The thing about these swimsuits is that "one piece" is sort of a misnomer, since they really actually work in two ways.
Those postcard-y prints demand a closer look, while the shape’s demure enough—like a little kid leotard—to assume a sort of nonchalance. Unlike those bathing suits with backs the same size as the front or weird cutouts that leave even weirder tan lines, they’re attention-getting but weirdly subversive, too. (Or basically, the cool girl’s way to dip a toe in the Look At Me pond.)
For the past few years, they’ve been We Are Handsome‘s specialty; the label has digitally printed swimsuits with everything from slobbering puppies to city skyline panoramas to James Dean’s face. Now fellow Australian company Billabong makes the same sort of suits, too, but while the fabrics, shape and gist are pretty much the same, the price tags aren’t. (We Are Handsome sells this Los Angeles print maillot for $265, while Billabong sells their desert print for $88.)
Honestly, I’m not sure which I’d prefer. I’d probably splurge on graphic, digitally printed clothing if I really thought the material and tailoring mattered, like a Mary Katrantzou dress vs. a chain store’s version. But I’m not so sure I pay attention to those sort of things with swimsuits anyway. Still, there’s something cool about the matte, faded look of We Are Handsome’s swimsuit that Billabong’s slightly shiny one doesn’t have.
But then again, if you bought the Billabong version, you could get all the beach essentials below for the same price as the We Are Handsome one…. and still have $3 left over for an iced coffee. Which would you choose?
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