Swimsuit Style Guide

Over the years, swimsuit styles have evolved tremendously. In Victorian times, women wore heavy wool swim dresses that almost covered their bodies completely. In modern times, many swimsuit styles leave very little to the imagination. If you are shopping for a new swimsuit this season, you will be pleased by the different styles, shapes and fabrics used in swimsuits today. Here’s our swimsuit style guide to help you find just the right suit for you. We hope this information will make your swimsuit shopping a little easier.

One-piece Swimsuits

If you prefer a little more coverage, a one-piece suit is a terrific option. One-piece swimsuits come in various styles, all derived from the shape of a leotard.

Maillot Swimsuit


In designer’s terms, a maillot is your traditional one-piece swimming suit. It normally features a scoop neck and two tank straps. The straps vary in thickness from a couple inches wide to thin spaghetti traps. Emerald Maillot from Figleaves

Halter Top Swimsuit

Halter Style

Similar to the maillot, the sexy halter style is a little more revealing. The back of this suit is open and the straps tie around the neck instead. This type of swimsuit often features a plunging neckline and the halter straps give your bust a little extra lift. Halter Swimsuit from Leoinisa

Racerback Swimsuit

Racer Back

This is the type of suit that you see on Olympic swimmers. The racer style back allows full movement of your arms. This is the perfect style for any competitive swimmers. Racer Back swimsuit from Nautica

Surplice Swimsuit


This swimsuit style feature a piece that drapes across the bust section sort of like a kimono. This helps to minimize the stomach area and draws a little more attention to the breasts. Surplice Swimsuit from Swimsuits for All

Bandeau Swimsuit


Both one piece and two piece suits can be bandeau style. Bandeau is a strapless style which the fabric can is pleated and gathered in the middle. Oftentimes, bandeau swimsuits offer detachable straps that you can attach in different manners – spaghetti, halter, criss-cross style. Bunny Basics Bandeaukini from ShopTheBunny

Boyleg Swimsuit

Boy Leg

Instead of high cut thighs, this swimsuit extends down little bit, giving the appearance of short shorts but in a one piece suit. This is a great style for women with a little heavier thighs. Godess Boyleg swimsuit from Beach Cafe

One Piece Thong


The thong swimsuit appears like a traditional one piece suit but features a thong back, which leaves the butt exposed. One piece thong from Ujena

Monokini Swimsuit


When the monokini was originally created, it was a swimsuit that left the breasts completely exposed. It wasn’t popular at all and evolved into a very revealing version of the one-piece suit. Basically the monokini is a one piece suit that the sides are nearly completely cut out, giving the appearance of a bikini that the top and bottom are connected with a thin strip of material. Halter Style Monokini from Flirt

Slingshot Swimwear


Also called the sling bikini or the suspender bikini, this is another very revealing one-piece swim suit. The bottoms resemble bikini bottoms but they have straps that come straight upward and cover the nipple area. The sides of the suit are completely open. The straps come over the shoulders where they connect into one section that extends downward, becoming a thong back. Slingshot Style Swimsuit from SexySwimwear


Swim Dress

On the other end of the spectrum is the swim dress. This one-piece swimming suit has a built in skirt that provides extra covers of your stomach, butt and upper thighs. It’s a common swimsuit style that is normally available in plus-sizes and maternity wear. Swimdress from Nautica


Standard Bikini Top

A standard bikini top is shaped very similar to a traditional bra. It features two cups (which can have underwire support) and straps that go over the shoulders and connect to the band across the back. Love Kills Bikini from Ed Hardy


Triangle Bikini Top

This is your traditional string bikini. It features a two triangle shaped pieces of fabric that cover the breasts. The triangles are connected with three strings. One string runs through the bottom of each triangle with the ends tying in the back to create the band. The other two strings come out of the top of each triangle and tie at the back of the neck. Triangle Bikini top from Swimspot


Halter Bikini Top

The halter bikini top features a plunging neckline and straps that tie around the back of the neck. This lifting top is great for women who want to appear as if they have bigger breasts. Halter Bikini Top with Buckle Detail from Flirt.


Bandeau Bikini Top

The bandeau top is one piece of fabric that stretches straight across the chest. This is a strapless style. The top is sometimes gathered in the middle. If you have larger breasts, this style of bikini top will minimize your bust line. Buckled Bandeau Bikini Top from Moda Star


Sports Bra Bikini Top

As the name says, this is a sports bra style top. It’s great for women who swim competitively, surf or play other water sports. It provides extra coverage and support. Sports Bra Bikini top from Swim Outlet



The tankini is a new twist on the classic bikini. This swimsuit style has been popular for the last four or five years and will continue to be so in 2008. Instead of a bikini top, this two-piece suit features a tank top instead. This is a great option for women who want the flexibility of a two piece suit without revealing their midsection. Tankini bikini top from Leonisa


Standard Bikini Bottom

The classic bikini bottom offers complete coverage of the groin and buttocks. The legs are cut high. This style is similar to a high-cut panty.
Standard Bikini Bottom from Flirt


String Bikini Bottom

The bottom half of a string bikini is similar to the top. The triangle front and triangle back are connected with a strip of fabric at the crotch. The bikini is tied at the hips with strings. String Bikini from Berrydog


French Cut Bikini Bottom

The French cut bikini bottom has a slightly higher waist than your classic bikini. It sits just below your waistline and has high-cut legs. French cut Bikini Bottom from Flirt


Hipster Bikini Bottom

The hipster or hiphugger is almost the opposite of French cut. It sits much lower on your hips and the legs are not cut as high.

Hiphugger bikini bottom from Leonisa


Boy Shorts

This style is popular in both swimsuits and panties. This bikini bottom resembles very short shorts. It gives women a little extra coverage of the upper thighs and hips. Boy shorts make the legs appear shorter, therefore it’s not suited for petites.

Boy Shorts from SwimSpot


Brief Bikini Bottom

This bikini bottom is more common in plus-size swimsuits. The brief cut sits just below the waist and the legs are not high cut.

Luxe Tiger Bikini Brief from Ed Hardy


Thong Bikini Bottom

The thong bikini offers full coverage in the front, but only a small strip of fabric in the rear. It’s very revealing but it’s very common on today’s beaches. Obviously, this suit isn’t the best for competitive swimming or water sports, but it’s very chic and fashionable. Thong Bikini from Leonisa


G String Bikini Bottom

Even more revealing than the thong, the G-String features merely a string in the back. This swimsuit leaves your entire butt exposed. G-String Bikini from Flirt


No matter what style of swimsuit you choose, consider both your body type and the location where you will be wearing it. Obviously the more revealing styles may not be appropriate at a family beach or pool. The most important factor, however, is your comfort. Not only should the suit fit well and be physically comfortable, you should also be confident and comfortable wearing it. Select a swimsuit style that you love and flaunt your assets this summer.

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