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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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Francesca Donlan
2 months ago.
I was wondering if you had a tankini without an underwire? I’ve always worn one piece but decided this year to try a tankini but find the underwire uncomfortable. Thank you for your expertise. Really appreciate it!
SwimOutlet
2 months ago.
Hi Francesca! You can try the Sporti Active High Neck Tankini Top, Product Code: 8159292.
Francesca Donlan
2 months ago.
Thank you!!
Megan
8 months ago.
Rinse your swimwear in cold water, never use hot water for your swimwear as this will damage the fabric. Use a mild hand soap or a delicate detergent. Whenever you do want to use the washing machine, make sure to use a Guppyfriend Bag to catch micro fibers.

https://delyxltd.com/
Karen
10 months ago.
I am looking for a swim skirt bottom with a matching bikini top! Can’t find anywhere - low rise skirt that covers the butt!
SwimOutlet
10 months ago.
Hi Karen! Here's the link to the bikini sets we carry https://www.swimoutlet.com/sets-c15418/
Marie
10 months ago.
Who wants to fiddle with removable cups?!! I don't have the time. I want good coverage that stays in place. Please give us some swim suits that provide appropriate coverage that are easy to put on and pull off, and stand up to pool lap swims, paddle-boarding, and kayaking without requiring the wearer to reconstruct them every time they come out of the washing machine. I would buy multiples of them.
Shop@SwimOutlet
10 months ago.
Hello Marie!

Many of our suits do not have removable cups. All information regarding a suits bra type can be found in the product details. Below is a link to all swimwear we have without removable cups. Also, it is not recommended to put any type of swimwear in the washing machine as it can pull the fibers apart causing the suit to become frail in areas and more susceptible to holes. Handwashing your suits is the best way to ensure it will last long.

https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=one+piece+without+cups&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=one+piece+without+cups&cat=17087&catlvl=3&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no
Maura
11 months ago.
Hi, I’m looking for a bathing suit with built in soft cups. I absolutely hate removable cups! But, I do want slight lining. I love the summer salt bathing suits that have built in soft cups but just looking for more choices! I also don’t want to look like a cup size larger either. Thanks!
Shannon
11 months ago.
Need a loose fitting around the waist Tankini with a good push up, I have an A cup so I need something to make it look like I have boobs.
SwimOutlet
10 months ago.
Hi Shannon!

We apologize, we seem to do not carry the item that you need.
Sarah
1 year ago.
My top half and butt is larger than my waist and I'm having trouble finding an underwire one piece. Can anyone help?
SwimOutlet
11 months ago.
We apologize, one-piece suit may not work because of your body shape. It would be best to get two piece suit instead.
Jenny
1 year ago.
WHY can't I find a swimsuit, plus size, 24, WITHOUT THE PADDED BRA???? Every single one I find has to have padding. WHY? Ever actually try SWIMMING with all that extra stuff? Olympic swimmers don't have bras build into their suits. What is it about being large, with small boobs by the way, every single manufacturer insists on adding padding. PLEASE if you EVER have a nice RACERBACK style top, WITHOUT ADDING TO THE CHEST, I wish someone would let me know. Really frustrated here. Just did a search specifically saying BRALESS and here I land. Whole page explaining about bra types. Nice tight lycra works better moving through water.
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Jenny!

You need the "Nike Women's Plus Size Essential Cross Back One Piece Swimsuit". You can take the size 2x which is close to 24W size.

https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/nike-womens-plus-size-essential-cross-back-one-piece-swimsuit-8188805/?color=9325
Jenny
1 year ago.
NO I can't. My bottom half is MUCH larger than my top. So a one piece either means my top keeps falling off or the top fits and I get a perma wedgie.
This is why I SAID TOP.
So again, I NEED A TOP that is built for actual SWIMMERS! No padded bra, just nice tight material and not so low cut it acts like a dragnet in the water. A TOP like the top half of that one piece would be good. But that is very hard to find.
Carrie
3 months ago.
You could try being less rude. That might help.
Angela
1 year ago.
I'm a size 16 but my cup size is an I or j. I'm having a terrible time finding a swimsuit. It will needs lots of support . What do you recommend ??
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Every brand has it's own sizing guide. May I know what brand of swimsuit are you looking at?
K85
1 year ago.
Shelf bras (as well as sports bras) always sit too low on me, plus I'm an A cup and I really don't need support. I'm looking for a women's one-piece boyleg swimsuit without any kind of bra, for swimming laps before work. Do they even exist!?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi K85!

You may want to check the Jets Swimwear Australia Jetset Halter Boyleg One Piece Swimsuit. It has removable cups.
Cindy
1 month ago.
I have had a double mastectomy and need a bathing suit with no bra feature at all. Does any such thing exist anymore? I don’t like to wear my prosthetics in the water anymore
Kelsey
1 year ago.
This is totally random, but I love Stone Fox Swim. They don't have any kind of bra top, just double-lined suits.
JSP
1 year ago.
https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/eq-swimwear-seville-rose-glide-unitard-8129365/?Search=sayt&color=47157
the suits from this brand don't have a bra of any type
Julie
1 year ago.
Looking for a stylish one piece suit that has bra support for sagging middle aged 36 DDD breasts.
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Julie!

We do not have the exact DDD cup swim suits but you may choose for the suits that are available in F cup. Please click on the link to see the selection: https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=one+piece+F+cup&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=one+piece+F+cup&catlvl=1&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no
JUNE SCOUTEN
1 year ago.
looking for a top that is full coverage at 36 ddd that fits nicly without my breasts hanging out the sides ?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi June!

Here's our recommendation:

1. Coco Reef Cape Dot Aura Underwire Tankini Top (C-F Cup)
https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/coco-reef-cape-dot-aura-underwire-tankini-top-c-f-cup-8194194/?color=9325

2. Capriosca Retro Check Wrap Bikini Top
https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/capriosca-retro-check-wrap-bikini-top-8188148/?color=9755

3. Profile Blush Desert Palm High Neck Underwire Bikini Top (D/E/F Cup)
https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/profile-blush-desert-palm-high-neck-underwire-bikini-top-def-cup-8161261/?color=9325
Rosalie
1 year ago.
I have had a breast reduction - I have no breasts at all. I am otherwise a large woman and wear a size 22. I have swim shorts. I do not want anything in the breast area with pads or cups or shelfs. I don't need to pretend that I have breasts. I just want some kind of unstructured swim top so I can do rehab exercise in the pool.
Aisha
1 year ago.
I am looking for an athletic swimsuit with underwire bra support. Not sure if any one of them has that support.
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Aisha!

Here's our suit with bra support: https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=one+piece+swimsuit+with+bra+support&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=one+piece+swimsuit+with+bra+support&catlvl=1&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no
Amber
1 year ago.
I have very large breasts (34M cups). The only suits I can really wear and not look ridiculous are ones that don't have any kind of bra/cup/shelf at all in them, and those are harder and harder to find.

Any recommendations?
Ondie Held
1 year ago.
I used to be morbidly obese, have had 4 kids, and a gastric bypass. Pretty much have deflated balloons for boobies lol suggestions on a good supporting, longer torso, tankini top?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Ondie!

Here's the list of our long torso swimsuits: https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=long+torso+swimsuit&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=long+torso+swimsuit&catlvl=1&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no
Theresa
1 year ago.
I've had a mastectomy and just want a top without cups or padding. Where can I find that?
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Theresa,

Please visit this link: https://www.swimoutlet.com/post-mastectomy-swimwear-c9371/
Mrs C
1 year ago.
Good luck. I've been looking for years. The recommendation for mastectomy suits assumes you are going to put prosthetic inserts into the cups. There is virtually nothing available for those of us who are flat and want a suit with no cups.
Vickie
1 year ago.
Recommendation for padded swim suit. I am flat chested A cup
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Vickie! I am happy to make some recommendations for you to fit your needs, I will go ahead and include a few links for padded swimsuits and push up bra tops that may work for you. Please copy and paste the links on your internet browser.

padded swimsuit
https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=padded+swimsuit&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=padded+swimsuit&catlvl=1&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no

Women's Push Up Bikini Tops
https://www.swimoutlet.com/push-up-top-swimwear-c12647/

Please feel free to contact us at any time with questions you may have regarding these recommended items, if none of these are to your liking we are happy to keep looking for you. Have a great day!
Charlette Fuggetta
1 year ago.
I'm looking for no padding. The cups never fit my d size and I don't want to look bigger.
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Charlette!

Sports bra are the most common bra tops that do not have cups. Kindly click the following link available sports bra: https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=sports+bra&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=sports+bra&catlvl=1&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no
JKim
1 year ago.
By any chance, Can I add cups in a sport swimming suit? I bought one from here.
SwimOutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi JKim,

Yes, you can for some fitness swimwear with shelf bra or available suits that can be inserted but for competition swim wears, they cannot be added.
olive
2 years ago.
I need to know the difference between a soft cup, lined, and shelf bra bathing suit. I just need something supporting and not loose. I know which bathing suit I want, I just don't really know the difference between these options. (I have pretty small breasts, so I think something more tight fitting would work better)
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi Olive!

Competition swimsuits are lined while the regular women's are sometimes offered of built in soft cups or has shelf bra. We feel you are okay with just lined swimsuits.
Mary
2 years ago.
Which has more support - shelf type or soft cup?
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
The shelf type has more support.
Elaine
2 years ago.
Post mastectomy reconstruction has made it impossible to find swimwear with soft cups that fit shape of my new “mounds”. Need suit /tankini top with no bra or shelf style bra but no cups.
Swimoutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hello Elaine,
The Sporti Active High Neck Tankini Top has a shelf bra with removable cups. You can take these out and this top should work great for you! If you want something that is not high neck, the Sporti Active Racerback Solid Tankini Top offers the same chest support.
Teresa
2 years ago.
I am a middle-aged woman that swims every morning. I am looking for a suit with a high neckline and a modest cut in the legs. I have two different sized breasts ...small breasted so I think I want a shelf bra. I also have a long torso. It is really really hard to find a suit any suggestions
Swimoutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hello Teresa,
The Longitude Colorblock High Neck (Product Code: 8182335) should work. It isn't a lap suit but it is long torso and has the coverage/high neck you are looking for. This suit has soft cups but because it is high neck it should work fine.
Una
2 years ago.
I am looking for a racer back tankini with no bra. I am 34AA so those bras never fit no matter how small. I like racerback and cross back because at 5’3”” I have a long torso, and halter necks pull uncomfortably, and in a tankini I don’t have to worry about a bikini riding up. Do you have something for us flat chested middle aged women. I’m also about 130lbs. I usually wear small to extra small.
SwimOutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hi Una,

We don't have racer back tankini tops that doesn't have a extra support. But you may want to consider designs that are less fitted, removable cups (so you can take them out). Here are product codes that might work for you 8165925, 8165898.
Sanai
2 years ago.
In bra size I am a 32 DDD I need help finding something suitable in any kind of bathing suit but not too revealing.
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi Sanai!

You can go for a conservative suit - https://www.swimoutlet.com/searchresults.asp?Search=conservative+suit&checkRealSearchInput=Y#page=1&search=conservative+suit&catlvl=1&sortby=Relevance&viewall=no.

In order to determine the proper fit please take the chest, waist, and hip measurements and then compare them to the appropriate sizing chart. Sizing charts can be found at the very bottom of any page you are on or to the right of the Size drop-down menu on the product page.
Barbara Lynn
2 years ago.
Hi, I wear a DDD cup, but I am a petite woman otherwise. The two-peice and one piece sets are all too big at the bottom for me. They're made as if you're big up top, you must be big all over. I hate to buy separates, because they don't usually look as nice as a matching set. I ordered a set online, the top fit, but the bikini was way too big. Help!!
SwimOutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hi Barbara,

I'm sorry to hear that. In order for us to help you, please reach out to our customer service department via chat, email or phone call. Please have your order number ready. Thank you.
Paula P Martinez
2 years ago.
I just want a swim top that has no cups, and is more like a sports bra
Swimoutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hello Paula,
Check out the competition suits we have here. https://www.swimoutlet.com/womens-performance-two-piece-swimsuits-c9329/
They have no cups.
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