Can You Wear a Sports Bra for Swimming?

One reader wrote: Swim tops and sports bras look the same. At least to me. Although each serves a different purpose, I wonder if I can substitute the one for the other. That is to ask, can I wear a sports bra for swimming and not look off at the beach? My place is 30 minutes away from the beach and I’d love to be able to go for a proper run with my dog and take a dip at the end without changing for a bikini top.

So can you wear a sports bra as a bikini top? Technically, yes. After all, sports bras and bikini tops ultimately serve the same purpose—to support the breasts. However, there’s a reason why they’re considered different. Before substituting a swim top for a sports bra, do consider the following.

Why wear a sports bra for swimming

Although there are reasons to reconsider wearing a sports bra for swimming, let’s start with the reason why sports bras are a good substitute for bikini tops.

  • Sports bras are supportive.

If you’re a large breasted woman, finding a bikini top that offers reliable support isn’t impossible but can be challenging at times. If you’ll be moving a lot in the water and need all the support you can get, count on sports bras to meet that need for you.

  • They’re super comfy.

In terms of comfort, sports bras are top notch. Unlike most underwired bikini tops that promises support but fails on comfort (digging underwires), most sports bras are constructed without the hard irritating metal wires. Instead, they’re made with boning usually made of flexible plastic—enough to provide shape and support minus the pain.

  • Sports bras now offer a wide variety of designs.

Gone are the days when you’re stuck with the classic and sometimes unflattering sports bra design. Now, brands create designs that can even pass as bikini tops.

You can wear them sporty.

Click here to view in Amazon. (#ad)

Or with extra details like crisscrosses at the back.

Click here to view in Amazon. (#ad)

Why not wear a sports bra for swimming

Sports bras may be supportive and comfortable, however, they don’t come without weaknesses when they function as bikini tops. If these factors are enough deal-breakers for you, you might be better off sticking to tops designed for swimming.

  • Most sports bras are more vulnerable to damage.

Sports bras are specifically designed to absorb sweat but not chlorine and saltwater. Therefore, they’re not necessarily as resistant as bikini tops when exposed to pool and seawater.

Solution: You can, however, slow down their wear and tear by handwashing them with freshwater right after use. Do not put them in the dryer or washing machine. Exposure to heat will only speed up its aging process.

  • Sports bras dry slower than bikini tops.

Bikini tops are designed to be hydrophobic and quick-drying while sports bras are absorbent. This makes sports bras slow to dry while heavy and dragging when wet, at times.

Solution: Buy one with at least 70% polyester. Polyester fabric is extremely strong, highly resistant— to chlorine, saltwater, shrinking, stretching, wrinkling, and abrasion— and most of all hydrophobic and quick-drying. It also retains its shape well which is great for outdoor clothing like sports bras/ bikini top.
If you’re allergic to high amounts of polyester, go for a 50% PBT and 50% polyester. It’s what Speedo (#ad) usually use for their Endurance+ pieces. The PBT will even out the potential irritation that polyester might cause to the skin. Hence it’s more comfortable but highly durable.

Remember before wearing a sports bra for swimming

  • Don’t buy it white or light-colored. White tends to be see-through when wet. To err on the safe side, buy any color except the light-colored ones.
  • If you really must wear a light colored one, get it soaking wet now, stand in front of a mirror, and see if it’s showing your skin underneath.
  • Pay very close attention to the care instruction. If it says “no bleach” then you can’t wear it in pools as the chlorine will destroy the elastics and fade the colors. Probably not during the first or even 5th time but count on its quality to eventually degrade faster than it should.
  • Regardless of the care instruction (in exception of dry cleaning which is unlikely), always rinse your sports bra with freshwater after use as soon as possible.
  • To avoid an uncomfortable fit, weigh your sports bra or try it on while soaking wet. Assess its weight and see if it’s something you can easily carry while swimming.
  • Don’t wear sports bras that have more than 20% cotton. Cotton is the most absorbent of all fabric. It’s also very sensitive to chlorine and saltwater.
  • If all else fail, just wear a bikini top and be done with it. 🙂

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I’ve long been a believer in strategic swimwear. I love when a triangle top that peeks out during a dance-floor move can be excused as a bathing suit, or a when bandeau bikini that gives new, family-gathering-appropriate life to a v-neck that might have otherwise been cut too low. In my opinion, a swimsuit styled with actual clothing is the definition of summer outfit perfection.

And applying this double-duty move to activewear—aka wearing your bikini top as a sports bra—is not only stylish, but it’s actually a fairly logical move. For me, throwing on a supportive bathing suit and heading to a workout about the ease of wear, and also about getting twice the bang for your bathing suit buck… even if swimming isn’t even part of the equation that day. Practicing free yoga stretches in my living room to Amazon Prime’s finest instructors means that a torso-flattering Boys + Arrows Phil Top ($98) can provide just the right lines and lift without the pressure. And for frisbee tosses on the actual beach, Cover’s Swim Sports Bra ($100) is a real winner. This multitasking attitude has been everywhere lately, as brands give bikini/sports bra hybrids new life both in and out of the water.

Photo: Summersalt

Summersalt Mesh Diver Bikini Top ($50)

Take Summersalt, the sustainable swimwear label who launched their activewear line this month with the intention of giving everything from halter bikini tops to color-blocked leggings a double meaning. Pulled on for Pilates, they’re breathable and aerodynamic, and a trip to the pool means that the UPF fabric offers sun protection and waterproof coverage. “We encourage women to live life outside of the lounge chair,” says co-founder Lori Coulter of the new pieces she and Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin dreamed up together for the likes of swimming, paddle boarding, and surfing. Their launches, like the Mesh Diver Bikini Top ($50) mirror the look of a traditional sports bra, while one pieces like The Causeway ($95) (which even comes in a version for long torsos, finally!) makes for a no-brainer leotard that stands up to the flips and twirls of aerial yoga. Even the long-sleeved The Sun Shield Rash Guard ($80) is as useful in the water as it is layered up during an over-air-conditioned cycling class.

Photo: Boys + Arrows

Boys + Arrows Dizzy Izzy Bikini Top ($18)

For even more of these either/or options, forward-thinking brands are riding the wave of multitasking activewear. Boys + Arrows, the swim line that sews its pieces locally in So-Cal, pushes the boundaries of traditional suits. The Dizzy Izzy ($18) top—described as “a nod to sports bras”—is designed with motion in mind, and the brand boasts that “pretty much anything active you can think of, Izzy can do it with you.” For more relaxed classes where stretching and movement is paramount, their “sporty fit” Dylan Top ($106) has clever corseting straps that can be tightened for additional support. Reimagining their traditional bikinis, SAME Los Angeles launched activewear via their Same Sport offshoot, which features the adorable Ruffle Bra ($95) that acts like fitness-wear—but when paired with black bikini bottoms, easily moonlights as a swim top.

Photo: Avery Tank

Wear It To Heart Avery Tank ($63)

In addition to suits that can function as sports bras, the double-duty factor works the other way around, too. Wear It To Heart brings back the sleek tankini look (… remember the ’90s?) with their Avery Tank ($63) which features a built-in bra and moisture-wicking fabric that dries off quickly after a dip. Though it’s technically a workout tank, I can personally attest to its swim-friendliness after wearing it for a scuba lesson with Fiji’s Jean-Michel Cousteau Diving Center. Grateful for the extra coverage to prevent any subterranean cuts and scrapes, they dried off even faster than the borrowed neoprene gear. Plus, the brand’s low-key color options in navy and black helped keep me camouflaged from curious ocean dwellers.

These black swimsuits are like your LBD, but for the beach. And this sports bra with six pockets will change your life.

Going Swimming? Leave the Sports Bra at Home

By Sharon McLoone

Most folks headed to the pool grab a towel, a bathing suit, sunscreen and maybe some goggles and flip-flops.

But the DC Department of Parks and Recreation has issued a guide of acceptable pool wear after enough District residents showed up this season to swim, but weren’t wearing appropriate swim attire.

“‘Street clothes’, Brazil/French-cut, thong style and/or revealing swim wear, cut- off jeans, jeans, skirts, shorts, sport bras, leotards, leggings, dri-fit wear, compression shorts and compression shirts are prohibited,” according to a DPR statement. “Underwear and undergarments are not allowed to be worn under swimsuits.”

A spokesman for Parks and Rec told WTOP that because the pools are free, they usually fill to capacity and some residents stop by on a whim, without preparing for a pool outing.

The new guide says: “Street clothes (especially cotton) can transport airborne and ultimately water-borne contaminants into the pool.”

It’s not an issue in places like Alexandria where residents and non-residents have to pay an admission fee.

Parks and Recreation spokesman David Miller told WTOP that because residents have to plan around coming to the pool, they arrive in appropriate swim attire.

Do you think it was necessary for DPR to put out this guide? Have you noticed improper swimwear at your local pool?

The Difference Between Bikini, Bra, and Lingerie: Explained

Bikini, bra, and lingerie: They might look almost the same but they’re actually different. You can get away with wearing a bra as a bikini top and vice versa, but you can’t wear lingerie as a bikini without getting weird stares from people.

The main difference between bikini, bra, and lingerie lies between the fabric material and the purpose and occasion in which each garment is expected to use. Here’s an in-depth explanation as to how these three pieces of clothing look exactly the same, yet different at the same time.


A bikini is a two-piece garment worn as a swimsuit. It usually has a very brief bottom. If you want more coverage though, opt for the high-waisted bikinis that cover the tummy area and offer full butt coverage.

Two types of bikini styles: the brief bikini (left) and high waisted bikini (right)

Purpose: Worn as a swimsuit.

Fabric: Lycra/ spandex is the perfect fabric to manufacture bikinis because of its following properties:

  • Lycra is highly stretchable and easily allows movement.
  • Lightweight even when soaked with water
  • Highly resistant to deterioration by body oils
  • Its resilience allows it to be stretched repeatedly and still recover to very near to its original shape and size.
  • More durable and has a higher retractive force than rubber

It’s isn’t just pure lycra though. Most bikinis have mixed fabric in them like polyester and nylon which are also known for added durability. When blended with lycra, they give birth to a swimsuit strong enough to withstand the assault of salt and chlorine water.

Can you wear a bikini as underwear?

Absolutely. You’ll do just fine. Nobody’s going to judge you underneath your clothes. Some bikinis might feel less comfortable though. If you’re planning to wear your bikinis as underwears more often, opt for bikinis with minimal details, devoid of tie side and ruffles. Nude and neutral colors are your best color options if versatility is what you’re after.


Bra’s main function is to cover the breasts and provide support. But years of refining gave bras a new task: to enhance the breast size visually and create a deeper cleavage, especially for small-breasted women.

A bra can be a regular bra to merely cover and support breast or a push-up bra to also enhance breasts cleavage and volume.

3 main types of bra

All these types can be either push up or not.

  • A T-shirt bra is designed to be seamless because the goal is for it to go invisible underneath body-hugging or drapey outfits.
  • A strapless bra is your lifesaver when occasions like weddings call for you to wear a bare-shouldered attire. The best way to test if a strapless bra does its job is to jump for about 10 times while wearing it. If it doesn’t fall off an just has the right snug fit, you just found yourself a good bra.
  • Stick-on bra operates through adhesive that sticks to your breasts so you can wear backless attires without showing any hint of a bra. Not for everyday use as it only lasts around 5-7 uses, but definitely something you’d need a hundred percent when the situation calls for it.

  • Sports bras provide support when you’re lifting weights and doing cardio. Designed to prevent bounce and hold the bust firm during strenuous movement, sports bras are versatile and practical. Heck, you can even wear it as an everyday bra. It’s that comfortable.

Can you wear a bra as a bikini top?

Technically, yes. Some bra designs can be passed for bikini tops for swimming, however, understand that a bra doesn’t possess the resistance to water that a swimsuit bikini has. If worse comes to worst and you don’t have a swimsuit around, feel free to wear your bra. However, only do this sparingly and wash it with fresh water immediately after wearing.

Can you wear a panty as a bikini bottom?

Yes and no. There are panties that could pass for bikini bottoms just fine, but there are others that look like they’re meant to be worn in the bedroom and not for swimming.

Take this lingerie pair for example. The bottom is opaque and plain so it could easily pass for a regular swimsuit. However, we can’t say the same for the bra. Its lace details could easily remind the onlooker of Victoria’s Secret lingerie fashion show. It looks like it’s designed to be worn in private than in public.

Before wearing a bra or panty as swimsuits, consider the following:

  • Don’t wear bras or panties with lace details. Lace is a common material for underwear that, when seen, it’s quickly associated with lingerie.
  • Don’t wear cotton materials. Cotton retains a lot of water and will weigh you down in swimming.
  • Make sure the panty has strong thread support on the hips to keep it from slipping off once it’s soaked with water. Some panties don’t have that capability since they weren’t designed for swimming.
  • Actually, just buy yourself a swimsuit and you’ll save yourself all the trouble. 🙂 Only resort to underwears if you don’t have a choice.


Lingerie is the general term for all undergarment a woman wears. This means that a bra is only a subcategory of lingerie, and there are many others like panties, boy shorts, briefs, etc.

Other meaning for lingerie

When someone says lingerie, the first thought that pops up to most people’s head is “sexy time”. And in a way, that is correct.

A few decades ago, a new market for men and women looking for a special category of lingerie outfit emerged. Brands like Victoria’s Secret sprouted.

This led the lingerie category to split into two: the one side that caters to the most basic needs of coverage, comfort and support, and the other that caters to sensually designed garments.

In short, the lingerie’s main purpose is to flatter the female figure to make you look more attractive and sexually appealing. Or just make you feel good about looking sexy overall.


The fabric properties of lingeries are similar to bra: silky, transparent with a fluid drape, lightweight, lacey, soft and silky to touch.

Can you wear lingerie to the beach?

Absolutely not, if you don’t want to draw attention for the wrong reason, that is. Keep your lacy lingerie in the bedroom where your lover can see you. 🙂 Reserve the swimsuits for the beach. You’re gonna ruin the luxurious fabric with saltwater anyway.

Can you wear intimate lingerie as a bra?

Since sexy lingerie can do the job of covering and supporting the breasts as a bra does, then yes, you can wear it underneath your clothing. A plain bra is more practical though. But should you run out of fresh bra to wear, then lingerie it is. Or a swimwear bra for that matter.

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If you’re a bikini addict like us, we’re always thinking of new ways to incorporate our favorite swim pieces into our everyday wardrobe. Here at L*Space, we believe there’s more to a bikini and when styled with the right basics & accessories you can easily transform your wardrobe.

Here’s a look at 3 ways to wear some of our favorite L*Space Bikini Tops beyond the beach:


Looking for a bikini top that works double duty for your 4 o’clock barre class? You’ll love our Stacy Top, Haute Tank & Lively Top. Besides the pizza you plan to consume after class, you might actually look forward to breaking a sweat.


We LOVE our Jaime top for oh-so-many reasons ( just like this one) but perhaps one of our favorite reasons we love this top so much the versatility in and out of the water. The criss-cross strapping makes for a perfect layering piece underneath your favorite tanks & tees. Can’t figure out what to wear with that dress with the plunging v-neckline neckline? We’ll let you do the guessing…


The key to nailing this look is to make it look like you’re not wearing a swimsuit (we promise it’s easier than it sounds!) For this look, keep it simple. Let the body suit be the focal point + add basic piece. We suggest pairing it with a pair of high-waisted shorts for a casual daytime look or with a tight fitted pencil skirt or ankle cropped denim for an evening look. Our go-to picks for this look: Maniac One Piece, Wild Side One Piece & Moda One Piece.

IT’S the summer’s hot topic – what SHOULD a girl wear when the weather’s finally OK for sunbathing?

This week’s heatwave clearly caught some by surprise, causing them to take drastic steps to soak up the long-awaited rays – such as peeling off to catch the sun in just their undies.

Cue uproar on social media, where some found such behaviour shocking, while others said undies show the same amount of flesh as a bikini, so what’s the problem?

Well, here SIOBHAN O’CONNOR offers a solution – the trickini, or undies masquerading as a bikini.

We got ex-Page 3 star Sabine Jemeljanova to try out several, and below she gives her verdicts.


6 Bra, £14.90, and knickers, £5.90

Sabine says: “This looks and feels like a bikini.

“It’s more covered and less skimpy so if you are a bit nervous about stripping down to your undies, this is the better style to go for.

“Surprisingly people have not been taking that much notice.

“If I get stares it’s mainly from a few women – the men seem cautious about looking.

“You can easily wear this set under your workwear as it’s comfy and seam-free, and best to sunbathe in.

“You wouldn’t get bad tan lines in these and it shows a bit of cleavage.”

Forever 21

6 Bralette, £6, and knickers, £6

Sabine says: “This looks like stylish swimwear – not like a bra at all.

“No one seems to care that I’m walking around in this bralette and knickers because they don’t look like normal lingerie.

“I might even sunbathe in my own underwear later – we need to make the most of this weather as it doesn’t seem to last long.”

New look

6 Bra, £9.99, and knickers, £3.99

Sabine says: “I don’t see the problem with sunbathing in your underwear as long as it’s not super-sexy.

“This set passes really well as swimwear, mainly because of the bold black piping.

“It is a bit lacy but no one far away is going to realise that.

“Just make sure you wear a matching set like this if you want it to pass for a bikini.”

Victoria’s secret

6 Crop top, £29.09, and knickers, £20

Sabine says: “I wouldn’t wear this as a bra – what would you wear it beneath?

“It feels more suited to Ibiza instead as a nice top or bikini to pool parties. It’s better suited as a bikini than a bra in my eyes anyway, but it’s awful for tan lines.

“This is definitely a show-off piece – you want people to look at you wearing this one.

“The bottoms on these are super-sexy but it can easily pass as swimwear.”

6 Bralette, £18.18, and knickers, £25.45

Sabine says: “This is rather sexy.

“It’s so lacy and the bright pink means I don’t exactly blend into the background.

“I like the bralette style, it’s more comfortable.

“The high waist makes me feel more covered up too, and the sporty waistband makes it feel more swimwear.

“But the true test of that would be taking a dip, when you’d be sure to come out soaking wet.”


6 Bandeau bra, £20, and knickers, £7

Sabine says: “I’d 100 per cent wear this to sunbathe, I see no problem with it.

“We are brainwashed into thinking lingerie is more sexy but it gives the same coverage so why does it matter?

“This even feels like a bikini – I’m happy to wear it in public.

“We hardly get sun in Britain so we may as well make the most of it and strip off.

“I am getting a few weird glances – but only because everyone else seems fully clothed today.”

Summer weekends are practically designed for a million wardrobe changes. After all, your picturesque, oceanside jogs, long afternoons of hammock reading, and endless parade of outdoor parties all require different ensembles—right? Needless to say, when you find versatile items that actually elevate your sun-kissed look without expanding your laundry pile, it’s a total summer-style win.

Luckily, many of this season’s swimsuit looks are sports bra-inspired, repping crop top-esque shapes with underwire, adjustable straps, and fast-drying material, says Sabra Krock, creative director and co-owner of the chic swim boutiques Everything But Water.

Give your athletic drawer a dual-purpose makeover by choosing swimsuits that moonlight as sports bras.

So besides thinning out your closet by investing in a few chic cover-ups that double as sundresses, you can also give your athletic drawer a dual-purpose makeover by choosing swimsuits that moonlight as sports bras. “Function” being the key term—since, according to Stacee Dorning, division merchandising manager at Athleta—that’s the number one thing to look for when you want your ‘suits to work overtime.

“We see that more and more people are looking for crossover,” shares Dorning, who says chlorine and seawater-safe fabric options are taking up *major* rack real estate in this season’s swimwear line. Before, *ahem*, diving head first into this trend though, Dorning advises choosing your style based on your sweat preferences: “When looking for support, make sure it mirrors the activity you’d want to do post swim. For example, medium support for running and/or training, and low support for hot yoga or Pilates.”

And Krock adds that “whatever style you choose, ensure that the suit fits your particular shape,” Krock says. “You shouldn’t have spillage on the sides, underarms, or excessive cleavage in the middle if your suit has the depth and coverage to support you.” Start your search by checking out the 9 swim tops you can easily wear to your next sweat sesh below.

Now that your beach and outdoor workout-ready, make sure you have your other sun-essentials on hand, like these mirrored shades that will stylishly protect your eyes from sun damage and the sunscreens that dermatologists swear by.

Exercise Swimsuits & Triathlon Suits for Women

Everyone’s talking about athletic swimwear these days. Why? Because swimming is the ultimate full body workout, and more and more women are taking the plunge to discover what all the fuss is about. Leisure swimming is one thing, but swimming as a workout requires the proper women’s sports swimwear, just as any other sport requires the proper attire. ROXY is a brand that caters to active, adventurous women everywhere, and we are experts when it comes to developing performance-inspired athletic swimwear designs. As a brand that has deep roots in surfing, water sports has always been an area of expertise for us, and we have a history of innovative designs that we continue to build upon to design each new season of women’s sports swimwear. Whether you’re new to a swim workout, or have logged countless miles in the ocean, ROXY is here to provide you with the best athletic swimwear you need to keep you cutting through the water like a razor.

Improve Your Water Wardrobe with ROXY Athletic Swimwear

Some people may wonder, why do I need to get a specific piece of athletic swimwear to workout in the water? Think about it this way: you wouldn’t go running in a dress, right? For all the same reasons, you wouldn’t go swimming in a fashion bikini. Sport swimsuits give you the proper coverage and support you need to be able to move as quickly through the water as you’d like without having to worry about any suit malfunctions. Athletic swimwear for women is specifically designed to reduce drag so that you can be as aerodynamic as possible while moving through the water. ROXY designs a collection of women’s sports swimwear that will keep you feeling comfortable during all of your water workouts. Whether you’re treading water, repeating laps in the pool, or going the distance in the open ocean, our sporty swimwear styles will give you the support you need to stay focused on your technique.

Dive Into the Latest Trends: Women’s Sports Swimwear

Athletic swimwear often gets a bad rap for not being extremely stylish. People immediately sports swimwear with high cut one piece swimsuits and racerback swimsuits that you remember wearing on the swim team in high school. While racerbacks and one piece designs hold their place among reputable performance swimwear, designs of athletic swimsuits have evolved over the year to become as fashionable as they are functional. ROXY knows that comfort is a big part of achieving performance goals, and we design each of our sport swimsuit styles to provide you with a physical comfort as well as a comfort of mind knowing that the swimsuit you’ve chosen complements you well. Next time you opt to workout in the water, give one of our athletic bikinis a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how secure the sport bikini top is as you move through your workout. We like to think of it more as a sports bra swim top than anything else, because it provides the hybrid of support, security, and water resistance that you need to successfully complete your routine without any distractions. The future of women’s sports swimwear is here, and ROXY has all of the designs you need to take full advantage.

ROXY Has the Athletic Swimwear You Need to Buy

Ready to dive into a new swim workout routine? Navigate your way to ROXY’s online store so you can buy a selection of our athletic swimwear styles to keep you motivated in the pool. Swimming never looked better, and ROXY’s women’s sports swimwear will not only keep your water wardrobe on point, it will keep you comfortable and protected each stroke of the way. Still unsure about which of our athletic swimwear styles will work best for you? Start a conversation with our free customer service help line via live chat, phone, or email, and get the answers and information you need to choose the best style for you!

Swim top sports bra

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