Rethink Your Surfwear

For more than twenty years at Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women, I’ve seen my share of surfwear malfunctions. I’ll keep details to myself, but I’ve witnessed enough to inspire me to write about it. Keep reading for colorful, innovative, and practical options for the modern day wave rider.

First-time surfers often make the same swimwear mistakes. Romanced by tan models in surf ads, they imagine gliding on waves in a teeny string bikini. But reality sets in after constantly shifting and pulling tops and bottoms into place. After paddling back to shore with burned shoulders and tender rib rashes, they reconsider a rashguard or the sensible one-piece suit. 

Today, modesty is the new cool for surfers who want to stay classy during wipeouts. (Which still happens to even the most experienced wave riders.) From UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) swim tights to long sleeved one-pieces, there are plenty of choices for women surfers and paddle boarders beyond bikinis and boardshorts— none of which sacrifice fashion for function.
Las Olas surfer
Rashguard by Seea    📷 Camilla Fuchs for Las Olas

The Rashguard

 Las Olas surf coaches wear rashguards everyday. A rashguard (surf shirt) protects your shoulders and back from sunburn and also prevents board rash on your belly. Today’s rashguards come in many fresh hues and great prints. You’ll want a new one (or more) each season!
Surf Leggings
Surf Leggings by Carve   📷 Brigid Lally for Carve

The Surf Leggings

If you’re like me, you live in yoga pants, so this surf solution is a logical transition. The surf leggings above by Carve are like a rashguard for your legs. For sensitive skin, leggings offer UPF protective benefits and are easier, faster, and more effective than slathering slippery sunscreen on your legs. That’s not even easy to say, let alone accomplish.
Seea Surf Suit
Surf Suits by Seea   📷 Lucrecia O’Keefe for Seea

The Surf Suit

Combining a one-piece swimsuit with a rashguard, the revolutionary long sleeved surf suit is hands-down my favorite new style. This is becoming popular for good reason– the fitted design reduces the need to fidget and adjust, sleeves offer UPF sun protection, and the designs are amongst the most stylish around. The suits above by Seea are great examples. What worked for Mary Lou Retton on the balance beam also works well on a board.
Seea One Piece
One Piece Suits by Seea    📷 Dylan Gordan for Seea

The One Piece

The epitome of elegance and ease, the one piece suit easily balances style and function. Surf Style 101 tip: Look for suits with supportive shoulder straps as well as higher neck and back coverage. You’ll pass the class with flying colors.
Seea Surf Bikini
Surf Bikini by Seea   📷 Lucrecia O’Keefe for Seea

The Surf Bikini

 (not to be confused with the bikini seen floating in the surf)

Under your rashguard, choose a bikini top with supportive straps across the back, plenty of bust coverage, and elastic support that stays put. For bottoms, look for an elastic waist instead of the seamless finish. They’ll stay up better in the whitewater and cover your derrière for style points.

 📷 Salt Gypsy

On The Horizon

Our research has led us to a super exciting discovery. Many swimwear and apparel companies are making fashionable and eco-friendly threads. For example, the swimsuit above by Salt Gypsy uses 100% regenerated nylon yarn made from consumer waste materials including ghost fishing nets, plastic ocean and land-based waste and carpet and textile offcuts mixed with Italian lycra.

So, throw your reusable water bottle in your reusable tote bag, and pedal your butt to the beach.

Want to find functional activewear made with socially responsible practices–and fashion–in mind? Look for more in upcoming posts, and follow Las Olas founder, Bev Sanders @getdressedgo on Instagram.

For one stop shopping, check out some of our favorite finds here:  Swim Outlet

Links to brands listed above and a few other great finds:

Seea – Supreme style for lady sliders, Seea suits are a locally crafted, 100% Californian product. You can see I’m happy to be wearing one below.

Carve – Founded in 2003, our Nor Cal surf sisters have grown a complete beach lifestyle brand; offering gear for surf, swim, yoga and more.

Reformation – Designs and manufactures the majority of their limited-edition collections in downtown Los Angeles.

Salt Gypsy – Salt Gypsy uses 100% regenerated nylon yarn made from discarded ghost fishing nets and other ocean and nylon waste.

Mara Hoffman – Simple textural pieces highlighting artistic and powerful feminine aesthetics.

WDLK  –  Sonja and Mauricio Palma, a wife and husband duo, are creators of Woodlike Ocean, a sustainable (stylish) brand for surfer girls.

Patagonia – Founded more than 40 years ago, this pioneering company stood for sustainability long before it was popular.

Prana – Versatile, stylish, and sustainable clothing and accessories for surfing and other shenanigans.

Athleta – With the resonating slogan of “Power to the She,” this long standing company has offered women’s active wear since 1997. Did you know Las Olas coaches were featured on their catalogue covers for three years running?

Bev Sanders
Bev Sanders
Bev Sanders is founder and president of Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women and creator of Get Dressed and Go, a fashion and travel portal for grown-up girls. She started surfing at 44 continuing her lifelong pursuit of introducing women to sports. You’ll find her and husband Chris on the beach in Mexico throughout the surf season.