15 Active Bathing Suits That Are Functional AND Chic

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Two of my bathing suits went all transparent and saggy on me at the end of last summer so I am in serious hunting mode. I have a couple beach vacations coming up in May and, knowing how long it normally takes me to settle on a bathing suit, I need to start trying on options NOW.

If you’re one of those people who goes to the beach to lay in the sun in a tiny string bikini and take long walks at the edge of the surf then I totally support your life choices; however, you and I require very different swimwear. I like to get rolled around by the waves and make an attempt at body surfing with my boys. I learned the hard way (Spring Break 2001) that I need bathing suits that stay put. After much Googling this week I realized what I really need is active swimwear (despite the fact that “active” is generally not a word I would use to describe myself). The problem is that most active bathing suits are super utilitarian-looking. That’s fine if you’re getting ready to go swim the English Channel in record time or something but I’d like to keep my top under wraps while also looking somewhat cute, you know?

After MUCH searching, I rounded up these 15 active bathing suits that give the best of both worlds — coverage and control with a big dash of chic.

  • I’ll Take Her Tan Too, Please 1 of 16
    15 Active Bathing Suits that are Functional and Chic
  • A Wetsuit for All Occasions 2 of 16
    Billabong Salty Days Wetsuit Vest

    I love this wetsuit vest SO MUCH. I know wetsuits aren't exactly the sexiest of beachwear (and they usually mean cold water — no, thank you) but when you crop it down to a vest with an awesome tribal print? You've got a perfect top you can fearlessly wear out surfing or to win the high dive contest at the local pool.

    Get it at Pac Sun, $44.21 (Top only. On sale. PLUS! If you add your email to their mailing list you can get an extra 15% off!)

  • Yellow and Gray Perfection 3 of 16
    Savasana L Space

    I've come back to look at this suit like 18 times. That yellow and gray combo kills me PLUS a sports bra style top is exactly what I want. If only it was a little bit more affordable...

    Get it at In Style Swimwear, $141

  • A Slimming Tankini 4 of 16
    Athleta Ariel Tiki Tankini

    I love the pattern on this Athleta tankini (that middle panel is super slimming). They have TONS of good options for active swimwear on their website (and some super cute bottoms to boot). It's a little pricey but worth a look!

    Get it at Athleta, $68 (Top only.)

  • Not So Classic Speedo 5 of 16
    Speedo Solid Racerback Bikini Top

    I had swimmer friends in high school who all wore those ubiquitous Speedo one-pieces. They're known for their quality, their durability, AND their ability to stay put. This racerback bikini is a little smaller than those classic one pieces but it promises to stay up and keep up with you no matter how hard you play!

    Get it at Surf Outlet, $35.95 (Top only. On sale!)

  • A Bikini Look with Shoulder Coverage! 6 of 16
    Roxy Sunset Remix Rashguard

    I already own and love a Roxy Rashguard that has saved my modesty more times than I can count. This cropped version is perfect for girls who want a bikini look but total bust and shoulder coverage (perfect for when your shoulders and chest are fried but you can't stand to miss out on another day at the beach!).

    Get it at Nordstrom, $40 (Top only.)

  • Swimwear That Sticks 7 of 16
    Hive Tea Tree Collection

    Hive Swimwear's tagline is "Swimwear That Sticks." Um, please and thank you. I love the pattern on their tea tree collection!

    Get it at Hive, $60

  • Trust Surf Girls 8 of 16
    Honeygirl Swim Ariel Reversible Sport Top

    Whenever I stumble across small surf brands, I think to myself, "Oh, I can trust them. Surf girls wouldn't put up with their tops going wonky." Honey Girl tops are reversible (sweet!) and the light padding is sewn into the lining so it won't scrunch up on you (hallelujah!). Plus they come in several really cute Hawaiian prints.

    Get it at Honey Girl Water Wear, $32 (Top only. On sale!)

  • Party in Back 9 of 16
    Sporti Double Cross Workout Bikini Top

    This top comes in SEVEN colors and features a super cool criss-cross rear view. It promises that it won't budge during your beach workout AND it's on super clearance!

    Get it at Surf Outlet, $7.99-$13.95 (Depending on color; top only. On sale!)

  • Feminine and Functional 10 of 16
    Garnet Hill Lotus Tankini

    I love the delicate print and colors on this tankini! Don't let it fool you though — it's built for active use!

    Get it at Garnet Hill — top, $70bottoms, $55

  • Tried and Tested 11 of 16
    Calavera Suit

    The gal behind Calavera designs and tests her suits for surfing (i.e. a sport that'll rip the swimsuit right off you if you don't have the right one!). The straps are designed to keep your top securely on your person while also letting water flow off without dragging your suit with it. The bottoms have an internal drawstring as well as a rubbery grip to make sure they're not taking off anytime soon. If you need a super secure (and super cute) swimsuit, this one is a darn good bet.

    Get it at Calavera — top, $49bottoms, $44

  • Basic Black 12 of 16
    LuLuLemon Board Balance Sport Top

    Another sports bra style top! Normally I don't get real excited about a plain black top BUT I love it with the pop of floral on the bottoms! I have a few fun bottoms I could pair with this top to spice it up a bit.

    Get it at Lululemon, $54 (Top only.)

  • All Knotted Up 13 of 16
    Victorias Secret Knotted Top

    This isn't technically an active swimsuit but the tank top styling offers every bit as much coverage and support as most of the others on this list. Plus I just think the idea is super cool.

    Get it at Victoria's Secret, $40.50 (Top only.)

  • Not Going Anywhere 14 of 16
    Prana Paros Top

    I'm actually not 100% sold on this top. (I look terrible in crew-neck shirts, and I'm willing to bet it's the same deal with a high necked swimsuit.) BUT you better believe your girls aren't going ANYWHERE in this top. The description says it's built for "all-out beach activity." I think that's probably a true statement.

    Get it at Prana, $59 (Top only.)

  • Black and White and Neon 15 of 16
    Adidas Tribal and Neon

    You have to dig a bit but Adidas has some pretty great suits. (I also think this top is cool.) Some of my favorite suits that I've run across this year have been black + white + neon so this one immediately drew my eye. The description promises "athletic, stay-put coverage." I might like to put that to the test ...

    Get it at Dick's Sporting Goods — top, $50bottoms, $44

  • Colorblock Comfort 16 of 16
    Lands End Colorblock Bandeau

    This bandeau comes with underwire and you order by bra size, which ensures a perfectly supportive and comfy fit.

    Get it at Lands End, $14.99 (Top only. On sale!)

Read more of Kayla’s writing at Freckles in April OR catch all her Babble posts by subscribing to her once-weekly email!

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