Guide: Men’s & Women’s Swimwear Styles

Guide: All The Different Men’s & Women’s Swimwear Styles

Thinking about treating yourself to some new swimwear, and want to get an overview of what all of your options are? Or trying to figure out which swim style will provide the support, fit, or figure-shaping that you’re on the lookout for? Then welcome to our comprehensive swimwear guide!

Women’s Swimwear Styles

One-Piece Swimsuits

Bandeau swimsuit

Bandeau swimsuit

Otherwise known as swimming costumes, one-piece bathing suits, maillots, or simply swimsuits, this style is exactly what the name suggests – a single garment that covers most of your torso. They’re perfect if you prefer a little more coverage, but there are also plenty of one-piece swimsuits out there with cut-outs or plunging necklines that will make the look a whole lot more daring.

A bandeau swimsuit is a fancy way of saying a strapless one. It’s a great choice for avoiding strap lines on your shoulders if you’re trying to tan, but less ideal for vigorous swimming since there’s a possibility it might slip down!

Halter swimsuit

Halter swimsuit

Instead of featuring the typical shoulder straps, a halter strap ties or fastens around the neck. On some halter swimsuits, the front goes all the way up to the neck (a ‘high neck swimsuit’).

A halter swimsuit can be a tad uncomfortable if you’re full-busted, as it puts the weight of your chest squarely on your neck, but it’s a popular fashion choice.

Shaping swimsuit

Shaping swimsuit

Our swimwear is typically the most-revealing clothing we’ll ever wear out in public, so it’s no surprise that some of us want a little extra help to feel confident in our figures.

Shaping swimsuits use the same techniques as standard shapewear – such as firmer fabrics and hidden panels – to flatten your tummy and sculpt your waist. Some shaping swimsuits also have ruching across the midriff, to subtly disguise small lumps and bumps.

Plunge swimsuit

Plunge swimsuit

Usually, a halter style, although it may have shoulder straps, a plunge swimsuit has an ultra-low, cleavage-flaunting neckline – possibly even be low enough to show off your navel!

Cupped swimsuit

Cupped swimsuit

Not just for the full-busted, cupped, or underwired swimsuits are an ideal choice for anyone who values support and bust shaping from their one-piece swimsuit, incorporating bra-style cups to lift and separate the breasts. Occasionally, the cups may be hidden away behind a smooth exterior for ‘secret’ support.

Monokini

Monokini

A monokini is the most revealing of all one-piece swimsuit styles. It gets its name thanks to its visual similarity to a bikini, but technically it’s a single garment. A monokini has almost-separated top and bottom halves, but they are joined together by a narrow strap or two.

Surfsuit

Surf suit

A surf suit is a long-sleeved swimsuit designed primarily with surfing and other water sports in mind. Sometimes made from a thicker fabric such as a scuba jersey, it provides added warmth for times you’ll be in the sea for an extended period, while the full shoulder and arm coverage protects against sunburn.

Bikinis

The name bikini refers to any two-piece swimsuit with minimal coverage – think of it like the swimwear version of a bra set. Although swimwear with separated top and bottom halves had existed to some degree for at least a decade prior, this style first gained mainstream popularity in the late 1940s to early 1950s after French designer Louis Réard ‘introduced’ the two-piece swimsuit design to the world, at the same timing coining the name “bikini”.

Halter bikini top

Halter bikini top

Halterneck bikinis, which tie or fasten around the neck, are incredibly popular (halter straps plus triangle cups are a classic combo). The halter straps gently draw the breasts inwards, boosting cleavage, while also leaving the shoulders strap-free for better tanning.

Bandeau bikini top

Bandeau bikini top

Another popular choice for achieving an even tan across your shoulders and décolletage is the bandeau, which, as a bandeau swimsuit, is a strapless top style. As in the picture, many bandeaus come with a detachable strap or two, so that you do have the option of something that will hold it in place better when you’re splashing about in the waves.

Underwired bikini top

Underwired bikini top

The best style for those after support that still shows lots of skin, an underwired bikini top often also uses bra-like seaming on the cups to help lift and shape the bust. And just like a bra, underwired bikinis typically have a wide, supportive band at the back, rather than the narrow string tie that some other bikinis have.

Crop bikini top

Crop bikini top

A crop top bikini offers more coverage than any of the other styles listed here. While it will still show off your midriff – hence the ‘cropped’ name – it comes up higher at the neck, and may even have sleeves. It also practically guarantees nothing is going to slip out of place if you dive into the pool or a big wave hits, so it’s a great choice for more athletic and active beach-goers.

One shoulder bikini top

One-shoulder bikini top

The one-shoulder bikini top is pretty self-explanatory – it only has one shoulder strap! Yes, this style can lead to some less than ideal tan lines, but the asymmetry does look very chic and modern. Worth it, we say.

Micro bikini top

Micro bikini top

A micro bikini top is a teeny-tiny, triangle-shaped style that covers the nipples but not much else. It’s definitely the most daring bikini top style out there!

Tie-side bikini bottoms

Tie-side bikini bottoms

True to their name, tie-side bikini bottoms fasten with a knot or bow at either side. They’re an incredibly popular swimwear style, not only because of their flirty and feminine look, but also because they can easily be adjusted for the perfect fit each time you wear them.

Shorty bikini bottoms

Shorty bikini bottoms

Otherwise known as a boyshort bikini bottom, this sporty style extends a little further down the hips or thighs than is typical. It’s a popular swimwear style for casual surfing, but anyone who likes an athletic look can appreciate this shape!

High waist bikini bottoms

High waist bikini bottoms

Naturally, high-waist bikini bottoms sit high on your waistline, usually just under or just over the navel. They offer fuller coverage and also give your swimwear a retro feel.

Skirted bikini bottoms

Skirted bikini bottoms

Another swimwear option for those who want a not-so-skimpy bikini, skirted swim bottoms combine a mini skirt with a traditional bikini brief below. In some styles, the skirt includes ties that can gather it up for an alternative look.

Thong bikini bottoms

Thong bikini bottoms

Not for the shy, thong bikini bottoms are simply that – a thong made from swimwear fabric. They range in style from a narrow g-string to Brazilian bottoms, which have more of a ‘cheeky’ cut with a bit more rear coverage (but still not a lot!).

Micro bikini bottoms

Micro bikini bottoms

Taking the thong bikini one step further are micro bikini bottoms, which are not only barely-there at the back, but have a tiny front section and narrow sides too.

Other Women’s Swimwear Styles

While one-piece bathing suits and bikinis may make up the vast majority of what you’ll see at the beach, they’re not the only swimwear options available to women. From styles made specifically with sport in mind to modest or vintage-style swimwear, here are some more garment shapes you may want to consider.

Tankini

Tankini

A tankini is half-way between a one-piece swimsuit and a bikini. It has two pieces, but the top part mostly or fully covers the tummy. It’s often shaped something like a tank top, hence the name. Tankinis are an especially popular choice among people who want to cover up their midriff but enjoy the comfort and flexibility that comes with wearing two pieces.

Swim dress

Swim dress

Not the same thing as a beach dress, a swim dress is one made from swimwear fabric and specifically designed to be gotten wet. They can be anywhere from mini to ankle length. Some people wear swim dresses for their coverage, while others simply like that they resemble vintage swimwear.

Burkini

Burkini

Designed especially as a modest swimwear option, burkinis cover the full body from neck to ankle, and may or may not be sold with a matching head covering. Typically, they include a tunic-like top half and leggings to wear below, but some burkinis have a much looser fit than others including loose trouser bottoms.

Rashguard

Rashguard

Looking like a long-sleeved t-shirt made out of swimwear fabric, a rashguard is, like a surf suit, designed primarily to provide warmth and sun-protection during water sports.

Men’s Swimwear Styles

Men, it seems, have far less choice when it comes to their swimwear than women do – but there are still quite a few options for them to pick from, mostly revolving around how long and/or tight they want the leg to be.

Swim trunks

Swim trunks

By far the most common swimwear choice for men, swim trunks (also known as swim shorts for obvious reasons) is loose shorts that have a special netting inside to keep things in place.

Tight swim shorts

Tight swim shorts

The name basically says it all. These alternative swim shorts are made from elasticated swim fabric that fits flush against the skin and may be worn as a streamlined alternative to swim trunks for competitive swimming.

Jammers

Jammers

Jammers are similar to tight-fitting swim shorts, only longer. Their form-fitting design reduces water resistance, making them another popular choice for serious swimmers.

Board shorts

Board shorts

Board shorts typically end around the knee and have a drawstring waist. They’re not simply a longer version of swim trunks, as there’s one key difference – most board shorts don’t have a netted lining inside, so despite the added coverage, there’s a little less security! Thanks to their loose fit, they’re a favorite of guys going for a cool and casual vibe.

Swim briefs

Swim briefs

Colloquially known as Speedos, after the brand that popularised them, swim briefs are small, tightly-fitted briefs that are most commonly worn for serious swimming where you don’t want to have excess fabric getting in the way or weighing you down – but it’s definitely not unheard of to see them at the beach or poolside too!

Rashguard

Rashguard

A rashguard or swim shirt may have long or short sleeves. Mostly, these are worn by people participating in water sports, for warmth and UV protection, but they’re also an option for men who want those things or simply some upper-body coverage for a casual beach trip.

We’d love to know, what’s your favorite swim style and why?

Comments
Vlad
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Wow! Never thought there is that much different swimwear styles. Great job!
Magda
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I prefer the Plunge swimsuit, it hides body issues and makes more accent on the shape. Great posting!
Tatjana
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Looks so good! I'm quite sure you got a regular customer just now! Never seen so many variations in one place. Looking forward to getting some of the suits soon!
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