the best bathing suit guide for curvy ladies

Swimwear for Curvy Women: A Full Guide for Styling Curves

Finding swimwear that fits and flatters can be a challenge for curvy women, but luckily there are more size-inclusive options available now than ever before.

We’ve put together a guide to help you find a swimsuit that will fit your body and flatter your curves.

Can you wear a bikini if you’re curvy?

Of course, curvy women can wear bikinis! 

curvy woman in a bathing suit on a painting

The idea that curvy women can’t wear bikinis is a myth. But up until very recently, finding a bikini that fits properly has been a real chore.

Curvy women we spoke with have struggled to find comfortable bikinis that don’t sag, bind, or cause uncomfortable spillage. 

When you do find something that fits, it’s often only offered in frumpy, outdated styles.

Thankfully the more size-inclusive brands and extended size ranges from existing swimwear companies make finding fashionable and well-fitting swimwear easier than ever. 

What to look for in bathing suits

The sheer number of options can be overwhelming at first, but narrowing down your choices is simple if you follow a few guidelines.

Pick quality swimwear

choose quality over quantity when shopping for bathing suits for curvy body types

Invest in quality swimwear rather than going for cheaper options that pill and wear out quickly. Plus, higher-quality suits tend to be more flattering.    

Choose stretchier fabrics

elasticity of swimsuit fabrics ranked high to low
Modern-day swimwear is made using various blends of the above fabrics

Stretchier fabrics with at least 50% polyester (a.k.a. Lycra) content will hold their shape better even when wet…and last longer than just one summer. 

Separates offer more flexible sizing

Separates (think bikinis and tankinis) are a great option if you struggle to find swimwear that fits both your bust and hips.       

Plan for activities

For curvy women looking forward to enjoying some watersports, swimwear offering unparalleled support while twisting, jumping, and swimming are a must. Go for sporty swimsuits designed specifically for women with curves.

How do you look good in a bikini when you’re curvy?

tips on how curvy woman can also look good in bathing suits

If you’ve spent hot summer days hiding your curves – and sweating like crazy – under boxy t-shirts, we have good news.

When you’re curvy, more fabric makes you look bulky! Look for swimwear that showcases (or creates) the difference between your waist, bust, and hips. 

Fit matters more than size

Remember not to give too much importance to the size on the label. How a swimsuit fits is the only thing that matters. Start with your typical clothing size but go up or down if you need to since no one can see the label anyway! 

Create balance

Follow the rule of thirds to make your top and bottom look like they are in balance. The neckline, placement of the waistline, and how high the leg openings are can make your torso and legs look longer.

Define your waist

Use patterning, belts, and cutouts to draw attention to the smallest part of your torso.

Support your bust

Underwires, wide bands, and bra styling supports larger breasts and keeps smaller-chested women secure. 

Best bikinis & swimsuits for curvy women

Every woman has her own unique body shape, including the curvier ladies.

Choosing the right swimsuit can be tricky for those sporting pear-shaped figures, apple silhouettes, voluptuous hourglass shapes, or any other shape with curves. 

curvy model in a high waisted black bikini set

The good news is that there are styles available to make every one of your curves look sublime.

Look for:

Tankinis – One woman we spoke to said, “Tankinis fix all my swimsuit problems.” These suits offer more coverage than a bikini but are easier to fit than a one-piece…especially if they come as separates. 

  • High-waisted bottoms – These retro-style bottoms define your waistline and are less likely to roll when you sit down. 
  • Ruching – Swimsuits with ruching can smooth your tummy, cinch your waist, and make you feel sexy without exposing more skin.
  • Bra-sized tops – Consider bra-sized tops for better fit and more support for your bust no matter what your size.
  • High-cut legs – If you have wider hips or want your legs to look longer, higher-cut leg openings might be a good choice. 
  • Tummy control – If you’re concerned about your midsection, one-piece suits or high-waisted bottoms made with power mesh panels or compression fabric can make your tummy look smoother.
  • Open sides – Open-sided monokinis and one-piece suits with cutouts along the sides can help define your waist. 


  • Thinner straps – Thin straps and ties can cut into curves and make you look like your suit is too small…even when it fits perfectly. If you like strappy or crisscrossed styles, look for strappy detailing with mesh panels underneath for a smooth bodyline. 
  • Super low-rise bottoms – Bottoms with very low rises can roll down when you sit unless they have very high-cut legs…which can also cut into your sides. Opt for mid- or high-rise bottoms instead.
  • Plunging necklines – Curvy women with larger busts should be wary of plunging necklines that don’t offer enough support. If you like the look, try a one-piece with a mesh panel that creates the illusion of a low neckline without sacrificing support.
  • Bandeau tops – Bandeau tops provide little support. While there are bandeaus made for larger busts, you should be sure to give them a workout when you try them on to make sure they’ll stay in place. 

What color bikini is most slimming for a curvy body?

It’s no secret that darker shades tend to have a slimming effect. And that’s still true for curvy bodies.

When trying to create a slim look in swimwear, many people turn to black as their default color choice

However, if you want to mix things up a little, you can select tonal or monochrome swimsuits in other colors.

Use your skin tone as a guide to choose other flattering colors that give a slimming effect:

  • Women with lighter skin tones should try darker blue, charcoal gray, and green hues
  • Midtone blues, earthy olives, and rich burgundies work well for medium skin tones.
  • Swimsuits in bright oranges, sunny yellows, and classic reds pop on darker skin tones. 

Keep in mind the color should match your skin’s undertone, too. Your complexion’s warm, neutral, or cool undertones dictate which color palette looks best on you. 

When seeking swimwear as a woman with curves, finding the ideal piece takes a little time and patience. But once you come across your dream swimsuit – the one that makes you feel sexy and confident – all that effort will be worth it. 

Any favorite tips or tricks to share for locating the perfect swimsuit? Drop them in the comments below!

Aimee is a freelance writer and editor with over ten years of professional experience writing, proofreading, and copyediting. When not covering fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and pop culture, she enjoys reading, watching K-dramas, vintage instant photography, and working on her novel.

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