Growing up in a Muslim household in the United States, an invitation to a beach or
pool party was something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the prospect of
sun, sand and swimming with friends was undeniably appealing. On the other, the fact
that I lacked swimwear that was both stylish and relatively modest (one-piece suits
were permitted by my parents) was enough to make me dread the approaching occasion.
When it came to swimwear, the spectrum, ten years ago, lacked middle ground. There
was an abundance of beautiful bikinis in stores, but only a limited range of one-
pieces, most of which were either horribly mumsy, or intended for sport. In a pool
full of friends decked out in floral and polka-dot-printed bikinis, I’d stick out
like a sore thumb in my black racer-back Speedo. Another permissible option was the
rash guard – labels like Roxy and Billabong made some cool, feminine options. Even
then, it would have to be paired with bikini bottoms or shorts, and in my house,
baring even an inch of midriff was a big no-no.
In mid-2017, however, there is a wide range of swimsuits that tick both boxes –
style and modesty.
Born and raised in the UAE, Ola Kashani launched her label, Ola Swimwear, in 2014,
and her one-piece suits are incredibly fashion-forward. She explains how the one-
piece silhouette has become trendy in recent years.
“They accentuate any body shape in an elegant, understated and modern way,” she
says. “The trends today take inspiration from one-piece and high-waist suits popular
in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are less embellishments and the focus is on
celebrating the female form with the right cut and fit.”
The designer’s latest one-pieces feature elaborate rope-adorned neck pieces layered
over solid, strapless silhouettes. Her previous collection featured minimalist
marble-inspired prints, coupled with pastel accents.
One-pieces aren’t only making a splash in the Middle East – modesty is trending
worldwide, and the movement is clearly translating in swimwear too. While many
modesty-conscious women have had to opt for the burkini styles available on the
market, new, international labels are catering to women who want to be more covered
up when in the water.
Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Albion Fit is a family-owned swimwear and fitness
apparel brand. Utah is home to many Mormons, who are also known to practice modesty
when it comes to clothing and swimwear. While some of the brand’s designs
incorporate elements like cut-outs and lace-up backs, the results are tasteful and
offer far more coverage than your average two-piece. One-pieces are decorated with
striped and floral patterns, some with off-the shoulder necklines, and the brand’s
website ships internationally.
Another American swimwear brand, based out of Dallas, Texas, is Cover, which creates
swimwear that protects wearers’ skin from the sun’s harsh rays. A long-sleeve
monochrome, hound’s-tooth-patterned design and sleek black style with a zip-up front
feature in the brand’s latest collection. Styles are modest, available in long-
sleeve and tank one-pieces, long-sleeved swim shirts and swim dresses. They also
have a head cover available for special order. Cover is stocked at luxury retailers
Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, and is available online at Shopbop.com, which
offers delivery to the UAE.
One-piece swimsuits are no longer synonymous with being matronly. The styles for
spring/summer 2017 give fashion-conscious consumers more choice than ever before –
from vintage designs topped with flouncy peplums, to sporty, long-sleeved surf-