I am always on the lookout for great bikinis for surfing, but I have some specific criteria, which is actually incredibly helpful and time-saving when faced with a wall of choices at the store. Rather than flipping through dozens of colors and styles, I quickly eliminate the ones that I know won’t work, which makes the selection process much easier. So here are a few of my “rules” that may be helpful for those ladies out there who are looking for a little guidance.

Rule #1: No embellishments. While they are cute, things like little ties in the front, beads, metal or plastic connectors, and so on turn into lumps that just press into your body as you’re laying on the board. I once bought an adorable and otherwise surf-appropriate O’Neill bikini with a useless tie up front, and everytime I wore it surfing, I’d be left with soreness in my sternum where it had been trapped under me. Things like ruffles and frills count too, since that extra fabric needs to go somewhere.

Rule #2: Try to get a banded top. Having the solid strip of fabric right under the cups gives you a lot more support and provides a secure fit.

Rule #3: No sliding tops. Many brands feature these as a mainstay of their collection every season, and yes, they look great on the rack. The problem with wearing them while surfing is that you inevitably catch a wave, see everyone staring at you in awe, and while you think its your amazing skill that is wowing everyone, you look down and notice that you’re straight up flashing your boobies to everyone in the line up.

Rule #4: Cross-back ties are the best. I am not that opposed to halters, but the cross backs definitely give you more support and security for keeping the girls in. Rather than just pulling on the back of the neck, these pull tight at 4 points, and are just more comfortable all around. Also, beware of bikini tops that do not have an adjustable back– the ones with just a plastic or metal hook that loops into the other side. You may find you want a little tighter fit (swim fabric stretches in the water), and if you have this set up, you’re out of luck.

Rule #5: When it comes to bottoms, smaller is better. Who cares if you have a little more junk in the trunk than you want? Less fabric= less to be pulled down by water= your bottoms stay on. Go as small as you dare, and flaunt it.

Rule #6: No embellishments down below. This is a logical extension of Rule #1, but we ladies have hips, and the last thing anyone needs is some cute but useless seam or ruffle digging into their pelvis while paddling back out. I think side ties are great, since you can cinch the bottoms a little extra tight, but make sure that the ties can go out to the sides and not be right up front and center and in your way.

Rule #7: Mix and match! I used to limit myself by only buying matching bikinis; if they were out of my size in either piece, I’d forgo the whole thing. No more! Mixing and matching different pieces is uber cute and totally acceptable, so if you see just a top or bottom that you like, buy it and don’t worry about not having the corresponding piece.

These are just my own personal rules that I think are helpful; of course, every body is different! Apply what you like and ignore the rest. Happy surfing!

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