While the traditional thrift, vintage and rental concepts are out — no one wants to share swimsuits — there are ways to find a reasonable, solid suit without shelling out three figures and regretting your purchase.
The experts stress that shopping the sales is important, but how and what you buy matters if you’re investing in a suit that can last years. Here’s what you need to know.
The bottom line
Bathing suits elude the standard vintage and rental tricks we use to save money on clothes. But there are times to buy, places to shop and methods for caring for a suit that can ensure you get the most for your money. Invest in the suit you can afford and in a style that flatters your body, and you’ll want to wear it over and over.
When to shop
Know the sale schedule
Whether buying online or at a store, know when brands are having big sales. Stores lure shoppers in with coupons on holiday weekends. “A lot of stores are having friends and family discounts” in May, said Lauren A. Rothman, a Washington-based fashion stylist and founder of the Web site Styleauteur. “Lord & Taylor, Macy’s and Saks sometimes offer storewide discounts for regular customers, similar to the employee discount.” Rothman says the retailers have them two or three times a year, so wait for those sales to buy.
Use your phone
Many department stores are taking advantage of mobile opportunities. With some, “you can actually text a certain number on a mobile device and get messages that they’re having a sale,” Rothman said. Via text, Lord & Taylor sometimes offers 15 to 20 percent off one item, so it’s a great way to shop for bathing suits.
Wait until June
The busiest swimming weekend of the year happens to be this month. If you’re not following the sales at your favorite stores, wait until after Memorial Day weekend, when the demand for swimwear goes down (the prices do, too).
Where to Shop
Shop (and return) online
“Being able to sit in the comfort of your home and look at options is a great luxury,” McCormick said. But realize you’re going to have to try those swimsuits on when you get them, so be savvy about where you shop. Buy from a company that has a good guarantee policy. Also, many online retailers offer free shipping on purchases over a certain amount. If you’re buying for a family member, buy multiple suits to save on shipping costs.
Fast fashion and a discount
There’s no harm in buying that cheap bikini from Forever 21. “If you have a figure to rock an $11 bathing suit from H&M, by all means, go for it,” Rothman said. “The reality is most women don’t.” Retailers such as Lands’ End offer a refined search on their Web sites so women can filter options by body type. Investing in a bathing suit that flatters your figure is almost always the best deal because you’ll want to wear it.