shopping site’s homepage. For example, try searching “Shopbop discount code.”
4. Study sizing charts.
The designers recommend that shoppers, “Always check the sizing chart to cross reference what size you are as every brand has a different size run.”
Look for a sizing chart to make sure you’re dealing with U.S. standard sizing, as many international boutiques will list in UK or European sizes. Also, double check the actual measurements if they are available. If you’re unsure, contact customer care and request measurements to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. No body likes an ill-fitting swimsuit.
5. Check the return policy.
This one’s critical when buying swimwear online. “Not every store offers returns or exchanges, so be sure prior to purchase that you’re 100% set on what you are choosing so as not not to have to deal with issues later,” Kalani and Oleema explained.
Be sure to check the fine print: Many online stores won’t accept returns on swimwear, while others require that the hygiene strip is left in tact and all tags attached to be valid for an exchange or refund.