Shopping for the perfect swimsuit can be a daunting experience given the many factors that need to be considered. There are the design and the style, the fit, how well it holds after spending hours in the water and how it enhances your figure. But one thing that many shoppers forget about is the swimsuit fabric. The swimsuit material or fabric is important because most of the factors mentioned earlier will be largely influenced by it. That said, let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of fabrics used in making swimsuits and bathing suits, their features as well as the pros and cons of each.
Types of Swimsuit Fabrics
There are several types of fabric available nowadays for swimsuits as well as men’s swim trunks, but three stand out in general:
Polyester is one of the most popular materials for casual and active swimsuits, especially in the competitive swimming arena. They hold their colors well even after repeated use and exposure to chlorine. They are also treated for protection against ultraviolet rays so you don’t have to worry about their colors fading when you’re basking in the pool lounge chair. Moreover, their strong and resilient fibers also allow them to hold their shape better for longer and resist shrinkage. Swimsuits made from polyester are indeed pricier than swimsuits made from other materials, but their durability under all conditions make them a great investment and will help you save money in the long run.
Nylon fabrics share some of the polyester’s excellent features, including abrasion resistance, softness, and easy cleaning. They are also durable thanks to their polymer-based construction.
The same goes for PBT fabrics. They have good resistance against chlorine and snags. However, they are lighter compared to the other two swimsuit material mentioned earlier. They are also known for their quick-drying features and great matte finish.
Do note that these characteristics and features will largely be influenced by the quality of the swimsuit material used by the supplier or manufacturer. As with other swimming gear and equipment like swimming gloves and others, if the manufacturer uses low-quality swimsuit materials and poor craftsmanship on their products, then you certainly won’t be able to see and experience any of the features mentioned above.
Types of Swimsuit Lining
Aside from the swimsuit fabric, another thing to look at when choosing a swimsuit is the lining. Swimsuits will generally make use of two types of lining namely nylon-lycra blend and tricot knit.
1. Nylon-lycra Blend
Some swimsuits use a nylon/lycra blend for their linings, but these cling too much to the body when they get wet which can cause some women to feel too conscious and even awkward. This is why is it generally better to choose swimsuits that have a specialized lining to help reduce the cling and smooth out cellulite dimples. They also help to make the swimsuit lighter overall, something which is worth considering if the swimsuit’s fabric is on the heavier end of the spectrum.
2. Tricot Knit
Most swimsuits will make use of tricot knit for their lining, either made from a blend of nylon or polyester and spandex. They are lightweight and smooth, sheer but not shiny and available in black, white, or nude colors. They have a four-way stretch and are similar to a swimsuit fabric but without as much elasticity. The fabric is composed of fine fibers or single yarns and is also used in underwear and gloves. Some swimsuits make use of power knits which has a lot of elasticity and accordingly helps to enhance the wearer’s figure.
In any case, avoid swimsuits that have a low-quality lining. These are generally made from a chintzy mesh that only has a one-way stretch (compared to others that have a four-way stretch). If the lining doesn’t have enough stretch, you will immediately notice its effect on your swimsuit’s fit. Besides, look for swimsuit linings with a neutral color. This will help with the opacity, create a stable and firm piece, and help in achieving a smoothing effect.
Swimsuit Fabric Durability
There will come a time when you’ll start to notice that your swimsuit has turned yellow (if it’s white), the colors have faded, or the seams have started to come off. This happens to all swimsuits over time regardless of swimsuit material and is brought about by a variety of factors.
One of these is how often you use your swimsuit. Obviously, the more you go swimming the more time you’ll be spending in chlorinated water. It is a fact that chlorine (as well as other pool chemicals) has a detrimental effect on the swimsuit’s fabric or fibers causing them to weaken or their colors to fade. If you are a competitive swimmer, then it is very likely that you’ll be spending almost every single day in the pool and exposing your swimsuit to these chemicals. This, of course, means that your swimsuit will deteriorate much faster compared to a casual swimmer who only visits the pool once or twice a month.
Another factor is the quality of the swimsuit fabric. Some fabrics are simply better than others in terms of quality, and low-quality fabrics will simply never last as long as high-quality ones. The same concept applies to the workmanship and quality of manufacturing that went into making the swimsuit. This is why branded swimsuits are often the better choice because they guarantee quality in every one of their products.
Taking care of Your Swimsuit
How well you take care of your swimsuit will have a significant effect on its longevity. Swimsuits can be rather expensive (especially the branded ones) so you’ll want to take good care of them to get the most bang out of your buck. That said, here are some tips to help keep your swimsuits in tip-top shape and ready for every swimming outing, from how to properly wash your swimsuit to drying it and others.
- Always wash your swimsuits by hand. Washing your swimsuits (as well as swim jammers) in the washing machine is never recommended since the swirling motion and harsh laundry detergent can damage the swimsuit material, specifically its fibers. Instead, wash your swimsuits by hand, rinsing them with clear water after every use.
- Don’t machine dry your swimsuit. If washing your swimsuit in the washing is not advisable, then it goes without saying that you shouldn’t dry it in the dryer as well. The heat emanating from the dryer will weaken the fibers that make up the swimsuit material. If the heat is too high, it may even melt away the elasticity of the swimsuit.
- Dry your swimsuits in the shade. After washing your swimsuit, spread it out or hang it in the clothesline under a shady spot to drip and air dry. Never leave your swimsuit to dry under direct sunlight since the sun’s UV rays can weaken the fabric’s fibers.
- Have several swimsuits in your wardrobe. Whether you are a casual or competitive swimmer, you’ll want to have several swimsuits in your wardrobe (although it applies more to the latter group). Alternating between your swimsuit collections will limit their exposure to pool chemicals and help improve their longevity.
- Shower with your swimsuit on. Experts advise showering with your swimsuit on after swimming since your shampoo can help add a deodorizing effect to the swimsuit. Just remember that you still need to rinse your swimsuit in clean water afterward.
Q: Which fabric is best for swimsuits?
Considering all the attributes and characteristics of the different fabrics mentioned above, polyester appears to be a better choice than then others. This is especially true when you consider fit, longevity, and comfort.
Q: What material is used for swimsuit lining?
Nylon-lycra and tricot knit are the most popular material used for swimsuit linings. Between the two, the latter appears to have more advantages than the former and thus makes for a better choice.
Q: Is nylon or polyester better for swimsuits?
Polyester is generally better than nylon for swimsuits for several reasons. For one, polyester is better at resisting piling and abrasion that nylon. It’s also better at retaining its shape even after several hours of being in the water and at the same time resisting the harmful effects chlorine. Polyester is also known for exceptional breathability thus making them comfortable to wear.
Q: Which swimsuit material lasts longest?
Polyester is a clear winner when it comes to longevity considering all of its features, from its ability to resist abrasion and piling and protection from the harmful effects of chlorine and ultraviolet rays.
Q: How much fabric do I need for a swimsuit?
For a regular-sized one-piece swimsuit, you’re going to need 1 yard of swimsuit fabric and 1 yard of swimsuit lining. The swimsuit fabric should be at least 60 inches wide. If you intend to use the swimsuit fabric for both the exterior and the lining, then you’ll need 2 yards.
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As can be seen above, choosing the right type of swimsuit fabric is essential as each type has its pros and cons. In any case, be sure to buy only high-quality swimsuits made from quality swimsuit material. This way you can get the most out of your investment and have a swimsuit that you’ll love wearing for a long while.
- Swimsuit, Wikipedia