If We Must Have Tan Lines, Why Not Make Them Cute?
Billabong Women’s addresses this and other pressing issues plaguing the modern female surfer
Since being introduced to the archaic torture device known as the underwire as a teen, I’ve systematically worked to remove it from my life.
Product: Summer High Kensley Underwire Bikini Top & Summer High Hike Bikini Bottoms
Color: Red Aloha
Price: $66, $60
I know I don’t speak for everyone but, as a proponent of being able to breathe properly, I tend to shudder at the thought of fastening one of nature’s least forgiving materials around my torso. This is why some mild apprehension arose in my chest when I first saw Billabong Women’s submission for this year’s swimwear guide: a skimpy fiery-red bikini set, including a structured, bralette-style top.
Thankfully for myself (and all of womankind), the skilled hands at Argosy Circle were way ahead of me. In this admittedly adorable swim set, they’ve crafted something not only easy on the eyes (and on the torso) but also somehow designed a bikini that stays on while surfing. Hallelujah, I never thought I would say those words in a sentence together.
At first glance, the feminine cut of the newest addition to the brand’s solid swim lineup is certainly that: feminine, cute, even “pretty”, as was noted by a local female surfer who paddled over to me to tell me so. But, as we all know the old adage – one that is especially true in the realm of surf-specific swimwear – looks aren’t everything. The thing must work well, stay one, and feel good in the water too, right?
Below is my take on how the Summer High Kensley Underwire Top and Summer High Hike Bikini Bottoms performed.
Top: I actually could not believe how well this suit stayed in place considering the “feminine” cut. Worn in punchy, four-foot surf, I didn’t expect it to survive the paddle out past the shorepound. Alas, the straps manned their stations like sentinels charged with protecting a queen (two of them, actually) in her domain, and I had little trouble paddling, ducking waves, or surfing and having fun (whilst feeling decidedly “cute”), for that matter, throughout the rest of my sessions.
Bottom: For reasons of practicality (and a strict anti-wedgie stance), this gal would sooner sport a Long Jane in warmer waters than any kind of bikini. That said, the high rise and high-legged cut of the ‘Hike’ bottoms feel like throwing on a spicy ‘going-out’ look after years of wearing a mumu. To my core surf girls, be not alarmed; the intentional 80s-inspired cut allows them to sit hit high on the hip without riding up, and the tactile ribbed fabric keeps them solidly in place through duck dives and wipeouts alike. Miracles are real.
- Eco-Conscious recycled fabric
- Adjustable (ring and slider) straps and secure back closure – both are a must in any respectable swim top.
- The colorrrr.
- Function-over-fashion-mavens rejoice; you can now have both.
- Stays in place (a feature never to be underestimated).
Overall: An apparent miracle in fit and fabric advancements has converted at least one underwire atheist. This sweet and spicy set may just bring an entire population of warm-water-wetsuit-wearer out of their mumu-covered shells. Highly recommend this updated classic, whose flattering silhouette can hold its own (and yours, too) both in and out of the water.
See the rest of Stab’s Best Boardshorts & Swimwear of 2023, here.
Note: Cori is 5’7 and is wearing a size Small in top and bottoms.
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