Why I Wear One-Piece Swimsuits


It’s not because I hate my body. It’s not that I can’t find a bikini I like or want (I have), or because I think they’re slutty (I think it’s safe to say that nowadays we’re all pretty desensitized to nudity, and anyways, if we’re not, we should be). For me, it’s a matter of style, and of preference. Diana Vreeland famously said the bikini was “the biggest thing since the atom bomb,” and she’s not wrong, but in this case, call me a pacifist. Yes, I, the not-particularly-conservative Alessandra Codinha, am an unapologetic champion of the one-piece swimsuit.

Since variety is the spice of life and all that, I have dabbled with all of the other cuts (though the only monokini I ever liked was this Pucci one on display at the Met, and it obviously wasn’t for sale). Some bikinis are great-looking, and, certainly, there are locales where a two-piece just feels right—for me, for some reason, it's Tulum. And while a few of these stringy suits have crept into my maillot rotation, most of the times I’m beach-bound, such as last Wednesday, when I fled the city to join my family in Nantucket, it’s a sleek, slim-cut one-piece all the way. Technically, four sleek, slim-cut one pieces. (Remember what I said about variety?)

Hearing this, ITG’s own Emily Weiss didn’t believe I was only packing full-coverage suits, and she has her reasons: you may recall her photo documentation of my beloved short-shorts parading all over Dumbo. “Why would you cover up that bod-ay?” she asked. (Yes, she said it exactly like that.) And to be fair, not everyone ‘gets it.’ I’ve had girl friends and boyfriends attempt to suss out what they’ve perceived to be body-image issues, or assume that by abstaining, I was also passing judgement on their decision to wear a two-piece (this, only from women). Once, a guy who didn’t care one way or the other just gave me the ol’ up-and-down and sneered, “So is this a 'trendy’ thing?” (In that particular instance, to be fair, I was wearing a Chanel swimsuit covered in interlocking Cs, so it probably was sort of a ‘trend thing,’ though I maintain he was rude.)

There are lots of people who wear bikinis and probably shouldn’t, and there are lots of people who wear one-pieces because they don’t like their physiques: I'm OK with my physique, just not in a bikini. (This excludes the undeniably awesome Disney “Princess Jasmine” bikini I wore incessantly from ages five to six, before which most of my time on the beach was spent nude—sorry I’m not sorry.) I inherited a sort of genetic weakness of the abdominal muscles and a ribcage that slightly protrudes, which meant that, regardless of my weight during my childhood and adolescence, I was constantly trying to suck in my stomach as I walked down to the water. Lying down at the beach meant endlessly adjusting the swimsuit ties at my hips and neck; sitting up made me feel like my stomach looked like a puggle’s face—all those adorable little skin rolls, not so adorable to a teenager. I knew what Britney Spears (circa "Slave 4 U") looked like in a bikini, and that was not what was happening. I was fine if I could stand up and lengthen my torso, but that’s posing, and who the hell wants to do that at the beach? So, I invested in a lot of attractive beach cover-ups, which I am thankful for, but that’s not the point.

I slowly moved past Britney, realizing that I didn’t have to wear what CosmoGirl told me boys would like (this, obviously, was part of a bigger revelation), and that I could find a one-piece that wasn’t made by Speedo or one of the mumsy, skirted styles favored by the aquaerobics set. And buy them I did: now, my favorite Eres suits have low fronts and backs and are (for my body) cut perfectly; I visited my best friend in Cartagena last year, and wore Pucci suits under my shorts during the day. Last summer, I wore a sporty Lisa Marie Fernandez style (strapless, black neoprene, with a zipper up the front)—a friend of a friend took to calling me “Bond Girl body” for the entire July 4th weekend. And with only a sliver of décolletage showing! Even J. Crew makes classic cuts that are easy, even cool, to wear. Straps can be slipped off your shoulders, the whole thing rolled down to your waist for tanning (see? So not a prude). To me, there’s a refined, under-the-radar sexiness about a one-piece. They’re simultaneously classic and modern, and when they look right, they look sophisticated, a word not normally invoked at the beach.

Someone told me once—and I’ll never forget it—that as wonderful as clothes can be, whatever you choose to wear shouldn’t outshine you. Sure, there are exceptions: you want people to remember your wedding dress, or what you wore on your first date with the love of your life, but at the end of the day, people should just recall that you looked beautiful. Eventually, everybody figures out that you look your best when you feel the most comfortable (whether that means HotPants or muumuus or who-knows-what). And at the beach, I want to be able to sit up and have a picnic without worrying what my stomach looks like, or dive into a pool and swim for as long as I want without fearing a Seventeen magazine Traumarama moment and losing my top. I need to feel ready to run into the waves, play with my dogs, or to try (however halfheartedly because, oh my God am I bad at it) surfing. My one-pieces are not, as Emily suggested, “covering up that bod-ay,” but empowering it, flattering it, and ensuring that I’m able to do what I want, whenever I want.

—Alessandra Codinha

Introducing Alessandra Codinha, ITG's new associate editor! We're four people now, meaning that we're perfectly poised to roam the halls of a high school in a mid-nineties teen movie (we'll go with The Craft since it's in keeping with fall's slightly goth trend), or form a boy/girl band, and/or play a mean game of Scrabble. —E.W.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Adlamesq

    Alessandra, who makes your sunglasses?

    Love your writing!

    • ITGAlessandra

      Thank you so much! The shades are vintage Persol.

  • kelly

    loved reading this post! like a fresh breath of air!

  • vivianlostinseoul

    Great post!! One-piece swimsuits are just more sophisticated and stylish, I'm really into them lately. Thanks for this post.

  • LucyW

    Simply gorgeous!

  • Nurse P

    You are fantastic. Oh yeah, and that suit is hot and amazing on you, too.

  • jaywhy

    Hear, hear! I seldom swim these days because I hate wearing a swimsuit and being the only person in my age group to wear a one piece. Looking forward to my first Eres maillot!

  • gaowmichelle

    Congrats on the new addition ITG! and what a well written and thoughtful piece. just goes to show that musings on a one-piece bathing suit can still be smart and thought provoking.


  • Marije

    Amen! I love one pieces, I never wear bikini's and the reasons are all as descibed above. I really like one pieces, there stylish, cool and can be really flattering. However I really don't understand why people think they need to say something about this, it's not a body thing it's just something I prefer. I will never say anything to a bikini wearing person about their choice....however sometimes I really want to :)
    And Alessandra I was on holiday at Ibiza this year and received a lot of compliments about my bathing suits. So maybe they will be back in fashion and we don't have to defend ourselves for a few years!

  • Mallorysara

    i love this piece, thank you! while there are some truly amazing benefits to a bikini, I think the right one piece (Eres over Speedo!) is timeless and sexy as hell.

  • Elizabeth

    oh ITG, congrats on killing it yet again! this post is gorgeous! i've been a reader since the beginning and you are, by far, the chicest and most refreshing place online! i love you. please keep up the fabulous work. I know you will! thank you for inspiring me, daily! xoxo

  • Victoria Campanella

    I find the one piece swimsuite so chic, plus I don't like to get sun pink, so its the best choice for me too.

    • Aya

      "sun pink"--what a cute term!

      • Victoria Campanella

        Haha, I'm soo white there is no point in trying to get tanned, so I just end up looking sun pink

  • anam

    I think you look great, but it's slightly perturbing the way you have to justify your decision to cover up whatever you want to cover up. Even if you just wanted to be, *gasp*, modest, I don't see the need to justify. It's your body and you can show off or cover up whatever you want to. Being called a 'prude' is as much an insensitive of a label as that of 'slut', often worse, in my opinion. Covering up can be empowering too. You don't *have* to show off everything, even if you did happen to have some technical definition of the perfect body. You don't owe the public or anyone that. You look great, end of story, no need to explain why you wear what you wear.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DJQMGJU7MZMBVLSD4GUTPJEPD4 murt

      Completely agree, and I had exactly the same reaction to this piece. A.C., you look great -- no need to justify anything. I also don't want to use the 'prude' label -- there is nothing wrong with not wanting to reveal one's body in public, for whatever reason.

  • http://fairytalesandcoffee.wordpress.com/ fairytalesandcoffee

    WHOAH - loved this. EEK, I may become a fangirl of the new associate editor! I love love love one pieces. They are so elegant and I believe it actually takes a more fit overall body to wear them well than to wear a bikini, which almost always favors the skinny in a way a full suit can't/won't. I've seen those Eres one pieces (on Lara Stone) in ads and seen the lovely prints from J.Crew. Personally, I wish I could wear one pieces. More of Ms/Mrs. Codinha please!

  • http://ibelieveinrosa.blogspot.mx/ larissa

    Love the article! very classy, I hear a lot about Eres swimsuits, I just wish they would sell them here!

  • Sofia Valanci

    Great piece

  • Lovemylipstick

    Love this line - Eventually, everybody figures out that you look your best when you feel the most comfortable. Gosh, this is so true and I'm sorry it has taken me into my 40s to figure it out! Your honesty is a breath of fresh air...
    Look forward to more from you, Alessandra!

  • Aya

    You look gorgeous and I love this article. I like wearing bikinis for tan lines but last summer I wore a one-piece for the first time (since grade school) at a pre-wedding pool party. I felt so sophisticated and at ease. I felt at once like a lady and a little kid and wondered why I hadn't done this earlier. I am now a big proponent of both. Sometimes more is more.

  • http://www.thepvdhjournal.com/ The PvdH Journal

    Nice to see your great writing carried on from WWD! Like you, I converted to one-pieces last summer and ditto on the protruding rib-cages (thirteen years of ballet weren't able to cure mine!).

    xx Paola

  • Lsainz17

    I adore Alessandra; she's not only refreshingly beautiful, but refreshingly intelligent! Please tell me her new addition to ITG includes constant updates on her Top Shelf!

  • Amanda K

    YES for more hyper-explanatory beauty and fashion prose. Just what I need at the end of my crazy days to lighten, brighten, and tighten (along with all the other amazing feats of any face cream worth its salt) - truly this writing (a la Jean Godfrey-June) is rare and serotonin-laced. Love.

  • econphdgirl

    Excellent piece! I have been reading ITG since the beginning, and this is the first time I'm commenting because I just loved this post. This is exactly how I feel about one-pieces and i'm glad to know i'm not the only one!

  • Katie

    Loved this piece! Thanks Alessandra.

  • http://natseesstyle.com/ Nat

    Your honesty is so refreshing! This summer especially I considered sporting a one-piece- not because I am self-conscious about my body, but because I truly love the style that a one-piece evokes- but opted not to. I totally agree: what you wear should never outshine you!



  • Txranchgirl

    This is one of my favorite things I've read on your site. I love that this piece emphasizes being 'bien dans la pea' and, therefore, unique and irresistible. Thanks.

  • Anushka

    I am skinny girl and I find myself looking to skinny in bikini so I decided to wear one piece swimsuit. I know, people watching me like " why is she wearing one piece if she is skinny - whats wrong with her? " - but I really like myself in them. Anyway nowdays you can find many beautifully cut pieces, so you dont have to look like grandma :)

    I think it looks classy and sexy!

  • mamajulesbrussels

    my husbands fahionably grandma gave me a eres one piece. a dark violet one. she bought it for herself but she said it was more my colour. crazy lovely woman she is! i know you may think that's a bit crazy but she is a lady with style :) haha


  • Alfie

    Beautifully thought out, beautifully written, beautifully Alessandra!

  • http://mabelmatilda.blogspot.com/ Mabelmatilda

    Wow your very beautiful, love what you had to say about the one-piece. I feel like its perceived in a bad way like if you wear one you don't like your body, but in fact that might not be the case.


  • http://caryrandolph.com/ Cary

    She had me at Seventeen "Traumarama".

  • S.Elisabeth Gross

    This is absolutely fantastic and exactly how I feel. While I was/am riddle with body self-consciousness--especially my mid-section--, they are not the reason I ultimately prefer the one piece. As a "competitive" swimmer (not of the Olympic caliber by any means), I've grown accustomed to the ease and comfort of a Speed one piece. After years of trying to conform myself to the bikini in attempts to (unsuccessfully) catch the boys' attentions with little numbers and multiple ab workouts, I realized I loved monokinis. I love being able to dive in the water and not be concerned about my bottoms flying off or having a nip-slip in front of families. I love being able to sit and not worry about the stomach rolls that come from even the skinniest of girls. And I love wading into the ocean waves without worrying about coming up nude.

    So cheers to the one-piece. I love this article!

  • http://www.aswetravel.com/ Sofia – As We Travel

    That is actually a very good quote "what you wear shouldn't outshine you", I liked that, thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ewa.bilinska.7 Ewa Bilinska

    I prefer one pieces myself, I think they make my body look amazing

  • Bee

    Alessandra, you're beautiful! Can someone please send this link to Kim K? Tired of seeing her body!

  • Danyelle V

    The one piece is always great when you find the right on. This is a beautiful picture of you Alessandra! What kind of camera was used for this shot?

    • ITGAlessandra

      Believe it or not, Danyelle, my sister is basically Richard Avedon with an iPhone.

  • Randi

    I love this one-piece swimsuits, even though I'm completely comfortable with my stomach. I love the ones that looks like it belongs in the 40's. Unfortunately for me, I can't afford them, because the nice ones are always expensive, so I always end up wearing a bustier-esque bikini top and high wasted shorts in an attempt to look kind of vaguely 40's.

  • http://www.emmamiranda.com/ Emmamiranda

    OK, many things...
    1. Congratulations on becoming four, this writing is gorgeous and I want to say that I'm totally jealous and hoping that you stretch to five (I'm guessing, what, The Breakfast Club in the hallways?) and that I'm totally there.
    2. Love the idea of a one piece and these pictures show the slightly retro allure of it perfectly, iPhone or no.
    3. Having just returned today from a week in swimwear in Marakech (bikini style) I have a really brown tummy and that goes a long way towards forgiving your abs for their non modelly/Britneyishness.
    4. Men who comment on your swimwear, or the way you look in swimwear, should really take a good long look in the mirror first because as far as I can see, most beachwear faux pas ain't being committed by the girls.
    That's all! Thanks for a great article x

  • http://twitter.com/peachyblog Hannah-Mae

    would love love love to know what app was used for these photos! just gorgeous.

  • http://ourmenu.dk/ Marie

    Great article! I couln´t agree more. I havn´t worn a bikini in 10 years. Feel way more comforable in my swimsuit.

  • Bella

    I love this. You are right. The one piece done right just looks so classy and sophisticated. I want one now. I like your black, deep V neckline suit. I feel inspired to find the perfect one piece now.

  • guest

    Great piece of writing here!
    And I had the same problem growing up...my weight was fine, but my abdomen was soft and I felt so self-conscious about my little rolls!

  • http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/ Nomadic D.

    Fantastic article! I don't know why it helps to have validation and encouragement from an outsider on wearing a one-piece, but it sure does! Funny how society has now made it the norm to expose and slightly oddball to be a little more covered up. Thanks for a wonderful post!


  • Kales10

    You have no idea how refreshing this article is!! Society nowadays puts so much pressure on the idea that you MUST wear bikinis to look sexy and its nice to see someone who thinks differently. I just really appreciated your article and loved reading it!

  • B

    Coming from a male in his thirties with a more than healthy sex drive: I NEVER understood the thinking that a one-piece bathing suit is 'prudish' or not sexy; maybe it's because I tend to focus on the lower half more than the upper, the look of a woman in a sexy, tight-fitting piece of spandex-lycra that exposes her smooth legs, cute feet, and clings to her bum is as a turn-on to me as any outfit; in fact, if a group of women in tie-string bikinis come by with one of the group in a cute one-piece, I barely notice the girls in the bikinis. The going with her own flow really seals it in todays 12 year old's think one piece suits are embarassing world. Or maybe it's the fact that much of my adolescent sexual experience involved girls in one-pieces. Heh.

  • sieneke

    I have always liked one-piece bathing suits and, as a mention, I'm ok with my body. I am not interested in being watched or admired. I like the one-piece, on the one hand, because generally my dressing style is either sporty, or a bit sober and, on the other hand, because it gives me freedom of movement in the water, on water slides, etc. I don't need to rearrange my bra or bikini all the time.

    Also, I don't understand remarks like: “Why would you cover up that body?” But why would I show my body? I don't care about impressing others, I just want to have fun, be myself and wear clothes that I like.