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Products: Amazon ; Background fatido/Getty Images

  • Value: 19/20
  • Functionality: 19/20
  • Quality: 16/20
  • Aesthetics: 18/20
  • Fit: 16/20
  • TOTAL: 88/100
Last year, in what felt like an incredibly bold move, I bought a $16 bikini with only 16 reviews from an Amazon retailer I’d never actually heard of. Sure, I’d spent less than 20 bucks, but it felt like a real gamble. Would it arrive and end up being large enough for only a toddler? Or a Barbie doll? Would it smell heavily of chemicals? As it turns out, it’s actually a really great swimsuit and my money was very well spent.

The Zaful bandeau bikini has since gone up by $3 to set you back a total of $19, but that’s still pretty damn cheap for a bathing suit I assumed was designer when I first spotted it. That initial sighting was on a friend’s Instagram where she wore it for a beach vacation in Miami. I loved it immediately for it’s tan enhancing color and simple but flattering cut, but knowing that my friend often has rather expensive taste I figured it was likely out of my price range and resigned myself to simply liking her photos and moving on. Apparently, however, I wasn’t the only person enamored with her swimwear. Enough people DM’d my friend about the suit that she decided to post where she got it: Amazon. To everyone’s surprise and delight, it was less than $20. She’d won the online swimwear lottery, and lucky for me, she was sharing the winnings with all the rest of us.

With a price tag that low I figured I had almost nothing to lose. So I decided to bite the bullet and try it out for myself. I ordered the neon orange color, which is currently sold out (fingers crossed for a restock), in a medium. One of the cons, and part of the reason why the price point is so low, is that you have to order the top and the bottom in one size. When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. The color reminded me of a creamsicle and was, thankfully, not as neon as I’d feared. The top had enough padding to avoid any, uh, nippy situations but not so much that I felt like a middle-schooler stuffing her bra.

As for the fit? It certainly wasn’t impeccable and couldn't quite compare to some of the more expensive swimwear I’ve worn—the bottoms didn't lay as flatly on my hips as I might have liked (they dug in just a bit) and the top wasn't super supportive (something those with a bigger chest might want to consider). I could’ve gotten the bottoms in a large, but again, for $19, I’ll happily take a snugger bottom. Plus, my Zaful suit came in a reusable waterproof pouch that I use to keep my wet bikini separate from the other belongings in my beach bag.

After a year of wearing this suit for dips in the pool and the ocean with a run through the washer after every wear, I have to say it continues to surprise me with how well it holds up. It hasn’t shrunk in the wash nor has it stretched out anywhere. I do think the color has faded some, but this is to be expected with any clothing, swimwear included, when you wear it primarily to sit out in direct sunlight. On the other hand, suntan lotion and chlorine haven’t caused any weird spotting or discoloration so the change in color has been pretty uniform across the fabric.

All in all, I’d say this cheap little bikini has more than surpassed my expectations and has definitely proven itself to be well worth the cost. As for this summer, my days spent my the water may be lessened due to Covid-19, but that hasn’t stopped me from loading my Amazon cart up with numerous other $19 Zaful bathing suits.

$19 at Amazon

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