Bikini Bottoms (Women’s): Meaning, Styles, & More

What is a bikini bottom?

A bikini bottom is the lower piece of a bikini swimsuit, designed to cover the pelvic region. Its purpose is to provide coverage and support for the anatomical areas including the buttocks, groin, and pubic region while allowing exposure of the abdomen, waist, hips, and thighs.

The term “bikini bottom” distinguishes this garment from a one-piece swimsuit as just the lower half section. It is designed for both functionality in aquatic activities and fashion appeal. Bikini bottoms allow more exposure of the skin compared to a one-piece while still providing coverage of the intimate areas.

The main component of a bikini bottom is a layer or gusset section that fits over the crotch. This is connected to waist straps on the top edge and leg openings on the bottom edge shaped to contour the upper thighs. The waist is designed to stay up on the hips through stretchy elastic bands and/or tie closures.

Many bikini bottoms also feature a liner – a slim inner layer of fabric with a cotton gusset panel. This provides an extra layer of coverage and absorption.

The front panel is sometimes reinforced with a double layer of fabric for extra security and opacity. Side tabs may also be included for adjusting coverage and pull.

Bikini bottoms are typically made of stretchy, lightweight fabrics that dry quickly like nylon/spandex blends. Some also utilize athletic performance fabrics with technical properties like moisture-wicking, UV protection, chlorine resistance, and shape retention.

Different styles of bikini bottoms

High-waisted bikini bottoms

High-waisted bikini bottoms sit at or above the natural waistline, offering more coverage of the midriff than regular bikini bottoms. They have a higher rise, hitting at or just below the belly button, and accentuate the narrowest part of the waist. These bottoms provide tummy control and smooth the silhouette.

High-leg bikini bottoms

High-leg bikini bottoms have high-cut leg openings that showcase more of the hips and upper thighs. Often called “hipster” bikini bottoms, they highlight curves and create the appearance of longer, slimmer legs.

Thong bikini bottoms

Thong bikini bottoms offer very minimal rear coverage in a v-shaped design. The front is low-cut as well but provides more coverage than the backside. They have high-cut leg openings and a thong or G-string back. These bottoms maximize tanning potential with tan lines at a minimum.

String bikini bottoms

String bikini bottoms feature side tie strings rather than stretchy fabric at the hips. This style has very little coverage in front or back – triangular bits of fabric connected by strings.

Boyshorts bikini bottoms OR Briefs

Boyshorts bikini bottoms, also known as briefs, are a style of bikini bottom with more coverage in the rear and front. They have an appearance similar to boxer brief underwear, with a lower rise and higher cut leg openings. The fabric stretches over the buttocks and may cover one-half to two-thirds of the rear.

Skirted bikini bottom or Skirtini

A skirted bikini bottom consists of standard bikini briefs with an attached panel or “skirt” of sheer fabric around the hips. The skirt adds 3-5 inches in length to the front and back of the suit bottom.

Brazilian bikini bottoms

The Brazilian bikini bottom is distinguished by its high-cut leg, scooping diagonally up over the hips on the sides. Its daring silhouette emerged from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, hence the name. Brazilian-cut bikinis have narrow strips of fabric that run between the buttocks, exposing nearly the full rear. The front is also quite revealing with a low-slung waistline and high-cut leg openings that sit perilously close to the groin area.

Tie-Side bikini bottoms

Tie-side bikini bottoms have strings that tie at the hips instead of brief-style elastic bands. Tie side bottoms come in both low-rise and high-waisted cuts to suit vintage or modern aesthetics.

Hipster bikini bottoms

Hipster bikini bottoms are a style of swimsuit bottom with a lower waistline that sits several inches below the navel, revealing more of the upper hip area. This style features medium to high-cut leg openings to show off more thighs and is intended to create the appearance of longer legs.

Swim pants

Swim leggings or swim pants offer full coverage as an alternative bikini bottom. Made of nylon/spandex or polyester/elastane blends, they dry quickly while providing UV protection like other swimwear. Styles range from capri to knee-length or ankle-length. Some have straight cuts while others hug curves. Most feature an adjustable drawcord waistband for personalized fit and can be worn high or low on the hips.

Bikini bottom rises

Traditionally, bikini bottoms came in three main rises:

Low Rise

Sits below the navel, fully exposing hips and upper abdominals. Creates the appearance of longer legs and torso. Minimal coverage can lead to slipping.

Mid Rise

Hits at or slightly below the navel. Offers moderately high coverage while still displaying some midriff. One of the most versatile and secure rises.

High Rise

Reaches near the natural waistline. Heavily associated with vintage pin-up style. Offers more coverage and shaping through the torso. Can minimize the legs.

Beyond the traditional rises, some new bikini bottom silhouettes have also entered swimwear fashion:

Ultra High Rise: Sits at or above the natural waist, fully covering the navel. Creates the illusion of an hourglass shape. Inspired by 80s and 90s supermodels.

French Cut: A high leg, scooped-out design that elongates the legs. Associated with the effortlessly chic French girl aesthetic.

Tap Pant: A high-cut leg with extra coverage over the rear. Reminiscent of vintage athletic shorts. Ideal for sporty activity while still looking cute.

Side-Tie: Adjustable coverage through side strap ties rather than fixed sides. Allows you to control how little or how much you want to reveal.

Slouched Waist: A dropped, loosened waistband that sits ultra low, below the hip points. Creates a nonchalant, relaxed vibe.

How should a bikini bottom fit?

The bikini bottom should provide adequate coverage and be positioned correctly on your hips. The front and back coverage should be sufficient so that you feel comfortable and confident, without revealing too much. The edge of the fabric should follow the line of your hips, resting just below your navel. The bottom should have stretch and give to mold to your body’s natural curves, without digging in, squeezing, bagging, or sagging. When properly-fitted, the bikini bottom will create a smooth, rounded contour highlighting your hips and rear. If it cuts into the skin, leaves imprints, or creates bulges, it is too tight. If it is loose, shapeless, and drooping, it is too big.

The inner thigh openings should be wide enough that the fabric does not creep up or cause discomfort when walking. The leg-openings should offer sufficient breathing room that still provides ample coverage. If there are side ties, they should be snug enough to avoid loose, gaping fabric but not pulled painfully tight, the ties should sit smoothly on the hips without indenting the skin.

Bikini bottom sizes

Women’s bikini bottoms are sized based on hip measurement, similar to pants and underwear. They are cut to fit and contour the curves of a woman’s pelvis and hips. Most bikini bottoms will include size designations like extra-small (XS), small (S), medium (M), large (L), extra-large (XL), etc. Many brands will provide a size chart with hip measurements.

Some common women’s bikini bottom size designations include:

  • Extra-small (XS): best for waists 28-30 inches, hips 35-37 inches
  • Small (S): best for waists 30-32 inches, hips 37-39 inches
  • Medium (M): best for waists 32-34 inches, hips 39-41 inches
  • Large (L): best for waists 34-36 inches, hips 41-43 inches
  • Extra-large (XL): best for waists 36-38 inches, hips 43-45 inches

Many brands will also carry plus sizes, tall sizes, and petite sizes to accommodate more body types. Juniors sizes are also available for teenagers and smaller frames.

When selecting your bikini bottom size, you’ll want to measure the fullest, widest part of your hips and rear and choose according to the brand’s size chart. Keep in mind that just like normal pants, bikini bottom sizes may vary slightly across brands due to differences in cuts and stretch.

If buying a matching bikini set, make sure to purchase the correct bottom size that fits your lower body, even if that means getting a different size than the bikini top. Mixing top and bottom sizes in a bikini is very normal.

Types of bikini bottom waistbands

There are several common types of waistbands used on bikini bottoms to secure them around the body:

Fold-Over Waistband: A thick waistband made of the same swimsuit fabric that flips/folds over itself, creating a reinforced double layer. Often includes a drawstring tie at the fold for adjustable tightness at the waist. Provides smoothing and slimming through the midriff.

Elastic Waistband: A stretchy, flexible strip of elastic sewn into the top edge of the swimsuit bottom. May vary in width from thin to wide. Designed to stretch to accommodate the waist circumference while gently hugging curves. Creates definition at the waistline.

Drawstring Waistband: A thin nylon or polyester cord threaded through a casing at the top edge of the swimsuit bottom with end tips that can be pulled to cinch in or loosen the waist fit as desired. Popular for adjustable coverage and convenience when wet or dry.

Internal Power Mesh: A wide internal layer of control mesh fabric that sucks in the abdominal zone while remaining invisible under swimsuit material exteriors for a sleek silhouette. Offers shaping and compression.

Wide Waistband: A broad waistband spanning 3-5 inches with increased surface area for secure hold. Distributes tension evenly and feels more comfortable without cutting in. Also serves as a flattering accent, balancing fuller bottoms and hips.

Ruched Waistband: Employs ruching – narrow pleated folds of fabric – at the waist to provide textural interest and hide imperfections. The ruching gathers in any problem areas and slims the stomach. Provides flattering waist definition.

Coverage levels of bikini bottoms

Bikini bottoms come in a wide variety of coverage levels, from very revealing to more modest options. The level of coverage refers to how much of the wearer’s backside and front pelvic region is left uncovered by the suit.

Full coverage

Bikini bottoms with full coverage refer to styles that provide maximum skin concealment in both the front and back panel. This includes swim briefs, boyshorts, swim pants, skirts and any bikini bottom made of opaque fabric that fully covers the buttocks and groin area. Full coverage bikini bottoms prioritize functionality, security and modesty over reveal.

Moderate coverage

Moderately covered bikini bottoms strike a balance between coverage and reveal. This middle ground features key elements: sufficient front and rear dimensional coverage through crotch and buttocks, adequately-lined side fabric, and leg openings not cut too high. Moderate bikini bottoms provide the best of both worlds – simultaneously stylish and secure.

Minimal coverage

Scantily-covered bikini bottoms emphasize revelation and sex appeal over security and function. Bikini styles offering sheer, semi-transparent fabric or micro dimensions primarily expose rather than cover anatomical areas. Minimal coverage bottoms include Brazilian cuts, thongs, G-strings, and anything with narrow strips of fabric inadequately protecting front or rear private regions.

The level of coverage balances factors like stability, comfort, mobility, exposure, confidence, and personal preferences regarding modesty.

Pros and cons of wearing bikini bottoms


Bikini bottoms can make women feel sexy, confident and carefree when they hit the beach, pool or lake. The right bikini can be figure-flattering and emphasize one’s best assets. For many ladies, achieving the perfect tan line is a priority and wearing little or sheer bikini bottoms facilitates that bronzed glow. Bikini bottoms also provide ventilation and air flow around areas that tend to get hot, sweaty and irritated. And the simplicity of a two-piece can make bathroom breaks quicker and easier.


Bikini bottoms aren’t for everyone. Those who dislike showing too much skin often opt for the extra coverage of one-piece suits or swim shorts. Bikini bottoms require diligent grooming and upkeep to avoid embarrassment from stubble or stray hairs making an appearance around the leg and bikini line (pubic area). The skimpy fabric also necessitates frequent adjusting and readjusting when active to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.

And for some body types, achieving full comfort and coverage with bikini bottoms can prove challenging. Those with a very full bust may experience frequent popping out or underboob. Similarly, those with fuller rears can struggle with bottoms creeping up or not adequately covering.

What are some new trends in bikini bottoms?

Bikini bottom silhouettes evolve each season to keep up with innovations in fabrics, accents, and fresh takes from leading designers. Some notable bikini bottom trends to watch for include:

High-leg cuts: Sporty, ’80s-inspired high leg openings that sit at the creases of the upper thighs are surging in popularity. These elongating cuts pair well with both retro high-waisted bottoms and tiny string bikinis.

Ruched, shirred & tied details: Waistbands, hips, and rear coverage area enhanced through flattering ruching, shirring, and self-tie accents. Adds texture and customizable shaping.

High-tech fabrics: Bottoms use compressive yet lightweight Italian fabrics for sculpting contourwear effects. Technical quick-drying fabrics improve comfort and wearability.

Vibrant tropical prints: Bold banana leaf, oversized floral, tropical foliage and exotic animal prints interpreted through high saturation colors and graphic artsy prints.

Metallic accents: Gold, rose gold, and silvertone metallics add glamorous shine as piping trims, chain hardware, or infused within fabric prints.

Wrap silhouettes: Wraparound ties, draping, asymmetric panels and sarong-inspired textures reference islander fashions from Bali, Tahiti and more far-flung destinations.

Sustainably made: Eco-friendly fabrics derived from recycled synthetics, plant-based sources, and regenerated marine plastics emphasize sustainable production.

How much do bikini bottoms typically cost?

Women’s bikini bottoms can range greatly in price, generally starting around $10-$15 at the low end and up to $100 or more from designer brands. The average cost for a quality pair from a retailer like Target or Amazon is usually $25-$50.

Factors like fabrics, extra design details, brand name, and specialty cuts or fits impact pricing. More detail means higher prices. Nylon or spandex blends are cheaper than premium fabrics like Italian microfibers. Big name brands carry higher tags too.

Here’s a general pricing ranges of bikini bottoms:

  • Basic styles in basic fabrics: $10-$25
  • Fashion prints & moderate coverage: $20-$40
  • Reversible & hardware details: $30-$60
  • Designer labels & unique cuts: $50-$200+

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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