High Leg Bikinis: Meaning, Style & More

What is a high leg bikini?

A high leg bikini is a two-piece swimsuit featuring a top piece and a bottom with high-cut leg openings that expose more of the hips, pelvis and upper thighs. The defining characteristics of high leg bikini bottoms include:

  • High cut leg lines: The fabric piece extends downward from the waistband but is sharply angled upwards along outer hips, fully exposing both hip bones.
  • Shows more skin: Significantly more area of the upper thighs and hip region is revealed due to less fabric coverage.
  • Creates lengthening effect: The high leg cut gives the visual effect of longer legs, making them appear slimmer and more toned.
  • Low to medium rear coverage: Cheek coverage in back varies from full exposure of rear curves to partial coverage depending on specific style.
  • Outer hip tan lines: Distinct tan lines angle upwards across the front and back of protruding hip bones.

Different variations and examples of high-leg bikinis

High leg bikini bottoms maximize exposure of hips and thighs via angular, gravity-defying leg lines. Brands push style boundaries with unique ties, sheer fabrics, cut outs and daring anatomical shapes. There are a few common high leg bikini bottom silhouettes:

Brazilian cut – With very high, sharply angled leg openings, Brazilian high leg bikini bottoms expose nearly the entire rear. Just side rear straps cross the upper glutes, showing ample cheek. Less fabric also means more exposure in front of outer hips and fronts of thighs.

V-cut leg – Like the letter V, the leg opening points inward rather than running horizontally across legs. This style shows off an triangle of outer thigh skin while still covering some of the rear and hip curve underneathe.

Side-tie bottoms – Straps extending from the waistband tie at the hips rather than fully encircling the waist. The open sides reveal sharp hip lines bisecting front and back pieces. These can range from moderate to extreme rear exposure.

Anatomical shapes – High leg bikinis molded or cut into abstract body part shapes add an artistic element. Sexy cut outs enhance what little coverage remains.

Leg heights of high leg bikinis

High leg bikini bottoms come in a variety of leg heights that offer different levels of coverage, style, and fit. Below are the main leg heights for high leg bikinis.

High Cut Leg: As the name implies, high cut leg bikini bottoms have a leg opening that sits quite high on the hips, exposing more of the outer thighs, hips, and rear. The fabric stretches diagonally upwards from the crotch area to reveal an elongated triangle of skin along the outer thighs. High cut legs create a leggy, cheeky look perfect for showing off tan lines.

Moderate High Cut Leg: With a leg height between standard bikini bottoms and ultra high cuts, the moderate high cut leg still reveals a noticeable portion of the upper thighs but offers a bit more coverage and security than more extreme high cut styles. The leg openings extend to about mid-hip bone, covering half of the rear.

French Cut: French cut bikini bottoms have a high leg cut but differ in that the fabric curves inwards toward the bottom center. Rather than a straight diagonal side seam, french cut leg openings swoop up higher on the leg near the crotch and dip lower toward the hips. This creates an oval shape that’s highly elongated on the inner thighs.

How should a high-leg bikini fit?

A properly fitted high-leg bikini bottom should offer full coverage in the front while exposing more skin along the outer hips and rear. The leg openings ride high on the thighs, hence the name “high-leg”. When standing upright relaxed, a well-fitted high leg bikini bottom should adhere smoothly to the body without major gapping. The fabric should fully encircle the hips and buttocks without rolling over or creating a “muffin top” effect above the waistband.

The top edge should have enough stretch and tension to stay up without cutting into the skin. There should be no major gaps along the waistband, indicating adequate tension.

The inner leg seam should follow high along the crease between the leg and torso, reaching towards the top outer quadrant of the butt cheek. Depending on personal coverage preferences, the leg opening may expose just the lower butt cheek curvature or ride up to reveal most of the cheek minus side strap coverage. The edges should lie smooth against the skin without biting.

The fabric of a high-leg bikini’s front panel should be taut enough to avoid loose bunching and prevent revealing too much of the lower abdomen and bikini line region when moving.

Pros and cons of high-leg bikinis


Creates a leg-lengthening effect: The high leg cut gives the illusion of longer, leaner legs by fully exposing the upper thighs and elongating the line of leg. For petite frames, this helps proportions appear more balanced.

Flaunts curves: By showcasing the fuller, rounded areas of the hips and rear, high leg bikini bottoms highlight womanly assets. This draws the eye to accentuate these sensual areas.

Allows wearing higher waisted tops: Lower riding bikini bottoms provide flexibility to layer tops. Trendy high necklines and underbust bras balance the skin exposure below.

Fits active lifestyles: Uninhibited freedom to move makes high leg bikinis ideal for chasing kids at the beach, playing volleyball or paddling a surfboard.


Risk malfunctions: Skimpy coverage coupled with active motion risks overexposure from shifting fabric. Unexpected glimpses of the groin or rear can easily occur.

Creates uneven tan lines: The little fabric leaves awkward uneven lines across the upper inner thighs and hips that stand out against tanned skin.

Uncomfortable fit: Less fabric picking at intimate areas often leads to chafing discomfort between the legs during movement.

Requires diligent grooming: Baring so much skin means no stray hairs or bumps can be visible. Consistent, meticulous bikini area grooming is essential.

Not suitable for all venues: Many public beaches and pools forbid excessively high cut swimwear for safety concerns. Families may also deem the exposure inappropriate.

Are high leg bikinis right for me?

When assessing if a high-leg bikini is a personal fit, consider your lifestyle, priorities and comfort exposing more skin.

Body shape

FLATTERS: Lean, athletic builds, boyish frames, tall ladies

DOWNSIDES: Curvier figures, full hips/thighs, petite women


GOOD FOR: Pool parties, tropical vacations, hanging at edgy venues

NOT IDEAL: Family settings, kid playdates, public beaches


REQUIRES: Diligent bikini line grooming, vigilant sunscreen application

AVOID: If you dislike ongoing maintenance


EMBRACE IF: You exude confidence, crave sensation, ignore judgement

RECONSIDER IF: You fear exposure, hate tan lines, value ample coverage

The less inhibited you feel about putting your body on display, the better suited you are for a high-leg bikini. For women embodied in their sensuality and skin, its daring aesthetic incites confidence. But if coverage insecurity exists even slightly, the style will only exacerbate body image issues.

How does the rise of the leg in a bikini affect the overall look?

The rise, or how high the fabric extends up on the hips and thighs, makes a significant impact on the look and perceived proportions of a swimsuit. When comparing bikini bottoms of the exact same style, a higher cut leg visually lengthens the legs which in turn makes them appear slimmer. It also exposes more skin, adding a sexier edge.

The leg-focused effect of high cut bikini bottoms comes with balancing act between highlighting the legs, minimizing the hips, and preventing overexposure. The aesthetic impacts on the overlook achieved depend on body type, style preferences for proportions, and intended environments for wearing high leg swimsuits.

How are high-leg bikinis different from other swimsuit styles?

Elevated Leg Openings

Rather than sitting low on the hips, a high-leg bikini bottom has leg openings extending closer to the front pelvis and up higher on the outer thighs. This leaves an exposed strip of skin ranging from 2 to 8 inches wide between the bottom edge and the waistband. The shorter rise and inner curve of the leg opening create a glimpse of the lower torso not seen in average bikini cuts.

Increased Exposure

Due to the higher, skimpier leg line, high-leg bikini bottoms reveal more skin overall. The elevated cut bares the upper inner thighs, exposes more of the outer hips and pelvic area, and can expose a portion of rear cheek cleavage depending on personal fit preferences. This increased exposure is the main aesthetic difference setting the high-leg bikini apart with its overtly sexy style.

Specialized Fit

A proper high-leg bikini fit hugs the body closely, rather than gaping or sagging which would diminish the leg-lengthening effect. The leg openings should follow the natural creases between the pelvis and thighs without pulling uncomfortably into the groin. For optimal fit, high-leg bikini bottoms are often more low-rise than a standard bikini, sitting an inch or two below the navel depending on torso length.

Fabric & Styles

The minimalist design of a high-leg bottom allows decorative details to stand out. Common embellishments and textures include metallic fabrics, lace-trim, strappy sides, horizontal seaming, ruched seams, and laser cut-outs. Athleisure and active swim brands also offer high-leg sport bikinis in color blocked patterns. These spandex-rich fabrics provide compression and support during watersports.

Compared to the full coverage of a one-piece swimsuit or the slight revelation of a standard bikini, the high-leg bikini makes a dramatically daring style statement with its glimpses of upper groin and hip exposure.

How much do high-leg bikinis cost?

Entry-level high-leg bikini bottoms in basic nylon/spandex fabrics run $25 to $40. Typically from online fast-fashion brands, this price point offers simpler cuts and patterns without advanced features.

The average cost for high-leg bikini bottoms from specialty swimwear labels and contemporary brands falls between $50 and $85. These bottoms integrate more unique rises, hardware embellishments like rings and sliders, laser cut outs, or inset panels to elevate the leg lines.

On the luxury end, designer high-leg bikinis can range from $90 up to $250+ per bottom. Top-tier fabrics like ribbed cotton-silk blends and touches of Swarovski crystals or gold accents command the highest prices alongside exclusivity. The most expensive high-legs also feature intricate hardware configurations more complex than side tie strings.

What are some popular high-leg bikini brands?

Privately-owned local swimshops in warm climate and beach destinations excel at stocking latest risqué bikini trends. Unlike big box stores, these boutiques cater specifically to their area’s customer preferences. Trying before buying ensures the right fit too.

High-end swimwear fashion houses renowned for audacious cuts and avant-garde style like Frankies Bikinis, PrettyLittleThing, Inxcy, Luli Fama, Maaji, RVCA and ELSE Lingerie sell directly through their own online boutiques. Prices range from $80-$250+ for original designs impossible to find elsewhere.

Sophia is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers pop culture, gender, media, history, and plus-size fashion. With her keen eye for detail and a unique perspective, Sophia's writing captures the essence of the world around us, bringing it to life through her words.

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