The Bible says that “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (1 Tim. 2:9 ESV). Would you go out in public wearing only your underwear? I know I’d sure feel embarrassed and self-conscious! And yet people wear swimsuits that cover less then their underwear does! It makes no sense to me why it would be okay to wear revealing garments at a pool or the beach and not somewhere else.
In today’s bikini culture, people get stuck looking at our bodies and not any further. Sometimes even we become overly concentrated on our own bodies, which can result in self-objectification. But few of us look like the perfect supermodel that bikinis are apparently designed for, so that can lead to a poor self-image. A relaxing day at the beach shouldn’t have to feel like being on display in a swimsuit competition.
Most modern bathing suits also pose a problem for guys when they see you in them. Jesus said that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart (Matt. 5:28). Young Christian men shouldn’t have to walk around with their eyes pointed down at the ground just to stay pure in their thoughts. So modest swim apparel is not only appreciated by girls who wish to honor God with their bodies, but also by guys who wish to honor God with their minds. (To learn more about the virtue of modesty, read Katharine Birkett’s Modesty Series.)
The value of modesty notwithstanding, it still would be prudent to cover up in order to limit your overall sun exposure and help reduce the risk of long-term skin damage. Scientists say that no sunscreen can completely protect you, and a tan does not protect against wrinkling or skin cancer. Desert-dwelling nomads throughout the ages have known that covering up their bodies provides the best sun protection. You never see them trekking across the hot Saharan sand dunes half-naked!
Unfortunately, you won’t find many modest swimsuits at regular stores. For an athletic alternative to revealing swimsuits, sporting goods stores often carry tank suits that appear more “sporty” than “sexy” – after all, swimming is a sport, not a fashion show! You might want to consider surfer tops and board shorts. They’re available for both men and women. The guys can put on shorty wetsuits or swim trunks and shirts.
You can still wear your bikini to the beach, but just think of it as summer underwear. Bikini tops work great as swim bras. Be sure to cover it up with a fast-drying shirt (a cotton t-shirt gets cold and heavy when wet), or a light summer dress or beach cover-up. To hide a bikini bottom or make a one-piece suit a little more conservative, you can wear athletic shorts, a sports skirt, or a sarong wrap over it.
You can be active and look good while having lots of summer fun with your family and friends, without compromising your principles or sense of self-dignity. You don’t have to be bogged down by soggy clothes, either. Whether it’s for sun protection, modesty, or other reasons, several online companies sell nice-looking outfits made of swimsuit material that are specially designed to provide decent coverage.
The price range for this type of apparel can run a bit high, but you’ll get a better value for your money than you would if you were buying a designer-brand bikini in which you pay an exorbitant price for virtually nothing! You will notice that the swimwear listed below comes in varying degrees of modesty to suit all tastes – from ultra-modest to as modest as possible while still looking like regular swimsuits.
Simply Modest was started by Crystal Huyben, a Christian homeschool graduate from Ontario. Huyben sewed her first swimsuit when she was a teenager, wanting to create one that was not only modest, but pretty and feminine as well as comfortable to swim in. She began with one design, but now she has a whole line of products! She also sells swimwear fabric and elastic by the yard, perfect for sewing your own swimsuit!
Swim Modest got its start when Diane Hopkins, the mother of seven children, began making modest swimwear for her girls. She designed her swimwear to be playful and colorful, with bright floral patterns. The Lycra fabric is lightweight, stretchy, quick-drying and comfortable, making her swimsuits fun to wear.
Dressing for His Glory has a unique collection of swim skirts, swim skorts, swim culottes, swim tees, swim tights, and surf shirts made by a born-again Christian who also is an experienced fashion designer in the garment industry.
Stitchin’ Times is a home-based sewing business that makes modest swimsuits with several different options (skirts, shorts, sleeves, no sleeves). You may also choose between coordinating or contrasting fabrics. These swimsuits are sewn-to-order but she also has ready-made swimsuits in limited quantities.
WholesomeWear, an Oregon-based swimwear company founded in 2002, is geared toward conservative Christians. They make three styles of modest swimwear: culotte, skirted, and slimming. The well-known Duggar homeschool family wears this brand.
Princess Modest Swimwear has been providing fun and fashionable modest bathing suits with UV protection since 2006. But they’re based in Israel, so shipping to the U.S. can take 2-3 weeks.
HydroChic is a line of modest “swim-to-gym” activewear founded in 2006 by two modern Orthodox Jewish women in New York. All of their products are made from a high quality lightweight quick-drying fabric so you can switch easily between water sports and land sports.
Solartex Sun Gear was launched in 1999 by two moms. Their products include swim shorts and shirts (including long sleeve surf shirts) that are chlorine resistant and offer 50+ SPF / UPF sun protection. They’re available in many different colors and styles for the whole family. The prices are reasonable, and you can get stylish sun-protective hats here too.
Girls4Sport, a California company run by women for women, are proud purveyors of sport bathing suits and modest swimwear that offer UV sun protection and adjustable coverage for your active lifestyle. You can mix and match tops and bottoms in cute prints and colors to create the outfit that best suits your needs.
DivinitaSole is the swimwear line of modest clothing retailer Diviine Modestee, a Utah company that caters to Mormon women. Their swimsuits provide a perfect fit for every body type, and their designs flatter every shape while maintaining modest coverage. Choose from mix and match separates to create the perfect suit.
Lands End tankini and tunic bathing suits are relatively modest and attractive, with lots of different choices and sizes for everyone. You can also mix and match bikinis, camis, and skirts for a stylishly modest layered look. The company has a reputation for long-lasting, high quality apparel.
Blair.com has a nice selection of modest boyleg swimsuits, swimdresses, and swim separates.