The Tankini Evolution In Swimwear

April 30, 2014

By Jennifer Cermak



Tankini’s have a bad reputation, most likely from the late 90’s when they introduced them to the market as mid-drift showing tops paired with regular bikini (skimpy) bottoms followed shortly by the extreme opposite – the high scoop neck with light shelf bra paired with a skirt, or better yet… shorts. Please. No fashion minded woman, kids or no kids is going to go for either look. Lucky for us, designers have figured out this staple swimwear piece and now design cute options with where style meets function. And, it is a beautiful thing.

Sport tankinis generally are very simple and include a light shelf bra for minimum support. These suits are popular among the paddleboard enthusiasts (which is a top sport on our 10,000 lakes).


Prana, Anita, Next by Athena, Carve

Contemporary tankinis are generally designed for the mass market and fit sizes 0 to 12, A to C cup. If you are lucky to fall in this range, you have options galore when choosing a style. Any department store will offer these and price point and fit are generally good.


Trina Turk, EcoSwim, Magicsuit, Ralph Lauren

Trend fashion is becoming more popular, and designers are starting to include tankini’s in their collection offerings. Popping up with hardware details, peek-a-boo cut outs and peplum and zippers we know fashion has now accepted the tankini as a standard style option for the consumer.


Coco Reef, Michael Kors, Badgley Mischka, Karla Colletto

Solution and problem solvers in tankinis are gaining media press and becoming noticed and requested by consumers.  My most requested solutions (besides pregnancy…) are junior/ young styles, tummy control, port coverage, and plus swimwear.


Becca (junior), Profile by Gottex (Tummy Control), Magicsuit (port coverage), and Sorella (Plus)

Busty bra swimwear has been making waves into the swimwear world – testing the limits of support and offering fit solutions for those of us who are rather beyond blessed in the chest (D to H). Brands that start in foundations are definitely worth playing with, and no longer look just like a bra!


Curvy Kate, Freya, Fantasie


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Contributing Authors

Ellen Lewis, Publisher of Lingerie Briefs: My merchant’s curiosity has taken me on a swimwear journey from the Miami Swim show to many shops whose robust businesses claim between 10 – 20% generated from swimwear. We began this swim column in order to highlight this potential. My research has led me to a very interesting conclusion: Swimwear is a fit business parallel to Intimates, but Swim stores and Bra Fitting stores approach the process in very different ways. Fit is priority, absolutely, in both venues, but the similarity really stops there.
Kimberly Berger is the founder/owner of Lion’s Lair Boutique Located in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Established in 1996, Lion’s Lair Boutique has become paradise for the well-endowed and hard to fit woman. Specializing in larger cup sizes and plus sizes, Lion’s Lair offers the largest selection of cup sized swimwear, lingerie and clothing in the United States, quite possibly the world. Kimberly and her staff were the first to introduce the ‘swim bra’, an underwire garment that is designed to be worn under a tankini shell. The ‘swim bra’ offers the larger cup customer the same support as a bra but is made out of fabrics designed to get wet. Kimberly shared the concept with the designers at Eveden and shortly thereafter Elomi Swimwear was born. Designers from all over the world come to visit and consult with Kimberly and her staff who have truly become the voice of the consumer. It has become a destination store to woman seeking hard to find sizes, and an exceptional shopping experience.