Types of Swimsuits
From the modest one-pieces of the 1920s to the advent of the bikini in the 1940s, women's swimsuits have evolved dramatically. And fortunately, they're a lot more flattering than they used to be.
Nowadays, the options are endless. But where do you start when choosing the right swimsuit? We're here to help. This guide not only walks you through the most common types of swimsuits—from tops to bottoms to one-pieces—but it also helps you choose the best one for your body shape.
Similar to a standard tube top, a bandeau is typically made from one piece of fabric that wraps snugly around your chest. Some do provide underwire support, but this style is usually more comfortable for those who are less busty, including rectangle and pear body shapes.
This asymmetrical style adds flair to an otherwise straightforward bikini. It generally provides more support than the bandeau, but still may not be enough for some. Because it draws attention to the upper body, it's especially flattering on pear shapes.
Halter tops come in various cuts but are always secured around the neck with ties or a clasp. This allows for greater breast support and often translates to more coverage, which makes the style a great option for hourglass and apple body shapes.
Pro tip: a tie-style halter top will provide more control over lift.
The triangle bikini top—nicknamed the "trikini"—gets its name from the two triangle-shaped pieces of fabric that cover each breast. It's arguably the classic silhouette that comes to mind when you hear the word bikini and is flattering on almost all body shapes.
If maximum breast support is your end goal, a bikini top with underwire is the way to go. This swimsuit style mimics traditional bras in silhouette, and many can even be purchased according to your cup size.
A longline bikini top is named for its slightly longer length compared to other options. Think of it as the swimwear version of the crop top. Not only does it offer an unexpected twist on the traditional bikini, but it also provides a little more coverage and often more support. It's a flattering choice for all figures, but especially pear and rectangle shapes who want to draw the eye up.
The tankini provides a flattering middle ground between a traditional bikini top and one-piece swimsuit. Some extend all the way to your bikini bottoms to give the illusion of a one-piece, while others are slightly shorter. This style works brilliantly for those who want to conceal their stomach but prefer the flexibility of a two-piece.
Remove the straps from a tankini and you'll get the bandini, a style that allows the wearer to show just a little more skin. Some bandinis have built-in support underneath, which is the way to go if you're an apple, hourglass, or inverted triangle shape.
High-waist swimsuit bottoms sit higher on your abdomen than traditional bikini bottoms. Some hit right at the belly button or above it, and some even go as high as just under your bust. This style is flattering on all body types, but can be especially flattering on hourglass and apple figures since it highlights the smallest part of your waist.
Not to be confused with a high waist, the high-cut bikini gets its name for how high it sits on your hip bones. This silhouette dramatically elongates the leg, which is flattering to all shapes but particularly so on petite figures.
As the name implies, hipster bikini bottoms feature a wide band that sits right on your hips. They provide medium coverage across your backside and can either cut across your abdomen or feature a scoop design that shows more skin. It's ideal for hourglass, inverted triangle, and rectangle shapes.
Take a pair of traditional shorts and make them shorter and more form-fitting, and you'll get the boyshort bikini bottom. Some feature higher waists compared to others, but typically they cut off at the upper thigh. This style is very flattering on rectangle shapes. They can also come in handy for water sports since they provide extra coverage.
Cheeky bikini bottoms are very similar to the hipster, only they reveal a bit more skin at the front and back. This effect can help elongate your legs, making it ideal for petite body shapes. It's also a great option if you want to show off your backside.
Also known as a "string bikini," this style simply refers to the ties used to secure the suit. It's available in various degrees of coverage and allows the wearer to adjust tightness and size. This flexibility makes it perfect for all body shapes.
Sometimes referred to as a Brazilian style swimsuit bottom, the thong features a narrow band of vertical fabric that covers a small portion of your butt. It's preferred by those who want to show off their backside, but also comes in handy if you want to prevent tan lines. The extreme version of this is a G-string bikini.
Also called a "sports suit," the classic one-piece is a straightforward swimsuit with coverage across the midsection and backside and two straps. It's a great go-to for all body shapes.
A one-shoulder suit provides an unexpected twist with the removal of one shoulder. This asymmetry draws the eyes up top, making it particularly flattering on pear shapes.
A plunging neckline provides a flattering and unexpected juxtaposition of modest and sexy. The style can be especially flattering on hourglass shapes, but it's a great way to show off cleavage in general.
Skirted one-piece suits add an additional, skirt-like layer of fabric to a traditional onepiece style. This extra coverage is ideal for those who want to conceal their butt or thighs, and it can also help create more symmetry for inverted triangle figures.
This term refers to the technique of gathering fabric for a ruffled or pleated look. Not only does this add a textural element to a swimsuit, but it also has a flattering and slimming effect. Typically, ruching is found on the front mid-section or sides of a one-piece suit.
Similar to the bandeau tankini, a bandeau one-piece is a strapless swimsuit that provides full torso and backside coverage. Though it's flattering on all figures, it's especially ideal for rectangle and pear shapes who aren't as concerned with breast support.
If a traditional bikini feels too revealing, a one-piece with flattering and eye-catching cutouts might be more your speed. The variety of styles allows you to choose a suit that covers and shows off preferred areas. For instance, maybe the cutout falls on the abdomen, at the chest, or on the sides. Some cut-out suits also feature mesh or netting for more coverage.