What Makes a One-Piece Swimsuit Supportive?

We love a good supportive one-piece bathing suit! One-piece suits are, without a doubt, the most supportive swimwear out there. So what exactly is it that gives the one-piece its support? Let’s dive in and learn the science behind the suit.

What Is a One Piece Swimsuit?

There are so many different types of swimsuits out there, but they all have a few characteristics in common. They are sports and leisurewear designed for swimming or doing other water activities. Swimsuits are made of breathable, quick-drying material. Ultimately, they are broken down into two major categories: two-pieces and one-pieces.

One-piece suits have always been a mainstay of the bathing suit canon. In recent years, there has been a massive resurgence of popularity for the one-piece swimsuit. One-pieces can take on various forms, but here are some of the most common types:

  • Halter Neck Suit: Halter neck bathing suits typically feature a plunging V-neck, and often have straps that tie or connect behind the neck. These are great because they provide adjustable bust support.
  • One Shoulder Suit: One shoulder suits only have a strap over one shoulder. With a one-shoulder suit, you will lose a little support in favor of fashion.
  • Monokini: Monokinis are truly unique! They are a mix between a two-piece and a one-piece suit and are great for those who aren’t afraid to bare a little skin. The tops and bottoms connect but leave either the midsection or the sides exposed.
  • Strapless Suit: A strapless swimsuit has no straps, making it a great option for those who want to lounge by the pool and get a little sun without the risk of shoulder tan lines. However, this probably is not the best option for those who will be doing rigorous activities like beach volleyball!
  • Swim Dress: Swim dresses are beautiful, feminine suits that feature a skirted bottom. These suits are perfect for those who prefer a bit more coverage and a feminine aesthetic.
  • Traditional Wide Strap Suit: One of the most supportive types of one-piece suits, the traditional suit with shoulder straps is extremely popular. They come with varying degrees of coverage, which also makes them one of the most versatile suits.

What Are Supportive Swimsuits Made Of?

When looking for a supportive swimsuit, one of the most important things to consider is the material. Swimsuits are designed to be quick-drying, supportive, and motion friendly. Most swimsuits you can find will be made of one or more of these materials:

Nylon: Most swimsuits on the market have at least some degree of nylon, which helps contribute to improved elasticity. This moisture-wicking, lightweight material dries quickly and is super strong.

Polyester: Polyester sometimes gets a bad rap. In reality, it is a great material for a suit and is usually combined with other materials such as Lycra. It’s not quite as stretchy as nylon, but it is colorfast and holds its shape well.

Spandex: Spandex has been around for years, and has found its way not only into swimsuits but also many garments that are designed to be stretchy and forgiving, such as leggings and workout gear. It goes by other names as well, such as Lycra and Elastane.

PBT: PBT, otherwise known as polybutylene terephthalate, is a type of texturized polyester. This is one of the newer materials for swimsuits and can often be found in competition swimwear and other high-quality swimsuits. Though it is slightly more expensive than other materials, for many people the extra cost is worth it.

Material matters! Support doesn’t just have to be for the bust area. Many of us are looking for supportive material that holds everything in place, no matter what activities we want to do on the beach or by the pool.

Supportive Swimsuit Design

What exactly is it that makes a swimsuit either supportive or not supportive? Other than making sure that you find a suit made of supportive material, there are some other features that you might want to keep an eye out for.

Check the Cups

First of all, make sure that the swimsuit you’re browsing actually has cups. Typically, a swimsuit with some sort of molded cups is bound to provide more support than a suit that is just straight fabric.

The cups that are found in bathing suits are most commonly made of some sort of foam and backed by sheer material. If you fall in love with a suit that doesn’t have molded cups but that is the style you prefer, you may be able to sew cups in after the fact.

Shelf Bra vs. Underwire

Another consideration is the type of bra the swimsuit has. Some swimsuits have no built-in bra at all, but these suits do not offer much support to those with larger busts. Most suits have some kind of built-in support, and the most common is the shelf bra or underwire bra.

A shelf bra is a bra that is woven into the material of a swimsuit. It has a soft, elastic band that surrounds the ribcage and provides extra support. It also has the benefit of creating a soft silhouette and not making already full busts look too bulky.

When thinking about underwire bras or swimsuits, most people immediately think of the support they provide. This is not the only benefit, however. Underwire can also provide lift and shape to the bust area while giving maximum support where needed.

Many small-chested women don’t even consider underwire swimsuits for the sheer fact that they are so well known for their support, but underwire is a great option for them as well! Underwire can provide the lift that many women with smaller chests desire.

Consider the Straps

Straps are a key component of the support that a bathing suit can provide. In fact, many larger chested women will only consider a suit with thick straps, believing that they offer the most support.

In essence, this is true, but there is a lot more to the story than that. Swimsuit technology has come a long way over the years, and even a completely strapless suit can be supportive, thanks to shelf bras, underwire bras, and suits that are designed to have a snug fit around the ribcage and midsection.

The one type of strap that many women tend to avoid if looking for support is the string strap. A string bikini top provides far less support than other types of straps, and the same is true for one-piece swimsuits that tie with a string. Women with a larger bust may feel as though the strings are digging into their shoulders or neck, due to the weight of the bust.

Some women report that criss-cross straps can provide additional support and are less likely to slide off the shoulders than other types of straps.

Opt for a Suit With More Coverage

No, we are definitely not body shaming anyone! We firmly believe that anyone can wear whatever type of suit they are comfortable in. Still, if the most supportive suit is what you’re looking for, coverage often equals support.

Coverage does not have to mean that your swimsuit won’t be flattering and sexy. It is a common misconception that women with larger busts have to buy bathing suits that are only one particular style. On the contrary, suits that offer support and coverage can still make you feel confident and beautiful!

Swim With Support

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to bathing suit shopping, even for women with larger busts. Look for a swimsuit that has either a shelf bra or underwire and a strap style that you like that also offers the support you desire.

It also pays to look at the tags and see the material your prospective suit is made of. Nylon, polyester, PBT, or spandex are all great options for supportive and durable materials. The lucky thing is that suits nowadays offer both support and style.


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