Most of us are familiar with the old standbys: the bikini, the one-piece, and even the tankini. If you haven’t heard of the monokini, don’t worry. You’re not alone! 

The monokini has only really taken off in popularity in recent years, but its current trajectory tells us it will be around for a while. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of monokinis. 

What Does a Monokini Look Like?

While there is no one-size-fits-all description of a monokini, there are certain traits that most of the suits have. First of all, monokinis are a one-piece/bikini hybrid. Most monokinis will look something like a one-piece that has some type of cutouts. 

Often, monokinis will have either cutouts on the side or in the middle. In this way, you get the best of both worlds. If you want to show a little skin like you would in a bikini, but you don’t necessarily want an actual bikini, the monokini is your gal! 

Monokinis can have varying levels of coverage and different styles. You may find monokinis with halter straps, spaghetti straps, or even no straps. The variety is part of what makes this unique suit so much fun to shop for.

How Do Monikinis Compare to Other Popular Styles? 

There are essentially three main types of bathing suits. When shopping for a suit, you will probably end up going with one of these styles.

1. The Bikini

The bikini is a two-piece swimsuit that shows the most skin. There are many styles, from triangle tops to halter tops and cami tops. The bottoms of bikinis also have something for everyone, with varying levels of modesty and coverage. 

People love the bikini for its versatility, and in recent years, strides have been made to make bikinis more size-inclusive so that everyone can rock their teeny-weeny bikini!

2. The One Piece

Technically, a monokini falls under this category. A monokini is one (mono) single garment of clothing, unlike a bikini, which is two pieces. 

One-piece bathing suits tend to be comfortable and forgiving, plus they are always in style. The only real drawback to a one-piece is that it’s a little extra work when you need to use the bathroom if you have the suit on under your clothes. 

3. The Tankini

There is much debate over the tankini. People tend to either love them or hate them. The nice thing about a tankini is that you may not get as much riding up as can occur with a one-piece, and it’s easier to use the bathroom. 

However, the tank top style top gives the coverage of a one-piece. While some call this suit a “sad bikini,” we beg to differ! We find the tankini to be a versatile, universally flattering suit!

What Are the Origins of the Monokini?

Believe it or not, in its conception, the monokini was actually a topless suit created by fashion designer Rudi Gernreich. Avert your eyes, ladies and gentlemen! Nothing to see here! 

In truth, though, if you’re a feminist, you will definitely love the origin story of this swimsuit. The OG monokini was a bikini bottom with two thin straps that went from the waist of the bathing suit all the way up to the shoulders. 

It was not originally conceived as a genuine bathing suit for the masses; rather, it was meant to be a protest against a repressive, patriarchal society with outdated beliefs surrounding women’s bodies. 

Gernreich sought to fight against the taboo associated with nudity (especially female nudity) and celebrate bodies for their natural beauty, not just their sexualization. He had never planned to actually sell the swimsuit, but lo and behold, years later, they are flying off the shelves. 

What Should You Look for in a Monokini?

When you’re shopping for a monokini, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some of our tips about what to look for when finding the best suit for you. 


While there are a lot of different materials out there, they certainly aren’t created equal. When it comes to swimsuits, ideally, you are looking for a blend of materials. Many swimsuits come in fabrics made of some combination of nylon, polyester, or spandex. This type of blend is stretchy, comfortable, and moisture-wicking.


The little things really do count. Monokinis are unique and fun; many come with details like ruching, beading, tie strings, mesh, ruffles, etc. Pick a monokini that suits your personality and makes your individuality shine!


In general, when choosing a swimsuit, it’s a good idea to figure out what style of neckline will complement your frame the best. Asymmetrical necklines create the illusion of height and elongate the body. 

Sweetheart necklines draw attention to the decolletage. A square halter neck accentuates the collar bones. For those who seek modesty, a higher neckline is best.


Bathing suits are one of those items that can absolutely be produced cheaply and in low quality. However, those of us who have ever worn a cheap swimsuit in the past know that this is not a clothing item you want to skimp on. 

This purchase is worth spending a little extra for a quality piece that can be worn year after year. 

Who Can Wear a Monokini?

In a word, anyone! The monokini is a super flattering choice for all body types. Plus, we honestly believe in wearing what makes you happy and what makes you feel good. 

Still, if you’re worried about looking your best, here are a few tips that might help:

  • If you have a full bust, opt for a halter neck or a V-neck.
  • If you need extra support in the bust area, you may want to consider a suit with an underwire.
  • For those with small busts, a suit with ruffles or detailing on the chest area will add a cup size to your appearance.
  • For those with hourglass figures, cut-outs on the side will accentuate these features further.
  • For slim gals, these cutouts can create the illusion of curves
  • Plus-size ladies will appreciate showing a little extra skin (aka, sexiness) while maintaining the support and structure of a one-piece.
  • If you are tall, look for “long torso” options in bathing suits.

How Should I Style a Monokini?

When it comes to styling a monokini, there are endless possibilities. So much of it has to do with your own personal sense of style, but we do have some great ideas!

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Choose a Print!

Some women shy away from prints, believing that solids are more flattering. We say embrace a colorful print if that’s what you like! One of our favorites is this Amalfi one piece, which comes in a classic Twilight Gingham.

2. Layer It Up

Cover-ups are not just about covering your body. They are also about comfort and style. 

If you’re on a breezy beach, you might want a coverup to shield yourself from the wind and sun. Luckily, those same practical cover-ups are also usually super cute, and the layering effect can add an extra touch of elegance.

3. Put On the Finishing Touches

Throw on a super cute wide-brimmed straw hat or a statement necklace to complete your look. If you’re going to be by the pool, you may want to take some time to consider the best sandals to wear with your poolside suit. 

4. Remember Your Mission

Do you want to spend your time frolicking in the water, or do you want people to notice you and your stylish suit? Not all monokinis are created equal. Some serve to make a statement, whereas others are more practical and athletic. It’s up to you which way you want to go! 


The monokini, which comes from famed feminist beginnings, is now one of the most unique and popular suits on the market. Remember, anyone can wear one! 

The cutouts are cute, and many suits come with special details that will make you stand out from the crowd. Merge your swimsuit with your own unique style touches, and you will be sure to bring the vibes to your next beach or poolside excursion. Cheers! 


A History of Women’s Swimwear | Fashion Institute of Technology

‘monokini’: meaning, origin and early occurrences | Word Histories

From Poolside Glam to Beach Babe: Styling Tips for Monokini Swimsuits | Southwest Journal

21 Types of Swimsuits: A Breakdown of Swimsuit Styles | MasterClass

A century of Rudi Gernreich: the revolutionary fashion designer who gave us the ‘monokini’ | The Standard