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Article: What is a bikini?

What is a bikini?

What is a bikini?

A bikini is a brief, close-fitting two-piece swimsuit worn by women and girls. The bikini first appeared in the 1940s, and has since become one of the most iconic staples in beach and pool fashion around the world.

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Benefits of bikinis

Different bikini styles

How to choose the right one

Styling tips

History of bikinis

Check out our collection of women’s bikini tops to find the perfect fit for your body type and style. Our stylish tops are made with UPF 50+ UV sun-protective fabric. 

This Tropical birds bikini top features a menagerie of birds, from parrots to toucans to flamingos all set on a gorgeous pastel background. With a minimal, clean squared-off neckline and convertible, adjustable straps, this cute bikini top will be an instant favorite! Pair it with a high-waist bottom and you are good to go.

Woman wearing scoop neck bikini top by Swim Zip

Benefits of a bikini

The bikini, also known as a two-piece bathing suit, offers some unique advantages over other swimsuit styles. These include:

  • Better tanning. The bikini allows for fuller sun exposure thanks to its two separate pieces, minimizing tan lines. This makes it easier to achieve an all-over golden tan.
  • Body showcasing. Bikinis are designed to show off one's figure, accentuating a woman's physique more than a typical one-piece swimsuit does. The midriff and hips are highlighted.
  • Style. Bikinis come in a wide range of styles, so you can easily find one that suits your taste. Whether you want a simple design or a more elaborate one, there's a bikini out there for you.
  • Comfort and mobility. Bikinis allow freedom of motion without swaths of fabric getting in the way, making them ideal for swimming, watersports, and activities where you want less coverage. The light design feels less restrictive.

What are the different bikini styles?

Our bikinis come in a variety of styles to suit different body types and personal preferences. Some of the popular styles include:

  • Scoop bikini tops: a swim top with a minimal, clean squared-off neckline and convertible, adjustable straps. 
  • Front tie bikini tops: feature a cute keyhole front tie, adjustable straps, and removable cups. 
  • One-shoulder bikini tops: feature one shoulder covered while leaving the other shoulder strapless and exposed.
  • Side tie bikini bottoms: offer the perfect amount of coverage with adjustable ties at the side to fit and sit exactly how you like.
  • High-waist bikini bottoms: feature flattering front and back side seams and are fully lined. The waistline sits higher on the torso, compared to other bikini bottoms.

Mix and match bikini bottoms and tops to find a pairing that suits your body type, comfort preferences, and personal taste.

How to choose the right bikini

Here are some tips on choosing the perfect bikini for you:

Consider your body type

  • Pear shape: try a tie bikini top to balance out hips. High-waisted bottoms can slenderize.
  • Athletic shape: show off your figure in a sporty bikini with extra support. Halter tops accentuate shoulders.
  • Curvy shape: look for shape-enhancing features such as underwires, push-up tops, and tummy control panels.

Find the right fit

  • The top should fit snugly without digging in or gaping. Make sure the straps don't slip.
  • Bottoms shouldn't pinch but rather smoothly cover your rear. Low-rise isn't for everyone.

Pick a flattering style

  • Bandemus accentuates smaller busts. Halter tops flatter slender frames. Strapless tops show off shoulders.
  • Swim shorts or skirted bottoms can camouflage stomachs and hips, while thongs highlight booties.

Consider coverage level

  • If you'll be active at the pool or playing beach volleyball, for example, ensure you get fuller coverage for secure support.
  • Less fabric means more skin exposure. Choose visual comfort levels wisely.

With so many stylish bikini options, take the time to find the perfect match for your body type, coverage needs, and activity level. The perfect bikini makes any water activity comfortable, secure, and chic!

Wearing and styling tips

You've picked out the perfect bikini—now it's time to wear it! Prep and accessorize your two-piece to stylishly showcase your look. Here are some pro tips:

Choose support levels wisely

If you'll be active at the beach or pool, secure support features ensure comfort. Lounging poolside may call for something sexier and skimpier. Pick bikini styles and coverage based on what you’ll be doing.

Don’t forget sun protection

Rocking a bikini means exposing more skin—don't forget sunscreen! Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+ on the parts of the body that are not covered. Reapply frequently and wear a sun hat to protect your face and neck.

Accessorize the look

Accessories pull together a stylish bikini look. The right additions lend glamor while also conveniently helping cover up between activities.

Here are some great ideas for you to try:

  • Kaftans, kimonos, and sarongs in light fabrics allow you to stylishly move around the pool area while keeping cool. Match colors and patterns to your bikini.
  • Try a wrap skirt if you want a waist-cinching flair.
  • Match our ocean blues beach towel with your bikini to add a splash of beachy style.
  • Cat eye and round retro sunglasses complement vintage-inspired swimsuits.
  • Viper-style UV 400 sunglasses are ideal for active beach days.
  • Sunset lenses lend playful pops of color.
  • Embellished rubber pool slides or flip-flops work poolside.
  • Strappy leather or woven sandals transition your look for lunch dates or tropical cocktails.
  • Sun visors or wide-brim hats provide sun protection for your face and neck.

Check out this stylish white wide brim sun visor. You can pair it with any color bikini for a chic, coordinated look. 

Woman wearing wide brim sun visor by Swim Zip

History of bikinis

The bikini swimsuit got its name from Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. In 1946, French clothing designers Jacques Heim and Louis Réard introduced a groundbreaking two-piece swimsuit design featuring a bra top and two triangles of fabric on the bottom tied at the hips. They named the creation the “bikini” drawing inspiration from Bikini Atoll, where the U.S. had recently conducted atomic bomb testing.

The skimpy new swimsuit was considered risqué and even scandalous. Réard compared it to a cultural “explosion” akin to the nuclear tests occurring at the islands. Like an atomic reaction, he knew his sexy design would create shockwaves. The bikini name became a clever metaphor for the suit’s explosive debut.

Let's explore some of the most iconic looks and interesting facts around this tiny two-piece swimsuit.

Historical bikini trends

The first bikini was quite tame by modern standards. Over the decades, swimwear kept getting smaller and more daring. Thong bikinis emerged in the 1970s, the string bikini ruled the 80s, and the tiny microkini and tankini appeared in the 90s. Nowadays, high-leg cuts and underwire tops characterize trends.

Celebrity bikini influencers

Film stars have done much to popularize bikini styles. Brigitte Bardot made headlines in the 50s, while stars like Raquel Welch, Rita Hayworth, and Ursula Andress furthered its sex appeal in movies. More recently, celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, and Kim Kardashian define sexy bikini style.

Glossary of iconic bikini styles

The bikini has seen many iconic styles over the decades, from high-cut and skimpy to innovative and avant-garde. Here are three of the most recognizable looks in bikini fashion history:

  1. French cut: high-cut legs plus a low triangular top, creating tan lines that resemble the French flag.
  2. Rio style: scanty Brazilian-style bikini with tiny triangle tops and low-rise bottoms, often tangas or thongs.
  3. Microkini: an extremely skimpy band of fabric covering only the most intimate parts, leaving little to the imagination. Some varieties use adhesive.

Choose Swimzip for your swimwear

At SwimZip, we offer a range of bikini designs that are designed to make you look and feel your best. Our bikinis are not only fashionable but also provide sun protection, blocking 98% of the sun’s harmful UVA & UVB rays. They are made of the highest-rated, most comfortable UPF 50+ sun-protective fabric, and are quick-drying and chlorine-resistant.

Whether you're planning a day at the beach, a pool party, or a casual walk around down the beachside boardwalk, our bikinis are a must-have addition to your wardrobe. They are available in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes, ensuring there's a perfect fit for everyone.

This gorgeous floral garden bikini tie top is a crowd favorite—it is stylish, and sexy, and will have you feeling fresh and looking extra cute!


Woman wearing tie bikini top by Swim Zip


Bikini FAQ

What is a bikini rule?

A bikini rule refers to specific guidelines set for bikini competitions, such as the requirement to wear a two-piece suit with a V-shaped bottom, no thongs permitted, and the suit must be in good taste. Competitors must also wear high heels and may wear jewelry.

What did the original bikini look like?

The original bikini, invented in 1946 by French clothing designers Jacques Heim and Louis Réard, was a revealing two-piece swimsuit that showed the wearer's navel. It was considered liberating and scandalous for its time, with Réard's design being modeled by showgirl Micheline Bernardini at a poolside fashion show in Paris.

Should a bikini be tight or loose?

A bikini should be tight enough to offer a secure, second-skin feeling without being uncomfortable. It should provide smooth coverage, a slight feeling of compression, and support where needed, without digging into the skin or causing discomfort.

Is a bikini the same as bikini briefs?

A bikini is not the same as bikini briefs. A bikini is a two-piece swimsuit designed for swimming and sunbathing, while bikini briefs are a type of underwear that offer less coverage than traditional briefs but more than thongs, designed for everyday wear.

Where was the bikini banned?

The bikini was banned in several countries and contexts, including beauty pageants worldwide after the Pope criticized it as sinful. Countries like Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and Spain also outlawed bikini swimwear at various points in time.

Is wearing a bikini appropriate?

Bikinis are appropriate to wear for sunbathing and swimming activities in most pool, beach, and vacation settings where they are commonly accepted. However, appropriateness can vary based on local customs, religious beliefs, and personal preferences.

Is a bikini like a bra?

A bikini top can be similar to a bra in terms of providing breast support and shaping. Many bikini tops include features such as underwire, padding, and adjustable straps for enhanced support and comfort, similar to bras.

At what age can girls start wearing bikinis?

There are no strict bikini age rules—tween & teen girls often start experimenting with age-appropriate bikini styles. Choosing modest suits is recommended to avoid overexposure issues.

Do black bikinis help minimize obvious tan lines?

Black or darker bikini colors disguise visible tan lines better than lighter colors by camouflaging skin contrast lines.

What’s the difference in coverage between boy shorts and high-waisted bikini bottoms?

Boy shorts offer maximum coverage with a shorts-like shape, while high-waisted bottoms cover more stomach but not necessarily the rear and hips as much.

Helpful information

What is a tankini?

What is a swim dress?

What is a sunsuit?

What are the symptoms of sun poisoning?

What SPF should I use?

How long should I tan in the sun?

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