High-Waisted Bikinis: Definition, Styles, Fit & More

What is a high-waisted bikini?

A high-waisted bikini is a two-piece swimsuit featuring a top and high-waisted bottom piece that covers more of the midriff than a standard bikini. The high-waisted bikini bottom sits at or above the belly button, like the rise of high-waisted pants or shorts.

Characteristics of a high waist bikini include:

  • Fabric band sits high on waist: The top edge contains elasticized fabric that stretches over the waist, hugging at or above the natural waistline which is generally near the belly button.
  • Offers more coverage: The higher cut covers more area in the torso region including the stomach, navel, and love handles compared to a low or mid-rise bikini bottom.
  • Creates vintage pin-up aesthetic: The high positioning gives the appearance of a 1950s or 1960s swimsuit, evoking a retro bombshell look.
  • Often made of control fabric: Many high-waisted bottoms incorporate slimming fabrics like spandex or compression materials to smooth bulges.
  • Accentuates hourglass shape: The high cut coupled with tummy control slims the waistline while emphasizing the hips and thighs, enhancing an hourglass physique.

The coverage, styling, and shaping effects of the high-waisted bikini create a flattering, fashionable swimsuit option for women seeking a chic retro look. It pairs well with halter, push-up, or strapless bikini tops. Common colors and patterns include black, red, polka dots, and floral.

Types of high-waisted bikinis

Retro High-Waist – This vintage-inspired style features a folded-over waistband that hits right at the belly button. The brief-style bottom has moderate coverage and a classic pin-up look.

High-Cut Leg High-Waisted– With the same vintage folded waistband, this style has an elevated cut along the leg openings, showing off more thigh and hip.

Sporty High-Waist – A high-waisted bikini with a wide encased elastic waistband characterized by its athletic appearance. The bottom is a classic brief providing ample rear coverage for activity.

Belted High-Waist – This style incorporates a fabric belt or tie closure at the top of the waist rather than elastic. The belt cinches in the waist while the brief-style bottom remains comfortably modest.

Ruched High-Waist – Vertical gathered ruching along the front and back add texture. Ruching is figure-flattering and the high-cut legs balance high coverage with a peek of skin.

Cropped High-Waist – Cropped lengths ending at the upper thigh lend a short-shorts aesthetic. This boyshort style allows freedom of movement with high-waist security.

Should I wear high-waisted bikini bottoms?

For women with fuller hips and thighs, the extra coverage in front and back is appreciated both aesthetically and functionally. The higher waist keeps more of the rear contained and supported compared to low rise bottoms. Enough fabric also reduces riding up, picking and discomfort between the legs during activity.

High-waist bikini bottoms that extend too high can minimize the appearance of an hourglass figure on shorter torsos. Similarly, bottoms hitting too low lose their effectiveness for side and tummy slimming. Pay attention to where the waistline falls to find your ideal positioning.

Assessing rear projection is also important with high-rise bikini bottoms. Styles providing ample cheek coverage work well on flat bottoms. But excess fabric over fuller derrieres can create a saggy diaper look. Seek out designs with a curve hugging cut or opt for adjustable ties to tweak the fit just right.

Pros and cons of high-waisted bikinis


  • Enhances hourglass curves: The high-waisted cut highlights the slimmest part of the waistline while accentuating the hips, butt, and thighs. This creates the illusion of a nipped-in waist and fuller bottom half.
  • Provides more coverage and security: The additional fabric offers more coverage over the midsection including the stomach, back, and sides, preventing exposure. This allows for more confidence in active beach activities like volleyball.
  • Minimizes muffin top: The smoothing, tummy control panel helps diminish the appearance of love handles and back bulges.


  • Can feel constricting: For some wearers, the squeezing high waistband feels restrictive and uncomfortable resulting in stomach bloating or shortness of breath.
  • Creates tan lines: Unlike a bandeau or crop top bikini, the high-waisted bottom leaves a noticeable tan line across the waist and stomach.
  • Looks frumpy on some body types: Petite, ruler-shaped, and apple body types may appear stumpy or disproportionate in a high-waisted swimsuit.
  • Requires matching tops: The high-waisted vintage look only works when paired with a coordinated top like a bralette, bustier, or halter style.

Are high-waisted bikinis flattering?

High-waisted bikini bottoms go in and out of mainstream fashion but remain a classic silhouette reinterpreted every season, they are idely considered to be very flattering for a variety of figures.

The high waist helps slim the torso and define the upper body by cinching directly underneath the bustline. This creates the illusion of a nipped-in waist above fuller hips and thighs. The effect is an accentuated hourglass shape.

For women with shorter torsos, this elongating effect helps balance proportions. The high coverage also minimizes abdominal areas many women wish to downplay.

Are high-waisted bikinis still in style?

High-waisted bikinis remain a strong swimwear trend, particularly vintage pin-up inspired looks. After regaining popularity around 2015, high-rise bikini bottoms are still going strong in 2024 collections. The nostalgic style flatters across ages and brings a bombshell glamor associated with 1950’s beauty.

Reasons why high-waisted bikinis continue resurfacing in swimwear:

  • Complementary shape for curves
  • Flattering fit on many body types
  • Provides tummy control and smoothing
  • Vintage-inspired aesthetic having a comeback
  • Allows customization of coverage

How should a high-waisted bikini fit?

A properly fitted high-waisted bikini bottom should sit comfortably at or just below the natural waistline, typically hitting right at or below the navel. The upper edge should be smooth, tight, and secure but not excessively binding. There should be no gaps, bunching, rolling, or pinching.

When standing upright, a well-fitted high rise bottom should not fall from the waist when you relax. Nor should it be so tight that it overly compresses or squeezes, creating an unflattering muffin top effect above the waistband. There should be room for normal movement and breathing without cutting into the skin or slipping down.

The fabric should fully encircle the lower torso, draping with a bit of ease over the widest, fullest part of the hips and buttocks. Revealing too much undercurve can be a sign of poor fit.

How much do high-waisted bikini bottoms cost?

On the low end, basic high-rise bikini bottoms in nylon/spandex blend materials typically cost $15 to $30 from mass retailers and budget-conscious brands. Styles from specialty swimwear brands generally run $30 to $60. More fashion-forward cuts and patterns from contemporary brands fall in the $60 to $120 range.

The most expensive high-waisted bottoms are usually from luxury designers and premium athletic brands. These use technical, high-performance fabrics and intricate hardware details. Boutique designer bikini bottoms can cost anywhere from $120 to over $300 based on embellishments with crystals, hardware, or laser cut-outs.

How do high-waisted bikinis differ from retro-style swimsuits?

The key distinction is that high-waisted bikini bottoms form the bottom half of a two-piece swimsuit set. The high waist hits at or just below the belly button, providing more coverage of the midriff than a standard bikini bottom. Retro swimsuits, on the other hand, take the form of a maillot – a one-piece suit with higher cut thigh openings and a higher rise over the torso.

High-waisted bikini bottoms are specifically designed to be mixed and matched with a range of bikini tops, from basic triangle or bandeau styles to underwire halters and cropped cami bras. This versatility allows women to personalize coverage levels for their bust to find a flattering, comfortable fit. One-piece retro swimsuits do not offer adjustable coverage. The built-in bra cups, padded or lined, provide full bust support and lift within a set non-adjustable design.

In terms of rear coverage, high-waisted bikini bottoms typically provide medium to full coverage. The fabric stretches over the buttocks, with rises covering one-half to full cheek. Retro maillot swimsuits run the gamut from medium coverage to extremely high-cut leg openings that expose most of the rear. Styles like the trikini one-piece exposed nearly the whole backside with only side straps crossing the back.

High-waisted bikini bottoms focus coverage across the torso, accentuating a nipped-in waist. The higher rise helps smooth the appearance of the midsection with tummy control. Retro one-piece swimsuits provide full coverage across the entire torso, from below the bust to high on the thigh. Made of firming fabric, these swimsuits shape and slenderize the whole body line.

What are some good brands for high-waisted bikinis?

Many major retailers and swimsuit boutiques carry high-waisted bikini options in-store, when shopping online, some top high-waisted bikini brands to look for include:

  • Solid & Striped
  • Ark Swimwear
  • Montce
  • Billabong

When Katie was 10 years old, she won her first writing prize in an essay contest. That experience sparked her love and interest in writing. Throughout her life, she’s had various opportunities to expand her skill set. She wrote extensively about her experiences traveling the world and doing charity work. Currently, she is busy writing and taking care of her two step-sons and newborn daughter. She loves being a mother and makes time every day to fulfill her passion for writing & fashion.

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