Swimsuits for Small Chests: A Style Guide

New summer, new swimsuit –– this concept can be both a blessing and a curse when you have a small chest. With so many options, it can be hard to sort out which one is right for you.

Maybe you’ve noticed that some swimsuits look better on you than others –– but why is that? Today we’re here to demystify the swimsuit-choosing process, so you can find a style that makes you feel confident, comfortable, and stylish!

Swimsuit Tips and Tricks for Small-Chested Women

Before we get into our favorite styles for small chests, let’s go over some key elements for a flattering and comfortable fit!

Create Volume Up Top

There’s nothing wrong with having a flat chest –– some women may even choose to emphasize that feature –– but adding to the top of your frame can create balance. If you’re slender in the chest and shoulder region and wide at the hips, you can use flowy fits, ruffles, or embellishments to add shape to your torso.

Waist Emphasis

If you have a small bust, you may wish to create the illusion of a curvier figure. Visually drawing in the midsection through cinching, shirring, or other waist-defining features can help achieve that silhouette.

Focus Bright Colors Upwards

Bold and eye-catching prints can be used to enhance certain aspects of your body. Dark and muted colors generally make an area appear smaller, while bright colors draw the eye. Using these colors, you can create the illusion of a fuller chest.

Play With Bold Patterns

As with color, a print's scale can affect your body's perceived shape and proportions. Small, cluttered designs, like collections of tiny polka dots, tend to make an area look smaller. Large prints, such as broad, soaring swirls or tie-dye, look great on small chests because they add depth to whatever area they’re featured on. 

Check for the Right Size

Taking a swimsuit straight from the store to the beach can be a gamble. When you have a smaller chest, you run the risk of having gaps in the cups or a loose torso. If you’re buying online, check sizing charts and measurements to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Opt for Adjustable Straps, Tiers, and Layers

If you have a small torso, long straps can be a hassle. That’s why adjustable straps are a fabulous resource for women of all sizes. You can simply tighten up the straps to adjust for a perfect fit to prevent a sagging look.

When you have a fairly straight up-and-down figure, your main goal may be to add a bit of shape to your torso. Flowing fabrics and swimsuit tops with multiple tiers and layers will add interest to your look. As we mentioned earlier, they can also help distribute volume evenly across your silhouette.

Enjoy a Range of Necklines

What type of neckline flatters you has to do with a lot more than just bust size. Small-chested women actually have a lot of freedom to play with when it comes to necklines. 

A sweetheart neckline, for example, adds femininity and the illusion of curves. A high neck complements an athletic figure particularly well. A wide, straight neckline can highlight your collarbone and broaden your decollete area.

Consider Removable Cups

While even small-chested women can benefit from built-in bust support, some may find it unnecessary or overly bulky. Others feel more comfortable with a bit of freedom in the chest region. Plenty of swimsuits come with cup pads that can be removed or switched out for ones that better represent your size.

Avoid Plunging or V-Necklines

While the type of neckline you choose is ultimately a personal preference, wide or straight necklines suit smaller busts better. Here’s why: the shape of a garment can draw the eye in different directions. 

Deep necklines elongate the neck and torso, making the chest look narrow. A broad neckline draws the decollete outward, making smaller chests appear balanced and elegant.

Look for Empire Waistlines

The empire silhouette, inspired by the draping dresses in Greco-Roman paintings, became popular in late eighteenth-century Europe. It’s maintained its hold on fashion throughout the Regency period, the 1960s, and today for its elegant design.

An empire waistline cinches above the natural waist to create a round bust while drawing in the area below. It’s particularly flattering on those with a thicker midsection.

Swimsuit Styles To Flatter a Small Chest

Now that we’ve gone over our tips and tricks, it’s time for the nitty-gritty. Here are some wonderful swimsuit options for you to consider!

Double-Tier Orchid Tankini

There’s so much to love about this tankini! The double-layered look will add depth to a small chest, while the triangle shape of the tiers creates a shaping effect. A large-scaled orchid print, combined with a classic scoop neck, will even out the proportions of your torso. Finally –– who could resist that bold ocean blue?

Two-Tiered Columbiana Tankini

Similar to the orchid tankini, this swimsuit top uses a double-layered effect to distribute volume across the torso. Instead of a bold floral print, this suit features turquoise loops and swirls. The vibrant print lends the look a dynamic sense of movement.

Border Blooms High Neck Tankini Top

This tankini top may be one of our favorite styles for small-chested women. A small bust will become radiant in this high neckline combined with a gorgeous floral print over navy blue. 

The primary focus of the print is on the chest. From there, it flows gracefully and elegantly down the rest of the torso. Removable cups and adjustable straps provide an accommodating fit for any body type.

Swirl High Neck Cutout Tankini Top

Remember everything we discussed in the tips section? Empire waistline, chest embellishment, broad and sweeping print –– put it all together, and you get this beautiful top. The slight flare out below the bust line ensures a flattering midsection.

Stripe High Neck Keyhole Halter Tankini Top

Much like the last style, this high-neck, empire waist tankini top design is a great choice for a smaller bust. The halter top draws the visual line of shoulders outward –– which is a great way to create an hourglass figure if your chest is otherwise narrow. We love the keyhole's added detail and the diagonal stripes, which lift and enhance the chest.

Gradient Stripe High Neck One Piece

We adore this one-piece swimsuit for its sleek and athletic design. Colorful horizontal stripes emphasize the chest before dissolving into a funky gradient. Built-in tummy control further ensures a flattering silhouette. If you have wider hips, the black bottoms can make them appear more subtle and proportional to the bust.

Solid Sweetheart Mio One Piece

If you’re looking to flaunt an hourglass figure, look no further than this beautiful one-piece swimsuit. Molded cups and a sweetheart neckline lift even a smaller chest, creating an alluring decollete. Shirred fabric over built-in tummy control will help slim the waist and straighten out the stomach. Show off this suit in one of three bold colors!

Fiji Floral Bandeau Sarong One Piece

This sarong-style one-piece swimsuit plays with shape and embellishments for the ultimate figure-flattering design. A slight flare at the hips and side tie create the illusion of a smaller waist and wider hips — ideal for those with a slim, straight figure. The enchanting flower-and-leaf print decorates the bust without being over the top.

Stripe Retro Bandeaukini Swimsuit Top

This semi-bandeau swimsuit top is a dream for any body type. Strategically placed diagonal stripes seem to draw the waist in, while brighter colors focused on the chest fill out the bust. Unlike a simple straight bandeau, this top has a slight dip in the center of the neckline, adding extra shape. Removable straps give you the option of additional support or an even tan on your shoulders!

Gradient Stripe Scoop Neck Swim Dress

Finally, we want to highlight this swim dress as a fabulous high-coverage option. Horizontal gradient stripes in vivid blue line the upper torso, adding emphasis to the chest. The gradient hovers right at the waistline, from which a black skirt flares out just slightly for a subtle waist-defining feature. This swim dress is ideal for looking stylish while staying active.


Women’s swimwear throughout the years has undergone many evolutions and changes, resulting in what we have today — a huge selection of styles to suit all different types of bodies.

Feeling secure and confident in yourself is a huge component of having fun at the pool or beach. While the style you go with is ultimately up to your personal taste, we hope this guide has helped narrow down your search for the perfect, chest-flattering swimsuit! 


Empire Style Fashion of Women in 1800–1815 | HiSoUR

Shirring Definition & Meaning | Merriam-Webster

A History of Women's Swimwear | Fashion History