Types of Swimsuits

By: Anika In’t Hout

It’s time for fun days of splashing in the pool or relaxing by the beach. To be summer-ready though, it helps to have a swimsuit that makes you feel comfortable and confident. But how do you know which swimsuit to buy? While you may be used to only wearing one-pieces or bikinis, there are actually so many types of swimsuits out there to try. By having so many options, it’s easy to feel a little unsure about what kind of swimsuit to buy. So here are the types of swimsuits, their benefits, their downsides, when they're best to wear and our advice on wearing them.  

Swimsuit types

One-piece

This tried-and-true classic swimsuit type has been around for a long time. Chances are, you’ve probably worn a one-piece at some point. Like it sounds, it’s one piece of clothing, usually with two straps. 

Benefits: It’s easy to wear, it’s versatile, it gives good coverage, and there are many types. 

Downsides: Ugh, going to the bathroom sucks when wearing one of these. You have to pull down the entire wet swimsuit and then put it back on again, which can get annoying. Also, sometimes they can be a little tight and uncomfortable. 

Best for: They’re good for anybody, no matter your size or shape. If you’re planning on doing some water sports or jumping on the diving board a lot, this swimsuit is a great choice because it’s secure, and you don’t have to worry about your top or bottoms flying off.

Our advice? Get one that makes you feel good. Sometimes one-pieces get a bad rep for being plain or boring, but from cute patterns to fun styles, there is so much variety that you can find a cute one that works for you. 

Bikini: 

Like the one-piece, you’ve probably heard of and maybe even worn a bikini before. They are tiny, two-piece swimsuits and are a pretty popular option for lots of women. 

Types: Even though the bikini is a type itself, it has many sub-types, which can be a little confusing. So here’s the full breakdown of all the bikini types:

Bikini tops:

  • Scoop: A top with a scoop neckline
  • Halter top: A top with straps that tie or fasten around your neck
  • Bandeau: It’s a long strapless piece of fabric. Picture a strapless bra or a thin tube top.  
  • Triangle: A small top with two triangles of fabric
  • Flounce: A top with ruffles and frills
  • Underwire: A top with an underwire for extra chest support 

    Bikini bottoms:

    • Classic: Bottoms that usually sit low on your hips
    • Cheeky: Bottoms with a higher cut and a hip-hugging fit, showing off more of your butt. Like cheeky underwear
    • High-waisted: Bottoms that have a high-cut, usually up to the belly button
    • Hipster: Bottoms with a waistband that sits on your hips and has low-cut leg holes. Just like hipster underwear.  
    • String: Bottoms that are like the classic type but come with strings 
    • Skirt: Bottoms that give you more coverage as the bottoms are hidden under a short skirt

      Benefits: With all the colours, styles, and sub-types out there, you can have fun mixing and matching. Also, no bathroom hassles. 

      Downsides: As bikinis have less coverage than other types, sometimes it’s easy to feel insecure or self-conscious in a bikini. 

      Best for: Fun, low-intensity activities like lying in the sun or sitting by the pool. 

      Our advice? When shopping for bikini tops, try to pick one that supports your breast cup size. If you have a smaller bust, then a triangle or halter top is a good option. If you have a larger figure, an underwire top might be the way to go. Also, even if you aren’t feeling good about your body and feel self-conscious about wearing a bikini, just remember you are beautiful :).

      Tankini:

      If you’re looking for something between a bikini and a one-piece, a tankini is the perfect swimsuit for you. This type is a two-piece like a bikini, but rather than showing off too much skin, the top is longer, covering your stomach area. 

      Benefits: Tankinis are like the best of both worlds - no bathroom hassles like with the bikini, but lots of coverage and support like a one-piece. They are versatile and comfortable. 

      Downsides: Honestly, there aren’t any, unless you don't like longer tops. 

      Best for: Whether you want to swim, suntan or play in the sand, tankinis are a good option for almost any occasion.  

      Our advice? Get a couple of tankinis so you can mix and match.

      Swim dress/street clothing: 

      Not as common as the other types, swim dresses and clothing give you lots of coverage. A swim dress is a swimsuit that looks like a dress with a flowy fit and flare skirt bottom that also keeps your hips and waist covered. Street clothing is when you wear street clothes like t-shirts and shorts instead of a swimsuit. 

      Benefits: They are both loose, relaxing and comfortable with lots of support and coverage.  

      Downsides: They get heavier in the water, making it harder to swim with than other swimsuit types. With swim dresses, they get full of water while you swim, so you will probably have to squeeze out the excess water once you get out of the pool. With street clothes, the wet fabric can cling to your body and take forever to dry.  

      Best for: If you are looking for a slightly more modest style and covers your body more, then the swim dress or street clothes are your best bet. If you’re looking to just take it easy by the beach and not swim a bunch of laps, then these are both good choices. 

      Our advice? If you want a swim dress, then get one! Sometimes people think swim dresses are a “grandma swimsuit,” but with all the different styles out there now, there are some cute swim dresses out there. Also, some pools don’t allow you to wear street clothes in the pool, so try to find out ahead of time or bring a backup swimsuit just in case. 

      Wetsuit/burkini: 

      If you’re looking for head-to-toe coverage, a wetsuit or burkini is what you need. A wetsuit is a tight, full-body suit that covers everything except the head and helps keep you warm in the water. A burkini is a full-body suit that covers everything except for the face, hands, and feet. 

      Benefits: They are both modest options with lots of coverage that protect you from the sun. Also, with the wetsuit, the material it's made of helps you retain body heat, helping you out if you’re swimming in freezing water. 

      Downsides: They aren’t always the most comfortable and can be hard to get on. It can be a hassle pulling it off like the one-piece and putting it back on if you have to take a break or go to the bathroom. 

      Best for: The wetsuit is perfect for swimming laps or practicing water sports like surfing, kayaking or snorkelling. The burkini is the perfect type of swimsuit if you want to go full coverage, especially for religious reasons.

      Our advice? As they are hard to get on sometimes, there are few tricks you can try to make it a little easier, such as starting with the wetsuit/burkini inside out at first, putting it on in the water or putting a plastic bag around your foot before sliding on your suit. 

      When it comes to buying a swimsuit, there are lots of options you can try. But at the end of the day, what matters is finding one that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

      Have any other questions about swimsuits? Let us know in our contact form or DM us on Instagram!

      About the Author

      Meet Anika, our content creator and copywriter! In her final year at Western, she’s studying media and creative writing. Even though it’s been a while since she had to deal with the awkwardness of buying her first bra, she is excited to join the Apricotton team and make bra shopping a little bit easier for tween and teen girls. You can connect with her here.