Women's Swimsuit Glossary

Women's swimsuit lingo can be a bit confusing to even the most fashion forward fashionista. What does this mean? What kind of style is that? There are so many different types of bathing suit design features that it's hard to keep them all straight. So we've put together a comprehensive list of swimwear terms to help you in finding the perfect swimsuit.

Asymmetric - A bikini top or one-piece a strap over one shoulder while the other shoulder is bare.  A high fashion look. Asymmetric one-piece by Anne Cole Plus

Bandeau - A strapless one-piece or bikini top offering bare shoulders for no tan lines. Due to having less support they're best suited for cup sizes A - C. Some have strings you can use or tuck away. Bandeau Bikini by Seafolly

Banded Bottoms - A bikini bottom that has a wider fabric covered elastic band for a flat, sleek look. Moderate back coverage. Becca Borrowed From The Boys Pant

Banded Halter Top - A halter bikini top that with a wide elastic band under the bust to give added support. Elastic Stripe Halter Bra Top by Anne Cole

Bandini - A two piece swimsuit that is bare on the shoulders like a bandeau top. Anne Cole Control Color Block Splice Bandeau - Kini

Blouson - A swimsuit that is drawn tight at the waist, causing it to blouse out and hang over the waistband. Perfect for hiding your extra tummy Anne Cole Blouson One Piece

Board Shorts - Cool and breezy polyester shorts perfect for any summertime activity. Available in long, standard and short lengths. Vanish Point Swim Short by Becca

Bows - Bows are an accent feature that is sewed on the bathing suit. Cole of California Bow Front Tankini

Boy Shorts - Bathing suit bottoms that provide full coverage with a lower leg cut. Sometimes called hot pants. Color Blast Fold Over Boy Short by Anne Cole

Bustier (alternately bustiere) - A swim top Its primary purpose is to push up the bust by tightening against the upper midriff and forcing the breasts up, while gently shaping the waist. Running Wild Underwire Bustier by Raisins

Brazilian - Swimwear with a thong like bottom. Absolute least amount of butt coverage possible.

Bra Top - A swimsuit top that’s built like a bra with over the shoulder straps. Lauren Bikini by Inmocean

Chevron - An inverted v-shaped pattern. This pattern can have a great slimming effect around the tummy. Anne Cole Mesh Halter

Color Block - A swimwear pattern of two or more solid colors in blocks. Color Block One Piece by Anne Cole

Constructed Shelf Bra - A hidden part of a one piece or bikini top that uses molded foam cups, and a soft, plush wide elastic under the bust. Cups may be sewn into the fabric lining or may be inserts inside pockets. These offer the most support. Marina Stripe Bikini by Cole of California

Contoured Top - A swim top that has cup seams that create a rounded cup shape to fit your body like a second skin. Bikini Lab I Got Bows Push Up Bralette

Control Top - One-piece or tankini swimsuits that incorporate power lining and special construction to make the wearer look more slender and sexy. They’re built to smooth out troubled areas like your side and stomach. Anne Cole Control Color Block V - Neck Halter

Convertible Dress/Skirt - A stretchy swimwear cover - up that can be worn as a dress or pulled down to the hips and be worn as a skirt. Most are one size fits most. Eight Way Convertible Dress/Skirt by Elan

Cookie Pads - Small foam oval shaped pads that can be inserted into the pockets of swim tops for additional uplift and shape.

Cover Up - Swimwear that is worn when not swimming. The often forgotten fashionable swim apparel. T - Back Maxi by Elan

Cross-Back One-Piece - A one piece with criss - cross back straps. The criss - cross is a sexy design element that also offers functionality in that it cinches the waistline of the suit. Elastic Stripe Scrunchie Tankini by Anne Cole

Cutout One-Piece - A one piece suit that is very open on the sides as if they were “cut out”. Sometimes called a monokini. InMocean Mia Monokini

Embellished - Beads, decorations, heat transfers, embroidery or any bells and whistles added to a swimsuit.

Fauxkini - A women's swimsuit that looks like a two piece tankini but is actually a one piece bathing suit.

Flounce - A strip of decorative fabric attached by one edge to the bathing suit. Great for enhacing the look of women with smaller breasts. Radio Fiji Pyramids Flounce-kini

French Bra - Sexy gathered cups to increase cleavage with underwires and removable cookie pads. Ties behind the neck and has an adjustable back strap for a perfect fit. Pearl Island Twist-kini by Leilani

Fringe - Extra lengths of fabric are added to the swimsuit. Bali Fringe Bandeaukini by Raisins

Full Bottom - A bikini bottom with additional coverage on the low hip. 

Full Cut Top - A bikini top with more cup coverage. See It Through Tankini Set by Becca Etc.

Full Piece Bathing Suit - Another name for a one-piece swimsuit. 

Gusset - A rectangular piece of fabric sewn into the crotch area of shorts or pants to allow for a better fit where the center back and center front seam meet the inside leg seam.

Halter Top - A bathing suit top that ties behind the neck. Now or Never Halter-kini by Radio Fiji

High-Waist Bottom - A bikini bottom made with a waistline just below or above the belly button. A very vintage style High Waist Bottom by Anne Cole Plus

Hipster Bottom - A two piece swimsuit bottom designed to sit low on the hips. Marrakesh Reversible Tie Side Pant by Becca

Hot Shorts - A bikini bottom that look like short shorts. Fold down waistband for comfort. Think Solo Shorts. Becca Show And Tell Hot Shorts

Keyhole - A suit with a round cut out of fabric. The keyhole may be at the neckline, exposing skin between the breasts, on the stomach or in the back, revealing a very sexy, bare back. Despite the name implying that the cut out is small it can actually be quite large.  Anne Cole Control Keyhole Halter

Light Fastness - The degree to which a fabric holds its original depth of color after being exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time.  Pastel colors such as pinks and light blues do not have the light fastness of dark colors such as black and brown. One of worst enemies for girls who like to tan in their swimsuits.

Lycra - Lycra is a trademarked name for spandex.

Maillot - Pronounced My-OH. Another name for a one-piece swimsuit. Usually more simple. Lingerie Maillot One Piece by Anne Cole

Microkini - A very very skimpy bikini that keeps the wearer just within legal limits of decency but not quite nude.

Mitered One-Piece - A one piece suit with stripes sewn into a “V” design that slenderizes and flatters your figure by tricking the eye. Beaded Stripe Halter One Piece by Anne Cole

Moderate Bottom - A bikini bottom, not too much coverage, not too little. Perfectly sexy. Eden Basic Bottom by Becca

Molded Cup - A foam cup that has been permanently molded into its shape. May have thicker padding at the bottom outside of the cup for additional push-up. Bonita Molded Push-up by Cole of California

Monokini - A one piece suit that has the look of a bikini. Minimal fabric or connectivity between the top and bottom of the suit. Often looks like a bikini in the back  Also called a cut-out one-piece. 

Ombre - A variation of colors or tones that shade into each other. Usually, the pattern of colors fade from light to dark or vice versa. Beach Ombre Shirred Slider Halter Tankini by Cole of California

Peek-A-Boo - See Keyhole Bikini Lab Dot Stuff Flounce Heart

Plunging Neckline - A tankini or one-piece with a deep V cut exposing the cleavage. Great for distracting from the midsection. La Blanca Santorini Halter Goddess Cup Tankini

Poncho - A sexy coverup that is loose on the body & pulls over your head. Becca Borrowed From The Boys Chiffon

Push Up - Swimwear with cups designed to push up the breasts making them look perkier Desert Bloom Push Up by Island Soul

Rash Guard - A type of water wear shirt that is often long or short sleeved. Also known as a swim shirt. Bikini Lab Baby I Was Born Tie Dye Rash Guard

Retro – A style that is influenced by previous eras. Generally refers to a style that's at least 15 years old.

Reversible - A reversible swimsuit is where the bathing suit can be worn either way. It will typically have different patterns, or colors on the reverse side. It's like getting two swimsuits for the price of one :) Defining Moment Reversible Halter Top by Becca

Ruched - The technique of gathering the fabric as to create a puckered effect. Classic Bali Tank One Piece by Leilani

Ruffles - Extra fabirc is added giving a ruffled look. Great for women with a smaller bosom. Ruffled Halter by Cole of California

Sag - A bad feature of worn out or improperly fitting swimsuits

Sarong -  A piece of swimwear fabric sewn in a curved shape to tie comfortably around your hips for an instant coverup. Palm Teak Cover Up Sarong by Anne Cole

Sash - A soft fabric tie at the neck, back or hips to secure the suit on the body. Umbrella Reverse-kini by Anne Cole

Scoop Bottom - A bikini or maillot bottom designed to have a scooped waistline and a slightly higher leg line. This bottom accentuates your curves. Moderate coverage. Bikini Lab I Got Bows Push Up Bralette

Scoop Neck - A swim piece with a deeply curved wide neckline. Cole of California Isabella Scoop Neck Tankini

Scuba Bottom - A low-rise bikini bottom with an accenting belt.  Also known as a surf bottom. Think Ursala Andrews in Dr. No  Cruise Ship Bikini by Cole of California

Seduction Top - Molded foam cups with built - in push up pads in a sweetheart shape.  Elastic neck and back straps for comfort.  Pockets with additional cookie pads in all sizes. Painterly Stripe Bandeau-kini by Anne Cole

Shaping Pads - Rounded foam cups that may be sewn into the lining of the top or slid into lining pockets for shaping.  This type of padding does not add fullness just shape.

Shelf Bra - A hidden component in a bikini top that is a fabric liner with soft, plush wide elastic under the bust.  Provides medium support. Goddess Fixed Moulded Halter by Seafolly

Side-Tie Bottom - A bikini bottom that is bare on the hips except for spaghetti ties or sash ties.  Usually provides moderate coverage. Half Moon Solids Side Tie by Raisins

Skirted Bottom - A bikini bottom with an attached skirt. La Blanca Island Goddess Skirted Sweetheart One Piece

Spaghetti - Thin fabric strings used for swimwear. South Beach Slide by Raisins

Spandex - A synthetic fiber which gives the swimwear fabric (poly or nylon) excellent memory and the ability to stretch a lot more than yarn without spandex.

Specialty Foil Fabrics - Metallic foils are applied to fabric using a special adhesive in a multi - step process. With care, foils can retain their luster all season long.

Sport Top - A bikini top designed with no underwires or padding that might interfere with sports activities.  Usually has more coverage than similar styles.

Sweetheart Top - A swimwear top that looks like the top of a heart. 

Swim Dresses - One piece bathing suit that is made like a short dress. Great swimwear for women with big thighs.

Swim Shorts - A bikini bottom in the design of a short. Fold down waistband for comfort.  Fully lined. Longer length than hot shorts. Swim Shorts by Anne Cole

Swim Skirts - The bottom of a bikini in the design of a skirt.  Cabana Club Tankini Skirt by Leilani

Tank One-Piece - A one piece suit that has shoulder straps that are similar to a tank top. It can have thick or thin straps. Also goes by Maillot.  Anne Cole Rugby Lingerie Maillot

Tankini - A bikini top with a “skirt” that covers your midsection or belly.  Tankinis may be at the waist or longer, depending on the particular style.  Combining a tankini top with a higher waisted bottom creates the look of a one-piece suit with the comfort of a bikini. Zen Garden Racer Tankini by Cole of California

Triangle Top - A bikini top with cups in the basic shape of a triangle.  Usually ties behind the neck and back with spaghetti strings. InMocean Tribal Tri-kini

Tricot - Tricot refers to the type of stretch that the knit fabric has.

Underwire - Metal wires inserted into fabric casings under the bust to enhance the shape and support of the bust. Underwire Push-Up D-cup by Anne Cole

V-kini - An extreme scoop bottom. It's what you think of when you hear 80's bikini

V Wire Bandeau - A bandeau top but with v-shaped cutout. This style of suit is great for those women who want to show off that extra bit of cleavage for an even sexier look.  V wire bandeau offers even less support than a regular bandeau. Also comes in U shape.  Leilani V Wire Bandeau-kini

Wrap Skirt - See Sarong Beach Club Beach Scenic Pareo by Anne Cole

Wet Suit - A swimsuit that covers most if not all of the body.