These Are the Dos and Don'ts of Buying a Swimsuit Online

With so many options in the virtual swimsuit aisle, we've got some pointers on how you should shop online for that perfect pool-side ensemble.

Shopping online is almost always preferable. Not only can you sit on the sofa with Netflix on in the background while you do it, but you'll nearly always find a better deal on the virtual shelves. And although we too were skeptical at first of the web's ability to deliver a well-fitted swimsuit, these tips will show you how you can avoid the pitfalls and get pool-ready from the comfort of your home.

So, whether you're shopping for a bathing suit that will help you perfect your front crawl, or just want to look great while you lounge on the beach, below are the dos and don'ts of swimsuit shopping online.

DO: Take Your Measurements Correctly

The biggest obstacle to shopping for a swimsuit online is ensuring you're buying the right size. The best way to do this is by taking a detailed note of your measurements. And, if your sewing kit lacks a simple tape measure, you can get one for as little as a buck at Amazon.

Most stores will indicate the exact measurements of each of their pieces on the product page, which means you just have to do the math and make the right choice for your hips, tum, and bust. Lands' End even has a how-to guide on measuring your beach body for those confusedly entangled in a tape and numbers. Be aware that many stores will identify on each product page if sizes "run big" or "run small", which is something else to keep in mind when making your purchase.

SEE ALSO: 7 Best Things to Buy in July (Including Amazon Prime Day Deals!)

DO: Try Swimsuits on In-Store If Possible

If you frequent brick-and-mortar stores, but find better style choices and deals online, you can always try on swimsuits in-store to get a better idea of how that brand's sizes run. Perhaps by trying on a swimsuit in-store at the Gap, you'll know its sizes run big, which will allow you to make a better choice when you're later shopping online. It will also help in deciding what style of swimsuit you feel most comfortable in.

DO: Buy Multiple Sizes and Give Yourself Options

In an ideal world, and if you can afford to do it, buying multiple sizes of the same style of swimsuit is a great way to ensure you'll get your piece on the first go — especially if you're a last-minute shopper! If doing so, make sure that you're buying from a store that offers free returns and allows returns on swimwear (with tags still attached, of course). Orders from many stores, including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, come with prepaid returns labels which means you don't have to front the postage fees, while others, like 6pm, require you to pay the returns postage fee initially, but you will be refunded once the returns are processed. Check out each stores' refunds and returns policy before stocking up your cart.

Prime swimsuit shoppers are in luck if trying on multiple sizes is their game plan. Recently, Amazon announced Prime Wardrobe — a soon-to-be-launched retail service that allows its members to order three or more apparel, shoe, or jewelry items and only pay for the ones you choose to keep upon arrival. Although no official launch date has been announced, it's a great option for those who can hold off on their swimsuit purchases a little longer. Members can stay in the know and request notification upon Prime Wardrobe's launch on this page.

DO: Work With Flattering Styles

If you're feeling less than confident in shopping for a swimsuit that will fit you and look good, know that there are countless tips and tricks to consider to help find the right pieces to accentuate all sizes and shapes. Of the countless style guides online, we think that this 2014 Huffington Post how-to pretty much nails all the tips and tricks you need to make the right purchase — whether you're big, small, or hiding cellulite.

DO: Shop For Your Needs

Swimsuit shoppers all have different needs, depending on whether your swimming laps in the pool or just sunbathing. Identifying what you need from your purchase is key so you can shop smart and avoid wasting time and money.

Designer stores will certainly satisfy the sartorially-inclined, but if you're working on your backstroke you may be looking for something stream-lined. For serious swimmers, we recommend the likes of Speedo and Swim Outlet that sell more durable one pieces that offer water resistance and increased muscle support. Both of these stores, as well as SolarTex, also offer specialized swimwear with increased UV protection. These pieces are a great option for those traveling to places with hot climates who may need extra coverage. By identifying your needs and then shopping online for your swimsuit, you're less likely to waste money on swimsuits that just don't suit your needs.

SEE ALSO: Sun, Sea & Savings: How to Buy 6 Beach Essentials on a Budget

DO: Shop Around for the Best Price

Although summertime won't be the best time of the year to shop for new swimsuits, we have seen strong discounts on popular brands in the past. Last summer, it was Speedo that impressed most with an Editor's Choice-worthy buy one, get one free offer on all outlet items. Abercrombie & Fitch is also worth your attention as it cut an extra 70% off swimwear twice during last summer, which knocked the price of separates to as low as $7.

Designer swimwear will always cost less at the likes of 6pm and Spring too, so consider perusing their shelves before hitting big brand stores. Finally, it goes without saying that Amazon will match and undercut prices across the web at any opportunity, so we recommend you keep a close eye on its daily deal section — as recently as last month, it knocked 50% off over 80 styles.

DO: Check for Coupons

Being in the business of cutting down costs, we will encourage you to, not just shop around, but always check for coupon codes to drop prices at swimsuit-filled stores. Stores like the Gap, Lands' End, and Victoria's Secret frequently tout sitewide coupon offers that can land you all-time lows, even on brand new stock. Not only could you cut down prices on stylish pieces, but you might just qualify for free shipping, or even bag some freebies with your purchases depending on the day — Victoria's Secret, for example, have previously given away gifts of towels or tote bags with select purchases!

DON'T: Buy Items on Final Sale

If you're browsing the virtual sale section and notice that a swimsuit is marked as final sale, this means that it can not be returned for refund or exchange. No matter how confident you are in the size fitting or in the style suiting your shape, we recommend that when purchasing something as form-fitting as swimwear, that you only ever opt for an item that could be returned if needed.

Always double-check the returns policies on swimwear at your chosen store as some outlets may refuse returns of swimwear for hygiene reasons. If your bikini bottoms or one-piece comes with a hygiene tape in place, do not remove this before trying your piece on as it can mean returns will no longer be accepted.

SEE ALSO: Avoid the Thrift Store: 10 Things You Should Never Buy Used

DON'T: Wish Yourself Skinnier and Buy Smaller

It's sometimes hard to not want to wish yourself skinny in time for summer, especially when you're swamped with images of the "perfect beach body" in every magazine you read and Instagram post you like. But, don't make yourself promises to diet and order a swimsuit that is intentionally two sizes too small. You'll not only give your confidence a knock when it comes to packing, but you'll waste money. Know that there's no such thing as "the perfect beach body" and instead, read up on what style can best flatter your body shape.

Many stores are already offering great discounts on swimsuits, so make sure to bookmark this page if you're in the market for some beach-friendly ensembles.

Readers, what are your dos and don'ts when buying swimsuits online? Where are your favorite spots to shop swimwear? Let us know in the comments below!

Content Editor

A former Fashion Editor and Boggle champion, Donna Doyle spends her time writing for DealNews, re-reading Harry Potter, and living in denial.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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