All hail the bikini! From stringy styles to sporty silhouettes in a range of fresh colors and fun prints, two-piece swimsuits are choice for soaking up some rays (with plenty of sunscreen on, of course). For 2020, the high-waisted bikini is the style to try. But, before buying, you'll want to figure out the best styles to suit your taste.
Despite the trendiness of high-waisted bikinis, they're quite nostalgic, referencing early swimwear silhouettes from the '40s and '50s. In fact, the first-ever bikini debuted in Paris on July 5, 1946, from French designer Louis Reard. While waist-skimming two-pieces are darling as ever with a coordinating swim cap, the look isn't exactly a modern swimsuit trend in 2020. For a reinvention, swimwear labels are combining design features from the '80s and '90s, including higher cut legs, underwire tops, neon colors, and wallpaper floral prints. The result? A retro-inspired bikini that feels fresh for pool days, beach getaways, and at-home sunbathing sessions (FYI: backyards, fire escapes, and rooftops are all legitimate venues for rocking a two-piece).
The biggest challenge when it comes to high-waisted bikinis is undoubtedly fit. Ideally, the goal is to find a style that sits smoothly over your torso and doesn't bunch or ride up. But that's easier said than done unless you're prepped with tips for shopping this two-piece trend. So, for expert advice on buying the best high-waisted bikini for you, nine brands that are known for well-done takes on the silhouette are sharing some wisdom on what to look for in a high-waisted bikini. Plus, some styling ideas to get you through summer and beyond. Of course, an edit of high-waisted bikinis lies ahead, as well, from under-$100 takes to designer styles.
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The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: Find The Right Rise
LA-based designer, Robin Piccone says that when it comes to a high-rise, fit is key for comfort, "make sure the rise is correct," she notes. "If the suit isn't coming up high enough on your waist or above your navel, you might need to size up."
For a fashion-forward high-waisted bikini look, Piccone suggests belting a suit if it's not already designed with one. She also suggests trying a short wrap Pareo coverup with the opening facing front for the high-rise waistline to be displayed and adding in a fringed straw hat.
The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: Look For Romantic Details
Marysia, founded and designed by Marysia Dobrzanska Reeves, is known for pretty, scalloped silhouettes that lay comfortably against the body, including her best-selling high-waisted bikinis. "The Santa Monica Bottom is our classic high-waisted bottom, "Dobrzanska Reeves tells TZR. "The shape is super forgiving and does not dig into the skin." Ruffle details along with side-ties and bows are great for those who prefer more romantic swimwear, and can play into the retro vibe of the suit.
The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: Turn It Into Dayware
Fashion influencer and designer of Same Swim, Shea Marie says that high-waisted bikinis are chic and a classic look that is easier to style than a lower rise. When it comes to fit, she says to focus on comfort, "make sure it's not too tight around the waistband. If it is, try sizing up."
Marie loves to style swimwear as part of her outfits, too. "I've been wearing my Grace high-rise bottoms with loose linen pants so you can see the bottoms peeking out from the top of the pants. It's chic but also cool and laid back," she says.
The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: Embrace Cheeky & High-Leg Cuts
Blakely Wickstrom, the founder and designer of the environmentally conscious and LA-produced swimwear label, Galamaar, tells TZR that the high-waist bikini trend has endured not only because the look is fashion-forward, but comfortable, too. "You can't go wrong with an accentuated waist, it's a great way to enhance curves," she says.
Wickstrom said that proportion is the key to finding a high-waist bottom that hits your natural waist, explaining how a lower-cut leg has a more retro aesthetic if that's the goal. She recommends cheekier cuts and '90's-inspired high-leg cuts for a modern effect and to avoid "the dreaded granny panty" look.
The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: Seek Out a Design With Versatility
Helene Morris, designer of the New Zealand-based swim and lingerie brand, Lonely makes trend-driven suits with a retro appeal, catering to women of all sizes. This season high-waist bikinis range from underwire styles, and minimal silhouettes with a '90s feel to ready-to-wear-inspired designs including ruched, cropped, cut-out, wrap, and camisole tops, all of which come with coordinating bottoms.
“We all have such different needs as women, so looking for suits with adjustability can be a great option,” co-founder Helen Morris told TZR in 2019. "Some of our most popular styles feature lacing and wrap ties which allow women to find a personalized fit that’s absolutely perfect for them." One-shoulder tops are another stylish option for a fashion-forward look that can transition to an après swim look.
The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: Pay Attention To Seams
Lisa Marie Fernandez, the founder of her namesake line of swim and resort wear, tells TZR that the high-waist bikini continues to be popular because of the retro appeal. "You need to focus 100 percent on the fit," Fernandez says. She adds that her designs have seams in the front and back for the best possible silhouette.
Fernandez says that a high-waist bikini is an excellent underpinning for any dress or coverup for a resort wear look. "For spring 2020, we styled our high-waist bikini with the Anita orange gauze robes and the new ruffle wrap skirts in metallic gauze."
The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: More Coverage Can Help With a Better-Fitting Bottom
Araks Yeramyan, the founder of her namesake swimwear and lingerie line, Araks, says that a high-waisted bikini bottom is an excellent alternative to skimpier cuts that have been popular in recent seasons. "Silhouettes like our Ulla bottom, that combine a high-rise waist with a high-cut leg," she explains, adding that the cut keeps the bottoms from seeming baggy or bunchy.
The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: Opt For a High-Cut leg For a Sexier Look
Sarah Godshaw, designer of the '90s-inspired swimwear line, Sidway likens the popularity of high-waisted bikinis to high-waisted jeans. She also says that while the look initially became popular as a more literal take on '50s-style silhouettes with low cut legs and modest back coverage, it continues to evolve. "Now there are some much sexier options as trends in apparel have shifted toward the '90s and more recently the '80s. We have seen the waistlines stay high, but the shape of the leg has gotten higher and higher with each coming season."
When shopping for a high-rise silhouette like her best-selling Karen bottom, Godshaw acknowledges that it can feel like a risk to try a leg high-cut to show off the hips. "There are no tight edges that squeeze, the fabric is soft and comfortable, and there's enough back coverage for a family vacation."
The Best High-Waisted Bikinis: Skip Your Shorts For The Beach
French swimwear label Eres is a known for elegant cuts made from high-tech materials, including high-waisted bikinis with details like buttons, pleats, bows, and color variations. "Whether classic or trend-focused, you should always choose what you feel most comfortable in," says the brand's Artistic Director, Marie-Paule Minchelli. "Confidence is the best tool for exuding individuality and style."
As for styling your suit of choice, "you can style your high-waisted bikini bottoms as shorts to wear from the beach. My favorite way to do this is to pair the briefs with a loose T-shirt or blouse. You can adjust the tuck of the top into the bottoms to give a very casual but considered look. Then, you can let your style show by adjusting the height of the shirt's drape or adding a fun accessory, such as a belt."