Can You Wear a Bra as a Bikini Top?

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Sun, sea, and sand is the definition of a perfect summer. You get to rock your chicest bikinis and get a glowing tan, after months of hiding under layers. However, if the endless sunbathing has left no time to do the laundry and you are wondering, “can I wear a bra as a bikini top?” keep reading to find out.

Can I Wear a Bra as a Bikini Top?

Yes, you can get away with wearing some bras as a bikini top, if you are ever in a situation where you do not have a bikini in hand. However, it is imperative to remember that a bra and a  bikini have different properties that make them appropriate for different situations, so I don’t recommend them.

Graphic image of various types of bras that explains how you can wear some bras as bikini tops, but not recommended to be worn when swimming

A bikini is designed to resist water and other elements. Thus, it does not deteriorate too quickly when exposed to the salts and chemicals present in seawater and swimming pool water, simultaneously.

A bra, on the other hand, should not really be word to swim in, as it focuses more on providing support. Below I discuss the difference between a bra and a bikini top.

What Is the Difference Between a Bra and a Bikini Top?

A bra and a bikini top can be used interchangeably. However, they have some obvious differences, which allow them to fulfill their purposes better:


Bras are made with moisture-absorbing fabrics, such as linen and cotton, which allow your skin to remain dry. Other fabrics, including silk, lace, and satin, might be included as decorative features. You can also find spandex, latex, microfiber, and jacquard in their construction to achieve specific purposes.

Bikini tops are usually made with materials that are stretchable, allowing for brisk movement. They are also slightly water-resistant and dry out quickly due to the lightweight fabric.

The fabric blend is also sturdy enough to withstand extended exposure to salt and chlorine water. The material is also often thick to provide a level of nipple coverage.

Different colors of knitted wireless bralettes placed on a brown wooden floor


Bras feature a hook and an eye to clasp the bands at the back. The closures are usually made up of metal, making them more sturdy and durable.

Bikini tops are usually tied, using strings, at the back and around the neck. Some bikinis might have hooks but they are made up of plastic, as metal rusts when exposed to moisture for lengthy periods of time.


Since bras are worn to provide support, they come in a varied range of sizes. The band is exactly in the size as the circumference of your underbust, without feeling too tight or too loose. The cups hold your breasts perfectly, without any spillage or extra room in the cups.

Bikini tops are free size because of the fabric used in their construction. The stretchability of the material allows it to adjust to the body shape. Moreover, the resilience ensures that it returns back to its original size and shape, even after multiple uses. It is also important to know how to measure your bra size.

Differences Between a Bra and Bikini Top

Style Material Closure Size
Regular bra Moisture-absorbing fabricsMostly hook-and-eye closure at the backTypically follows regular bra sizes
Bikini top Water-repelling fabricsMostly strings tied at the backTypically has a free size

What Types of Bras Do Not Work as Bikini Tops?

Now that I know that bras can work in place of bikini tops, there are still a few points to consider. This is because not every bra can be passed off as a bikini top. Thus, avoid wearing bras with the following characteristics:

A woman wearing a pink bralette with a yellow shawl on her shoulder
  • Lace bras are very difficult to pass of as bikini tops as lace detailing is immediately associated with lingerie.
  • Cotton bras are super absorbent, so if you want to jump in the water, these types of bras are best avoided. However, if you plan to remain on the sidelines, cotton bras can be used as bikini tops.
  • Bras with underwire is another no-go option because the underwire is made up of metal, which quickly deteriorates and gets rusty when exposed to water and chemicals.

Related Questions

Can You Wear a Bra Under a Bikini Top?

You can typically wear a bra under a bikini top if you need additional support and cover. However, it’s not advisable since bikini tops should have the necessary lift and cover you need.

Can I Wear a Bra to the Beach?

While you can wear your bra to the beach, the sun, sand, and salt from the sea can cause severe and irreparable damage to your bra. Bras are worn under a layer of clothing, so they are not constructed to withstand environmental elements.

Can I Wear a Sports Bra as a Swimsuit?

Yes, you can wear your sports bra as a swimsuit. They can be a great option to hold everything in place while you do laps. However, the salt content and chemicals in the pool can reduce the lifespan of your sports bra.

Bra Size Measurement & Cup Size | A, B, C, D, DD Bra Sizes AND Extra Large Breasts


To conclude, you can wear a bra in place of a bikini top in certain situations. However, try to avoid bras with lace details or underwires. Moreover, opt for a bra that has a blend of materials, instead of a cotton bra that can get soaked quickly, making them cumbersome to wear.


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.