Summer Trend: Mix and Match Bikinis (And Why You’ll Love ‘Em)



 Self, meet fake-tanner.  Fake tanner, Self.

Mamas – is anyone else in love with the bikini mix/match trend?  It's been around for a few years…but it wasn't until recently that I realized how perfect this trend is for moms.

I never bought maternity swimwear…so my old bikinis got put through the ringer when worn all summer by a huge-bellied me.  And once the baby was born?  My bikini tops were pulled on for nursing, and my bottoms were worn down by sand, pool bottoms, and stretched further by an errant tiny foot. Oof!  Not to mention, the, uh, 40-something lbs I gained with each pregnancy.  

As my luck(no such thing) would have it…I never seem to wear out the same top and bottom at the same time.  Of course, right?  Right.

But here's the problem:  Now that I'm a mom, come summertime I'm almost always in my suit.  It's kinda like being a kid again.  Funfunfun!!    But the daily wearing of suits means that I need more than one.  And unlike kid suits, mine can cost some serious cash.  So to replace every year?  Ugh. Especially since I worry that each summer is my last to rock a bikini.

It's the bending, Mamas.  The bending.



But allowing myself to mix-and-match bikini separates means that I can use my not-too-grubby pieces for at least one more summer (doesn't that sound sexy?).  And since I'm not restricting myself to a specific bikini top or bottom…I can shop the sales (FTW!!).

I'll admit, I've tried a few combos that looked…not good.  Picture an awkward underwear-at-the-beach scenario.  (Shockingly, I can't find a single picture.)

But here's a bit of bikini mixin' inspiration:

Mix Patterns

Screen Shot 2012-06-10 at 1.14.11 PM

(Sources, clockwise from top left:  Victoria's Secret Madi Push Up, Volcom Dot Bikini Top, J.Crew Dot Brief, J.Crew Seersucker top and floral bottoms, Old Navy geometric print Top and bottoms

This?  Is fun.  Here are the rules I try to keep in mind:  

  • Scale – big dots mixed with little dots or thick stripes mixed with thin stripes 
  • Stripes with almost any other pattern always look good
  • When combining patterns, they should have at least one color in common

(We've talked about pattern mixing before.)


Color-Block Your Solids

I love these examples from Victoria's Secret.  Pairing two different brights, or two slightly different tones of the same shade are fab ideas.   Or just pick two colors that you love and go with it. 

  Screen Shot 2012-06-10 at 2.37.48 PM

(Sources:  Victoria's Secret Belle Bandeau and Abby Triange Bikini Top

One Solid, One Print

This is where I've accidentally wandered into underwear territory.  If I'm wearing one of those solid bikini tops  - the kind with an underwire?  One that looks a bit bra-ish?  Yes.  Those.  They sometimes look exactly like a bra when paired with mis-matched bottoms.  Or maybe it's just me.

Here are a few cute combos:


 (Source, clockwise from top left:  Victoria's Secret Madi Push-Up, Target bikini top, J.Crew dot hipster, Topshop black bikini top, J.Crew fanfare bikini, Calypso Celle bikini top, Carve ruched bikini bottoms)

Incidentally, I need a new bikini bottom to match a top like this:

Mine does not have the weird dangly thing

Screen Shot 2012-06-12 at 10.26.27 AM

Sooo…what say you, Mamas?  I can't decide: 


Screen Shot 2012-06-12 at 10.43.17 AM

(J.Crew Feather Paisley Hipster and foldover bikini, Victoria's Secret Triangle bikini bottom and Foldover Low-Rise bottom

Help me, Mamas!  And do tell….are you feeling the mix/match, or does it look too much like underwear?




  1. I love the color blocking and print/solid combo but can’t get into mixing patterns. To me that feels like wearing two different socks. As for your brown top I like A or D.

  2. I love it! You.Look.Great! And my vote is for the turquoise. I’m a sucker for the brown/turquoise combo on almost anything! Tried to make it my wedding colors, but no one wanted to wear brown (& I wasn’t such a ‘zilla as to make my friends wear something they hated).
    But, sadly my body will no longer do bikini post baby. It’s not just the pooch (although it is DEFINITELY there), but also the fact that I got horrible stretch marks on my belly during pregnancy. It looked like someone took a rake to my belly. Although they have faded some (or maybe a lot), it’s not enough to make me feel comfy in a bikini. I’m still waiting for my $33 Wal-Mart one-piece in the mail though so, maybe I’ll send you a pic when it gets here!

  3. I like C, myself. And what pooch? If I had the balls, I’d send you a pic of my pooch – so you can see what a pooch really looks like. Needless to say, bikini’s aren’t in my future ever again. ๐Ÿ™ Thank god they’re cute, eh?

  4. The other thing that I love about this trend is you can pick whatever bottoms fit you best. I wanted to wear that Liberty print floral bikini that you pictured, but felt the bottoms were too skimpy and showed too many of my stretch marks. So instead I got the top, which fits perfectly and paired it with a high waisted American Apparel bottom for a retro feel. I love it! I wrote about it here:

  5. I would vote A, B, or D. C just looks like you are trying but don’t get the trend.
    On another note, thank you for this post and all the other posts on bathing suits, which I have read over the past few weeks. You’d think that would be a big sign to me that maybe I should go try on my bathing suits before our trip to AZ where we will be spending the weekend basically at the pool. But no. Or that maybe since none of my pants seem to fit in the hips anymore post baby #2 and I have a new smaller bust size, which I didn’t think was possible, that maybe my old bathing suits wouldn’t fit. Oh no, I like to live dangerously. Last night laid out outfits for THIS weekend, pulled out the suits, tried the suits on . . .need I say more. So to continue my theme of crazy I need to do an emergency swim suit shopping today with my two boys, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2, yeah, cause that’s how I like to roll. So the mix and match suggestion may save my bacon or my bacon just may be wrapped up all weekend.

  6. Earlier this spring, I purchased Land’s End 4-piece bikini, which I’m absolutely loving. I’m about 4.5 months preggo and love the fact that the tops come in bra sizes, and you can buy each piece in a different size and different color/print. I’m gonna be rocking my big belly in a bikini all summer long. Although it is nice to have the tank (which I bought a size up) to throw on over top when I’m feeling less free (er… bloated).

  7. I vote turquoise.
    In high school, a friend with big hips and small bust and I (with a big bust and no hips) used to trade track uniforms every year(because you had to get all one size)-one of us would get small, one would get medium, and she’d wear the small top and medium bottoms, I’d wear the medium top and small bottoms, lol. This reminds me of that-no need to swap with a friend though, just buy the mix and match pieces that fit you!

  8. I’ve never tried it but I’ve always loved this look even before it became a trend. Think it’ll work well with a tankini? Anyway, I vote A…. or B. I can’t decide either!

  9. I think I’m too anal not to have a matching suit! But some of those combos you posted are really cute.
    For your top I like either the brown pattern or the hot yellow/green. The bright bottom is very trendy right now so if you get one season out of it anyway I say go for the fun color!

  10. Thanks for the post… I’m not daring enough to pull off mix and match unless one piece is a solid matching color. My question, that I can’t seem to find by googling, is about color. What colors (or tones) flatter pale skin best? Yes, I know they make self-tanner, but it never seems like I’ve remembered to use it before I’m expected to show almost my entire body to the public. Also, we don’t go to the pool/beach often, so I tend to have lovely playground tanlines (tank top and shorts). But really, truly, my burning question is about swimsuit color.

  11. Crystal: As far as color, my rule is to wear the same colors of swimsuit you would wear in regular clothing. For example, I’m somewhat pale (er “fair”), but I look great in black, especially if it’s paired with a bright color. So that’s what I do with my swimsuit – black & white or black & brights.
    Brown looks terrible on me, but you can see that it looks great on S. She’d probably look washed-out in black.
    There’s no one-size-fits-all-pale-folk solution, unfortunately.

  12. I like the idea but I’ve never really had the guts to do it. I probably should just get some similar bikinis and then swap tops & bottoms, but right now the budget doesn’t really support more than one bikini ๐Ÿ™‚
    As for when you won’t be able to rock a bikini, gotta tell you, I’m a 41 year old mom of 2 and I’m wearing my sevens on cold days and my bikini at the beach. Granted, I wear a huge sunhat and I have to sit under an SPF umbrella, but my opinion is you’ve got to be darned old (and I never plan to look that way) to not wear a bikini! I may have to color my hair now, but my abs look fab ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Thanks for the comments, Mamas! I just put in a huge J.Crew order…of nothing but bikini bottoms. Sigh. Hopefully one will fit. If not…headed over to VS for the neons.
    Erica – Your comment cracked me up. Yes – thank God they’re cute. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Shannon – I LOVE your bikini! Thanks for sharing the link!!
    Julie – We are similar in this respect. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Fran – Yes! The LE 4 piece bikini! I actually really liked those – especially the mixed patterns. Such a cool idea!
    Crunchy Con – Remember when J.Crew was one of the only places you could buy mix/match bikinis? They seemed so exotic then.
    Krystal – I think this would work with a tankini!
    Crystal – If using fake tanner is out (I like St. Tropez – it drys in a split second and never streaks or smells)…then for pale skin I like rich jewel tones (sort of a pale Queen of England vibe)…or to just embrace the pale with soft pastel colors. Sometimes when you just embrace it, the overall effect is really, really beautiful.
    Anitra – well said!!
    Julia S – LOVE THIS. Thank you!!!!!!

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