The Best Bathing Suits for Queer People, According to Some Real Gay Swimmers

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Ah, summer. Nothing beats starfishing on a towel by the waterfront location of your choice in next to no clothing—once you have a swimsuit that works, that is. Sussing out swimwear that feels comfortable, looks good, and doesn’t cost more than our July electric bill is easier said than done. And while it feels fair to call this a universal hurdle, it is especially true for those of us who are queer and need our tanks, trunks, and bikini tops to pull their weight in terms of our gender expression.

As a late-blooming bisexual who sees the gender binary as one big slip and slide, I like to combine masc and femme pieces of swimwear. Inside me, there are two wolves: the capital W woman with a French manicure who wears glittery ass floss, and the loveable she-douche who feels a lot more like David Foster Wallace circa his iconic stoop picture. Generally speaking, I go by the one big, one little ratio. I’ll combine men’s boardshorts with a graphic halter bikini top, for example. (And if I’m feeling especially Blue Crush-nostalgic, I’ll throw a Y2K men’s choker into the mix.)

I was curious to know what swimwear was making my fellow queers flap their flippers for summer, so I asked them about the best brands and styles that are helping them feel good and look great, wherever the waves may take them. Slap on that Supergoop, and let’s shop.

Ariana, 26, She/They

Ariana’s taste in swimwear can be traced back to her love of dance, and also speaks to a love of pieces that can go from the beach to the bar. As she says, “I sort of famously have never really bought a bathing suit (except for the one time I spent a lot of money on one in an attempt to be an adult, and then lost it, but that's another story); I grew up dancing and still somehow own all of my dance shorts which have now become my bathing suit collection along with any sports bra in a similar color. As an AFAB genderqueer leaning person, I never felt very comfortable in bathing suits designed for women.”

Instead, she says that she “wanted any amount of curve flattened, and it was through finding random pieces that I have been able to achieve this.” Amazon has plenty of high-rated, loose cotton dance shorts for under $20, while Lululemon’s Swift Fabric bottoms offer a more lightweight, high-waisted look. Finally, when it comes to sports bras, consider copping SKIMS’ square neck, neon bralette to wake up your summer wardrobe.

Buy on Lululemon, $68

Buy on SKIMS, $38

Julia, 26, She/They

For Julia, swimwear started as an afterthought. “I didn’t even think about it until I had a summer trip planned,” they told me, “When I started shopping around, I realized [there’s a] false binary in traditional swimwear that always made me uncomfortable. I found cuts that made me feel more comfortable in coverage, and felt more aligned with my view of gender.”

That meant copping a Tomboy X’s swim shorts and tops “for coverage,” as well as a Girlfriend Collective Hermosa bikini top that they love [editor’s note: this bikini top is now sold out]. As Julia says, “I have a larger chest, so I like the option of either a higher coverage and compression for the chest or letting my boobs breathe a bit more, depending on which side of the gender spectrum I’m feeling more aligned with, while keeping the bottoms a more masculine cut. I like that I can mix and match with two pieces in a way that's way more gender neutral than the bikini sets I had growing up.”

Buy on Tomboyx, $59

Buy on Tomboyx, $59

Helena, 32, They/Them

Helena is a nonbinary designer who looks for styles and cuts that make them feel comfortable in their own body, and, as they say, that typically “means nothing that highlights any of my curves, and nothing too feminine. Some days I would like to be nearly nude at the beach, and some days I want a full coverage one piece suit that compresses all my curves as much as one can.”

They have a deep appreciation for playful vintage pieces, a well-cut suit, and made-to-order garments, and look for that same ethos in the swimwear of other designers whose brands they shop. “I love Martine Rose, Miguel Adrover, and Matty Bovan, to name a few,” they say.

Buy on SSENSE, $195

Buy on Farfetch, $232

Will, 36, He/They

As a self-described, “kind of lazy transmasc dude,” Will says that he’s always looking for classic pieces of swimwear. “Los Angeles Apparel makes these hella breezy swim shorts,” he says, “and I wear them to the beach, but I also just wear them… out.”

As for tops, they sing the praises of Nike and other “sportswear brands making swimwear in general.” As Will says, “I don’t have a big chest, but damn if Nike’s chest-compressing, high-neck bikini top doesn’t give me that juicy sense of gender euphoria.”

Buy on Los Angeles Apparel, $42

Buy on Nike, $58

See you on the beach!


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