Tips to make swimwear shopping season less stressful

In this photo provided by Lands' End, a model wears a pink bikini from the Lands’ End Sea & Sky collection. (Will Davidson/Lands' End via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s the time of year for what can be a dreaded expedition: Buying a swimsuit. But for women looking for a shopping experience that includes more size options, versions under $100 and generous return policies, there are plenty of stylish choices.

Cutting through the clutter is key as the selections multiply. The e-commerce platform Lyst has 154,000 swimwear options available right now, up 12 percent from a year ago.

In this photo provided by Lands’ End, a model wears the Lands’ End women’s slender tunic swimsuit. (Colette DeBarro/Lands’ End via AP)

Customers spent three times longer browsing through swimwear last summer than in any other category, Lyst says. On average, a shopper will return to click on a swimsuit four times before committing to buy it.

But even after all that consideration, swimwear is one of the most-returned items of the season. Forty-five percent of swimsuits bought since April have been returned already, Lyst says. That compares to 34 percent of pants sent back this year and 18 percent of hats.

“Swimwear is one of those pieces of clothing that is hard to find the fit,” said spokeswoman Sarah Tanner.

Some tips to navigate swimwear shopping:


If you can wait, the best time to buy is in August, when suits are 70 percent off, says Benjamin Glaser, features editor with DealNews, an online comparison deal site. Then again, by then the choices will have dwindled. Walmart, which sells women’s swimwear from $9.96 for a one-piece to $31.76 for a bikini sold as separates, says it has the most options in its stores from Memorial Day to July 4th. Target says June is its most popular month for swimsuit sales. Off-price retailer TJX Co., which owns T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, says it gets a fresh assortment of swimwear every week all summer.


In this photo provided by Lands’ End, a model wears the Lands’ End Beach Living squareneck underwire top and swim mini. (Danilo Hess/Lands’ End via AP)

Many swimwear brands tout features like tummy control. But plenty of new tools can help people find the right fit. Lyst has an interactive feature called SwimSeeker that helps find a suit using three questions: Which part of their bodies do shoppers love, which colors look best on them, and which styles are they looking for. As they use the tool, the options become more personalized, Tanner says.

J.C. Penney displays select styles on mannequins at stores, but also launched a video component online this year in response to “customers who were interested in seeing how a swimsuit fit on a real person, rather than relying on static online images,” says spokeswoman Daphne Avila. Some styles feature videos of models, including some full-figured ones, walking and posing in the suit.

Macy’s has an online swimwear style guide that offers recommendations by style, trend or fit. And Target’s website lets customers navigate by cut and fit options. Online retailer Zappos has size conversion charts to help people make choices that fit well.

This season, Lands’ End launched a “swim finder” tool that prompts women to make choices from a variety of categories to help narrow down swim pieces to those best suited for them. Shoppers can also customize their two-piece selections by style, color and size.


Retailers are offering more swimwear options in larger sizes. Target launched extended sizing in suits sold under the Xhilaration store brand. J.C. Penney unveiled its first plus-size private swimwear brand, Boutique+, this year. It also expanded its Ambrielle intimates brand to offer swimwear pieces that women can get in different sizes, like a smaller bottom and a larger top or vice versa.


In this photo provided by Target, a model sports a swimsuit from the retailer’s collection. (Cheyenne Ellis/Target via AP)

Many retailers like Target and Walmart say their return policies are the same for swimwear as for any other item. At Target, people can bring back unopened items in new condition within 90 days for a refund or exchange. However, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls specifically require tickets to be properly attached to swimwear. At Zappos, free shipping comes with free returns up until a year. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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