Suit Yourself

At these four chain stores, shopping for swimwear goes swimmingly

As the tides of summer roll in, waves of Manhattanites head to the shores – the Hamptons, the Rockaways, Coney Island – and repurpose themselves as beachgoers, wardrobes included. Dependent on body type, swimwear shopping isn’t always as simple as, say, a walk on the beach, but when done with an understanding of where to go and why, it gets a little closer.

6_2014_Express

Express

With six locations in the city, Express is nothing if not convenient, not unlike its clothing. The brand catering to 20- and 30-somethings prides itself on being smart enough for work, casual enough for weekends and fashion-forward enough for going out. Translating into swimwear, this means that the mix-and-match selection is as varied as it is trendy. For women, colors, patterns, fringes, ruffles and ruches come in styles ranging from bandeaus and boy shorts to string bikinis. For men, plaid and stripes comprise simpler options; dip-dyes and geometric patterns, more adventurous. The selection here is vast, to say the least, but so is the helpfulness of the customer service, and the organization of the store is also a point of pride for the brand. Just look for those red awnings; they lead the way to a shopping experience full of options and free of stress. (Broadway nr. 46th St.)

H&M

H&M

H&M never ceases to surprise its shoppers with how low its prices can go. Coupled with its perennially on-trend styles, it’s no wonder the Swedish store is now the second largest clothing retailer in the world with locations on just about every continent. Its stores in New York, though, offer especially large selections of the brand’s vast collections for all ages, children included. It’s the place where both celebrities and penny-strapped teenagers go to stock up on everything from basic black triangle tops to floral racer-backs and neons. Swim shorts for men come in all lengths and designs, and arty silk-screen renderings of palm trees hang beside classic red-white-and-blue trunks perfect for the Fourth. Variety here is not a problem, but do leave time for the dressing room lines and perusal of the sunglasses selection – necessary accessories for bright days ahead. (Broadway nr. 43rd St.)

J. Crew

J. Crew

Since Jenna Lyons became the creative director of J. Crew, the classic brand has stretched its legs out of the closets of just prepsters and into those of runway-watchers, trendsetters and everyone in between, too. Designs here focus on quality and flattery, and – like the invitingly chic stores – are stunningly pretty. Think cubist patterns, seersuckers, paisleys and small patterns that look decidedly French in styles like high-waist briefs, sculpted halters and underwired bustiers. For men, there are ginghams, oxford cloths and three kinds of stripes: nautical, floral and navy sea. Last summer, the brand almost single-handedly made rash guards the coolest piece of swimwear on beaches everywhere; beach skirts and tankinis might surprise with their classy coverage, as well. (30 Rockefeller Center at 50th St.)

Tommy Bahama

Tommy Bahama

Tommy Bahama, a long-ruling king of the beach, brings laid-back island style to the Northeast with suits that look straight out of Baja. Cargo shorts in bright colors, Jimmy Buffet-esque patterns such as salt shakers and limes, and palm fronds and hibiscus flowers galore keep men from blending in. For women, all body types are accounted for in the full range of cup sizes and various breeds of bottoms, which Tiki and sunset prints brighten into head-turning pieces. Don’t come looking for subtle, but do come hungry, as the flagship on Fifth includes its own Tommy Bahama restaurant and bar. After all, who doesn’t enjoy shopping more after a margarita? (5th Ave. nr. 45th St.)