I Pool-Tested 4 Modest Swimsuits & Here’s My Verdict

I’ve always loved to swim. And yet it’s rare to find me in the water on a hot summer day. A picnic at the beach or a poolside BBQ has always posed a major dilemma: What do I wear? As a practicing Muslim woman who wears the hijab, I cover not just my head, but also my arms and legs, so bikinis and bathing suits have always been out of the question.
In 2004, the modest fashion industry came up with a solution: The burkini — a play on the words “burka” and bikini” — was invented by Australian Aheda Zanetti, but the garment didn’t gain mainstream attention until 2016, when some French cities banned the full-body beachwear, citing secular principles, hygiene, and safety concerns.
 
The idea that a piece of clothing could be seen as a threat is absurd to me. Why can’t women just wear whatever they want while enjoying a day in the sun? Frankly, my biggest problem with modest swimwear is that most of them are just plain ugly. For years, I’ve opted for tights and a T-shirt over a swimsuit while vacationing, covering my hair with a swimming cap or wrapping my scarf into a turban. But my bootstrap burkinis have often left me feeling awkward and out of place next to the bathers in barely-there bikinis, not to mention how impractical swimming in a T-shirt is, with it constantly ballooning underwater.
So I set out to find a modest swimsuit that I didn’t hate. I tested out four brands for style, comfort, and price — and here’s what I found.
This story was originally published in July 2020 and updated.
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