One of the premises of a lot of women’s surfwear companies – including our own – is that it’s difficult to find swimwear that works for surfing.
This is… false. Or at least only half the story. Swimwear that works really well for surfing has existed for eons. It’s the swimmer’s “speedo”: aquadynamic, form-fitting, used in one form or the other for competitive swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, ocean races, water polo. Built for women who are active in the water, who want to minimize chaffing, who obviously have an interest in not exposing their private bits even when speeding through churning water or diving from dizzying heights, and who have strong, wide shoulders and backs. We all know of the speedo – we just don’t want to surf in it.
There may be disadvantages to a traditional speedo in the ocean, we just can’t think of any. We think the real reason we don’t wear speedos to surf is simply because surfing is not just Surfing, the Sport. When you commit to surfing, you are inducting yourself into a history, a culture, a lifestyle, and with that comes a particular style. While within surfing there are a number of sub-cultures and sub-styles (e.g. hipster; sporty; retro; homeless chic), even the sporty surf look (think Body Glove) is quite distinct from the speedo look.
When you get serious about surfing, you also start to see the world a little differently. That really important work task begins to feel a lot less urgent upon seeing that the wind has stilled and conditions are perfect to paddle out. You also start to see yourself a little differently. Your hair gets blonder (seemingly overnight), you hang out with different people, start to use a different vernacular, and suddenly find yourself a part of a new tribe. Things that may have felt too dangerous before (big waves, big rocks, sharp reef, sharks) now seem like perfectly rational trade offs for the possibility of the wave of your life.
Naturally, what you choose to wear also begins to reflect your new chosen community, lifestyle, value system. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Golfers tend to dress like golfers, rappers like rappers, computer programmers like computer programmers. Point is, when surfing becomes an integral part of our identity, merely functional athletic wear like the speedo doesn’t quite cut it.
Another undeniable reason women surfers don’t wear speedos is the hypersexualization of female surfers that made its way into surfing, and has continued to make an impact. Speedos… not really synonymous with sex appeal. In fact, looking back on surf pictures over the 90’s and 00’s, it’s rare to see pictures of women in anything but a teeeny tiny bikini (often super unfortunately paired with boardshorts down to their knees). For women surfers, there just wasn’t much else available in the market.
Cue this recent decade, when early hipsters, for whatever reason, chose a more throwback style of surfing as one cornerstone of their cultural identity. Surfing became more accessible and mainstream as logs and twin fins came back into style, as did… the surfing one piece for women. All we can say is (with a very un-hipster-like lack of cool reserve): Yippeeeeee!!!!
The surfing one piece is, at its core, a speedo. We believe it also might be the most functional and high performance of any type of surfsuit: body hugging, secure, less likely to slip off of the important bits in the event of a wipeout. Many have the added benefit of an adjustable crossback, so your chest will be happy and covered, whether it’s flat or full.
But they look nothing like speedos, and for whatever reason, they do inspire you to head for saltwater, instead of getting you pumped for chlorinated laps.
At Dewi Surf Supply, we are obsessed with a good one piece suit, and we’ve got a huge variety of these “surf speedos” that you will love for your own particular body type and style.
Here are some of our favorites:
Some tips for choosing the right surf speedo for you:
- Even if you are really slim, if you are tall and/or have a longer torso, you may want to size up.
- With surfwear, we always recommend buying double-lined suits (which means that there are essentially two layers of fabric on your body, sewn together). Otherwise, once wet or just with some wear, you run the risk of displaying your private bits. In addition, the double lining is stronger and more durable, and also tends to hug your body in a bit, minimizing any unwanted lumps and bumps.
- If your bust size fluctuates (i.e. because of your monthly cycle or if you are postpartum), getting a one-piece with an adjustable cross-tie in the back allows you to fit comfortably in the suit always. Same goes if you have a really broad upper back or have experienced chafing there and in the underarm area.
- Some surf speedos have cut-outs that are not only hella sexy but also allow water to flow through the cut-outs, leaving it mostly in place. If you opt for no cut-outs, you may want to purchase a size that feels tight at first… the suit will inevitably stretch out a bit, but you want the suit to feel like a second skin to make sure it stays on no matter what the ocean throws your way.
(Nothing here is meant as a knock on swimmers or speedos in any way! There might be different fashion subcultures within competitive swimming that we’ve totally ignorantly lumped together. If you know of them, well, that’s probably an indication that you’re a member of the swimmer tribe and… well, our point exactly.).