“It started with a pool party,” said Joyann King of her decision to start the lingerie-inspired, solutions-based swimwear brand Stylest.
“There’s this gorgeous stylish woman in the pool and she’s got on this amazing swimsuit and our friend says to her, ‘Honey your bra’s sticking out of your swimsuit.’ I stopped in my tracks and said, ‘Wait a minute, you’re wearing a bra under your swimsuit,’ and she’s like, ‘Oh yeah, this has been my secret for the last 10 years.’ She said, ‘Ever since I had my children it gave me that lifted look that I wanted and helped me feel super confident in my swimsuits,'” King continued.
“At the time I had had a baby a few years ago and I was sitting there in this dopey black bathing suit that was $500 and it wasn’t really doing me any favors nor was it reflective of my style. I thought this is such an incredible idea — the idea of wearing a bra under your bathing suit so you have the freedom to wear any suit that you want.”
Eighteen months later, King has left her role as executive director of editorial business development for Town & Country and Elle Decor (prior to that she was the longtime executive editorial editor of Bazaar’s web site and thought to have been at one time a contender to succeed former editor in chief Glenda Bailey) and is on Thursday launching Stylest.
Stylest’s ‘aqualingerie’ takes the sculpting of shapewear and the function of lingerie to create a foundational layer to wear under your swimsuit or even on its own. Pieces include the six-way convertible swim bra and the fully-boosted sculpting bodysuit for an all-in-one solution. Then there’s the brand’s collection of high-compression swimsuits, designed to be worn over aqualingerie, as well as the styled pieces such as an SPF-friendly swim cardigan and swim sarong.
King’s two cofounders are Alia Yahia-Bosworth and Chrissy McCurdy. Yahia-Bosworth got her start in fashion as a style editor for Vanity Fair and Elle, before becoming the chief style and marketing director at Ann Taylor Loft. McCurdy, meanwhile, spent a decade on Ralph Lauren’s women’s buying team, before joining Saks Fifth Avenue to buy for the women’s luxury collections. Most recently, she was a senior account executive at Komar, a sleepwear and intimate apparel manufacturer. She was also the woman wearing the bra underneath her swimsuit at the pool party.
“After having my son, I put a bra on to give myself some confidence in swimsuits, it was my hidden secret. I was at that point in my life where I wasn’t going to the grocery store without a bra on, so why wouldn’t I be wearing one by the pool? Stylest’s swim bras are engineered specifically for water and designed to go under swimsuits. Our construction has muscle support that helps lift and shape the bust so you can run after your kids and still look great,” said McCurdy.
The brand, which has been funded by angel investments, will launch as direct-to-consumer, but King added that wholesale is on the horizon as is the possibility of branching out of swim into other categories. There will also be pop-ups in Dallas and Charleston.
“While we’re starting in swimwear and we’re very focused on our swim system I think we see Stylest as a wardrobe revolution and we’ll continue to look for ways to simplify her wardrobe through the lens of systems,” she said.
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