midsize bikini sets lying on a canvas

Midsize Bathing Suits: Everything You Should Know

What are midsize bathing suits?

The term “midsize” originated in the fashion industry, referring to models who were between straight size (0-4) and plus size (12+). As the term has become more widely used, the size range has shifted to include more everyday women who struggle to find flattering swimwear.

Midsize bathing suits are designed for women who fall between straight sizes (typically 0-12) and traditional plus sizes (14+), they aim to fill the gap that exists between size categories.

If you find that the largest straight sizes are still too small, but plus-size swimwear is too loose and baggy, you likely fall into the midsize range.

mid size model wearing black bathing suits

The exact sizes that qualify as midsize are debated, but generally fall between US sizes 10-16 or 12-18. Some also include sizes 8-12 in the midsize label.

Being midsize means it’s hard to find swimwear that properly fits your body type. Straight size swim tends to run small in the bust and hips for curvier figures. But plus size swim can appear boxy and shapeless if you don’t have an archetypal “plus” frame.

Midsize bathing suits are designed with the unique proportions of in-between bodies in mind. The focus is a flattering fit that accommodates curves without being restrictive or tent-like.

Bathing suits marketed as midsize typically come in cup sizes and offer options like underwire and tummy control panels to provide comfort and support.

You’ll see styles like retro halter tops, pinup-inspired one pieces, and ruffled skirted bottoms that add flounce to slender hips and thighs. Design details give midsize bathing suits a vintage flair with modern fit.

The rise of the term “midsize” reflects the lack of representation for bodies that are neither sample size nor exactly plus size.

Midsize bathing suits serve an underrepresented demographic who want swimwear tailored to their proportions. If you don’t identify as thin but also hesitate to call yourself plus size, midsize swimsuits may be your middle ground.

The pros and cons of midsize swimsuits


  • Designed for in-between body types that don’t fit well into straight or plus sizes
  • Accommodate curves and fuller figures without being restrictive or tent-like
  • Offer cup sizes, underwire, and tummy control for support and shape
  • Flattering vintage-inspired styles made for real women’s proportions
  • Provide options for those sized out of many mainstream brands
  • Allow size fluctuation without having to buy different suits
  • Work for those in pregnancy and postpartum stages


  • Limited size range compared to straight or plus size selections
  • Less availability compared to standard sizes;
  • you may need to shop online
  • Sizing and fit still varies across midsize brands
  • Term “midsize” lacks a consistent definition, may exclude some body types
  • Not as much representation or community compared to non-plus or plus

Who midsize bathing suits are for?

women wearing a wine color bikini top, smiling

Midsize bathing suits are designed for anyone that doesn’t fit into straight or plus sizes. If you often find yourself caught between size categories when shopping, you’re likely the ideal customer for midsize swimwear.

More specifically, they cater to women who typically wear US sizes 12-16. If you have an hourglass, pear, or athletic curve-focused shape, straight size swimwear may pinch and gap in the bust and hips. But plus size styles may billow out and lack definition for your frame.

Midsize swimsuits also appeals to shorter or petite women who weigh more than straight-size models but don’t have proportional plus size dimensions. You may identify more with the midsize range if you have a curvy or stocky body type that carries extra weight in places like the chest, arms, and middle – but doesn’t necessarily have a fuller hip and rear shape.

They are also great for those whose weight fluctuates across a range of sizes. If you sometimes fit a size 10 and other times fit a 14 depending on weight changes or bloating, you likely fall between categories.

The extra wiggle room in midsize styles allows you to wear the same suit whether you gain or lose pounds.

After all, midsize is a self-identification for many.

If you resonate more with midsize media and influencers compared to straight or plus size spaces, then midsize likely reflects your body type.

You may feel caught in between standardized sizes or unable to relate to content on either end of the spectrum.

While the exact parameters are subjective, midsize bathing suits broadly aim to serve women who don’t fit squarely into non-plus or plus sizing. If you find yourself sized out of certain brands but fit in others, or just don’t vibe with either end of the size range, midsize offers an option tailored for bodies that fall in the cracks.

The designs of midsize suit curves without excess fabric, filling the gap between size extremes.

Tips on shopping for midsize bathing suits

Reference size charts: Don’t rely on generic size labels like L or XL. Look at the actual measurements on size charts to get your best fit. Focus on the bust, waist, and hip dimensions.

Focus on stretch fabrics: Options like spandex blends have more give to accommodate curves. Stay away from unforgiving fabrics like 100% polyester that won’t flex.

Choose adjustable ties and straps: Ties allow you to cinch areas like the back or neck for a customized fit. Adjustable straps let you tweak the length to ensure proper chest coverage.

Look for tummy control features: Shirring, ruching, power mesh panels, and bike shorts lining help minimize and smooth the midsection.

Try different silhouettes: Plunging necklines and retro inspired styles work well for large busts. Skirted bottoms flatter narrower hips and thighs. High neck tops balance fuller midsections.

Determine your bra size: Knowing your bra measurements allows you to pick tops with cup sizes and underwire that match your shape. Use the “sister size” method to get the right fit.

Read customer reviews: Check reviews from real people with your body type. See comments about areas like bust support, rear coverage, and how the suit fits on curves.

Be prepared to make returns: Not all suits work for every body, so expect to exchange some pieces to get the ideal fit. Take advantage of free shipping and returns from online retailers.

Luna Wilde covers the latest swimwear collections, designer collabs, tutorials and industry innovations. She brings over 5 years of digital journalism experience to crafting clever, conversational content about all swimwear-involved things.

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