Athleta Kiki Swim Dress Review

This flattering dress is a flexible workhorse for beach vacations.

Athleta Kiki Swim Dress Review

Price and Where to Buy Athleta Kiki Swim Dress: Full price $69 on (sale prices from $23)

Pros: This swim dress offers great sun coverage and a flattering fit. It’s ideal for both the beach and pool. When immersed in water, the dress maintains structure from the waist up (you’ll need bikini bottoms though) so you’re not exposed; out of the water, the dress dries as quickly as a swimsuit. It looks great; good enough to wear out and about as a sun dress. This just happens to be a sun dress that can easily weather a dip in the ocean.

Cons: It’s not great if your main purpose is swimming. Hanging out by the pool? Yes. Frolicking in the waves at the beach? Yes. Wading? Sure. But if you’re going to be doing laps, or taking a long swim to a idyllic island across the bay, you’re better off with a traditional swimsuit.

How Athleta Kiki Swim Dress Rates:

  • Usefulness: 9/10. This is a dress that works at the pool, in the pool, at the beach, out and about, and in restaurants. It’s not great for swimming laps, but it is the most versatile resort-wear we’ve tried out.
  • Value: 8/10. Even at its original price of $69, it’s comparable in price to both Athleta swimsuits and dresses. When it’s on sale (at press time, it was on sale starting at $23, depending on color), it’s an even better deal.
  • Durability: 8/10. It’s made of a material similar to what you’d expect in a swimsuit, which means it transitions well from wet to dry without stretching out.
  • Cool Factor: 9/10.  Ultra-flattering, comfortable, and incredibly adaptable. That’s cool.

Final Verdict: Disclaimer: I went into this product test not understanding how to properly use a swim dress. Was it a dress or a swimsuit?  The answer, I learned by bringing it along on a Hawaii vacation, was that it made transitioning between water and land activities easy; on the days I wore it I changed fewer times because, unless I was going for an extended swim, I was already wearing something appropriate for just about any beach vacation activity (including non-beach pursuits like shopping and light hiking).

(Photo: Athleta)

Editor’s Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and “cool factor.” Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

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