I know I’m not alone when I say I love to shop online.
But I’m surprised how many devoted online shoppers say they’ll never buy swimwear online, because they think they have to try it on first.
They have a good point: swimwear is hard to shop for. It’s tough to find a suit that fits your unique body.
But I’m here to convince you that shopping online has many advantages, if you do it right. You get to avoid hideous dressing room lighting, an overwhelming sales floor, judgmental (at least in your head) salespeople, and the pressure to decide right then which suit to take home.
But to find a great suit that fits online, you’ve gotta play by the rules–and choose your retailer with care. Here’s how to buy a swimsuit you love–and that actually fits you–online.
The Gap is a great place to buy a swimsuit online: high quality product, dependable fit, easy in-store returns.
How to buy a swimsuit online
2. Determine your (ballpark) size. Take your measurements and study the size chart on the website. Read the body type recommendations. Great retailers encourage you to call or live chat if you have any questions. Read the reviews to get a feel for sizing.
3. Order your favorite suit in at least 2 sizes. Order the size you think you need according to the size chart, then order the next size that’s most likely to fit. If you love the suit, but are really unsure what size is for you, order 3 sizes. This is the time to go overboard.
4. Just try it. You can’t know how it will look until you try it on. This is truer for swimsuits than for any other piece of clothing. It might look awesome or it might be downright embarrassing, but if a certain design catches your eye, you have to try it to find out. So just order it. It’s much easier and cost-effective to place all your orders at once.
5. You have the money, right? I hardly ever use my credit card, but I’ll pull it out if I’m ordering multiple swimsuits online. Before you hit “pay now,” stop a moment to consider payment schedules and any holds that might be placed on your account.
6. See how they look. Try your swimsuits on in good lighting, when you’re in a good mood, in the privacy of your own home (yay!). See how you look, see how you feel. Do a little dance and make sure it stays in place.
7. Return the suits that don’t work by mail or at the local bricks-and-mortar location. This works great if you follow rule #8…
8. For a satisfying online shopping experience, the most important thing is to choose your retailer carefully. Not every store is great to order from online. You want to order from an established company that makes returns easy and inexpensive. I love Boden’s swimsuits this year, but if I order one and it doesn’t fit, it’s going to cost me $17 in shipping both way to find that out. I’m just not willing to go there.
The stores highlighted below want you to be happy. They want their swimwear to fit you, they want you to love it, and they will help you get there. Online.
Where to buy bathing suits online
Lands’ End was a mail-order business before the internet existed, and they are pros at helping you order a suit you’ll be happy with–without trying it on. Utilize their detailed swim resource guide, or live chat or telephone with a swim expert. Returns can be made to any full-line Sears store, or mail order returns for a flat rate of $6.95.
J. Crew consistently offers stylish interpretations of classic suits, in a wide range of on-trend colors. They have completely complimentary personal shoppers available online or by phone. Free returns can be made to any store. This year J. Crew is offering free shipping and free returns on all swim styles, all summer long.
Target. Target has a decent selection in stores, but it’s nothing compared to the selection online. Shipping is generally free for orders of $50 or more, and returns are easy. The quality can be hit or miss–they do make some low-quality suits, but they make a lot of great ones, too. Expect to pay $30-$40 for a two-piece; a little less for a one-piece.
Athleta. This member of the Gap family has athletic, high-quality, performance-based suits in a variety of cute styles. Their prints are especially awesome, and their fun online tool helps you mix and match your two-piece. All orders over $50 ship free, and return shipping is a flat $6.00, regardless of the number of items.
Zappos is famous for their fabulous selection, and free and fast shipping both ways.
Zappos. Think of Zappos as your infinite personal department store, loved for its phenomenal customer service and killer selection from top brands like Spanx, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Speedo. Zappos has tons of helpful customer reviews to help you zone in on the right size and shape for you, and they always have free (and fast) shipping both ways.
Do you have a tip for making swimsuit shopping a little easier? Please share it in comments!