Swimsuit Patterns: Print or Solid?

Shopping for the perfect bathing suit is never easy. Some people prefer to do it online, and others like to brave the fitting rooms, but one question is always on the mind of the avid swimsuit shopper: whether to go for a solid or a print? We have everything that you need to know about prints and solids and which will work best for you.

What Is a Print or Patterned Bathing Suit?

When we are referring to a print or a pattern, we are talking about a wide variety of designs. Prints can come in all shapes and sizes, from florals to stripes, polka dots to geometric patterns. 

There are so many options that it can be hard to parse through all of them. Here is a list of some of the more common bathing suit patterns that you will find, as well as a guide on how to wear each type of pattern or print.

Animal Print

It's a jungle out there! The animal print is one of the quintessential prints that seems to never quite go out of style. Leopard print, tiger print, and zebra print, all are consistently at the forefront of bathing suit designs.

It's easy to go overboard with animal print, however, so when it comes to this type of print, you may want to use it sparingly. Some people like to have an animal print top with a solid bottom or have an animal print as an accent pattern on an otherwise solid suit. 

Polka Dots

Remember the song with the itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini? Well, those lyrics are well-rooted in reality. Polka dot bathing suits, like the animal print, are a perennial favorite.

For a traditional look, black and white polka dots are a common choice. If you are going for some Minnie mouse vibes, a red suit with white polka dots would do the trick. For a subtle look, consider a neutral suit, like beige or gold, with light cream polka dots. Prints don't always have to be bold and bright to be fun!

Floral Prints

Feminine, pretty, and suited for just about everyone, florals will never go out of style! There are so many variations of floral prints that there truly is something for everyone. Anytime that you can incorporate elements of nature into your wardrobe, it’s a good thing.

Florals, in particular, especially prints with vines and tendrils, can lead the eye to wherever you want it to go. We love a bright bold floral print in pink or orange if you’re feeling brave. For something a little more nuanced, consider smaller flowers or more muted tones.

Geometric Patterns 

Geometric patterns are a fun and modern way to incorporate prints into your swimsuit selections. A geometric pattern is one that repeats itself and contains objects, forms, photographs, or other elements. This repetition might be regular and visible, like squares on a grid, or it can be uneven or asymmetrical, resulting in a more abstract pattern.

In both complex and simple geometric pattern designs, squares, circles, rectangles, ovals, triangles, pentagons, hexagons, octagons, diamonds, and stars are frequently used shapes.

Geometric designs look best with a limited color palette. Too many colors combined with the complexity of a geometric pattern could result in something that isn’t exactly easy on the eyes! Stick to a pattern with no more than two or three colors.


This is another quintessential go-to when it comes to prints in bathing suits. Stripes in general put out a nautical feel, so that goes perfectly with swimsuits.

It is a silly and outdated idea that horizontal stripes will make a person look bigger. Everyone should wear whatever they want to wear! If this is something that you are concerned about, consider opting for smaller, thinner stripes.

Whether you choose horizontal or vertical stripes, you will be in good company with this pattern choice. Stripes are one of the most popular patterns in bathing suits, and in fact, it is one of the most popular patterns for clothing in general. 

How To Wear Prints in Swimwear

Obviously, there are many more types of patterns and prints out there, but the aforementioned are the most prevalent. You may be wondering, how should one wear prints in order to make them the most flattering?

There are multiple schools of thought on this, but there are a few general fashion rules that tend to apply to prints.

Rule #1: Don't Mix Prints, Except When You Do

The idea of mixing prints does sometimes just makes sense. Now, this is not always the case, like if the prints are completely different color palettes, or they just don't jive together. But you would be surprised at how well some prints do pair. For example, one of our favorites is pairing a delicate floral pattern with neutral stripes.

Rule #2: Where The Pattern Goes, The Eye Goes 

Of course, if you are wearing an eye-catching patterned suit, you are going to draw some attention, as you should! If you have a suit that is patterned in one section and solid in another, the eye will automatically be drawn to wherever the pattern is.

How can you use this fact to your advantage? If you are trying to downplay a pear shape, you might want to opt for a swimdress that is solid on the bottom but patterned on the top. Conversely, if you have a large bust that you want to minimize, you can either do a print all over the suit or have solid on top and print on the bottom. 

Rule #3: Patterns and Prints Should Be Commensurate With Size of Features

This rule is sometimes contested, but in general, it is a good idea to wear smaller patterns if you are a smaller person. Large patterns overwhelm people with smaller frames.

For those who are on the more petite side, and have smaller facial features, a smaller more delicate pattern might just work better and look more natural.

What About Solids?

No, we didn’t forget! We don't want to give the impression that you can't catch someone's eye or wear a beautiful suit if it is a simple solid. Solid swimsuits are an absolute classic piece in any wardrobe.

Some women just naturally gravitate towards solid swimsuits. For example, if you have delved into the crazy hair trend, and you have decided to dye your locks a pretty lavender hue, you may want to keep the attention on your hair and not on your bathing suit. In that case, you might want to opt for a neutral, solid suit. Some women have tattoos and feel that patterns clash with their ink.

And of course, some just like a more monochrome look. Whatever the case, a plain solid suit can absolutely have visual appeal. There are a few little tips and tricks to adding visual interest to a solid swimsuit.

Tip #1: Try Some Ruching

This tip will help you twofold. A little ruching at the waist will not only create visual interest in an otherwise plain solid swimsuit, but it will also serve to define your waistline. It's a win-win!

Tip #2:Tie It Up

Another way to provide a plain swimsuit with some pizzazz is with a tie on the side. This will also provide a similar effect to ruching and it will define a waistline. Sarong-style bathing suits are great for this, not to mention they are feminine and oh so pretty.

Tip #3: Go for Classic Black 

The little black dress of swimsuits, you can just never go wrong with a solid black one-piece. These staple suits will never go out of style. If you are someone who loves color in their clothing, consider branching out and trying a black bathing suit. You can always accessorize by mixing it up with a colorful cover-up!

Tip #4: Know Your Colors 

Have you ever heard of the concept of seasonal colors in skin tone? Well, the theory is that some people gravitate towards bright and cheery spring tones, some do well with yellowy summer tones, some look best with warm burgundy type fall hues, while others look amazing in cool winter jewel tones. You can check out your colors here, to get a better idea of what palette you should go with.

What About Mixing Prints and Solids?

This is a no-brainer! Buying swim separates has become all the rage. First of all, many people need a different size on the top and the bottom. But also, this gives you the flexibility to mix colors and prints.

Not only could you do a floral tankini top with a solid bottom, but you could also do two different solids together. We love the combination of a teal top and a navy blue bottom! And if you've never tried a pair of swim shorts, you should definitely consider giving them a go. 


There are an endless number of patterns and prints you can try, our favorites being florals, polka dots, animal prints, and stripes. Wear your patterns wherever you want to draw the eye, but don’t be afraid to mix them up either with complementary prints or a printed top with a solid bottom. Knowing what colors suit you best will guarantee that you will find a suit you absolutely love. 


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