This week I’m reviewing a start-up swimwear brand called Alisa Nicole Swimwear. Founder Alisa recently reached out to Darlene and me, only to realize that we all live in New York City, making it super easy and convenient for Darlene and me to try a few pieces of her swim collection without dealing with postage or shipping things back-and-forth. The three of us had brunch last weekend, followed by a try-on session.
First, some background on Alisa Nicole Swimwear: Alisa used to live in Sydney, Australia. As a busty woman and avid surfer, she couldn’t find any swimwear that suited her shape and gave the right support—so naturally she started making her own!
While Alisa reached out to us with the pitch of a busty swim brand, during our meetup she explained that she actually wants to avoid pigeon-holing her company into that niche. Rather, she designed her product to fit a range of bust sizes. I was a little skeptical of this claim at first (aren’t we all?), but check out this photo of Alisa (left) and her much less busty model (right) rocking the exact same swimsuit:
Sadly, Alisa didn’t have any samples of this “Bardot” one-piece in our size, because its features are amazing. Bardot is made of perforated white swim fabric, is fully lined, has adjustable straps, princess seams, a stretchy “flexi-bra” interior, and—get this—hidden zipper pockets on each hip that are big enough to fit a smartphone (or your keys, some cash, travel-size sunblock…)! It’s seriously genius, and looks amazing to boot.
As you might imagine, the Bardot is a more complicated and thus expensive piece to produce, so Alisa also offers two pared down swimsuit styles, the Sophie and the higher-neck Aphrodite, as well as a bikini version of each. These are the ones Darlene and I excitedly tried on (in the public bathroom of the Time Warner Center—which, I must note, has great lighting).
Sophie and Aphrodite feature a coordinating lining (pale blue or pale pink) that can optionally be worn folded out for a visual pop, as well as a power mesh interior lining, so three layers total. The triple layer helps maintain a smooth look overall and keeps the suits from getting saggy or stretched out while wet. Instead of the flexi-bra that Bardot has, they feature a hidden and extra tight elastic band that essentially creates a shelf-bra shape within the suit. Both the suit and the bikini feature vintage-style low-cut legs, and thick straps that alleviate shoulder pressure.
Here are some more shots of Darlene and me in our Aphrodite high-neck swimsuit and bikini:
Darlene and I both loved these suits, with seriously minimal criticism! Says Darlene:
I love that Alisa has actually surfed in her own suits. She considers functionality and has a real aesthetic (retro/minimalist). She’s designing the kind of suit you wish came in your size…and then you realize it does!
And three layers? That seems amazing to me. No wonder even the pink one-piece didn’t look too bulgy on me (although I prefer the more camouflaging teal).
As for fit, we’re both wearing Medium in all these pieces. Darlene is 41.5” at bust and 33.5” at waist (34FF-ish bra and size 10/12 in clothing), and says she feels like she’s at the outer end of what will fit the size Medium. No bulging around the back band or straps.
I measure 37” bust and 29” waist (mostly 28GG bra and size US 8). Medium is definitely the right size for me.
We were both seriously impressed by the shape we got in these non-underwire options. I think the lift is as good, if not better, than many of the big-bust bralettes I’ve tried. I’m also positively in love with the high waist and low-cut legs—finally swim bottoms that don’t give me quad-butt!
The aesthetic in general is the most perfect combination of modern minimalism and vintage styling. The strap placement also works amazingly well for me. Aphrodite’s straps are paired together in the front while Sophie’s join in back, so there’s no chance of either of them falling off my narrow, sloping shoulders.
My only critique (and regular readers will know this is nothing new) is that I wish the one-piece and the Aphrodite top were both a little longer. My long torso strikes again! I found myself pulling up the Sophie swimsuit in an attempt to get more boob coverage; and while the higher neck of the Aphrodite bikini is an improvement, it loses that “high-neck” look on my tall boobs (compare the bikini on me and the one-piece on Darlene to see what I mean).
So now that I’ve gone on at length about aesthetics, you’re probably wondering, “Yeah, but how does it hold up while swimming?” Well, readers, I’m excited to report that I signed up for (free!) evening lap swim sessions at my local public pool. There was only one day this entire week that didn’t have projected thunderstorms, but I made it count! I swam 20 laps (1.1 kilometers total) in the Aphrodite bikini—and loved it! Nothing stretched out or got baggy, and I felt like the bust support was the same after 20 laps as it had been before I even hopped in the pool. I felt totally secure and comfortable the whole time, and literally didn’t think about my bikini at all once I hit the water.
It was a little tough to get the top off once it was wet, but I found that shrugging off the straps and rolling the top down over my boobs and then hips was a lot easier than attempting to flip it over my shoulders. Unfortunately, my pool doesn’t allow photography, so I couldn’t get any shots of the bikini while damp, but believe me when I say the only difference between wet and dry is it looks darker while wet.
As much as I love my underwired, bra-sized swimwear, I have problems with bikini bottoms falling down and bikini tops parachuting out when I get hit by a wave or make a fast swim stroke. So I’m really pleased with this Alisa Nicole bikini. I can’t wait to see her next collection! And at $98 – $159 per set, the price point is not far off from the usual bra-sized brands, except it’s ethically made right here in New York City, utilizing fabrics sourced from Italy, and you’d be supporting a small, woman-owned business.
For more information or to make a purchase, visit alisanicoleswim.com. Or if you live in or near New York, you can try the brand in person at Musée Lingerie, a “unique lingerie and art gallery boutique” in the West Village.