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Article: What is a swim dress?

What is a swim dress?

What is a swim dress?

swim dress offers an elegant, modest alternative to conventional swimsuits such as bikinis. In recent years, swim dresses have surged in popularity, becoming a favored choice for women seeking a stylish yet conservative option for water-related activities. 

Quick links:

Swim dress styles

Why should I get a swim dress?

Features of a swim dress

Swim dresses for different body types

History of swimwear

The swim dress appeals to those seeking a comfortable, confidence-boosting option for swimming and beach outings. It uniquely combines the best parts of both worlds—the practical features you want in swimwear (such as supportive fit, comfy fabric, and quick-drying material) blended seamlessly with the stylish coverage of a dress. 

With this blend of function and a dash of flair, the swim dress is a unique and enticing option in women’s swimwear.

Check out our gorgeous Hawaiian rainforest pattern. It has adjustable ties on both sides so you can easily convert from dress length to shirt length, while the half-length zipper makes it super easy to get off and on.

Women's Half Zip Swim Dress Cover Up "Hawaiian Rainforest"

Swimdress styles

With a whole range of styles to pick from, you can find a swim dress to match your personal taste—whether you're into retro vibes, bold prints, or sleek solids. Look for the style that checks all your boxes, so you feel comfy and confident strolling up from the shore for a seaside bite.


Sleeveless swim dresses have thin straps in a halter, camisole, or tank style. The strapless look allows you to tan your shoulders and upper back. Sleeveless styles also come in different strap widths and designs for comfort and flexibility.


Underwire swim dresses incorporate molded, padded cups and underwire support. This makes them ideal for curvier figures, as they lift and support larger busts. Full bust support prevents any wardrobe malfunctions during activity! 

For those seeking a natural shape, soft cup styles are also available.

Mini Swim Dress

The mini swim dress has a short hemline that hits around mid-thigh, showing more leg than longer styles. The revealing cut allows for maximum sun exposure and a flirty look. Mini swim dress lengths lend a playful energy and work well with wedge sandals or heels for resort wear.

Maxi Swim Dress

With floor-length and ankle-grazing options, maxi swim dresses provide maximum coverage from shoulder to toe. The conservative length doesn't limit style—maxi swim dresses lend an elegant flair suitable for beachside dining and strolls. For full coverage paired with refinement, the maxi length is ideal.


Hitting mid-calf to just above the knee, mid-length swim dresses offer medium coverage options. The middle ground length flatters most figures while remaining activity-friendly. From sporty skater shapes to draped goddess cuts, mid-length swim dresses have versatile wearability for water and patio pursuits. 

Mid-length provides a great balance for those seeking just enough coverage without the excess fabric.

Check out our black swim dress! It features a classic wrap top and one adjustable ruched side. This dress is amazing for easy all-day sun protection!

Women's Sophisticated Swim Wrap Dress Cover Up "All Black"


Though most swim dresses have a straight, streamlined shape, some styles add pretty feminine touches, such as a swingy skater skirt or sweet tiers of ruffles. You can also find romantic ruched waists, lace-up backs that show a peek of skin, and drapey bodices with a flowy goddess vibe. The prints range from those vintage-looking florals to on-trend polka dots or colorblock panels. 

You've got options to balance the sporty functionality with some soft, girly detail. So whether you go for a sexy solidarity look or wanna channel cotton candy cuteness, there's a dream dress to match your personal style.

Why should I get a swim dress?

Swim dresses are a great option for several reasons. They can be worn in and out of the water, making them versatile for swimming, beach days, swimming pool parties, or even as casual cover-ups around town. Unlike traditional one-piece swimsuits, swim dresses have a stylish, often feminine look about them. 

So whether you're looking for comfort, flexibility, style, or all of the above, a swim dress offers functionality alongside fashion.

Stylish vintage, retro look

A stylish swim dress often brings a timelessly chic style with its vintage-inspired looks. Unlike today's sporty bikinis and athletic one-piece suits, swim dresses look like old-fashioned swimsuits from the past. 

If you are one of those women who like classic fashions, the best swim dresses give a charming throwback vibe. Their vintage style makes them stand out from other bathing suits. 

Increased mobility 

Swim dresses give you the freedom to be active while staying covered up. Unlike tiny two-piece suits or revealing one-pieces, their looser silhouette lets you swim and play without worrying about wardrobe malfunctions. 

This is a huge benefit for all those women who seek a little more modesty or sun protection. The fuller coverage means you can enjoy poolside fun with confidence and participate in all kinds of water-based activities without distraction.

Comfort and confidence

Women often feel more comfortable and sure of themselves in swim dresses instead of revealing suits. Swim dresses have built-in coverage from their skirt, so you don't have to worry about showing too much. You can just focus on having fun without feeling self-conscious.

Coverage prevents chafing

Since swim dresses cover more, you avoid irritated skin from fabrics rubbing together. The extra coverage means you can wear a swim dress longer without getting sore spots. The fabric flows smoothly no matter how you move. So swim dresses let you be active without uncomfortable chafing.

Universally flattering 

The design of a swim dress is flattering on a wide range of body types. The skirt overlay can enhance the silhouette and provide a comfortable, flattering fit for women with different body shapes.

Our flattering dresses are meant to be worn in and out of the water! They dry super quickly and are so stylish. Check out this Hibiscus half-zip swim dress and slide into island time with this gorgeous mix of hibiscus flowers and juicy papaya slices.

Women's Half Zip Swim Dress Cover Up "Hibiscus"

Features of a swim dress

Our swim dresses offer the following features:

  1. Half-zip  or quarter-zip 
  2. Adjustable ruching
  3. Adjustable ties
  4. Versatile sizes
  5. UV protection


The half-zip feature on some of our swim dresses adds versatility and visual interest. Usually going up to the bust line, the half zipper can be worn unzipped for a relaxed scoop neck look or zipped up higher for more coverage. The metal zipper chain also lends some subtle shine.


For a delicate dash of hardware detail, look for our swim dresses featuring a quarter-zip accent. Typically only spanning across 4-6 inches of the garment, the zipper allows adjustable neckline preferences while still maintaining comfort and functionality.

Adjustable ruching

Ruching creates visual texture through gathered pin-tucked fabric that adds a flattering definition. All our swim dresses incorporate adjustable side ruching ties, letting you control the exact amount of ruching tightness. 

Adjustable ties

Our swim dresses cater to curvier frames with clever adjustable features. This allows women with fuller busts to customize the fit for comfort, support, and coverage where they need it most. The ties create a flattering self-cinching effect while accommodating changes in size.

Versatile sizes 

From XS to 3X, our swim dresses aim to make women of all body types feel included. A diverse range of figures can discover flattery, functionality, and style.

UV protection

Beyond the other perks, our swim dresses offer UV protection. The fabric we use is highest rated UPF 50+ sun protection, blocking 98% of UVA and UVB rays.

This added benefit helps to protect the skin from harmful sun rays, making swim dresses a practical option for extended outdoor activities.

If you’d like to protect yourself from the dangers of ultraviolet radiation, check out this hourly UV index forecast and avoid sun exposure during high-UV intervals.

Swim dresses for different body types

Our swim dresses offer flattering fits for all body types. The right swim dress allows you to relax and have fun in the sun, rather than battling uncooperative seams or fabrics. By understanding what flatters your figure, you can discover the perfect one for you.

Pear-shaped body

A pear-shaped body is characterized by wider hips and thighs compared to the bust and shoulders. To balance out curves, consider wearing our Navy swim dress, which cinch at the waist to define your shape while providing comfortable coverage for hips and thighs. The dark navy color is flattering for this body type, as it slims the silhouette.  

Apple-shaped body

Women with an apple-shaped body tend to carry more weight around their midsection, with a fuller bust and narrower hips. This Navy Gingham swim dress is a great choice for this body type. 

The swim dress offers light bust support and comes in extended sizing for a comfortable, confident fit. The timeless gingham print and dark navy color keep the look chic, not boxy.

Hourglass body

The hourglass figure is defined by a well-defined waist with the bust and hips being roughly the same width. Wrap-style swim dresses work wonders for this body type. They accentuate the waist and maintain the natural balance of the figure. 

Our black wrap swim dress is perfect for showing off hourglass curves, cinching in at the waistline while its surplice neckline flatters the bust.

Rectangle body

A rectangle body shape is characterized by a straight silhouette with little definition between the waist, hips, and bust. To create the illusion of curves, go for swim dresses with ruching or gathered fabric at the sides. Bright colors and bold prints can also help in breaking the straight line of the silhouette.

Check out this amazing red swim dress which features a vibrant color to help accentuate subtle curves.

Inverted triangle body

Women with an inverted triangle body shape have broader shoulders compared to the hips and waist. Our Ocean Breeze swim dress features an adjustable half zipper at the neckline to customize into a flattering deep V that narrows the appearance of broader shoulders and directs eyes down towards the A-line skirt, balancing inverted triangle figures.

Plus-size body

For plus-size body types, look for swim dresses that offer good support and coverage without compromising on style. Swim dresses with shirring or paneling can provide a slimming effect. Also, consider higher back designs for additional support. Darker colors (such as our black or cold brew swim dresses) can create a lengthening and slimming effect.

Petite body

Petite women should look for swim dresses that elongate the figure. Vertical stripes or high-cut leg designs can create the illusion of height. Avoid overly voluminous skirts as they can overwhelm a smaller frame. Opt for fitted styles that highlight your natural shape.

Our swim dresses are an amazing choice for petite women, as their adjustable ties on both sides allow for easy conversion from dress length to shirt length.

History of swimwear

Swim dresses originally aimed to meet the needs of religiously conservative women who wanted modest options for enjoying the water. Many Muslim women felt left out by swimsuit styles that failed to align with the values of appropriate coverage. Swim dresses, with their loose fit and longer lengths, provided options that made them feel included and enabled them to take part in beach and pool activities.

Over time, swim dresses drew interest across demographics as women discovered the relaxed confidence a little more fabric can bring. The extra coverage of swim dresses meant women could spend less time concerned about revealing too much skin or adjusting malfunctioning cutouts. The functionality also appealed to the athletic swimmer type frustrated by bikinis not built for sport.

Choose Swimzip for your swimwear

At SwimZip, we offer a range of swim dresses that are designed to make you look and feel your best. Our swim dresses are not only fashionable but also provide complete 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 town, our swim dresses 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.

For example, this Stunner swim dress will help you look classy and covered up. The navy stripe design is a classic staple in every spring and summer wardrobe near the water. It looks great everywhere, giving you more room in your beach bag! 

Look what one purchaser has to say about this amazing swim dress with stripes.


Swim dress FAQ

Can you swim in a swim dress?

Swim dresses are designed for swimming and beach activities. The loose skirt allows free movement in the water, while you can always choose to wear some of our women's swimming bottoms underneath for better coverage and bust support for more active pursuits..

What is the difference between a bathing suit and a swimming costume?

A bathing suit refers to any type of swimwear, including both one-piece and two-piece styles. A swimming costume is an older term used more often for vintage-style one-piece suits or modest attire covering more of the body, like swim dresses.

Do swim dresses have built-in shorts?

Our swim dresses do not come with built-in shorts. Instead, we allow you to customize your beach outfit by pairing your swim dress with any of our attractive bikini bottoms. For example, these orchid pink bikini bottoms will go perfectly with many swim dress patterns we offer in our store.

Do you wear anything under a swim dress?

You can choose to wear our pink tie bikini bottoms or any swimsuit bottom you like underneath your swim dress. Adding a bottom provides extra coverage and security for confident comfort, while the swim dress itself offers a flattering style. 

How should a swim dress fit?

A swim dress should fit snugly but comfortably, without restricting movement. The built-in bra should offer adequate support, and the skirt should skim the body without clinging. It’s important that the swim dress stays in place and doesn’t ride up or feel too loose, especially in water.

Do swimming costumes stretch when wet?

Yes, swimming costumes can stretch slightly when wet, as the fabric expands in water. Our quality swimsuits and dresses retain their shape and fit, even when wet. 

How do you look slim in a swimming costume?

To look slimmer in a swimming costume, opt for designs with slimming features such as ruching, tummy control panels, or vertical patterns. Darker colors and well-placed seams or patterns can also create a slimming effect. Get a costume that fits well and flatters your body type to look and feel confident.

What is a swim dress used for?

A swim dress is primarily used as a type of swimwear that combines the style and coverage of a dress with the functionality of a traditional swimsuit. It is designed for activities involving water, such as swimming, lounging at beaches or pools, and resort vacations. 

The swim dress is especially popular among those who seek more coverage than a standard swimsuit provides, either for modesty, sun protection, or personal comfort. Its skirt-like overlay offers extra coverage over the hips and thighs, while its swimsuit understructure allows for free movement in the water. 

What material is a swim dress made of?

Our swim dresses are crafted from specialized swim fabrics that are designed to withstand the effects of chlorine and saltwater, ensuring durability and longevity. These materials are also quick-drying and comfortable against the skin, making swim dresses an ideal choice for prolonged water activity or sun exposure.

Can my swim dress be a coverup?

The design of a swim dress allows it to double as a cover-up. This makes it a convenient option for transitioning from water activities to other social settings, such as beachside cafes or boardwalks, without the need for an additional change of clothes.

Can a swim dress be used in competitive swimming?

While competitive swimming often prefers technical suits that cling tight to the body for reducing drag, recreational swimmers could opt to wear a swim dress for more casual laps or practice sets. 

The loose skirt may slow turns slightly, but quality swim dresses made of quick-dry athletic fabric will still allow mobility in the water without restriction once soaked through. So while not prime competition garb, a swim dress works sufficiently for general swim training.

Are swim dresses available in modest solid color options?

We offer an array of single-tone solid color choices ranging from classic navy, black, and grey for opacity to brights like red and teal for pops of color. The variety of solid color choices allows women who prefer a subtle, modest look to select swim dresses without busy prints. The single-tone styles cater to those wanting coverage without bold patterns.

Do swim dresses provide thermal protection?

The extra fabric of a swim dress flowing down to mid-thigh acts like built-in shorts to provide warmth against cool breezes. You avoid that sudden chill on bare skin when emerging from water thanks to coverage. Swim dresses trap body heat better for thermal protection.

Can indecent exposure happen in a swim dress?

Our swim dresses are designed to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. The secure construction including adjustable ruching and zipper provide reliable barriers to maintain full coverage. You can confidently engage in activities without worries of indecent exposure.

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