Q: How do I choose between swimsuit fabrics to find the best fit and feel for me?
A: Swimsuits have come a long way since the early days of heavy woolen dresses. They now come in a variety of fabric types, including cotton, nylon, polyester, and spandex. Here is a brief guide to the durability and drawbacks of each of these fabrics:
Cotton: 100% cotton suits are extremely cute but rarely form fitting. They have a tendency to ride up and bunch, and they are not known for withstanding the destructive nature of chlorine. While cotton swimsuits are not terribly common in the swimwear market, some manufacturers may add a small amount of polyester or spandex to a cotton blend for a more elastic, durable product. However, a cotton swimsuit will never hold up or give you the form-fitting feel of other swimsuit materials.
Nylon: Nylon is by far the most common fabric element in swimwear. It is one of the strongest manufactured fibers, and it has a lightweight, smooth fit on the body. Because it absorbs very little moisture, nylon also dries faster than nearly any other fabric material. Although nylon is a very strong fabric, it has poor resistance to prolonged sun exposure. Eventually, the dye will begin to fade and the fabric will begin to fray. However, the desirable characteristics of nylon continue to make it the most popular component of women’s swimsuits.
Polyester: Polyester, while it is the most widely used fabric for general apparel, is not terribly common in swimwear. It has many of the desirable characteristics of nylon, but it is not quite so strong or lightweight. In addition, polyester gained something of a bad reputation during the 1970s and 1980s when it was overly used by apparel manufacturers. While a polyester swimsuit can certainly be comfortable and fashionable, we would always recommend nylon over polyester.
Spandex: Spandex (also known as Lycra) is a vital component of nearly every swimsuit. Its excellent elasticity and stretch offer a slimming, form-fitting appearance and feel. While very few swimsuits are constructed solely of spandex (the fiber can be a little itchy and uncomfortable), most swimsuits contain at least a percentage of it. Competitive swimsuits and slimming swimsuits generally contain a higher percentage of spandex for greater elasticity. Unfortunately, spandex does not hold up well to chlorine, and its elasticity eventually begins to diminish after prolonged exposure.
In general, it is best to find a suit that provides an acceptable amount of coverage and stretch while matching your personal style. We recommend a suit with a nylon/spandex blend for the perfect mixture of durability, comfort, and stretch.
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