Underwire Swimsuit

AKA: bra bikini

How to say it: uhn-der-wahyuh-r

Traditional Features: 

Underwire Swimsuit

  • one or two piece swimsuit with an underwire construction

21st Century Underwire Swimsuits

In the 21st century an underwire swimsuit exists in pretty much every style imaginable. From one-pieces, to bikinis or tankinis and everything in between, all the styles are available with an underwire construction to provide support or lift for the modern woman.

Freya Red Carter

Freya, Red Carter

RosaMosario Tory Burch

Rosamosario, Tory Burch


…of the style: The underwire swimsuit is basically any style of suit (one or two-piece) that incorporates an underwire construction, similar to that of a bra.

The idea of using metal to lift and support the female bust first came into being in the late 19th century; this lead to the creation of the underwire bra which hit the underwear market in the 1930s.

Despite its popularity in lingerie, the underwire didn’t make it to the swimwear market until the 1940s. Thanks to the War and the changing fashion trends that had freed women from the confines of boning and cinching, corsetry had suffered a dip in popularity. Fortunately, revealing, body-hugging swimsuits, that clearly required support and lift to smooth out the female figure and hide perceived faults, had begun to emerge, and corset makers saw a gap in the market. Manufacturers jumped at the opportunity and began adding tummy panels, underwires and boning to swimsuits to help women achieve the ‘ideal figure’. The only style to escape the underwire at the time was perhaps the string bikini. Introduced in 1946, the string bikini consisted of two triangles joined with a thin strip of fabric, and as such was not suitable for the underwire.

The string bikini was by far the most popular style of swimsuit by the 1960s and remained as such through the 70s and most of the 80s, so the underwire swimsuit slipped out of the spotlight. But by 1990 designer Norma Kamali began to reincorporate underwires into one and two-piece swimwear and it has remained a staple style in the swimwear market ever since.

The extra support provided by the underwire construction appeals to women with larger busts, and the lift provided by the same construction appeals to women with a smaller bust, thus making the underwire style popular across the board in both one and two-piece suits. Given the wide appeal of the construction, it seems unlikely that the underwire swimsuit will disappear from the swimwear market anytime soon.

…of the name: The swimsuit construction utilises underwires to lift and support the bust, hence the name

For more info on Underwire Swimsuits try Wikipedia

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