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Understanding Swimsuit Bra Tops


Bra top swimsuits combine the support and comfort of a bra with the style and functionality of a swimsuit. Bra top swimsuits are ideal for women looking for bust support, large-busted women, and women who have undergone mastectomy treatment. From underwire tops, to padding and cups, this guide will cover everything you need to know before choosing a swimsuit bra top.

Bra Top Styles

Built-in bra tops can be found in many swimsuit styles including bikini tops, tankini tops, and one-piece suits. Bra tops are supported with horizontal elastic strips, molded cups, or underwire. Boning in a swimsuit top refers to a plastic or metal seam placed in the side of the suit that provides additional structure and support. This is commonly found in bandeau and strapless tops.

Underwire Bra Tops

Most bra tops include an underwire and padding combination. Underwire bras are built with sewn-in wiring that is placed in a U-shape underneath the breast. The wiring can be made out of metal, wire, or molded plastic. It is designed to provide support, lift, and separate the breasts.

Hidden underwire does not use a seam to separate the cups from the underwire. It provides a smoother and more natural appearance than a traditional underwire top. Hidden underwire is commonly found in tankini tops and one-piece suits.

Bra Top Cups

There are various cup styles used in both underwire and non-underwire swimsuit bra tops. Underwire with sewn-in soft cups uses a built-in fabric to smooth and shape the bust. Underwire with removable soft cups allow the wearer to add or remove the fabric insert. Underwire with sewn-in soft cups and prosthesis pockets are used in post-mastectomy swimwear. It is designed to allow a prosthesis form insert to be placed inside the breast pocket.

A soft cup top is a molded cup that does not use metal or hard plastic to support the bust. Instead it relies on a thick band of fabric, underneath the bust, to provide support for the wearer's breasts. Soft cups hold their shape while smoothing, supporting, and covering the breasts. These are also referred to as molded bra cups, shaper bra cups, and foam cups.

Padding vs. Push-up Bra Tops

Padded bra tops refer to tops that use silicone or foam padding to add size and shape to the breasts. These can also come with removable padding. Push-up bra tops place padding on the bottom/outside of the bust and is designed to push the breasts up and inward to create instant cleavage.

Padding and push-up bra tops can come in both underwire and non-underwire tops. Padding and push-up pads can also be purchased and inserted into the underwire top or placed inside sewn-in pockets.

Top it Off

The swimsuit's sizing depends mainly on the brand and style. Some bra tops are sized based on the bra size, cup size, or standard swimsuit sizes. Make sure to find a bra top that fits you in both style and size. Whether you're search for support, cleavage, or smoothness, there are many options to choose from at SwimOutlet.com.

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Amanda
3 weeks ago.
I'm tall, 5'9 and curvy at 164lbs. But I have small breasts (36ish A-B cup) and I hate padding. I don't WANT to look more busty. But every shop I go into seems to have only padded bathing suits. Unless it's a teeny tiny bikini with a tiny triangle of fabric! I need a tankini or a one piece for a longer torso. Think 'stretched pear'.

I went to a local "expert" shop and found a suit I loved in the store, but once it got wet those stupid cups just felt empty and then they sort of look stuffed! I don't want to LOOK like I have bigger breasts. I'm perfectly happier being a small chested woman. :(
swimoutlet.com
2 weeks ago.
Hi Amanda,
Below is a link to our tankini suits.
http://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=tankini&checkRealSearchInput=Y
I also found some suits that come in long torso. Please disregard the plus size suits. I was unable to filter those ones out.
http://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=long+torso&checkRealSearchInput=Y
I hope you find a suit that works for you. Please contact us if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Gianna
3 weeks ago.
I am a size 36C and I want a puchup bra bikini that is preferably a Halter, balconette style, or one with ruffle and can I have a link
Swimoutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Gianna,
Below is a link to to some tops that we carry in a halter in a 36C. I hope you find one that works for you.
http://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=halter+bikinis&checkRealSearchInput=Y#cat=&page=1&search=halter_bikinis&sortby=Popularity&allsize=c-cup&viewall=no
Sarah
4 weeks ago.
I am a plus size- I wear between a 26W - 28W and a size 44DD bust. I have a HORRIBLE time trying to find a bathing suit to fit me and have enough support. Any help anyone could offer is MUCH appreciated! Thanks!
Swimoutlet.com
3 weeks ago.
Hi Sarah,
Below is a link to the suits we have in a 26W and 28W. I hope you find one that you like and fits your needs. Please let us know if theres any questions you may have. Have a wonderful day!
http://www.swimoutlet.com/plus-size-swimwear-c9433/#cat=9433&page=1&sortby=Popularity&allsize=26w,28w&viewall=no
Julia
4 weeks ago.
Hi! I recently got a job Life guarding and I'm looking for a red one piece swim suit that HAS PADDING! I've looked every where and I cannot find one with padding.. I simply do not want my nipples to be showing. My bra sizes bounce back and fourth between 36C and 36D depending on the brand of bra.. Any suggestions for a suit of this type? I'd also love if it was a TYR suit but that is not absolutely necessary, thanks!
SwimOutlet.com
4 weeks ago.
Hi Julia,
Congrats on your new job! I was able to find the Finals Lifeguard Women's Guard Classic T-Back ( http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/finals-lifeguard-womens-guard-classic-t-back-38647/?color=212) that has soft cups. I hope that one works for you. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!
Jeanette
1 month ago.
I'm looking for a one piece with an adjustable push-up bra. I wear a 38 C bra but, my breasts are uneven. Can you recommend any suits for me? Also, I am very short 4'11 3/4" tall.
SwimOutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Jeanette,
Below is a link to some once piece suits that have a push up bra. I did not see any that actually had adjustable cups but most of them do have adjustable straps. I hope you find one that you like. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
http://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=push+up+one+piece+&checkRealSearchInput=Y
Teresa
1 month ago.
I'm looking for a lifeguard suit, one piece, with great support. I'm a 38C and wear a 14 in jeans. I prefer underwire since I'm pushing 40 and gravity is not my friend, however any suit with maximum support would work. I need red, with or without the guard logo. Any suggestions?
Swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
Hi Teresa,

I found a couple options for you that have either a shelf bra or soft cups. Below are links to those suits. I hope you find one that works out for you. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/finals-lifeguard-womens-guard-classic-t-back-38647/?color=212

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/tyr-guard-reversible-diamondback-one-piece-swimsuit-with-cups-30836/?color=10119
Ann-Marie
2 months ago.
I am looking for a two piece suit that I can wear in an upcoming triathlon. I need a top that will offer support both in the pool and out of the pool while running. What do you recommend?
SwimOutlet.com
2 months ago.
Hi Ann-Marie,

Below is a link to our tri tops. I also found a couple that have internal bust support:

Tri Tops: http://www.swimoutlet.com/womens-triathlon-tops-c11356/

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/desoto-womens-forza-riviera-tri-top-7537162/?color=41851

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/terry-womens-tri-tank-8116696/?color=9755

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/orca-womens-226-printed-support-tri-top-7537814/?q=1&richrelevance&PersonalizedClickCPInCategory&item_page.rr2

I hope you find one that works for you. Have a wonderful day!
Susie
5 months ago.
I purchased one of your rashguards and I love it in the pool, however there is not much support. I am looking for a sports bra-type swim top to go underneath. What do you recommend. I can't tell which sports bras that you sell can be worn in water.
Swimoutlet.com
4 months ago.
Hi Susie,

Below is a link to our most of our sports bras. I hope you find one that you like. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/womens-swimwear-c9326/#cat=9326&search=SPORTS_BRA&sortby=Popularity
Sheila
9 months ago.
Do you carry any one piece suits with shelf bras at all? Every time I try cup bras they're either too big (I'm smaller on top than on bottom) or the cups come below my breasts. I can already see that I'm a statistical outlier since I'm barely a C-cup and that's just because I'm very overweight.
Swimoutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hi Sheila,

We do carry suits with shelf bra. You can find them in the link below. Please let us know if you have any questions. Hope you find one that you like. Have a great day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/swimwear-c9259/#cat=9259&search=shelf_bra&sortby=Popularity
CJ
11 months ago.
I have a double mastectomy (unreconstructed) and swim laps three days a week. I have been wearing a Speedo with a shelf bra or cutting out the padded soft cups. Now I am going to a beach resort. I do not even own a prosthesis for the left side and do not want to wear any for snorkeling. I am a size 20 W and in my 60s. Any help?
SwimOutlet.com
11 months ago.
Hi CJ,

We do have a section for post mastectomy suits. You'll find a link to those below:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/womens-post-mastectomy-swimwear-c9371/

We also have a lot of suits that come with shelf bras as well. Here is a link to those suits:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/water-aerobics-shop-c10900/#cat=10900&search=shelf_bra&sortby=Popularity

I hope you find something that you like. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Kyra Johnson
11 months ago.
Hi, I'm just a girl looking for a bikini that stays on and is totally dive proof, swim proof, and action proof! I'm tired of flimsy bikinis with foam cups that slip out or get mangled by the waves, but I don't want to sacrifice getting a full tan by wearing a one piece. Oh and bottoms that stay on tight with no pesky strings would be great too! Hope you can help!
Swimoutlet.com
11 months ago.
Hi Kyra,

I did not find any bikinis that are actually action proof but below is a link to some that are used for more frequent activities. I hope you find one that you like and fits your needs. Let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/active-sets-c13901/
Sandy
11 months ago.
I am a large women with a small bust (40B). I have started taking water aerobics and love it - but can not find a swimsuit that fits. I am desperate. I don't want to give up the first exercise program I have enjoyed. What should I do?
SwimOutlet.com
11 months ago.
Hi Sandy,

We would be happy to help you find a suit that fits! First we would need your measurements. Preferably your bust, waist and hips. And then we can go from there. You can use our size charts found here:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts

Or feel free to call our customer service at 1-800-691-4065 and we would be happy to assist you with finding a suit that fits and is comfortable so you wont have to give up your exercise program! We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Danielle
1 year ago.
Hi,
I wear a 38hh and I am looking for a tankini top with underwire..something that has support. Do you have anything that can suit me? Thanks
Elizabeth
1 year ago.
I wear a 40g bra and I am looking for a swimdress that will support my chest. Is their any recommendations?
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Elizabeth,

Unfortunately the biggest size we have is a DD and very few in E. You may want to try doing a Google search for a size G cup. Let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
DJ
4 months ago.
I am in the same boat. I am a 40F. I have been hunting for a decent suit since last spring (2014). I have a generic one piece, but hate the way it fits, feels and looks. I was hoping to find a bra sized tankini, but no luck. I have done more google searches than I can count. Most places that boast plus size suits size in the standard 18W or XL type sizes. They If they tell you anything about what bra size that actually fits you will find that most only go to DD. The same is true of places that do bra size suits - much like this site. There are a few sites I have found that do carry 40F or higher. Most need to be converted to UK sizes. Most of the also are true bikinis or "sexy" tankinis. Neither of which cover or support much of anything. They also cost nearly $100. Even Lane Bryant doesn't carry anything that I have been able to wear. There is a place called Lind's out of NYC that seems to have some good choices, but sales are final and I can only access it online. Not gonna happen. So much for specializing in plus sizes. If you find anything, PLEASE let the rest of us know.
Lisa
2 months ago.
Just a thought for those of you having trouble finding suits with a good fit. Maybe looking through some sewing blogs would help. You may be able to find someone who is skilled at bathing suit and/or bra sewing (and fitting) who could make you a custom suit. Etsy.com would be a good resource for that as well. Many people learn to sew to solve fit issues with ready-to-wear clothing, but even if you don't sew, you may be able to find someone else who does who would be willing to make you what you are looking for.
Karen
1 year ago.
Hi, I am looking for a plain black sporty style bikini top for my tween daughter...she wants a little bit of padding though because she is self conscious about nipples showing. Do you have anything that doesn't look too padded or plunging ? Thx!
Tricia
5 weeks ago.
Karen, I'm in the same boat. Did you find anything?
rebecca
1 year ago.
I am trying to find a swimsuit for a 17 year old who would wear 32, but in cup size, a J. She would prefer a bikini(teenager) but wants something that is modest and supportive! What can you suggest?
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Rebecca,

The biggest in cup size we have is an E. Here is a link to those tops:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/d-cup-up-tops-c9355/size=other/page=1#cat=9355&page=1&sortby=Newest&allsize=e-cup&viewall=no

Do you know her actual bust measurement? It would be the measurement around the fullest part of her bust. You can match that up with our measurements from our sizing charts. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
Tracy
1 year ago.
I am a 42dd bra and i am trying to find out what my bathing suit size would be. Some bathing suit tops go by bra size and others give you a suit size. Can you help me?

Thank You,
Tracy
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Tracy,

We would be happy to help you with sizing. Sizing depends on the suit you're looking at. If its a competition suit then the sizes run by the bust measurement. If its a fitness suit then it runs by the womens dress size. We also recommend taking your bust, hips, and waist measurements and comparing them to our size charts. Below is a link to our size charts. Please contact us again if you have any further questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/size-charts
Hannah
1 year ago.
Is it okay to order a size larger than you are to compensate for the bust or is it better to just order true to size ?
kitty
1 year ago.
I am looking for a wireless bikini top, I measure 48 across fullest part of my breast. I usually wear 40G bra. It is hard to find a top that keeps the girls in place but allows me to get sun by the pool and swim also. I have tried wired and they rub and jab in all the wrong places.
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Dear Kitty,

It doesnt look like we carry too many wireless tops. Below are links to 2 I found. Usually the wire helps with support. I hope you find something that you like and works for you. Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/kenneth-cole-ignite-the-night-wireless-push-up-top-7539141/

http://www.swimoutlet.com/p/kenneth-cole-nouveau-tribe-wireless-padded-foam-cup-bra-top-42502/?color=10794
Diane
1 year ago.
I am looking for a one piece swimsuit with maximum support in the bust. I wear a 34B bra, but I need the support. Do you know where I can find them?
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Diane,

You would want to get a suit with soft cups. Below is a link to those suits. I hope this information is helpful. Let us know if you need any further assistance. Have a great day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=soft cup&Search.x=0&Search.y=0&UserSearch=Yes&checkRealSearchInput=Y
Leslie
1 year ago.
I have implants that have moved to under my arms...I need side support. Where can I find under-wire bathing suits with side support? I wear a 32 E in Freya with a small bottom.
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Leslie,

The only suits that I was able to find that have either side or all around support can be found in the links below. I hope you find something that you like and works for you. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/7537878.htm?color=9755
castpolymer
1 year ago.
Your website won't display swimsuit sizing.
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Castpolymer,

Please let us know which size chart you are unable to view. Our size charts are catergorized under brands and can be viewed by the link below:

http://new.swimoutlet.com/size-charts

Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Jenny
1 year ago.
What is it called when a swim suit has an adjustable back band just like a bra? I know they exist but have a hard time locating them online because I don't know the description I should be using.
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Jenny,

You can try a search for hook and eye clip swimsuits. Or try adjustable straps. It doesn't look like we carry any that have the hook in the back. Most of our adjustable back straps are tie backs. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a wonderful day!
Mary Jo
1 year ago.
Hello, Jenny.

The type of clasp i believe you are looking for is called an 'adjustable slider clasp back'.

Respectfully,
Chris
1 year ago.
Hello. I am looking for a lap-swim, one-piece suit--I am a 36D and would like a sporty looking suit (not frumpy i mean!) that also has good support. Any suggestions? I like the look of the Aqua Sphere suits but can't tell if they have any with a bra-like insert. Shelf bras usually aren't supportive enough. Thanks
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Chris,

Below is a link to suits that have soft cups in them. Usually if a suit has extra support like a shelf bra or soft cups, it will be noted in the description. You should be able to find these types of suits in the Fitness section. I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!

http://www.swimoutlet.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=bra cups &UserSearch=Yes&checkRealSearchInput=Y
Zachary
1 year ago.
I have a girlfriend that's a 36d and we do a lot of boating( jet skiing, tubing, wake boarding. She's scared to go because she thinks that her boobs will fall out. What type of swimsuit (sports bra)should I get her.
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Zachary,

What kind of suit was she looking for? A one piece or 2 piece? She would probably want a suit that has some support so anything with cups or shelf bras. Below is a link to our section for d cup and up suits:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/Large_Bust_Swimwear_s/600.htm

If she wants a one piece she may want to try our fitness section:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/Womens_Fitness_Swimwear_s/270.htm

I hope this helps!
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