best bathing suits for women with short legs guide

The Fail-Proof Swimwear Guide for Women w/ Short Legs

When you’re looking for a bathing suit, you want a style that makes you feel comfortable and confident. That means finding a suit that accentuates all of your best features and downplays areas you feel self-conscious about – like shorter legs. 

Take advantage of this fail-proof guide assembled from insights shared by women with short legs…who know what a pain in the bikini bottom it can be to shop for swimsuits.

How do I know if I have short legs?

Before we dive into the tips and tricks, we want to take a moment to talk about how to determine if you have short legs.

You might think it’s just a matter of leg measurement, but even tall women can have short legs. It’s more about the length of your legs in proportion to your body. 

For humans, the ratio of the rest of the body to leg length usually falls between 1:1 and 1:1.5.

That means your legs should be about half your height or even a little bit longer.

According to a 2009 study conducted by the University of Liverpool, the most attractive ratio is 1:1.4.

Finding the vertical balance for short legs

woman balancing on a string
Off Balance, Amanda Outcalt

What if you weren’t lucky enough to have been born with that perfect 1:1.4 leg ratio?

Well, the good news is you can fake it by determining your vertical body type and then balancing out the proportions. (Hint: Women with short legs usually have longer torsos.)

With vertical balance, the idea is to create the illusion of the perfect leg-to-body ratio.

You can have the appearance of balance even if you weren’t born that way by wearing clothes that lengthen your leg and shorten your long torso.

Making your legs look longer in bathing suits

model in a chair wearing bathing suit with long legs

If you have short legs, you know many of the usual tips for making them look longer – like wearing long pants with pointed-toe shoes – don’t work with swimwear.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to elongate your legs while wearing a bathing suit.

We asked women with short legs for their top tricks for making their legs look longer when wearing swimsuits. And they recommended:

  • Raising your waistline with color, cut, and patterning.
  • Breaking up the long line of your torso with zig-zagging panels and cutouts.
  • Drawing attention upward to your face, neck, and shoulders.
  • Making the point where your leg begins to appear higher on your hip. 

Thin Legs

women with thin short legs posing in a bikini

You may think horizontal stripes or low-cut legs will fill out thin legs, but the women we spoke with said these styles actually shorten your leg.

Instead, opt for diagonal stripes or cutouts that angle from the top of the hip to your high waistline to give shape without cutting off the leg line.

Stubby Short Legs

woman with stubby short legs posing in a swimsuit

If your legs are short and on the larger side, high-leg swimsuits – whether they’re one- or two-piece – are the best way to make them seem longer.

They also make your legs seem slimmer because the swimsuit is less likely to cut in and cause your thigh to bulge around the edge of the fabric. 

Asymmetrical shoulder straps on one- and two-piece swimsuits draw the eye upward. When attention is on your neck and face, your thighs appear slimmer. 

What type of swimsuit is best for short legs?

As we brought up earlier, it’s pretty common for women with short legs also to have longer torsos. When you’re looking for swimwear, it’s important to keep both of these features in mind and choose a suit that balances both. 

One-Piece Suits

With your long torso, it can be more difficult to find a one-piece suit that’s long enough.

As one of the women we spoke with said, “A one-piece that isn’t long enough causes a mega-wedgie all day no matter how many times you pull it out.”

But some women with shorter legs and longer torsos felt a good one-piece was worth spending a little extra time searching out.

If you want to take advantage of the extra coverage of a one-piece, they recommended you look for:

  • Belts or color blocks that hit at or slightly above your natural waistline to help shorten your torso. 
  • Off-the-shoulder tops, asymmetrical straps, or cutouts that draw attention to your neck and shoulders and keep your torso in balance.
  • High-cut legs – the higher, the better – combined with cheeky coverage in the back that makes your legs look long and lean.
  • Wrap-style swimsuits or suits with ruching, ruffles, or a peplum at the midsection to define your waist and balance your torso.
  • Monokinis with high-cut legs and open sides that elongate your legs without drawing too much attention to your long torso. 

Bikinis & Tankinis

Two-piece suits offer a little more flexibility because you don’t have to worry if the torso will be long enough for your body.

Keep in mind you want to choose styles that elongate your leg without making your torso look longer than it actually is. Try to find:

  • Bottoms with legs that hit higher than your hip line to make your leg look longer. As with one-piece suits, the higher the leg cut, the better.
  • High-waisted bottoms that hit at or above your natural waistline to balance your long torso. 
  • String bikinis with side ties that make your legs look longer. Pair them with a longline bikini top that extends to just above your natural waist to stay in balance.
  • Bikinis with a v-style waist and high-cut side combined with a top that features a wide band under the bust to lengthen your legs while balancing your torso.
  • Tankini tops with a layer that floats away from the midsection but hangs no longer than the hip to balance your body by camouflaging the length of your torso.

Things to Avoid

When aiming to enhance leg length while balancing overall body proportions through swimwear choices, there are some designs that should be avoided.

  • Low-waisted bathing suit bottom styles could actually elongate the appearance of your upper body and create shorter-looking legs. 
  • Boyshorts or low-cut leg openings that cut off at the hip create a line that defines the top of the thigh and shortens your leg. 
  • High necklines make your torso look even longer, and your legs will look shorter in comparison. 
  • Full-coverage bikini bottoms might solve coverage concerns, but opting for cheeky cuts or Brazilian styles make your legs look longer from the front and the back view. 
  • Wearing darker color bikini bottoms with a lighter-colored top shortens your legs and elongates your torso. 

You don’t have to buy the first swimsuit you find that fits…even though it makes you feel self-conscious about the length of your legs.

Following these tips for women who understand your struggle can help you find a swimsuit you love that makes your legs look long and lean. 

What are your favorite swimsuits for making short legs look long and lean? What do you avoid? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

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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