How Tight Should a Swimsuit Fit?

how tight should a swimsuit fit

There are as many different body shapes as there are people, so finding a swimsuit that fits you perfectly may require some trial and error. This is further complicated by the fact that a “medium” size swimsuit in one brand might be a “large” in another, plus different materials have different elasticity ratings, and your unique body shape might be considered an edge case, and now all bets are off.

Even with all of these uncertainties, there are still some general guidelines that you can follow to greatly increase your chances of finding a swimsuit that will fit you. For example, if a swimsuit feels comfortable to wear, does not dig into your skin, and does not ride up or stretch too much, then those are some good signs that a swimsuit fits you well.

In this article, we will share with you some tips to help you discern if you’re wearing a swimsuit with the proper size and fit, whether that’s a one-piece, bikini, tankini, or a swim dress. Get a better understanding of what constitutes a good fit or poor fit by following the tips below.

How to tell if your swimsuit fits you well

Bikini tops

Most swimsuits have built-in bras and we can use bra fitting criteria as a starting point, and adjust it a little to account for swimwear specific concerns. Thus, the following bra advice can also be used to help you find a well fitting swimsuit.

  • The bikini top should fit snug enough even when set to its loosest hook.
  • The bikini top should not be so tight that it feels unpleasant even with its tightest hook. To give you an idea of the “sweet spot”, you should always be able to fit three fingers under the band, but not your entire hand.
  • The bikini’s top front and back bands should be roughly the same level, just below your breasts.
  • The straps should be able to support your breasts. If you feel the straps digging into your skin, that is a sign that the strap is not able to support the weight of your breasts.
  • Above all, your straps should never come undone on their own.

Bikini bottoms

The bottom of a well-fitting swimsuit should also remain securely on your person and provide ample coverage. You should never have to worry about becoming an accidental exhibitionist if your swimsuit fits you right. Here is how the bikini bottoms should fit:

  • The swimsuit bottom should not sag or loosen when wet. If a bikini bottom seems to fit snug on land but sags when wet, it is a clear indicator that the cloth was not designed for swimming in the first place. Look for a different brand.
  • A well-fitted swimsuit bottom should never squeeze so tightly that it causes your body to form a “muffin top”. Find a bigger bikini bottom that digs into your body less. This is not an issue in one-piece swimsuits.

One-piece swimsuits

  • One-piece swimsuits should fit snug against your body evenly – that means bust, waist, torso, and hips. If one or more of those areas feels tighter or looser than the rest, then the fit is not optimal.
  • When moving around, the bottom should stay there and not start to ride up nor sag.

Frequently asked questions

Should I size up, size down, or stay true to size?

Swim fabrics will naturally stretch a bit when wet, so you should never size up. Aim for a swimsuit that is true to size or possibly even one size down to account for this stretch once you enter the water. If your swimsuit is a little bit on the larger size, you may be able to shrink it down slightly with some heat treatments.

That said, if you know you will be staying dry most of the time (i.e. lounging by the poolside or at the beach), then sizing up might be the right move so that you can feel comfortable when dry. That way, you avoid the downside of the natural stretching that occurs, but then again, you also don’t get to go into the water either, so it’s a wash.

What are some simple ways to tell if a swimsuit fits?

If you’re a simple person like me, then you want someone to tell you, in clear and straightforward terms, what it means for a swimsuit to fit you well. We’ll leave the complicated stuff to the braniacs and the meticulous people; here is a layman’s version:

  • The swimsuit doesn’t dig into your skin; you even forget that the straps are there.
  • In a similar vein, the bottoms never ride up and give you a wedgie; no adjustments are needed.
  • The band stays in place and feels supportive.
  • The cups should provide a decent amount of coverage; sorry fellas, no slips happening today.

We are trying to find that balance of feeling snug but not confining. It should reveal the outline of your body but not to a degree that leaves nothing to the imagination. We understand this is easier said than done, but it’s a good starting point for picking a well fitting swimsuit.

Do swimsuits stretch out?

Swimsuits will naturally stretch out over time. Some low quality swimsuits stretch out to the point of getting saggy immediately after getting wet; that is a sign of a poor fit (or the fabric is not designed for swimming).

For this reason, it may be recommended to size down in anticipation of the swimsuit stretching out. If your swimsuit no longer hugs you like it once did, you can try putting it in the dryer or ironing it to shrink it down to a smaller size. There’s a chance of the heat ruining your swimsuit, but if it was already on its way out, you have nothing to lose at that point.

Should I ever size up when buying a swimsuit?

A good rule to follow is to stay true to your bra size or even go down a size. This is it to account for the stretching that will naturally occur once soaked in water. If you just plan on soaking up the sun at the beach or by the poolside without actually getting in the water, you can stay true to size or even size up to feel more comfortable on dry land.

If you are on the fence about a recent purchase, then don’t cut off the tags, keep the receipt, and whatever you do, don’t wear it into the water just yet. You can return unworn swimwear if it is still in good condition and within the return period, so that’s always an option.

Why are most swimsuits so small and tight?

Due to the popularity of celebrities and influencers on social media, they have sold an image that swimsuits should be small, revealing and sexy, and that has also influenced the market trends. Sex appeal and the allure of fame sells, and many young girls want to copy these celebrities on social media (and boys want to ogle). It is what it is, and the bikini business is happy to oblige what people want.

To put a less depressing spin on things, a tight swimsuit has the practical benefit of reducing drag underwater, making swimmers more hydrodynamic. It’s why you’ll see men wearing tight Speedos at swimming competitions as opposed to board shorts. This helps competitive swimmers get the best times and reduces the chances of a swimmer getting stripped of his or her swimwear.