bathing suit guide for women with short torsos

The Swimwear Manual for Women w/ Short Torsos

What exactly is a short torso?

Understanding your body’s proportions can be really valuable when finding the right clothes, especially when it comes to swimwear.

One of the main proportions relevant to finding the right swimsuit is your torso. 

Having a short torso means your body may not be proportionate, as it means your torso is shorter in proportion to your overall height.

Being petite does not mean you will have a short torso and vice-versa, as your torso length is not related to your height. If you have a short torso, it is likely that your legs take the majority of credit for your height.

To see if you have a short torso, you can either measure yourself and calculate your measurements against your height, but there is also a shortcut method. Simply place your hands horizontally under your breasts, one under the other. 

This measures the space between your breasts and belly button: if your hands align with the top of your belly button, then you have even proportions, but if your hands cover your belly button, then you may have a short torso [source].

Things to look for in a swimsuit if you have a short torso

Moderate high-cut bottoms

model in a bathing suit set with high cut legs

Balance is the key with this, as it’s all about finding a cut that accentuates the length of the legs but is not too high that it intrudes on torso space. 

To find this balance, the cut should sit on or just under the hip bone. Also don’t be fooled by the similarity in name with high-waisted bottoms, as high-cut bottoms are very different. 

High-waisted bottoms have extra coverage over the hips, whereas high-cut bottoms bring the inner bikini line upwards. Think of it like someone taking a normal pair of bikini bottoms and cutting a few inches out from the center. 

Adjustable straps on one-piece swimsuits

model wearing a high neck one piece swisuit-

Since your torso is shorter than average, one-pieces are probably not tailored to your measurements, and you may have trouble finding one that fits perfectly and doesn’t sit loosely in the middle. 

Having adjustable straps means you can create a better fit, which will mean you have a smoother and more tailored look. 

Proper necklines

The right neckline is also important, as it will determine the lines the swimsuit creates on your body.

Wearing either a high-neck of a v-neck swimsuit will help to create elongated lines down your body, giving the illusion of length.

A rounder or boat-neck top will instead create a horizontal line across your body and accentuate your short torso.


The last hot tip to elongate the torso is to wear accessories that lengthen the lines down the body, like string bikinis and sarongs.

Bikinis with long strings will hang down the body creating vertical lines, and the illusion of extra length, and a sarong lengthens the figure when tied above the hip.

Types of swimwear that looks best on a short torso

String bikinis

As we said above, string bikinis create lengthening lines down the body with the strings, which is a practical tactic for elongating the torso.

To fully cash in on this though, you can combine it with a high-cut bottom for the ultimate illusion.

Look for something with similar lines and long strings to this bikini: 

black string bikini set on a sheet

High-neck full-piece swimsuits

By sporting a high-necked bathing suit, you can achieve the illusion of a lengthened torso by creating a longer vertical line.

This will be especially effective when paired with a high-cut bottom as they will work together to bring the body’s lines upwards.

Like with any swimsuit, it’s important to make sure the fit is immaculate, especially with a one-piece.

Any fitting issues around the midsection will bring the lines of the body down and probably accentuate the short torso rather than work to lengthen it.

V-neck bikini tops

A v-neck top creates a long vertical line down the center of the body that will make the torso look longer.

It will be strengthened when paired with a thick waistband that sits just under the bottom of the v, as this will create a definition further up your torso.

This swimsuit below also has a high-cut bottom, mixing all three techniques to great effect.

One-shoulder full-pieces 

If you have a larger bust but want the effect of a high neck, look no further than the humble one-shoulder swimsuit.

Thanks to the upwards asymmetrical design, you still get that lengthened and elongated look but with that ever-important support. 

It’s most effective in a one-piece as it creates one smooth line all the way down the body as opposed to the broken lines of a bikini. 

Swimwear styles to avoid if you have a short torso

Contrasting colors

Wearing a top that contrasts significantly in color to the bottoms will create broken lines and further accentuate a shorter torso.

This is because the top and the bottom won’t work cohesively to lengthen the body and will instead create two horizontal blocks: one across the breasts and one across the bottom.

High-waisted bottoms

High-waisted bottoms are a staple for many but can be a big no-no for those with short torsos as it takes up too much of the already limited space.

The goal is to create length between the hips and the breasts, rather than fill it up with high-waisted bottoms. 


The same theory for high-waisted bottoms applies here, as it will elongate the breasts to intrude further down towards the hips, stealing the precious real estate of the already short torso. 

Horizontal stripes

When trying to create a lengthened look, vertical lines are queen due to the way they pull the eye down rather than across.

A print that has horizontal stripes will have the opposite effect and create a line that makes the torso look wider rather than longer.

Jessica is a freelance writer and editor, with a passion for all things style and fashion. She enjoys sharing tips on how to find clothes that make you feel your best.

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