Swimwear Glossary


A bandeau or strapless bikini is an item of swimwear with the top section formed from a single band of fabric fitting around the bust. They are usually slightly moulded so they fit correctly.


A bikini is a two-piece item of swimwear, with briefs and top to cover the bust, just like a knickers and bra set. Perfect for maximum tanning and for staying cool. There are many variations in style and cut, so please see the 'Brief' and 'Cup' sections below for more detail.

Bikinis: Brazilian

A Brazilian bikini is somewhere between a normal bikini brief and a thong brief, the Brazilian is low rise and cuts upward in a curve across the cheeks, making them quiet revealing.

Bikinis: Triangle

Triangle bikinis have a triangular-shaped cup and brief covering, which is held in place by narrow, string-like ties. This bikini top consists of two triangle shaped cups that provide minimal coverage, and tiny straps that tie around the neck and back to lift and shape the bust, and leave your skin exposed for tanning

Bikinis: Convertible

If you are undecided whether you want a bandeau (strapless) bikini or a bikini with tie sides, UK Swimwear also sells items that are convertible. These bikinis come with a detachable strap so you can remove them entirely in an instant. Now you can have the best of both worlds!

Bikinis: High Waisted

A high waisted bikini is perfect for achieving that vintage look. High waisted bikinis come in all shapes ad sizes, some coming up to just above the widest part of the hip to about the belly button.


Designs with an innovative and modern cut, embellishment or colour. These contemporary designs are updated every season and designers surprise us with their ingenuity every time. The world's top swimwear fashion houses boast some of the best innovation in clothing. With swimwear being a fashion item that is put through its paces far more than any other type of clothing during wear, new swimwear designs are often the most practical and long lasting as well as the most durable.


Sewn on details, such as sequins, decorative fabric, broaches, bows, buckles, belts, clasps, frills, trim, tassels, button detail and so on.

Halter Neck

Halter neck bikinis and halter neck swimsuits are derived from the German word 'Holder', which is a top, dress, or piece of swimwear that has straps which tie around the back of the neck, rather than over the shoulders, leaving the arms, shoulders and back uncovered.


Kaftans are an Eastern-inspired, loose-fitting and lightweight garment. They are very much like a tunic-style top or sun dress. Kaftans have loose sleeves, are collarless, often sewn with a V-neck and feature a multitude of different glamorous embellishments. These include jewels, beads, sequins and embroidery. In recent years, designers have widened the term's meaning to incorporate tie sides, like a dressing gown.

Mastectomy Swimwear

These are items of swimwear that have been designed especially for ladies who have had a single/double mastectomy. There are mastectomy bikinis and < ahfre="https://www.ukswimwear.com/swimsuits/mastectomy-swimsuits">mastectomy swimsuits available. Features include discrete cup pockets to hold a prosthesis or other forms of padding, and higher neck lines to make you feel perfectly safe and secure. Mastectomy Sswimwear can also be great for those who would like to wear padding in one cup to provide more balance and fullness to the overall dimensions of the bust.

Maxi Dress

An ankle length casual dress that can be worn over swimwear as either daywear or eveningwear. They can also have straps or come as a bandeau.

Moulded Swimwear

A moulded cup bikini is part way between a soft cup and a padded cup. The material has a thin layer of padding built in, meaning that it can hold its own shape, but doesn't add too much fullness to your bust.

One Piece

Alternative name for a full swimsuit. These can range from traditional swimming costume to sporty to very modern versions.

Padded Swimwear

This type of cup is fully padded, giving great coverage and a smooth, well-shaped silhouette to the bust. The most flattering type of swimwear, available in both padded bikinis and padded swimsuits!


Beachwear, swimwear or swimwear accessories that have some form of artistic motif on the main body, available in floral, geometric or any other kind of pattern.


A Poncho is a slightly more casual version of a kaftan usually has a hole cut in the center to slip it over the top of your head. Inspired by the traditional Mexican garment.

Push Up

Like push up bras, push up swimwear gives lift to the bust to enhance fullness and give wonderful shape. A very flattering, sensual style of swimwear.


Beachwear that brings back the flattering style of an earlier era. At UK Swimwear, we have included some examples that are inspired by 70s/80s styles, colours and pattern. In general, 'retro' will indicate beautiful, '40s or '50s inspired swimwear that will accentuate a woman's natural curves. This style is still popular today for its classically flattering appeal.


Ruching is a French term which means to gather, ruffle, or pleat. The term is a sewing technique in which large areas of fabric are gathered in a repeating pattern to form ruffles, scallops, petals or a rippling effect. This is a flattering technique that can accentuate curves or slim the body.

Sarongs, Pareos Or Wraps

In some cases, these Sarongs and Pareos are interchangeable words. However, more often than not, a pareo is a larger piece of fabric that can be worn both as a dress and as a skirt. A sheer, brightly coloured, rectangular piece of fabric that is usually tied at the waist as a cover up for swimwear at the pool or on the beach.

Shaping Swimsuit

Shaping swimsuits have a mesh panel lining the inside front, increasing the firmness of the tummy and waist. Control swimwear will give you a smoother silhouette, take inches off in appearance and offer a feeling of more support, even when the garment gets wet. An instant confidence booster for any woman!


A means of distributing fullness in some part of a swimwear garment, by sewing a loose row of stitches, pulling the thread, and sliding the fabric along the thread to make soft folds in order to decrease the width of the fabric. In shirring three or more rows are gathered and placed in parallel lines to achieve a decorative effect. The effect is very flattering and can appear to cinch in the waist, draw attention to your bust and more.


A skirtini is a normal bikini top that is accompanied by a skirt on the lower half, built into the brief. Skirtinis are fun, feminine, and offer slightly more coverage on the upper thigh area.

Soft Cup

In a soft cup, the material is soft and pliable, with no padding whatsoever. A good choice if you want a more natural feel. Also, if you find that you are normally between cup sizes, going for the lower of the two sizes, in a soft cup, is more comfortable than doing so in an underwired item.

Swimming Costume

A sport swimsuit or swimming costume is sporty in style and could be worn for water sports, such as aqua aerobics. Please note: If an item is classed as 'sporty', however, it does not necessarily have built in support for high energy sports. Be sure to check the product's highlights for details or contact customer services for further information.

Sun Dress

A sun dress is a dress intended to be worn in warm weather usually over swimwear like a bikini or swimsuit. Typically, it is an informal or casual dress in a lightweight fabric, most commonly cotton, and usually loose fitting. It covers the skin from harmful rays and allows you to visit places that you wouldn't normally be able to in swimwear, without having to change. The dress is intended to be worn without a layering top.


If you're looking for great support and shape, look for an underwired swimsuit or an underwired bikini. They are a superb choice for women with a larger cup size, as when wet, swimwear will keep its shape perfectly and still offer ultimate support.

Straps: Adjustable

Very good for getting the ideal fit and offering the best support and comfort, especially for women with a bigger bust.

Straps: Thin/Spaghetti

Great for maximum tanning and very feminine.

Straps: Wide

Excellent for support, especially for women with a bigger bust.

Swim Dress

Similar to a skirtini, a swim dress is a swimsuit with an accompanying short skirt built in to the design, offering more coverage. Some may in fact feel comfortable enough to wear just a swim dress, as if it were a sun dress.


Tankinis are a newer addition to the world of swimwear, the tankini is a great compromise between a full swimsuit and a bikini. It comes as a two-piece, with briefs and a vest-type top, often with integral cups for the bust. They come in a variety of styles and so can be sporty or glamorous. You may also lift the bottom part of the vest up to tan your midriff, something that is impossible with a swimsuit.