The rise and rise of the fancy swimsuit

With more people than ever seeking them out, one-piece swimming costumes are big news this summer. And, as Hannah Banks-Walker explains, they’re more glamorous than ever before

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By Hannah Banks-Walker on

All I’ve ever wanted is for my swimwear to be as chic as Grace Kelly’s in To Catch a Thief. She’s wearing a skirt over her cozzie! To the beach! She’s also sporting a gigantic hat! No woman, in my opinion, has ever looked so utterly fantastic while wearing what is, in essence, a ridiculous piece of clothing. But while Grace Kelly can wear a plain black, halterneck swimsuit and radiate pure glamour, I’ve only ever found disappointment when shopping for my own version. Maybe that’s because the world’s obsession with the bikini left the one-piece market a bit neglected. Maybe it’s because I’m not, in fact, Grace Kelly. This year, however, the former – at least – has changed.


This year’s one-pieces are an entirely more glamorous affair. They are, in fact, the closest thing to Grace Kelly on a beach I’ll ever get.

Swimsuits have seemingly been eclipsing bikinis for a while now, with Lyst reporting that online searches for one-pieces have increased 13% year on year. Similarly, Net-a-Porter has reportedly seen sales of one-piece swimsuits experience 27% growth, which is much faster than that of their two-piece counterparts. This is, perhaps, a product of our changing notions of sexuality, as WWD reported earlier this week: “The bikini — once a brazen symbol of female empowerment — has, in some cases become a confining emblem of scrutiny and objectification.” Lots of designers have seen sales of one-pieces surge recently, while one look at social media shows a lot more swimsuit selfies than bikini pics. But it’s not just your plain old swimmers that are generating so much buzz – oh no. This year’s one-pieces are an entirely more glamorous affair. They are, in fact, the closest thing to Grace Kelly on a beach I’ll ever get.

Firstly, belted swimsuits are everywhere. Brands like Hunza G, Solid & Striped and Mara Hoffman all released fabulous, belted cozzies that mostly sold-out almost straight away. I, however, am not prepared to spend up to £300 on a swimsuit, so was delighted when I saw that & Other Stories had its own, sunny yellow style for a much more reasonable £49. Actually, & Other Stories’ swimsuit selection, in general, is fantastic. There’s everything from lace-up, scoop backs and bold stripes to swimsuits with actual fringing.

I’m also entirely obsessed with Paper London’s swim range, which includes swimsuits with elaborate tie-details, bows and patterns. It’s not cheap but there is – praise be – currently a lot of styles in the sale, with up to 50% off. Plus, I can attest to the fact that you can actually swim in them. I was only helped, not hindered, by my super-chic bow, tied at my shoulder. And the high street, of course, is packed with fabulous swimsuits – including suits with frills, sleeves and even skirts – that will make you feel as fantastic standing next to the pool as you will actually swimming in it. Because even Grace Kelly got her hair wet.

Click here for the fancy swimsuit edit 


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