4 Essential Fashion Decisions for a Surfer


By Danielle Miller of SwellWomen.com

First, I want to give a shout out to Carter at Goofy Foot Surf School for inspiring today’s post. Carter was the group instructor during my surf and yoga vacation with SwellWomen. I can still hear him coaching me, “Paddle. Paddle. Up! Up!”

Jaws PeahiIt all started when the SwellWomen gals and I were walking back to the car after enjoying some post-surf smoothies. We had just finished a two hour surf lesson with Carter. We were all smiles. Still riding the wave of bliss learning to surf in paradise and looking forward to a relaxing afternoon by the pool. 

Carter was fishing through an assortment of sunglasses in his car. “Thank you!” “Great lesson!” “Aloha!” we all shouted as we walked by. 

Carter quickly swapped glasses once again. “Fashion decisions of a surfer” he huffed sarcastically. “Great day today. See you ladies tomorrow.”

Over the next week I tried to think like a true Maui surfer chick. What key pieces of clothing will make for a blissful surf session? What are the deciding factors in choosing what to wear while surfing? Here are the top fashion decisions surfers make before paddling out:


1. Sunglasses: Which shades to wear while surfing?

Having recently lost a pair of sunglasses surfing, let me start with my #1 tip for choosing sunglasses for surfing. Don’t wear shades you don’t want to lose

Lahaina Surf SpotThe best sunglasses for surfers are those with polarized lenses, a tight fitting strap, and the ability to float. Polarized lenses will help cut down glare. This is very important for spotting coral, rocks, or tropical fish below the surface of the water. If you’re surfing in Hawaii, the place where surfing was born, polarized lenses could give you a better chance of spotting a humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

The tight fitting strap is key to keeping your sunglasses on your head. Every surfer has taken a wipeout. The more secure the fit, the better the chances your glasses will stay on your head. In case things get gnarly and the sunglasses are whisked away, shades that can float will be easier to find. 

SeaSpecs have been the go-to sunglasses of SwellWomen guests for years now. They look great, fit comfortably, and, they float!


2. Rash Guard: Go long or go short?

cutback surfingSitting in the lineup with the rest of the gals on the surf and yoga vacation, we had a break between sets to chat. I was wearing my favorite long sleeve rash guard from Carve Designs and Shelly had opted for a short sleeve rash guard. We began talking about the benefits of each style. 

Short sleeve rash guards are great because they offer sun protection, without being cumbersome. Although, you’ll likely get a farmer’s tan if you’re surfing daily. The benefit of a long sleeve rash guard is simple. Coverage. The added coverage offers more protection from the sun and board rash. However, Chelsea brought up a great point about the longer sleeve complicating the paddling involved in surfing. 

The jury is still out on this one. It’s probably best to have one of each. Variety is the spice of life, right?


3. Board Shorts: To tie or not to tie?

After our surf lesson, the SwellWomen gals and I met a women with some pretty fashionable board shorts. They tied on the side! For the ladies this was a genius design move as the front tie can get uncomfortable while laying belly down on a surfboard.

But you don’t have to stop at the knee… Why not go for the ultimate in sun protection? Kiernan was sporting the neatest leggings during her SwellWomen vacation. They looked great for both surfing and yoga.

surfer girls


4. Swimsuit: Function or fashion?

Choosing a swimsuit with surfing in mind will change the way you look at a bikini. Tiny straps that leave nearly un-noticeable tan lines are unappealing while surfing. Popping up on your board while dropping in on a wave takes focus. Your swimsuit can quickly distract you if it’s not behaving the way it should. Instead, opt for a swimsuit with sturdy straps, good support, and a snug fit.

 Fashion Decisions for a Surfers - What to wear while surfing by @SwellWomen

Summer Swimsuit Giveaway!

This summer SwellWomen is teaming up with three amazing swimsuits designers. These companies design swimsuits with both surfing and women in mind. Even better? The women behind them are truly inspiring! 

Mi Ola: Seven years ago, Helena Fogarty attended a SwellWomen retreat that changed her life.  Helena is a New York fashionista who swapped her heels for flip flops and created Mi Ola. Sexy bikinis that stay on.

KEA: SwellWomen Alumni, Patricia Kwok, is launching KEA this summer.  The concept behind this urban surfwear line is “inspired by the city and made for the ocean.” KEA styles are minimal, sleek but also functional.

Sunsets Separates: Great brands like Sunset Separates are known to make bathing suits from the finest fabrics and are engineered to increase flexibility and strength. We enjoy and support bathing suits by Sunset Separates.

To celebrate a blissful summer, SwellWomen is giving away one of these surf-friendly swimsuits to three lucky winners! The contest is simple. We will randomly draw three names from the SwellWomen newsletter list. To enter to win one of these quality surf-friendly swimsuits, sign up for the SwellWomen newsletter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SwellWomen Surf Vacations – Maui, Hawaii

​11 Reasons You Should Never Vacation in Maui by @SwellWomen #findyourbliss #surf #yogaOur philosophy of life is Live bliss. Live Life. Live aloha. SwellWomen surf & yoga vacations are designed to help women re-energize, reconnect, and relax through the thrills of learning to surf in paradise. SwellCo-ed custom vacations are also available. Warm water temperature, the world’s best waves, and plenty of Aloha make Hawaii the BEST place on earth to attend a women’s surf vacation.

Find your bliss and join us for a surf vacation this September. Register today at SwellWomen.com and connect with us on Facebook at https://facebook.com/swellwomen


1 thought on “4 Essential Fashion Decisions for a Surfer”

Leave a Comment