Finding swimwear that makes you feel dapper is not easy for most butches and tomboys. Each edition in this series will feature a different stylish swimsuit and accompanying gear to keep you feeling confident at the beach, lake, or pool.
This edition is inspired by those summer days from childhood with a little nod in the color scheme to the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Remember when you were a teenager and your backyard was a world unto itself and all you needed was music, some water, a swimsuit, and some sunshine?
Lots of people might not be heading out to the pool, or spending a day at the lake, or heading to the shore, or staying classy at the beach this summer. But staying home doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. There’s no reason you can’t still have some fun in the sun, backyard style.
When I was 14/15 years old, I would grab whatever book I was reading (probably a murder mystery), my water bottle, and my Discman and head out to the backyard to my mom’s sun lounger. You remember the trifold kind with those thin plastic but stretchy round straps? I would spray some Sun-In in my hair kind of hoping it would give me Justin Timberlake circa ‘97 frosted ends and settle back for a hot afternoon of reading. That’s all I needed. I would sometimes look up from my book to watch birds circling the cornfield that bordered our backyard or lie back and watch tiny jets passing far overhead and dream about living somewhere more glamorous. But mostly I listened to teen pop and read and “worked on my tan.”
This edition is a 1990s nostalgia-tinged playful riff on hanging out as a teenager. Boombox for tunes – yep. Sports water bottle – check. Cheap plastic sunnies – of course. Nothing fancy. Silly and simple, this whole layout is intended to provoke a smile and serve as a reminder that things were simpler when you were young. What would happen if I tried to recreate the simplicity of hanging out in the backyard when I was a kid?
Here’s the lovely thing about backyard sunbathing: there’s no one to judge you. You can seriously relax because there aren’t a thousand other beachgoers assessing whether you are “a boy or a girl.” There’s no little kids sprinting past your towel and kicking sand into your face. There’s no macho group of guys blasting music and playing tackle football. Pull up a lounger, slip into your laziest slide sandals, and enjoy the freedom of escaping into your own backyard.
(Check out more butch swimsuit ideas in the round up of 20 butch swimsuits.)
Homech Inflatable Swimming Pool ($109). If you aren’t leaving your yard but you want to have some floating time an inflatable pool is your best option. This one is big enough for you and your sweetie. That’s about it. But that’s all you need right?
Freestyle Shark Classic Since ’81 Neon Watch ($60). My first watch when I was maybe 9 years old was a digital sports watch. Surely it was a Casio or Timex or some other regular folk brand. This Freestyle watch has fantastic 80s coloring and shark fins for heaven’s sake! It was basically born for this outfit. (More good summer watch ideas here.)
Joopin Retro Sunglasses ($13). Do you remember how freaking cool you felt the first time you wore sunglasses as a kid or teenager? It was a right of passage. Cheap sunglasses are perfect for a day of relaxing because you don’t have to worry about them. Low key is the name of the game. Plastic retro styling for the win.
Polar Bottle Sport ($11). This bottle is way, way better than the junky squeeze bottle I had in junior high. This one might actually keep your water cold. Hydration (the actual kind, not the metaphorical kind) is important. Drink some water if you’re out in the sun all day. This concludes the PSA portion of the program.
adidas Adissage Slide ($30). I was 15 when I got my first pair of sporty slides. I remember walking a few miles across town in these one day, not realizing that those rubbery little spikes would feel like torture devices after the first mile or so. That’s not the endorsement. What these slides are great for is slipping them on to shuffle out to the backyard where you can kick them off and hop in the pool. Water won’t wreck them. You don’t have to get toes into specific slots. And they aren’t flip flops. Anything but flip flops, guys.
Private Island Sport Tank Bra ($22). I’m a full tank kind of girl when it comes to swimswear. I just don’t feel comfortable with my midsection on display. But you know? In the comfort and privacy of my backyard, I feel like I would actually enjoy rocking this sports bra style swim top. This is as simple as it gets. No girly flower patterns. No cleavage boosting. No super low cut. I’m here for it.
MaaMgic Swim Trunks ($16). I. Love. Swim. Trunks. Love them. The first time I wore trunks was so freeing and affirming and wonderful that I’m sad I didn’t have a pair when I was 15 years old. That’s a lot of years of missing out on feeling comfortable. The more I wear swim trunks, the more I love the classic drawstring short short version of trunks. I want half of my thighs getting sunlight. These make me feel so confident. When I wear swim trunks, I feel like a boss. I think that’s what authenticity feels like.
LONPOO Bluetooth Boombox ($40). A boombox! Surely you guys remember how great it was to load one of these things up with about 5 pounds of the big batteries and take your music outside with you! This one looks like one I had way back when but has Bluetooth. So you know, if you still have your CD collection, well, first, go you. Wow. But also you can dig out those mix CDs of all your fave boyband jams and listen to them again. If you’re going the Bluetooth and streaming route, may I suggest making a Pandora station based on “…Baby One More Time?” Ever since I had the idea for this post, I’ve been late-90s pop jamming, and, I must say, this station just keeps bringing it. Britney, Backstreet, Christina, *NSYNC, Destiny’s Child, J-Lo, TLC, Spice Girls. If you are turning your too cool for pop nose up, c’mon man. This music is still fun. And it is like a time portal. I dare you to try it and not end up head bopping and singing along.
Folding Sun Lounger ($175 for a set of 2). This is the closest thing I could find to those amazing trifold contraptions that you had to crawl out of so you could fold the backrest down to the flat position. I’m a fan of being able to actually lounge back. A lawn chair simply will not suffice for sunbathing. First off, you can’t flip over and get your back in a lawn chair. This lounger looks like it’s got the goods.
Close to Spider Man by Ivan E. Coyote ($12). If I could time travel and go back and give my little teenage tomboy self anything, it would be a set of every book Ivan E. Coyote has ever written. My brain would have exploded to read these stories. When I read them now, they still make my younger past self feel not alone. They are hilarious and tearjerkers. They feel like the inside of my butch mind. I picked this collection specifically for the story “No Bikini” which is topical for a day sunbathing. It’s also so funny you will end up guffawing out loud. Please go read it. And then come back and laugh with me about the ending.
The thought of spending the holiday weekend inside staring at a screen makes my brain go numb. Many of us can’t get out to our favorite body of water this weekend, but I wanted to come up with a way to enjoy the same relaxing feeling of being poolside, only without actually going anywhere.
When I remembered how low key and simple my sunbathing time was when I was a kid, it felt like the perfect fit for this weekend. I wanted to capture that easy relaxation where the point was to just be outside enjoying the sun. And since my teen years are when I was best able to do that, I wanted to gently poke fun at my awkward teenage self while acknowledging that there is a lot to learn from the simplicity of those days.
(If you need more butch swimsuit ideas, check out our round up of 20 butch swimsuits.)