What to Look For In Supportive Underwire Swimsuits

The most common reasons to wear underwire swimwear: support, lift, and shape! If you're considering buying a swimwear with underwires, this is what you look for. Below is some important information on the different types of underwire swimsuit options, including those for fuller busts, petite busts, and all kinds of styles and coverage preferences. Keep in mind that wearing what fits both your body and your personal style often leads to feeling your best, especially in a swimsuit. If an underwire swim top is on your list to try this summer, keep these tips in mind.

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Bra Size or Not?

Miss Mandalay image
Miss Mandalay

One of the biggest decisions to make when shopping for a underwire swimsuit top is what size to buy! Many swimsuits that are made with underwire support, are also made in bra sizes. In fact, some of them are manufactured by bra or lingerie brands. That means you can get the same support and engineering that you get on land when you're by the sea. Within those companies, beware that some use a US sizing method, while others may use UK bra sizing like the underwire bikinis from Miss Mandalay here. The good news is that some bra sized brands often reach up to a G or even a K cup size, making them a great option for full busts. Typically bra sized brands all use the same bra band sizing method, starting as low as a 28 band and moving up in even numbers. Usually the band will clasp together in the back.

In addition, there are some brands that may have a small, medium, or large (etc) band option, with a cup size range. This is especially true for swimsuit tops that tie in the back, or one piece options. Just like bra sizes, the larger "band" size means the cup size is larger, too. For example, a 38D cup fits larger in the band and cup than a 32D. So too, then, a swimsuit in size large with a D cup will be larger in both the band and cup than a size small with a D cup. 

Furthermore, not every underwire swim top or swimsuit is bra sized! If you're looking for a truly customized fit and great support, it may be best to get something that is bra sized. But if you're only looking for a little extra lift or casual support, going with a style marked small to extra-large, or with a dress size, is totally OK!

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Types of Underwires

Karla Colletto floating underwire
Karla Colletto/Everything But Water

Swimsuit tops come with many different types of underwires these days. One of the most popular includes is one that resemble a bra. This is an incased underwire, as in it's sewn into the fabric of the swim top just like most bras, and often attaches to a band or back strap.

There's also a "floating underwire, which is popular in one piece swimsuits with underwire. That means there is an underwire attached to the swimsuit but not incased in the main fabric of the cup or attached to a bra band. Usually that means there's a piece of fabric that covers the outside of the cup without you having to see seams where the underwire sits. It's a less "obvious" look. You'll most likely rely on the back of the swimsuit to act as the back of the underwire bra top. The One Piece Wide Strap Tank Swimsuit by Karla Colletto from Everything But Water is an example of a swimsuit with a floating underwire. 

Additionally, some swimsuit tops have a quarter underwire (a very small piece of underwire toward the outer edge of the cup), or other types of underwire. Keep an open mind when shopping for swimsuits!

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Fantastic Fit

Christina swimsuits
Christina/Bare Necessities 

When it comes to the underwire in your bra or your bikini, making sure the underwire fits your bust and body is super important. The key thing to look for is an underwire size that fits fully around each breast. That way it can rest on your body - not on your breast tissue. That will ensure a secure fit and comfort. 

If the swimsuit has a firm band and sturdy underwire, it may also "tack" in the front in between your bust. That "tacking" is due to the underwire fitting all the way around the bust combined with a firm band. Believe it or not, when it comes to a great fit for bras or swimsuits, the back band really does the heavy lifting. So while the underwire may provide some lift or shape, and the straps might keep things up, it's the back that keeps things perky and secure. Whether it's a tie back or clasp back, a snug fit is really key to a great fit and super support. 

Even if your underwire swim top doesn't have a bra style back band, fit is still key. Make sure the entire suit supports your shape and curves accordingly.

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Straps Options

Underwire bikini straps options
Beach Bunny/Triangl/Swim Spot and Reef 

Most people think that underwire swimsuit tops look like a swim bra, meaning they have a regular cup and two straps that go straight back. Though this kind of swimwear may have support like a bra, and two straps is a popular option, your bikini top doesn't have to look like bra top.

The great thing about adjustable straps is that you can customize your fit. But you can always go with a non-adjustable style like thisMoon Shine bathing suit from Triangl. And if you think that an underwire swim top isn't a good look, think again. This cool swimsuit draws attention to the underwire with dramatic yellow stitches outlining the underwire!

If you want your swimsuit to look more like a swimsuit, try a top with halter strap. Adjust the tie to suit your size. You can even wear a bandeau top with no straps! Because underwire bathing suits may have more support or structure, going without straps at all is a great option!

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Cup options

swimsuit cup options underwire
Panache, Tobi, Pour Moi 

Underwire swim tops come in different cup styles. Some of the items seen throughout this article are molded, which means they have firm shape and mold your bust to it. This Ceylon Molded High Neck Bikini Swim Top by Panache from HerRoom has contour cups and underwire support for a super shape and great lift for UK bra sizes in D to G cup. Others are non-molded, meaning if you were to lay it down, the cup with lay flat. This type of underwire top has either one piece of material, or is a "cut and sew" style with seams, just like many bras. 

Choose the coverage you want from your underwire swimsuit top. Sometimes all you need is a little lift. Not all underwire swimsuit tops are made with super support in mind. This Heart Throb Underwire Bikini Top from Tobi gives just enough lift to the bust, or shape to the top. Featuring an underwire for structure, a triangle-styled cup, and strappy back design, it's more form than function. This type of underwire bikini top runs in sizes XS to Large, not in bra sizes. And without adjustable straps or a firm band, it's best for petite busts or chill babes looking for less coverage. Pair it with the matching strappy bikini bottom for a casual beach gathering, or a sexy pool party. 

Other underwire swim top styles may include triangle, bandeau, balcony, push up, or plunge. This Mardi-Gras Off the Shoulder Bikini Top by Pour Moi from Bare Necessities is a padded, plunge option with underwire. Just like the vast world of bras, swimsuits with underwire come in many different options, too. Choose the style that fits and feels best for you. That may be the same or different than your regular bra top, depending on your beachwear preference. 

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Body Coverage

Coverage options swimsuits
Revolve, Lilly & Lime, Land's End

You may think that underwire swimsuits are only available in two pieces, like a bra and underwear set. But similar to their lingerie and undergarment counterparts, underwire swimwear is also available in other coverage options. Many brands create one piece, tankini, and even swim dresses with underwire support. Choose the coverage that you love the most and rock it!

A few options seen here: X Stone Cold Fox Camilla Bikini Top by Beach Riot from RevolveAsh Underwire Halter and Sloane High Waist Brief in Kimono Ink from Lilly & Lime.