Swimsuits For The No-Bikini, No-Frills Girl

If your girl is anything like my daughter, swimsuit shopping is the hardest thing you do all year (ok, not really, but it is super hard!).

Because she’s a no-bikini, no-frills girl – and almost nothing in the girls’ section fits her style.

Girls like her are not interested in wearing ruffles and sparkles (at least not all the time!), prefer colors besides pink, and want clothes with room to move (not fitted t-shirts and skinny jeans, and definitely not teeny bikinis). While our Girls Will Be clothes are designed for exactly those girls, we don’t make swimsuits – yet!

So we created this Swimsuit Shopping Guide with our top picks for all the no-bikini, no-frills girls out there – whether they want a traditional suit from the girls section or are up for raiding the boys department. These swimsuits are designed to let girls be kids!


After searching through all the ruffles, bows, and bikinis in the girls department, we found some great alternatives.

These suits are ready for action, with plenty of coverage for splashing in the pool or boogie boarding at the beach. Most of them come in other colors, too. We even found superhero and dinosaur swimsuits for girls! Awesome!

Girls Swimsuit Guide Tankinis and One-Pieces

Blue one-piece, from Lands’ End, $25 (sizes 4-16)  | Striped tankini, from J. Crew, $49.50* (sizes 2-16)
Blue/orange tankini, from Nike Kids, $46 (sizes 7-14, in multiple other colors)  |  Fish, from Snapper Rock, $19.95 (only sizes 8-10 remain)  |  Supergirl, from Target, $12.80 (sizes 4-16, also Wonder Woman, Bat Woman, and Star Wars)  |  Dinosaurs, from Boden, $24.50 (sizes 4-12)



My daughter loves the board shorts + rash guard combo, whether she’s body surfing in the ocean or hanging out at the pool (and I love the extra sun protection!).

While we’re all for raiding the boys department (which is full of board shorts!), not all girls like that knee-length, baggy style. And not all girls want to shop in the boys department.

It’s exciting to see a few more “girls” board shorts out there this year – although the options are still pretty limited (especially if you want more than a 1” inseam!).2016 swim guide girls board shorts
Blue/white colorblock board shorts, from Lands’ End, $25 (sizes 4-16, also in purple and pink stripes)
Blue/purple camo dot board shorts, from Columbia, $36 (sizes 4-20, also in aqua, pink, and pink stripes)
Purple board shorts, From UV Skinz, $26.95 (sizes 2T-14, also in blue and pink)
Green/blue board shorts, from L.L. Bean, $26.95 (sizes 4-16, also in purple/blue and purple/pink; runs big)
Black, classic board shorts, from Roxy Kid, $38 (sizes 2T-8)
Shopping Note: Unlike boys’ board shorts, the girls’ versions often do not have a built-in liner (because I think they envision them being worn over a swimsuit). So, if your girl plans to wear them alone with a rash guard, check to make sure they have a liner for both comfort and coverage.

Complete the outfit with a solid color rash guard (which lots of brands offer, in colors coordinating with their shorts) or a fun graphic one. This surfboard rash guard is my favorite because, in my daughter’s 10 years, I’ve never seen a surfboard theme on girls swimwear (yet it’s everywhere in the boys department and, last I checked, girls like to surf too).
2016 swim guide girls rash guards
Solid color “girls” rash guard, from Lands’ End, $19.50 (sizes 2T-16, also in pink, purple, and white; “boys” version comes in another 8 colors)  |  Surfboard rash guard, from J Crew, $45* (sizes 2-16)  |  Star Wars rash guard, from SuperHeroStuff.com, $25 (sizes 4-7)



mar15mayaboardshorts-sharkUnlike the limited options for “girls” board shorts + rash guards, you can find every color, pattern, and theme you can think of in the boys department.

And why should those styles be just for boys? We think they look just as great on girls, don’t you? These photos are just two of the awesome “boys” shark swimsuits my daughter has picked out over the years!

Here are our favorites for 2016. Girls swimwear almost never features any kind of ocean life (despite, by definition, swimsuits being made to swim in the ocean) – so that’s one of our favorites things to look for in the boys department. For shark-loving girls, we even found several different lengths to choose from.
2016 swim guide boys board shorts

Red sharks (with mid-thigh length), from Boden, $28.50 (sizes 2-12)  |  Orange/blue shark camo, from UV Skinz, $26.95 (sizes 2T-14)  |  Blue sharks with yellow waistband, from Crazy 8, $17 (sizes 4-14)  |  Creatures of the Deep, from Tea Collection, $35 (sizes 2-12)  |  Surfboards, from Garnet Hill, $36 (sizes 4-14)  |  Dinosaurs, from SwimZip, $29.99 for set that includes aqua rash guard (sizes 3mo-8)

The boys department also has a much wider selection of rash guards to pick from, whether you’re looking for solids or fun graphics. Lands’ End has our favorite shark one this year, and SwimOutlet.com carries a variety of sporty brands.
2016 swim guide boys rash guards
Solid color “boys” rash guard, from Lands’ End, $19.50 (sizes 2T-20, also in 7 other colors)
Shark rash guard, from Lands’ End, $25 (sizes 2T-20)  |  O’Neill long sleeve rash guard, from SwimOutlet.com, $24.95 (sizes 4-16, also in white, lime, pink, graphite, and aqua)


Our Swimsuits Pinterest board has even more great options for the no-bikini, no-frills girl. And we’ll keep adding new ones as we find them!


Most no-bikini, no-frills girls are also looking for not-so-short shorts and not-so-fitted t-shirts. If that’s true for your girl, be sure to check out our Girls Will Be clothing line.

Play Shorts StandingOur Perfect Play Shorts (pictured) and Cargo Shorts 2.0 (coming soon!) are both designed with a length that hits just above the knee, an “in-the-middle” fit (not a skinny fit, but not oversized and baggy like boys shorts either), and 3 sets of pockets big enough to actually use!

Plus we have over 25 empowering, stereotype-busting t-shirt designs to choose from at www.girlswillbeHQ.com.


We hope this helps you and your girl find the perfect swimsuit to fit her style (and saves you a lot of time doing it)!

If you want to help out all those other parents struggling to find a swimsuit for their girl, use the buttons below to share this swimsuit shopping guide. Your friends will thank you!

* J. Crew is offering 30% off through today, April 12th. Many of the brands listed typically run multiple sales on their swimwear throughout the spring, so watch out for those.


  1. Do you have any suggestions for 12/18 month old baby girls? I (Mom) am not into frills, sparkles, ruffles, etc. and I am having a difficult time finding my little girl a swimsuit.


  2. I absolutely love this and only regret that I didn’t see it at the start of the summer! My daughter has always opted for more full-coverage suits. This year she is almost 12 and has insisted on wearing big shorts over her suits. I guess she is becoming more body conscious as she is developing; honestly, I didn’t really get it, as I have no body issues with sporting a bikini and have never wore shorts swimming (I am very active / somewhat athletic, but by now means perfect body). I would have definitely went for the board shorts and rash guard suggestion for her if I would have thought of it. Thank you for this site and great ideas!

  3. I wish companies like Patagonia (who makes some kids boardies, water-friendly shorts, rashguards and more) and even REI would expand their lines. Their gear lasts forever! I work for a women’s sportswear/athletic wear retailer, a purveyor of skorts and swimwear made to move, and the number one group of people I heard from when I worked in Customer Service was DADS. They wanted the same gear made for the youngest women in their lives. One dad in particular was asking if we’d ever make girls’ skorts and swim because he felt so wrong taking his daughter into Limited Too and seeing tiny short skirts and crop tops. May more vendors realize that kids like to run, play, get dirty and express themselves! Hopefully there comes a day when you don’t have to do these awesome round-ups because the availability is great. Till then, this is super helpful for many.

  4. Man, I want that dinosaur swimsuit! (A person whose last swimsuit came from the maternity department….)

  5. Downeast Outfitters usually has very well lined and super fun kid suits too. They carry mom and me styles but not all of them are online. Gymboree has a ton of 80s throwback colorblock–You can swim like Mary Lou Retton–at the moment and then accessories to go with. I like how the legs are cut in those because they are lower and don’t ride up as much as the Target cuts.


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