If you’re anything like me, there’s a struggle between what will be most comfortable on a boat — my worn Speedo, flip-flops, a big T-shirt and a floppy hat—and what will look good. Being stylish on the water is all about striking that balance between what will look great, wet or dry, and what will allow you to be as comfy as you want. We caught up with Upper Keys-based swimwear designer, Kelsey Caputo, whose Kadan swimwear has taken off in the last year, and Miami-based designer Becca McCharen-Tran, whose Chromat label has rocked runways at Miami Swim Week. “Growing up in the Florida Keys and traveling to many Caribbean islands, I have lived in a bikini,” said Caputo. “Creating this lifestyle brand has allowed me to share my lifestyle with women around the world.” Caputo’s line features cute, functional bikinis that aim to make women feel beautiful and comfortable.

McCharen-Tran said that moving to Miami has helped her grow as a designer: “Being here has changed my perspective on swimwear, because I swim every single day,” she said. Her mission is about “empowering women and femmes and non-binary people.” She embraces classic inspirations — the bright red lifeguard suit, the wet T-shirt — and flips them on their heads. 

Both women focus on functionality, being active and having fun. Below are their expert tips on taking fashion to the high seas. “Along with a lifestyle of boating and fishing comes sunburn. I never go a day without my Compass Cay crop top ($70) to cover my shoulders,” says Caputo. “It’s a cute top to layer over a bikini.” 

McCharen-Tran often designs active swim silhouettes: think zippers or lifeguard looks, like this Chromat Delta X Suit in neon lava. ($89)

“Tie it up,” says Caputo, “With the hot temperatures and windy boat rides, I always end up with my hair tied up to go with my Kadan Bimini tie top.” ($74) www.kadanswimwear.com

Caputo recommends Sun Bum chapstick ($3.99) for protecting your lips (I also love Sun Bum hair products, like the detangler and heat protector), available at numerous retailers in the Keys, including CVS drug stores. 

Unlikely layering: McCharen-Tran may sport a light windbreaker over a bandeau top, for added protection in the case of inclement weather. Ones like this Patagonia Empress windbreaker ($74) are available at dive shops like Divers Direct.

And always, lots of sturdy sunglasses. Schwood sunglasses ($149) like this pair — and more affordable styles — are available from local retailer The Green Pineapple.

If you would like to have the Weekly delivered to your mailbox or inbox along with our daily news blast, please subscribe here.

Sarah Thomas is the Editor of Key West Weekly and moved down from her second-favorite island, Manhattan. She has worn many hats: publicist, tour guide, bartender, teacher, and cat wrangler, but this one seems to fit the best.