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Want to make a summer splash? The one-piece is the swimsuit for the season

When you're hitting the beach this summer, you might notice fewer bikinis and more one-piece swimsuits. That's because the full swimsuit, now with edgier cuts and fashion-minded details, is back in a major way.

Anyone who has favored a one-piece might argue that the style has never really gone away. However, the difference now is that women who consistently wore bikinis are turning their gaze to the comfort, versatility and on-trend aspects of the one-piece, and it's reflecting in retailer sales as well as the way in which women are wearing their suits out of the water.

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Informed by the bodysuit trend, which naturally pairs well with the still ubiquitous high waist on jeans and shorts, and fashion's increasing presence in all sportswear (and vice versa), brands are bringing back the one-piece suit in a striking manner by implementing bold graphics, interesting cutout details and belts, mesh panels and long sleeve lengths that blur the lines between what works on the beach and on the street.

Fleur du Mal side cutout swimsuit, $275 at fleurdumal.com.
Fleur du Mal side cutout swimsuit, $275 at fleurdumal.com. (Fleur du Mal)

"Swimwear is moving in a lifestyle-oriented direction," says Brooke Taylor Corcia, founder and chief executive of Los Angeles-based online retailer www.thedreslyn.com. "The one-piece is having a moment as the return of the bodysuit shape, in general, is capturing our imagination."

This season, the Dreslyn collaborated with New York-based lingerie brand Land of Women on a capsule collection that included three all-white one-piece swimsuits, which Corcia says were inspired by "Japanese simplicity meets Joan Didion on vacation."

While the one-piece may seem relatively demure, high-cut leg openings, open backs, cutout waists and sleek strapless necklines still satiate the desire to bare more skin. The style also follows suit of fashion's ongoing fascination with the '90s, particularly when the one-piece is treated like a T-shirt festooned with slogans and sayings or splashy graphics.

Ephemera Noir, $255 at ephemeralive.com; Mara Hoffman, $180, and Jets by Jessika Allen, $224, both at everythingbutwater.com.
Ephemera Noir, $255 at ephemeralive.com; Mara Hoffman, $180, and Jets by Jessika Allen, $224, both at everythingbutwater.com. (Ephemera, Everything But Water)

New York-based swimwear brand Onia, which has suits with a bird of paradise graphic that have been popular this summer, has managed to incorporate a popular fashion element into its resort collection. "We are launching a new one-piece with a choker/halter, and it has already garnered a ton of interest from our top retailers," says Carl Cunow, co-founder and creative director of Onia.

"I think buyers are seeing the potential with one-pieces," says Michelle Copelman, design director of Solid & Striped, which collaborates with model Poppy Delevingne on a capsule collection of swimsuits and coverups. "[The one-piece] opens up the market, catering to all types of women with different desires, end uses and body types."

The desire for more is affecting Barneys New York retail sales in a significant way, says Leah Kim, senior vice president and divisional merchandise manager of women's ready-to-wear at Barneys.

"We now have many more options to choose from as more designers offer one-piece styles ranging from conservative to uber sexy," Kim says.

And despite the bare-it-all vibe that's beloved on social media, Kim says the one-piece is a trend that will continue into spring 2017.

"It speaks to the power of subtlety and resonates with women of all ages and geography," Taylor says. "In a category that is often over-sexualized, the one-piece makes a statement to be seen on one's own terms."

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