For millennials (and Gen Xers) of a certain age, there’s nothing novel about saying J.Crew’s swim assortment holds a special place in our hearts. Those were the catalog pages I studied most closely in high school, aspiring to move up from the department store suits my mom would buy for me. I still remember the first wrap-style bikini I convinced her to purchase: green, with spaghetti-thin straps and an asymmetrical white flower design. I wore it to my senior week picnic—an age-defining event steeped with importance—and felt sophisticated, sartorially destined for more than most students in my graduating class.
From there on out, every warm-weather season has necessitated a flip through J.Crew’s glossy catalog pages and a scroll on the site. Whether stocking up for undergraduate summers spent at home in Florida or shopping for a particular vacation once I entered adulthood, J.Crew has been my go-to destination for swim. I’ve flirted with outsiders, sure, but this is a love and loyalty that’s never faded.
My latest buys have been from the brand’s wide range of ruched styles, a fabric treatment so forgiving, I don’t know why anyone would wear anything else. Seriously.
I wouldn’t hesitate to call it the perfect swim situation.
Ruching, for the uninitiated, is when fabric is gathered together horizontally, providing a bit of extra stretch and a lot of flattery.
To be real, the folds of a ruched suit allow for fabric movement, helping to mask any areas that you don’t want tightly bound and highlighted. In a similar manner, it basically makes a simple maillot look like it was custom-cut for your torso—the same size and suit will look different depending on who’s wearing it.
Whatever your vibe and ideal swimsuit situation, I almost guarantee there’s a ruched suit you’ll like.
This season, my ruched pick was all about filling a very specific need. I’m expecting a baby at the end of the summer, and the collection of swimsuits I’ve been amassing for years is basically worthless at the moment. I need a much bigger top than normal, but beyond that, something that makes me feel comfortable and, as importantly, confident.
Maternity swimsuits aren’t really my thing, but there’s no denying that my relationship with my body has changed during pregnancy (this go-around, and once before). I’m just not as into cheeky cuts or things that show off too much. The classic maillots and elegant one-shoulder styles that make up much of the current J.Crew swim collection are silhouettes I love always, while the forgiving aspect of the ruching is clutch at a time when I could look or feel differently while putting on a suit.
Plus, with J.Crew, you know what you’re gonna get.
Perhaps that’s a bad thing in certain life situations, but when shopping for a swimsuit, it’s pretty phenomenal. My high school self and my future mom-of-two self know what to expect when ordering a J.Crew suit. From the size to the cut to the lines, there are never any massive surprises or deviations from the norm—in the very best way.
In fact, when this year’s swim catalog landed on my kitchen counter, I turned the pages slowly, savoring every moment. From the suits and the styling to the healthy, flushed-cheek, athletic look and inclusive size range, I could have been looking through something I saved from the early aughts. The fact that it wasn’t, that it was the just-shot and just-mailed version from today, is perhaps the best piece of evidence that my assessment has been correct all along: You can’t go wrong with J.Crew.
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