Dressing for the heat can be a drag for anyone. For many queer, trans, or gender-nonconforming folks, beach season can especially bring a whole lotta stress.
Anyone and everyone can wear a bikini (after all, you just need a body to be “beach body” ready) but that doesn’t mean everybody wants to wear one.
We asked a few stylish people to show us the beach duds they wear to feel ~cool for the summer~. From finding creative alternatives to the traditional two piece to styling up a classic button-down, you should probably be taking notes.
1. Cammrynn Stith
“I’m a Kansan born and raised but the beach is and will always be in my soul; I love the water, the waves, my bare feet in the hot sand, the cool salty breeze. I feel so free — I’m not comfortable in a bikini, I’m more comfortable wearing a sports bra or a wet suit underneath my button shirt. I don’t even bother to search for swim tops because I can never find anything that I would feel totally confident in. I wish there were more accessible options for all body types in terms of swimwear/beachwear.”
2. Sofia B.
“Beach season tends to make me kind of anxious because I suffer from Crohn’s Disease and because my weight goes up and down as a result — I’m rather body conscious. That’s why I seek out outfits that really personify my style and make me feel comfortable. Waterproof Nike sports bras usually are my favorite as there is a big selection of colors.”
3. Tea P.
“Tackling beach season is tricky for me. Finding a bathing suit that speaks to my masculine side while accentuating my curvy body is difficult as female-bodied bathing suits are often too revealing, or too conservative. I like finding a balance in feeling sexy but appearing boyish. To do this, I often lean towards athletic-type bathing suits that feature high neck tops and boy short bottoms. To appease my edgy side, I find that throwing a mesh tank over this look gives me a bit of attitude that sets me apart from the rest.”
“Beach season is tricky because you usually want to wear as little as possible due to the heat and just show off your fabulousness, but sometimes body feels can be a little complicated. This is especially true for me as someone who identifies as non-binary. My sports bra acts as a mini compression top since I don’t like to bind at the beach and the crop or tank allows me the flexibility of having some coverage of my chest if I’d like (also who doesn’t like a crop top, am I right?). The flannel is great because it can be used as a cover up, tied around the waist, or bundled up and used as a pillow. Don’t forget to top it all off with a good book!”
5. Madin Lopez
“Usually my beach attire requires much processing and mirror hogging. A cut off short situation is fine, but I always get looks when hopping in the water with heavy Jean material on. It’s almost as if summer was a season meant for the hetero-normative mating call — the less you wear the more obvious your birth assigned gender. Now, unless I happen to be in a strictly queer space, a top area coverage is usually a necessity. Choosing to have an outfit that is barely covering the mammaries in more of an elusive way, is a straight up middle finger to the shape-exposing tassel-infested bathing suit monopoly. Scuba gear is always gender neutral!”
6. Doreen Pierre
“Summer is the perfect season to spend drinking a cold one and dismantling the ideas of ‘women’ and swimwear, one sandy oasis at a time. My beach day go-to is usually a monochromatic bikini top and patterned trunks. I can never forget my sunglasses and of course like to throw on a button-down (my signature look) in case the wind gets out of hand! The beach season is a really great time for that as I get an opportunity to be really creative about what makes me feel sexy!”
7. Cee Sando
“Fashion has been becoming more inclusive of all gender expressions, sexualities, cultures etc yet swimwear seems to be at a standstill. Yes I can ‘borrow from the boys’ and don swim trunks when I feel like it but they leave no room for my hips and then what am I going to do about my chest? In my opinion cover-ups are where it’s at! The most plain/ boring suit can suddenly look bomb with a dope cover-up! It doesn’t even have to be a “swimwear” piece to work at the beach or pool — something cool, breezy and reflective of your style is all you need! I love sun and the ocean and refuse to let a little thing like body insecurity hold me back.”
8. Ali Medina
“I have always felt uncomfortable in traditional women’s bathing suits that don’t fit my gender presentation. I love wearing a sports bra and a tank or a t-shirt with a nice button down so I can keep cool and be comfortable.”
9. Stoney Michelli & Uzo Ejikeme
“We love beach season because it means you don’t have to layer up so much. You can just throw on a pair of joggers or shorts with some flip flops and your ready to go. But going to the beach you don’t always have to wear bikini, a one piece or trunks. We like to look good and cool when we head to the beach. Its an occasion every time we step out.”
10. Bevin Branlandingham
“Beach season used to terrify me but now makes me feel excited because I’ve taken the time to make peace with and learn to love my body. I’m a vintage/thrift store queen and love finding cool things and using them to reflect my own personal style. In this outfit everything is thrifted, but I’ve found similar items you can buy new. Sun protection is very important for me and vintage chiffon robes are a great cover up for additional protection (though I always use tons of sunscreen).”
11. Maria Carter
“As a masculine of center female,when I go to the beach I usually wear a sports bra and swim trunks. This outfit is the most comfortable to me and still helps me to express my gender identity and style. I love beach season because I get to show off all my hard work in the gym and soak up some sun.”
12. Sheila Rashid
“I usually wear my swim trunks and a Calvin Klein sport bra and adidas slides or a light weight sneaker I can easily take off. Beach season makes me want to work and relax! I selected this outfit because I’m dressed for the entire day. I can go to the amusement park, water park, or the beach in this outfit.”