Understanding Swimsuit Bra Tops
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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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Bonnie
3 months ago.
I'm a plus size gal with a small breast size. I wear a 24 size with a a cup. Do you have any suggestions for a swimsuit. I have to do water workouts in pool
Swimoutlet.com
3 months ago.
Hello Bonnie,
You might try a lap suit with little to no chest support in it. Something like the Sporti Plus Size Textured High Neck Colorblock One Piece Slimsuit (product code 8141025) would work.
Alexx
5 months ago.
Do you carry a sporty/athletic suit (tankini, one piece or two piece) that offers underwire support? I don't want something sexy, low cut, highlighting cleavage, etc. I want something that supports the girls, and covers not just breasts but above -- like the proper athletic suits. But at 38DD and 50+ years old, those athletic suits, even with a shelf bra, don't give me good support. I would pay well for a good quality suit that allows real strong swimming and coverage and support at the same time...(fingers crossed, I can;t be the only one who wants this...)
Swimoutlet.com
5 months ago.
Hello Alexx!
It looks like we only carry 1 active top with underwire at this point. The Carve Designs Women's Lanai Bikini Top (product code 8128089) has hidden underwire and is perfect for activities but may be a bit too low for what you are looking for.
Laurie
7 months ago.
Are there any padded bikini tops that are truly fully padded? I had a double mastectomy because of breast cancer, and my reconstruction failed so I am flat. Wearing prosthetics is not really a feasible solution in a swimsuit, as they are far too heavy. I would like a top that looks like I have something there, but just a little. Suggestions?
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello Laurie,
We have something like the Bravo Double Shaper Bra Pad (product code 8136647) that adds a cup size. Hope this is helpful.
Jada
8 months ago.
I'm looking for something that has nipple coverage but is not bulky/too padded. I'm not sure what to look for, I just know I want a full piece that's not too thin and is somewhat tight fitting. What bra top type do you suggest I look for?
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello Jada!
You would want to find a suit with a soft cup. These provide nipple coverage and chest support but do not add much padding/size. When browsing for suits, you should be able to see what kind of bra is in each suit under the product details.
Kimberly Taylor
8 months ago.
Hi, I'm a 38 DDD. I been wanting to wear a bathing suit but I can never find the right ones 2 fit my chest area. Suggestions??!!
Swimoutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hello Kimberly!
A DDD is most comparable to a F cup so if you are looking for a bikini, you would want to go with an F cup top. For a one piece, you should look under out D cup & up suits. You can view those here: https://www.swimoutlet.com/womens-fashion-one-piece-swimsuits-c9347/#cat=9347&page=1&sortby=Popularity&allsize=d-cup,dd-cup&viewall=no
Amelia
3 weeks ago.
I would go to Lands End. I have always found success there.
Amelia
3 weeks ago.
I would go to Lands End. I have always found success there.
Norwaybelle
8 months ago.
I am a very fair Scandinavian-American who loves to swim, but has a sun allergy. I have given up wearing tradition swimming suits, and now swim in "rash guard" leggings and shirts: a bit unconventional, but it works very well (my dermatologist is thrilled!). My problem is that I am large busted (size 40G), and must wear something supportive under the rash guard tee. Wearing a swimming suit is too bulky. Bikini tops aren't supportive enough for my taste. Regular bras and sports bras don't stand up well to chlorine and salt water. Does any manufacturer make a "swim bra"? Has anyone out there ever heard of such a thing?
Swimoutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hello Norwaybelle,
We have 3 options, you can view these at:

https://www.swimoutlet.com/sport-tops-c14565/#cat=14565&page=1&sortby=Popularity&allsize=3xl,xxl&viewall=no.

These are bikini tops but they have the same support as a regular sports bra and are made of material with the ability to withstand chlorine. I hope this helps!
Aggie
9 months ago.
I wish manufacturers would make a swimsuit top that is actually made just like a bra is made. Nothing fancy, and nothing super sexy. Just strong, cushioned straps, cups that actually cover, hold securely, support, and lift the breasts without displaying them....I'm a woman who does not have perky, upstanding breasts...I need support, and these flimsy little straps and cups do nothing to help. Most of the time they barely even cover. I want something that does all of the above. And I want something that I can swim in. I certainly do not want to pay upwards of $100 (for a complete 2-piece suit) just to stand around in.
Maureen
8 months ago.
I totally agree. Not all of us are size 2 with perky 18yr old boobs. Nothing fits well or looks good without costing a fortune.
Georgia
8 months ago.
Aggie. You took the words out of my mouth. If only I could find the same. I wear a minimizer bra with fantastic support. I've thought about going to a seamstress and having one made for me, using my bra as a starting point. Have you ever thought about doing that? If you EVER find something that works. Please post here and let me know. Good luck
kate
7 months ago.
I have been bathing suit shopping..I must've tried on 20 suits ..nothing is flattering..I am about a DD 150 pounds and an athletic 5'3" (I wish I could lose 20 pounds) but I also wish I couold find a bathing suit that fits..and looks good on me..it's a no go...
Julie
9 months ago.
The underwire in the push-up bathing suit pokes me. Will it be very noticeable if I removed the wires -- I'm a 36B.
SwimOutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hi Julie! Removing the wires will not be that noticeable but keep in mind you do run the risk of damaging the suit as well as voiding any warranties/guarantees the suit comes with.
ml
9 months ago.
What is a shelf bra.compared to molded soft cups? I'm 40DDD and appreciate support. Thnx!
swimoutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hello!
A shelf bra has a thick elastic band under the breasts but they do not offer cup support or nipple coverage. Soft cups offer cup support like a bra with no underwire would.
KR
9 months ago.
What is the difference between a swimsuit top with soft cups and one with a "shelf" bra. I only want a little support....
swimoutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hi there!
A shelf bra has a thick elastic band under the breasts but they do not offer cup support or nipple coverage. Soft cups offer cup support like a bra with no underwire would.
ionltd
9 months ago.
Hi

I wish there was a one click category search in swimwear to show only underwire suits

Thanks
SwimOutlet.com
9 months ago.
Thank you for the suggestion! You may search Underwire suits in the search bar on the top of page, to show you our entire collection of underwire swimwear.
ionltd
9 months ago.
Yes, I did that too. But that isn't as helpful as being able to narrow down the search by type of cup. You can't even further narrow it down at that point by one piece, tankini, bikini, etc. You don't have that as a choice to narrow it down after searching in the search bar for underwire suits. Rather odd.

But for some reason you can narrow it down by material, pattern, bottom coverage, back style, and individual sizes, % discount but none of those things are as important to most women as what kind of cup it has. In fact I really have no clue about the fabric types and % discount is a relative thing depending on the starting price.

If I could search for one piece, then narrow by type of cup, then size category and see every one piece underwire suit I would make a decision from there what color, pattern, back style, price, etc depending on how the photos look and my taste and not have to open each listing to read what kind of cup it has.

Us baby boomers are willing to pay what we have to to get a suit we are OK with being seen in.

It would also be nice to be able to narrow by whether the suit is slenderizing or not.

And YES, I would love to work for you to corner the Baby Boomer market....lol
swimoutlet.com
8 months ago.
Hello,
We have forwarded your suggestion onto our management team for review. We appreciate your suggestions and feedback!
jane
9 months ago.
a i am a size 44dd in a bra or 20/22 top size can any one help me am looking for a bikini top not underwire one so what size do i need to go for
swimoutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hello Jane!
I have found a couple options for you. First the Raisins Plus Size Flamingo Solids Rosalie High Neck Bikini Top- product code 8155240. Another option is the Sunsets Plus Size Fiji Flora Queen 2-Way Bikini Top (D/DD Cup)- product code 8153000. And a third option is the Raisins Plus Size Maharani Angeles Bikini Top- product code 8155262. I hope this was helpful!
Marie
9 months ago.
I'm a 36ddd I noticed you have dd then e and f. Is ddd comparable to these?
swimoutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hi Marie! A DDD is most comparable to a F cup.
Simona
9 months ago.
Hello there, I'm 41 and after 3 kids I can't find a swimsuit that supports my sagging boobs :( I wish I could find a swimsuit bra that fits like an actual bra. When I buy the push up ones I find they come out from the top? I'm not feeling very confident in any of my current swimsuits. Any recommendations? I'm a size 34D.
swimoutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hello Simona,
Underwire is going to provide you with the most support. The following link will take you to our selection of suits offered in D cup & up. You will be able to see the bra support listed in the details of each individual product. I hope this information was helpful!

https://www.swimoutlet.com/d-cup-up-c14120/
Georgia
8 months ago.
Simona... I so wish the same thing. A swimsuit top, the fits exactly like my bra, and was much like a regulate tank top. Please post here if you ever have such luck
Emma
9 months ago.
I need a bathing suit with a built in bra and good support in that area. I like tankini's do you have any you reccomend?
SwimOutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hello Emma! Most Aquatic swimwear will feature built in cups or a bra. You can view these items under the aquatic fitness swimwear tab.
Caitlyn
10 months ago.
I am not too confident in my body but I still want to show off. I would like something longer that a bikini top but not as long as a tankini and I'm having a problem finding something like that do you know of any?
swimoutlet.com
10 months ago.
Hello!
Check out the Coco Rave Swimwear Crochet Solid Jessica Crop Midkini Top (B/C Cup) Product code 8140176 or Becca Swim Siren Crop Tankini Top Product Code 8153464. This style is almost in between a bikini top and tankini. Hope this helps!
Karin
11 months ago.
I hate cups of any kind - "shelf", "padded" etc. Where can I find one? I am a size 16.
swimoutlet.com
11 months ago.
Hi Karin,
We suggest checking out tops that have removable cups. For example, the Rip Curl Swimwear Classic Surf Cross Back Bikini Top (Product code 8156225), Prana Women's Fleur D'Amour Lahari Halter Bikini Top (Product Code 8148776), or Carve Designs Women's Sanitas Reversible Bikini Top (Product Code 8136024). When you're browsing tops you can scroll down to product details and it will say it has removable cups. Hope this helps!
JY
1 year ago.
Hi! Recently I bought swimming pads for my triangle top. I was wondering if folding foam pads can ruin the shape, since I was trying to get them into the top for a long time and I folded them a lot. And if they do go out of shape, do they go back?
swimoutlet.com
11 months ago.
Hi Jy,

Since the swimming pads are made from a flexible material they should form back to its original shape if you were to put them unfolded in to a top.
Hy
1 year ago.
Hi, it's my first time to wear a bikini after I became an adult. About the size, should I wear a smaller one or a bit bigger(really a bit bigger!) and more comfortible one for me? :D
One of my friend told me the sweamwear will became a bit loosen when I go into the water, so I'm wondering if I should buy a bit smaller one or not.
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Hy,
Yes, they do stretch over time. It depends on the material. For example, if it's polyester it doesn't stretch as much so I would suggest you go for the comfortable size. If it's nylon, then choose the smaller size. I hope this helps!
Hanya
1 year ago.
I have a speedoone piece that has an extra bra material underneath for support. It absorbs all the water and makes me chest huge and is very uncomfortable for training. Could I cut it off? (The bra material is only attached at the sides so I could cut along it with no problem)
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Hanya,
I would suggest checking with Speedo directly to see if they have experience with this. Usually when making adjustments to swimsuits it can damage the suit. You can reach them at 1-888-4SPEEDO http://www.speedousa.com/
Sofie
1 year ago.
Do you ship to Australia?
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Sofie,
We do not ship to Australia at the moment.
Rj
1 year ago.
Hi! Can you tell me what swimsuit size Is appropriate for me I am a size 12 at the waist and a 42DDD bra size
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi RJ, please provide the following measurements so we can provide sizing information: bust, waist, hip, and torso (all in inches).
Mal
1 year ago.
Hey, My question is kind of personal. So Im trying to buy a Nike one-piece swimsuit and I don't know my measurements but I have a small waist, hips, and a butt but I'm like a A-B cup and I'm 5'9 should I get a size 8 (34)?
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Mal, we need the chest, waist, hip, and torso measurements in order to provide a suggestion for sizing.
deb
1 year ago.
my daughter Jordan,is 11 years old and she wants to know if a junior size is smaller than a women's size in a bathing suit?
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Deb, the youth swimsuits are generally smaller in the torso measurement.
Manmeet
1 year ago.
I am getting a tankini swimsuit and I have a question should I wear a tank top under my tankini plz answer this question thx!
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Manmeet,
When wearing a tankini it does not require a tank top underneath. I hope this helps!
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