Since debuting her swimwear line in 1999, Melissa Odabash continues to be the go-to summertime designer for models and actresses alike, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss. Most recently, the former model’s designs could also be seen on the big screen, as Jennifer Lawerence donned one of her pieces in last year’s Passengers. When it comes to her own warm weather styles rules, Odabash has some very strict personal opinions: no to heels at the beach, yes to a freezing cold shower before sporting a swimsuit. For more on the designer’s summer do’s and don’ts, read on.
What is your favorite beach?
There is a resort located on the South Andros Island of the Bahamas called Tiamo. It reminds me of the Maldives. They have a secluded beach there that is something out of a postcard- When you arrive, you feel like you are in heaven, it’s unbelievable. You can really switch off as you can only access this resort by boat- it’s private and you are completely un-disturbed.
What is your biggest beach tip?
Before hitting the beach take a freezing cold shower, this tightens everything making you look instantly more toned. Ensure you find yourself an amazing self-tanning brand—the product has evolved so much which means you get a gorgeous glow nowadays. I love Vita Liberata.
What is your favorite thing to do pre- and post- beach?
I love waking up in the morning and enjoying a green juice after a morning jog along the boardwalk. Then after a long day at the beach, I’ll throw on a pair of roller blades, Honolua suit, and a pair of denim shorts, and glide a long at sunset. I love being outside when I am by the beach.
Do you prefer the pool or the beach?
Beach any day. I love to swim in the ocean and leave salt water on my hair and skin; it’s perfect for my highlights.
What do you always bring to the beach?
I always make sure I have a terrific book to read because it’s one of the only occasions I get to enjoy one. The best sunblock ever by Dr. Rita Rakus. I don’t usually sunbathe and I am very much into protecting my skin from the sun. I also started using Show protective hair oil to protect my highlights from the sun. Finally, where would I be without accessories? I always have a beach hat like my Elle Cowboy hat, and pair of my favorite Tom Ford sunglasses to finish off my look. I also tend to put a couple of dry bikinis in one of my waterproof lined beach totes since I hate sitting in a wet bikini if I go off to lunch.
How does your favorite beach inspire your work?
I am always traveling, so I find that I am inspired by all the beautiful destinations. My favorite thing to do while I am away is to take note of what women are wearing. Although Tiamo resorts private beach is my favorite, I love to watch women on the beaches of the Maldives as they are super chic. I get a glimpse of various takes on beach glamour from all over the world. It is interesting to see what women from diverse cultures wear, however there are also faux pas on the beach that drive me crazy.
How would you style your swimsuit from the beach to a night out?
Most of my one pieces could be worn as bodysuits (I love my Seychelles or Ibiza suits for this look), so stick a pair of jeans, heels, and white blazer in your beach bag and you are set.
What is your ultimate do and don’t at the beach?
Don’t wear saggy bottoms! I understand women feel the need to wear a larger size so they don’t get muffin tops, however this is worsened when they get in the sea and the bottoms look too large and just start sagging. There is a common misconception that if they go up a size it will hide more, but it actually does the opposite and makes you look bigger! Skin is a neutral color so anything you wear on top will instant draw more attention, if you go too big it will have the adverse effect.
I think for some reason a lot of women go wrong and they get confused with what style they should wear. I was just in Sardinia and I saw so many fit women wearing briefs that were too big, which then took away from their figure. The top and bottom were completely out of proportion. Women need to choose swimwear that fits tight to the body with no gaps; if you want to hide or create a waist, look for ruching in the middle of the swimsuit that holds you in.
And don’t over-accessorize on the beach—no high heels! Remember, less is more. I think realistically: sunglasses, hat, and a metallic or neutral tone sandal are perfect.
Which swimsuit reference has influenced you most?
My go-to reference has always been vintage James Bond films. Ursula Andress has been on my inspiration board for years. Sexy styles like my Dominica belted suit was designed for the modern-day Bond Girl.
In reference to movies, I’m very lucky to have had so many of my designs featured on the big screen. I designed all the swimwear worn by Naomi Watts for the movie Diana, and I had the opportunity to recreate all the iconic looks that the late Princess of Wales wore. More recently, Jennifer Lawrence wore my Zuma style in the movie Passengers, which we can’t seem to keep in stock!
What is your favorite memory at the beach?
My family went every summer to Bayhead Beach, New Jersey, and I remember every year as a treat going to Seaside Heights amusement park. We are very close-knit and some of my favorite memories are of us together at the beach.
What are you reading this summer?
I love autobiographies, so I usually just pick up some at the airport when traveling. Also obsessed with reading on health and wellness.
What are three songs on your summer playlist?
Elton John –”Wonderful Crazy Night” by Elton John, “Lose My Number” by James Blunt,” and anything that Lady Gaga puts out.
Watch all of W’s top videos, here:
The Ultimate Guide to Summer’s Best Swimsuits
Headed to the south of France? Pack this Jacquemus bikini, as seen on the runway at his Summer 2019 show.
Buy now: Jacquemus bikini set, $240, modaoperandi.com.
Whether you’re headed to the tropics or Ibiza, a touch of crochet is always a good idea. This Anjuna bikini is reversible.
Buy now: Anjuna bikimi, $470, netaporter.com.
This Brazilian swimwear brand’s fun palm prints are just what you need for your next island getaway.
Buy now: Bromeliario Swimwear maillot, $99, shop.bromeliario.com
Onia has quickly become one of the most popular swimwear labels (the brand is worn by Jonas Brothers and their significant others, and is a blogger favorite thanks to a successful collaboration with Danielle Bernstein). We love this simple summery sketch on Onia’s classic silhouette one-piece.
Buy now: Onia printed one-piece, $195, onia.com.
No matter what locale you plan to visit this summer, you can’t go wrong with packing this chic Hermès one-shoulder maillot. We love this strategically placed cut-out, too.
Buy now: Hermès one-piece swimsuit, $530, hermes.com.
We love this Cali Dreaming swimsuit’s boyish neckline, and the classic pairing of peachy nude and navy.
Buy now: Cali Dreaming maillot, $245, goop.com.
This minimalist bikini shows just the right amount of skin. Wear in the city with a high-waist pant or on a sandy beach of your choosing.
Buy now: ACK bikini, $170, [farfetch.com](https://www.farfetch.com/shopping/women/ack-filo-bikini-item-13539721.aspx?storeid=9359).
A sunny marigold bathing suit is sure to get you into vacation mode. Packing this double-strap Jade Swim one-piece for your next trip to southern Italy.
Buy now: Jade one-piece swimsuit, $220, jadeswim.com.
Rochelle Sara’s minimalist-meets-sporty cuts are sure to be a winner amongst those who love to hit the waves. We especially love this suit in nude.
Buy now: Rochelle Sara bikini, $330, farfetch.com.
Matteau has become the minimalist fashion lover’s favorite swimwear label. This season our favorite silhouette is a surf-inspired cropped swim top paired with a bikini bottom.
Buy now: Matteau sleeve sun tee and bikini bottom set, $342, farfetch.com.
There is no slowing down the gingham swimwear trend, but we especially love Miu Miu’s extra-sweet take on the look.
Buy now: Miu Miu gingham bikini, $595, farfetch.com.
It feels like this burgeoning label is everywhere you turn, and you’d be right. With a charming new New York City store, LoveShackFancy is for the girl who loves Brock Collection but is a little more bohemian.
Buy now: LoveShackFancy swimsuit, $270, intermixonline.com.
She Made Me is known for their uber-feminine crochet swimwear, but this season, with the addition of floral swim separates, their collection is even more covetable.
Buy now: She Made Me bikini, $280, farfetch.com.
What’s sweeter than a core Marysia swim silhouette done up in gingham, with a pink flower on top? Marysia’s collection is a girly girl’s go-to, never more so than this season.
Buy now: Marysia maillot, $460, netaporter.com.
The beloved contemporary brand launched swimwear this year, complete with a jet-set trip with some of the label’s favorite influencers, like Evangelie Smyrniotaki. Each swim separate is designed to pair easily with ready-to-wear. We love a bikini top that pulls double duty.
Buy now: Self-Portrait bikini top, $235, [self-portrait-studio.com] (https://www.self-portrait-studio.com/swimwear/floral-printed-draped-bikini-top](https://www.self-portrait-studio.com/swimwear/floral-printed-draped-bikini-top) and matching bottom, $79, self-portrait-studio.com.
Fans of Zimmermann’s girly frocks and swimwear need not worry that the brand is abandoning their pretty prints. But we must admit, this solid color minimal one-piece is a welcome addition to the Zimmermann offerings.
Buy now: Zimmermann strapless swimsuit, $331, farfetch.com.
Known for their sleek and clean designs, Haight bathing suits also offer such a flattering fit. Wear this one poolside or swimming in the ocean, or toss a skirt and heels and head out for seaside dinner.
Buy now: Haight one-piece maillot, $212, modaoperandi.com.
For a sporty-sleek take on swimwear, Skin’s deep red one-piece is a must-have.
Buy now: Skin one-piece bathing suit, $265, netaporter.com.
This low-cut v-neck swimsuit from Gucci is perfect for 4th of July weekend. We love the chic oversized tie at the hip.
Buy now: Gucci swimsuit, $790, farfetch.com.
Chic and sustainable, Mara Hoffman’s maillot is a classic. The sweet ties at the shoulders are just the cherry on top.
Buy now: Mara Hoffman one-piece swim, $250, goop.com.
Little hardware details are what makes this summer’s swimsuits feel so special. We especially love Lisa Marie Fernandez’s tortoise shell buttons and belt on this high-waist bikini.
Buy now: Lisa Marie Fernandez bikini, $395, fwrd.com.