Photo Credits: Diane's Beachwear
Face it, ladies, swimsuit shopping can be a pain. Finding the right style and fit for your figure can take several hours and visits to multiple shops. Lucky for residents and visitors to Huntington Beach, we have one of the best selections of swimsuit shops for women in Orange county -- or anywhere. Whether you’re large or small, sports-minded or tan-minded, here’s just a sampling.
Diane's Beachwear, located right by Huntington Surf and Sport, has been the cornerstone of women’s swimwear and beachwear since it first opened in Huntington Beach in 1997. With the largest selection of swimwear in town, owner Diane Bigg’s shops have been a favorite stop for swimsuits in Southern California since her mother, Mickie Bandle, opened the company’s first store in Manhattan Beach in 1962. The shop was the first in the beachwear industry to offer the chance for women to mix sizes when selecting their swimwear tops and bottoms.
Biggs’ soon took over from her mother, expanding the company to 16 locations throughout Southern California. While no longer sewing its own bathing suits, Diane’s sells the largest selection of ready-made mix -and-match suits in Huntington Beach. Popular brands include L Space, Vix, Vitamin A., Luli Fama, B. Swim, Sunsets, Swim Systems, Roxy and Billabong.
Prices for bathing suit tops range from about $40 to $120 per piece, with sizes ranging up to an F-cup size; bottoms start at $38 while one-pieces range from $72 to over $200.
It’s open daily 9:30 a.m. to -8 p.m. (714) 536-7803.
For suits designed and sewn right here in Orange County, head over to Merrilee's Swimwear at the 5th & PCH complex, 120 5th Street. The city of Huntington Beach considers Merrilee's Swimwear an historic business --the mother-daughter team of Merrilee and Felicia Madrigal first opened Merrilee's Swimwear Boutique in 1977 on Main Street on the mezzanine level of Sunline Surfboards.
While Merrilee’s had previously expanded to wholesale its suits at department stores and international retailers, daughter Felicia refocused the business’s efforts to concentrate on her love for designing. The swimsuits are now designed in the boutique’s Laguna Beach headquarters and sewn in a local Orange County factory. Merrilee’s describes its swimwear as “high-quality, fashion-forward designer suits at affordable prices."
Now selling exclusively at its two boutique stores, various styles of tops and bottoms range from $60 to $80 per piece; one-pieces range from $65 to $130 per piece. There’s usually a good selection on sale for half price.
Merrilee’s is open daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., except Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (714) 960-8433
Photo Credits: Merrilee's Swimwear
Walk a couple stores up 5th Street to Jolyn's, if you’re looking for a suit that is sure to stay on as you dive into the surf, play water polo or volleyball. As the new kid on the block, the Huntington Beach headquarters-storefront has been open daily to the public since last May. Only a fraction of its suits hang on display, so enthusiastic sales associates help you find your size and preferred style stashed in multiple bins below.
Beware -- the suits run small. I am assured “they are supposed to fit snug” so they stay on as you dive into the surf or pool. There are various triangle-style and bra tops, full- and barely-covered bottoms and several styles of one-pieces. Sizes run XS through XXXXL. (For reference, I usually wear a medium top; with Jolyn’s suits, I wore an XL.)
Why choose these suits over other designer suits? The sales staff swear they last. Says Jolyn’s web site: “We're just a band of athletes, designers, mermaids, and misfits with watersports function and style on the brain.”
Using heavy thread-counts, brightly -colored Italian fabrics -- six new patterns are introduced monthly – and “responsible production,” the suits are designed inhouse in Huntington Beach and manufactured in Los Angeles. I found them to be the the most affordable of the swimsuit specialty shops: bottoms cost $28; tops are $36 each; and one pieces range from $57-$70.
Jolyn’s is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The shop does not have a phone landline contact number; its website advises shoppers to check Yelp for up-to-date hours and holiday closures.
If you’re more into making a grand entrance poolside than finding a suit that stays on while you’re body surfing, get over to Pacific City and check out Molly Brown’s and SeaFolly in the Pacific City shopping, dining and entertainment center, 21010 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Sea Folly, Suite A120, opened its Pacific City store in 2016. Founded in Australia in 1975, the international company’s designs are known for great quality and a more-tailored fit. Its suits range from frilly, skimpy resort-wear to full coverage high-neck halter tops and hipster bottoms. Sizes for tops fit up to the F-cup range, and range from $70 to $130; bottoms are about $60 to $80; and one pieces range from $142 to $202.
Sea Folly is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. (714) 960-0780.
Lose yourself in the alluring and intricate print details featured in the Desert Tribe story. Delicate feathers, shells and embroideries lend themselves across swim, activewear and overswim style to give a deep sense of texture and dimension from placement to spliced over prints. Golden Girl, @tonigarrn wears the Deep V One Piece. Available to shop in stores and online now. #seafolly #goldengirl18
Molly Brown's Designer Swim and Resort Wear, upstairs in suite C230, touts itself as “one of the hottest retailers of high-end specialty swimwear and apparel on the planet!” With nearly 40 years in Newport Beach, the swimsuit boutique opened its Pacific City shop in 2016.
For those seeking exclusive designer swimwear and willing to pay the price, Molly Brown’s stocks a treasure trove of designer suits. The boutique carries an eclectic selection, including triangle tops, bustiers, knotty straps, bandeaus and full-coverage crop tops, along with a full variety of bottom coverage from Brazilian to high-waisted. A great selection of one-piece swimsuits features top brands such as Vitamin A, L Space, Alessandra, and Agua Bendita.
While the boutique’s suits are described as “celebrating femininity like no other piece of swimwear,” I observe that the ”sexy-cut” bikinis are probably best worn by the young and nubile. I also note that the shop doesn’t carry many plus sizes.
Tops range from $60 to $100; bottoms start at $60; and one-pieces range from $120 to over $200. (There is usually a rack with suits marked down 50%.)
Molly Brown’s is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; with longer hours during the summer. (714) 374-0052.