Fashion icons have long been in on the secret that the best way to maximize a wardrobe is to tap into swimwear’s hidden potential. “Life is a hybrid!’ says Los Angeles-based stylist Karen Levitt of the summer flex she’s seeing everywhere. “I saw Michèle Lamy at The Chateau Marmont yesterday, and she looked as amazing in her black look and jewelry sitting by the pool as walking down the street in Paris.”
It’s a matter of making the most of the day—and night. “People don’t always have time to stop and go home to change, so throwing on shorts and a blazer over a bathing suit with heels makes heading to dinner or a party look effortless,” says Levitt. It’s the kind of style move that doesn’t age. Levitt references an image of Blondie’s Debbie Harry “wearing the most perfectly fitted shrunken crop denim jacket and string bikini bottom with a cup of coffee—she looks so natural.”
Of course, the California babes of ’90s television solidified the concept. “I remember a pretty iconic scene in 90210 where Brenda tosses on some denim with a red bikini top and a white linen button up to leave her house,” says Donna Lisa, the wardrobe stylist who works with the new guard of experimental celebs like Phoebe Bridgers, Mia Goth, and Noah Cyrus. “She looked effortlessly cool and sexy.”
Below, the best brands making swimwear hybrids for summer’s easiest style wins:
“Oseree brings disco to swim with their fabulous Lumiere collection,” says Levitt, who pairs the pieces with low-waist flare pants and A-line skirts. “I love their lime green one-piece and ’70s lavender string bikini.” Even the line’s minidresses and pants are made in the same fabric as swim should one choose to wander straight into the shallows.
Tory Burch’s smocked bandeau doubles as a summer tube top, while asymmetrical pieces can double as unitards. “I love one-shoulder one-pieces with pencil skirts,” Levitt suggests.
Expanding its party girl aesthetic into swim, The Attico is all in the details. “I love that lately a lot of swimwear has hardware that can feel really rock and roll chic,” says Levitt.
Wrappy, strappy tops are designed to be seen, and Anemos offers them in softer shades. Donna Lisa likes styling triangle bikinis “with open button-up blouses or shirts, along with shorts and boots,” she says. “It feels young and fresh and gives that feeling of being on vacation. What’s not to love?”
Tropic of C’s “eco fabrics and sexy cuts look great mixed in as clothing,” says stylist Elizabeth Sulzer, who works with clients like Elsa Hosk, Candice Swanepoel, and Jasmine Sanders. Their classic one-piece masquerades as a strapless corset.
Sir’s swim line offers bandeau crops with exaggerated sleeves and slick asymmetrical lines that play well with basics. “I love to pair the right one-piece as I would any other bodysuit,” says Donna Lisa. “Try it with trousers, a full skirt, or even denim.”
Solid and Striped is a swim-to-table favorite for easy daywear. “Love the rash guard feel of it without being so literal!” Donna Lisa enthuses. “I could see it pairing well with denim for a casual look.”
Frankies Bikinis is known for making pieces that can be swapped into daywear. “I’m a big fan of their asymmetrical cuts, crops, use of straps, and overall versatility,” says Donna Lisa. “Their underwire bikini tops look really fun with oversized, ’90s feeling streetwear. Their halter bikini tops are great paired with a low-rise skirt or high-waisted pants, and the strapless bikini tops are another favorite for styling.”
OOKIOH’s colorways are what set the line apart, according to Donna Lisa. “They have great tops,” she says, plus their bikinis “pair great with denim and light linen for the summer.”
“I really appreciate the simplicity of their designs,” Donna Lisa says of Girlfriend Collective. “Their asymmetrical one piece is an amazing staple for any wardrobe—the fact that it’s swim just makes it that much better.”
For an essential ’90s “designer logo moment,” Sulzer likes Versace’s Italian swim classics. Try shorts as a riff on the beach boxer trend.
“I love Y-3’s rash guards for both practical use, and also to be worn as tops,” says Donna Lisa. “My favorite is to pair them with biker shorts and boots along with an added layer like an oversized button-up.”
“Fleur Du Mal added swim to their line, and it’s as wearable as the lingerie,” says Levitt. “I love the metal embellishments! The suspender one piece can be great as a new replacement for a tank top with skinny jeans and a biker jacket.”
“Oye is the master of swimwear with fashion details,” says Levitt. “They use grommets, buttons, snaps, zippers that give this really luxe high fashion feel to their swimwear.” She considers it “the perfect take on vintage in a modern way.”
Donna Lisa appreciates Isa Boulder’s formal fabrics for swim. “Their satin one-piece is so versatile,” she says, noting that it’s great on its own or “styled with satin pants and heels for a perfect evening look.”
“This Andrea Lyamah collection is the perfect modern take on chic tropical vacation wear,” says Levitt. “I love the Nisi Ruffle one-piece because you can wear the ruffle strap four different ways.”
For styling sheer pieces that need a little something underneath, look to Matteau for “wrap string bikini tops and high waist bottoms,” says Sulzer.
The shimmery, light-catching fabrics in Triangl’s swimwear fall into the “fabulous disco wear” category that Levitt loves, while the line’s terry shorts work as stretchy, comfy hot pants.
Perfect Moment is known for its sport-focused styles, with zippy rash guards and a wetsuit that looks like a body-hugging jumpsuit. “I’ve also used rash guards as tops for styling,” says Donna Lisa. “There’s something about a hint of ‘beach’ without being so on the nose with it that’s really fun.”
“I adore Seaqueen’s one-pieces in both print and classic solids,” says Donna Lisa. “Their bandeau tops in solid colors are also perfect for layering under a printed button-up or casual layer.”