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Modest Swim Dress to Wear Over Scuba Skins

Updated on January 1, 2014

I had bought a cheaply made muslim woman's swimsuit that had a top sized for a little girl so I went to find some fabric to sew up a new top.

I was in a fabric store at the time to buy fleece to make scarves for Seattle's Warm for Winter campaign to donate to the homeless when my thoughts turned to my swimsuit.

It was at the tail end of Summer

and a few swimsuit fabrics caught my eye on the sale tables. Regular swim fabric wouldn't work because, as my suit's story card read, a special lightweight woven fabric was required for the vest part.

I wanted fabric that hangs loose and sheds water as the wearer steps out of the pool, and the nature of knit fabric is that the threads loop up and down and around, holding the water in.

But woven threads go sideways and half

of them run up and down for draining swim water off the fabric. It takes a special fabric to swiftly drain the water - or a woman who wants to retain her modesty while swimming will end up with her swim vest clinging as she climbs a pool ladder.

I found some silky fabric that might

make up into a swim vest, checked it out with the fabric clerk and made my purchase. Sewing a vest on a serger is easy and fast. I'm not a particularly accomplished serger, but I was much less demanding of myself to produce a professional quality swim garment in this swim vest, so a little loop in the edge stitching didn't bother me at all. My swim vest story continues below these photographs of the swimsuit I bought.

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My swimsuit showing the swim vest and leggings and bodysuit. It was my mistake that I bought the cheapest style available.Cap style that came with my swimsuit. I prefer the cap style from Amazon featured here.
My swimsuit showing the swim vest and leggings and bodysuit. It was my mistake that I bought the cheapest style available.
My swimsuit showing the swim vest and leggings and bodysuit. It was my mistake that I bought the cheapest style available.
Cap style that came with my swimsuit. I prefer the cap style from Amazon featured here.
Cap style that came with my swimsuit. I prefer the cap style from Amazon featured here.

I cut it extra-long, sewed it up in a flash

on my serger, only hand hemming the bottom. I made and serged only one side vent, making it quite long so it would help keep the vest from bunching up around my waist as I swam. Now I had a swimsuit ready for use. Since my suite had a swimming pool attached it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try out my new suit.

But it turned out that I was too wary of vacationers, kids and families who might be discriminatory about this women looking like a scuba diver out of her territory, so the suit sat in my drawer for another year.

My homemade swim vest suffices

but that's all. It's not made of the special water resistant fabric one finds in the swimsuits found on Amazon shown here and so it is really a nuisance, in that it clings a bit too much.

My remedy is to buy a swim dress that goes well with my old swimsuit parts - the leggings and the longsleeve bodysuit. Then I can set the old vest aside, or donate it, or even hem it nicely and wear it as a tunic with jeans. I've not made up my mind between these two models, but I'm sure to get one of them when I'm ready for class again.

NeoSport Full Body Sports Skins - Diving, Snorkeling & Swimming
NeoSport Full Body Sports Skins - Diving, Snorkeling & Swimming

I would combine this skin with the dress above because it's so lightweight. Only one garment to get into, with a front zipper.

The straps that go under the foot keep the legs covered in this suit that's designed for scuba divers.

Modestsea Women's Head/Neck Cover-One Size-Black
Modestsea Women's Head/Neck Cover-One Size-Black

I like this head cover especially because of the billed cap that protects the eyes from the sun's glare.

I would choose the green to match the top swim dress or white to keep outdoor sun off my head.


At last I signed up at a park pool and actually donned my outfit in the dressing room. When I walked out of the shower room onto the pool deck I felt like I glowed neon blue, and hurried to submerge.

In that exercise class filled with middle-aged and older women who really did look, but thankfully --- not with lust!. No trepidations remained once I did my first swim strokes in that pool. The ladies were friendly and we plunged through those waters as if we were advancing on a beach for an afternoon of surfing.

Likely my style of hijabi swimming outfit made me stand out less because I dispensed with the swimming cap scarf that came with the swimsuit package I had received. That tiny cap portion appeared right-sized for a tot, hardly large enough to contain my shoulder-length hair.

Once wet my hairstyle resembled nothing so much as a wet dreary oxen standing out in the rain. That mental image freed me up to swim at the pool. Before long these swimming periods took hold of my life and I'd arrive early each session to get in a few laps of actual swimming. Swimming once again resulted in an invigorating weekly exercise that I could only describe as Heavenly!

Do you swim and do you consider modesty when buying a swimsuit?


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Congrats on going back to swimming! It can definitely be daunting finding the right swimwear. I find that it brings out anxiousness in so many people and all our body conscious issues. Those least catered for are older people, plus size, tall/petite and anyone who like yourself wants modest/more coverage. A lot of people from various cultural and religious or just plain old fashioned backgrounds like more coverage. I've only worn swimwear 4-5 times in my teen-adult life past 12 years old and every time someone's wanted me to go swimming they've had to ask me months in advance due to my reticience and difficulty in finding swimwear. I looked at some of the Muslim catered websites (I'm not Muslim but what the hey) but they were a bit too much coverage and hard work to wear and swim in and most of the modern 'swim dresses' are a joke. They don't cover anything, just a tiny frill/ruffle added in a place that doesn't even reach the hips/upper thighs properly. If I had it my way I'd just go swimming like a guy with big/long shorts and some even wear t-shirts. I don't mind tankinis but their shorts aren't shorts, just glorified hot pants. Excellent work on making your own!

    • lesliesinclair profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @GrammieOlivia: I find it heartening to learn that many young people are returning to a more modest style of dressing of their own volition too.

    • takkhisa profile image


      5 years ago

      I used to swim a lot, still do it with my friends. I can't wait for summer. :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I love swimming, but sadly haven't done much lately.......modesty? you bet! I'm there to swim not to be gawked at!

    • lesliesinclair profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @sousababy: Oh, doesn't long hair have its benefits and drawbacks! Age has a way of helping speed up the process since there's more room between strands. I want to swim outside next Summer and my make-do swim vest has been a real disappointment so I'm glad there are some new solutions that look better for tall women.

    • sousababy profile image


      5 years ago

      I used to swim a lot (not so much lately - it's been pretty cold here in Canada and my hair takes a long time to dry - I tend to get ear aches in wintertime when I swim). I love cover ups - and I'm glad you've found something you are comfortable in. It's great exercise. Wishing you and yours all the best for 2014, R


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