Guide to Swimsuit and Bikini Materials and Fabrics

By nature, swimsuits and bikinis are the most straightforward items of clothing out there. If you look good in it and it doesn’t give you any wardrobe malfunction, consider it mission accomplished. But since it tows the line between fashion and utility, swimsuits have a hidden layer of complexity. A quality swimsuit must not only look amazing, but it must be durable, water-resilient and stretchable. Whether you’re looking for fabric for buying a new swimsuit or making your own, it’s good to know what your options are. Here are some of the major fabric options for swimsuits:

1. Nylon

Nylon is a common material used for making swimsuits and bikini. Most nylon blends that you will come across are female swimwear, and they are common for swimsuits off the rack. Nylon is stretchy, soft and comfortable, and it really hugs the body well. It’s a lightweight manufactured fiber that offers a lot of stretch and moisture-wicking capability, making the swimsuit easy to dry. Nylon can also go under the name polyamide, which is essentially the same thing.

A typical nylon blend is around 80% nylon and 20% of the stretchy material. That material is called Lycra, but it can also be called spandex or elastane. The purpose of this additional blend is for providing elasticity to make it easier to put on your bikini. However, nylon swimwear can fade or fray after prolonged exposure to the sun.

Here are some amazing nylon swimsuits you can buy:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
TYR Sport Women's Solid Diamondback Swimsuit
Kanu Surf Girls' Jasmine Beach Sport Halter One Piece Swimsuit
Kanu Surf Girls' Willow V-Neck Bikini Beach Sport 2-Piece Swimsuit
AS ROSE RICH Woman's Swimsuit Christmas Striped Halter Neck Fuzzy Pom Pom Triangle 2 Piece Bikini
Body Glove Women's Smoothies DITA Solid Triangle Slider Bikini Top Swimsuit
ZAFUL Women's Tie Back Padded High Cut Bralette Bikini Set Two Piece Swimsuit
Kanu Surf Girls' Charlotte Flounce Tankini Beach Sport 2-Piece Swimsuit
Catalina Women's Boyshort Banded Bikini Swim Bottom Swimsuit
RuffleButts Baby/Toddler Girls UPF 50+ Sun Protection Long Sleeve One Piece Swimsuit with Zipper
Trina Turk Women's High Neck Halter One Piece Swimsuit

 

2. Polyester blends

Polyester blend swimsuits are found mostly amongst competitive swimwear. It’s soft yet solid, and it’s resistant to chlorine and UV rays. It can also absorb dye, so this means you can dye your own bikini and print it with vibrant and crisp colors and patterns.

When it comes to composition, the polyester swimsuits are usually made of 80% nylon and 20% lycra. This is more stretchy than 85% nylon and 15% lycra. Just like nylon blends, the stretchy material can come from spandex or elastane.

Man-made polyester is also popular among polyester swimsuits. This material is known for its durability, but it’s a thirsty fabric, which may cause it to absorb too much water and weigh down your swim. PBT, or polybutylene terephthalate, is a modern polyester material that reduces absorbency, amps up elasticity, and speeds up drying times.

Here are some high-quality polyester swimsuits to consider:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Speedo Men Race Endurance+ Polyester Solid Square Leg Swimsuit
BALEAF Women's Athletic Training Adjustable Strap One Piece Swimsuit Swimwear Bathing Suit
Nike Women's Fast Back One Piece Swimsuit
Maxine Of Hollywood Women's Shirred Front Girl Leg One Piece Swimsuit
Kanu Surf Boys' Avalon Quick Dry UPF 50+ Beach Swim Trunk
Onvous Men's AquaGenesis-Lite Swim Jammer | Racing & Training Swimsuit | Fast, Flexible, Comfortable | Sizes: 28-38
O'Neill Men's 21" Santa Cruz Scallop 2.0 Boardshorts
Amazon Essentials UPF 50+ Men's Rashguard
beautyin Women's Rash Guard Short Sleeve Rashguard Sun Protection Shirt UPF 50+

 

3. Neoprene

Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material used to create wetsuits. It has excellent stability, flexibility over different temperatures, and has better insulation compared to other fabrics. The benefit of neoprene insulation is the main reason why it’s used in scuba diving or wet suits. Neoprene is naturally buoyant, molds into the body to give a perfect fit, and it doesn’t slip off when you’re engaging in vigorous water activities. It’s also free from latex, which is known to irritate skin – making it an excellent fabric of choice for your kids’ and baby’s swimwear.

These are some fantastic neoprene swimwear finds:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Cressi 2mm Short Neoprene Wetsuit | Termico: Designed in Italy
Realon Kids Wetsuit Shorty Boys Girls 3mm Neoprene One Piece Thermal Swimsuit 2mm Warm Full Long Sleeve Wet Suits Cover Toddler Child Junior Youth Swim Surf Dive
Cokar Neoprene Wetsuit for Kids Boys Girls One Piece Swimsuit (FBA)
Micosuza Women's Wetsuit Jacket Premium Neoprene 1.5mm Long Sleeve Front Zip Wetsuit Top
Cheekaaboo Warmiebabes Baby & Kids One Piece Swimsuit for Boys and Girls, 6-48 Months
Billabong Women's Sea Crop Sleeveless Neoprene Surf Tank
CtriLady Wetsuit Women Neoprene One Piece Full Diving Suits Long Sleeve Swimsuit with Back Zipper UV Protection Full Body Swimwear for Swimming, Diving, Surfing and Snorkeling
ZCCO Wetsuits Men's 3mm Premium Neoprene Full Sleeve Dive Skin for Spearfishing,Snorkeling, Surfing,Canoeing,Scuba Diving Wet Suits
Billabong Women's Hightide Short Neoprene Bikini Bottom
Flexel Wetsuit Women 2mm Shorty Full Diving Suits 3mm Premium CR Neoprene Adult's Swimwear Girls Swimsuit Jumpsuit Surfing Swimming Scuba Diving Snorkeling

 

4. Cotton

The earliest swimwear was made of cotton or wool when nylon, polyester, and neoprene doesn’t exist just yet. This fabric is comfortable, but it isn’t quite form-fitting as its stretchier options. It also doesn’t hold up well with chlorine. For a more durable swimwear, opt for cotton blended with polyester or spandex. Here are some great cotton options you can wear for your next swim:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
CUPSHE Women's Dandelion Love Print Halter One-Piece Swimsuit
Calvin Klein Women's Modern Cotton Bralette and Bikini Set
Alyce Intimates Women's Cotton String Bikini, 12 Pack, Assorted Prints
Women's Solid Ruffles V Neck Padded Swimsuit Two Piece Bikini Bathing Suit 2018
Maaji Women's Coconut Quimdim Sliding Triangle Bikini Top Swimsuit
KMBANGI Toddler Baby Girls Cotton Linen Beach Dress Swimsuit Cover-up with Pompom Tassel Poncho Summer Clothes

 

5. Knitted

Knitted fabrics can be made into beautiful swimsuits. These are usually blended with nylon to add stretch and make it easy to wear. Different compositions of knitted fabrics create different looks. These kinds of swimsuits are often worn for a fashion look rather than durability and buoyancy. It’s popular for women who want to look extra pretty by the water.

Here are some gorgeous knitted finds:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
YL Womens Crochet Knitted Two Pieces Bikini Sets Bralette Shell Top Bottom Summer Beach Swimsuits
MBAY Womens Crochet Fringed Swimwear Two Pieces Swimsuit Handmade Boho Knitted Sexy Bikini Bathing Suits White
Luli Fama Women's Moon Over Miami Criss Cross Triangle Bikini Top
LookbookStore Women Summer Crochet Lace High Waisted 2 Piece Bikini Set Swimsuit
Imily Bela Women's Sexy Bikini Off Shoulder Lace Up Mesh Knit Crochet Swimsuit Cover Up Swimwear
Hand Made Knitted High Neck One Piece Swimsuit
POSESHE Women's Summer Crochet Crop Bikini Top
Willow Dance Women's Fashion Swimwear Crochet Tunic Bikini Swimsuit Cover Up/Beach Dress
BYEEE 2018 Women's Fashion Handmade Knitted Crochet Tassel Bikini Tops Cover Up Beachwear Swimsuit Dress
Ailunsnika Crochet Knitted Beach Cover Up Open Front Kimono Cardigan Sexy Lace Dress

 

6. Velvet

Velvet fabrics are super soft and look extra luxurious. It’s often used in loungewear or robes. It has evenly distributed threads that give it a distinctive velvet feel. This kind of fabric can work very well for swimwear, though most are lined with nylon or polyester to make it easy on the water.

Here are some beautiful velvet bathing suits:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
SHEKINI Velvet Bikini Vintage Padded String Lace Up Triangle Bathing Suit Two Piece Swimsuits for Women
MNLYBABY Velvet High Waist Bikini Sets for Women Two Piece V Neck Padding Beach Swimsuit Swimwear
Laundry by Shelli Segal Women's Italian Velvet Plunge One Piece Swimsuit
Shoshanna Women's Ocean Velvet One Piece
Roxy Women's Velvet Western Escape One Piece Swimsuit
ZAFUL Women's Velevt Halter Scrunch Butt Bikini Set Triangle Back Tied Two Piece Swimsuit
arttranson Bikini, Bikini,Two Piece Swimsuit for Women,Tie-Dyed and Velvet Bathing Suit
SHEKINI Women's Triangle Bikini Bathing Suits