As summer draws to a close, it’s interesting to think about how swimwear differs around the world. These are the general trends of how swimwear changes in different countries around the globe.
Everybody tends to have a little bit of different taste in what they wear to the beach or the pool. It varies by age, body shape, the activity you’re doing, or just simply personal taste. But because fashion is so shaped by the culture we are surrounded by, it carries over to what women wear when they’re getting in or near the water.
USA: Straps and Cutouts
One thing that I’ve noticed while going to the beach or the pool, or even just walking past the swimsuit section at Target, is just how many different strap designs or cutouts are often added to the swimsuits women wear here.
That’s not to say a lot of women don’t prefer a more simple suit because they definitely do (I’m one of them), but as far as the options go and the range of what you’ll see on the beach, it’s pretty much a little bit of everything. If the United States ever was a melting pot, it’s with the swimsuit designs you’ll see on the beaches here.
France: Keep It Classic, Keep It Simple
Thanks to the influences of French style icons like Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, French women, much like their style outside of the water, tend to keep their swimwear pretty simple. You’ll find many say they prefer solid colors or simple designs, as in fewer straps and cut-outs than you’ll see in American swimwear.
Italy: Bikinis and Jewelry
One of the interesting things about swimwear in Italy is that everyone wears bikinis. And I mean everyone, from the 5-year-old girl to her grandmother. Italian women really like to have fun with it and will even wear lots of jewelry with their suit while at resorts.
Japan: The Kind You Wear To Actually Swim Laps
In Japan, the swimsuits are all about function, not frills. This is because in Japan when you go swimming it’s not about playing in the pool, it’s about swimming laps as a way to get exercise. If you do go swimming in Tokyo, you’ll want an athletic swimsuit along the lines of what you wore when you were on the swim team, goggles, and a swim cap.
Fiji: A Cute Cover-Up
This one is a bit of a reminder of the fact that women all over the world don’t share the same circumstances. While you can don swimwear safely on your visit to the tropical island and common honeymoon destination, bathing suits are not considered safe for local women to be wearing out in public, so as you move away from the resorts you’re going to want to cover up some more. It’s a great honeymoon destination, just keep in mind that showing a lot of skin here can be taken as disrespectful.
Australia: The Wetsuit
Australia is known for its surfing, so a lot of the popular swimwear brands there revolve around the popular watersport. Wetsuits come in a ton of fun colors and patterns. The best thing about them is that they’ll keep you from getting a sunburn if you choose to wear one, even if you aren’t coordinated enough to stand up on a surfboard (I don’t think I would be).
Nigeria: Colorful Prints
The biggest trend present in the Nigerian swimwear brand Andrea Iyamah is all of the different prints that the Nigerian designer incorporates into her designs. She designs the different prints to reflect the different cultures throughout the African continent and is recognized for her “eccentric” swimwear.
Brazil: An Itsy-Bitsy Bikini
Okay, this one might not have been much of a surprise, but in Brazil the women generally wear bikinis and they tend to be smaller than elsewhere in the world. What’s even more interesting is that the men wear sunga swimsuits, which, compared to American standards, are pretty tiny as well. For this one, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen doing yoga on the beach, as she’s done in many Instagram shots, comes to mind.
China: The Swim Skirt
In China, one of the most popular choices for women to wear to go swimming is a one-piece with some kind of swim skirt. It’s a classy choice for women who don’t want to show a lot of skin when they’re in the water. And a big part of the reason why the cut is so prevalent is that Chinese women generally want to have very fair skin and aren’t looking to get tan. This design provides them the coverage they need to avoid getting too much sun.
Other protection gear like swim shirts, hats, and then of course sunscreen are often used to help beat the sun. There was even a trend known as a facekini, which was essentially a waterproof mask to protect their face from the sun! Their approach is a really good one for avoiding sun damage (especially skin cancer) if you’re going to be spending a long time at the beach or pool.
A lot of Nordic brands of swimwear, like those in Finland, are focused on sustainability, so the swimsuits are relatively minimalistic. It also just tends to fit right in with Scandinavian fashion and street style! So if you’re style is minimalistic, try looking through the options of brands like Lilja. Even better, the brand is committed to making as little waste as possible from the way they make the swimsuit to how they package and send it to you.
Greece: It's All in the Design (Especially If It’s a One-Shoulder Style)
Grecian swimwear is all about the design. The different Grecian swimwear brands focus a lot on the design of their suits being just right and often incorporate small details that make the suits more feminine. They tend to be solid in color or have a subtle print on them, but nothing too garish or bold. A lot of them have open backs. Choose one with one shoulder strap and you’re sure to have a Grecian vibe. One really lovely brand made in Greece is Holyday. The thoughtful design is sure to make you feel your best while sitting poolside (or if you’re lucky, on a boat in Greece in the summertime).
Swimwear comes down to a personal choice for each woman. Depending on how much skin you want to show and the styles you gravitate towards, there are endless options to choose from. I personally like to stick to one-pieces and then go from there. But it’s definitely neat to see the general trend of how that changes for women across the globe.