Is the barely-there bikini trend here to stay?

·4-min read
A bikini worn a size too small and upside down is a major swimwear trend of the summer.

Wearing a swimsuit that fits you and is your size is so last decade! There's a new level of daringness coming to beaches in many parts of the world. No, it's not about going topless. The latest look in swimwear, at least if we look to the influencer crowd, is all about wearing a teeny-tiny bikini -- at least two sizes smaller than your usual size -- to cover the absolute bare minimum that prevents us from being totally naked. The phenomenon, which is all over Instagram and TikTok, may not be seen on everyone this summer but those who do embrace it are sure to get noticed.

"Itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polkadot bikini" went the 1960s Brian Hyland classic. It was another time, one that definitely saw its share of new freedoms when it came to fashion. The miniskirt made its debut, along with the trapeze dress, but above all, the bikini, one of the ultimate controversial garments, which, after being judged immoral for years all over the world, was seen en masse on sandy beaches. Less restricted by complicated, structured outfits, women's bodies in the West were increasingly on display with shorter, more flowing, more colorful pieces. That was nearly 60 years ago, and not surprisingly, the codes of fashion have evolved since that time. And the "teenie weenie" proportions of bikinis then may seem ultra modest compared to this latest trend.

Diminishing coverage

After having been periodically supplanted by one-piece styles, the bikini has made a remarkable comeback in recent years. But one need only scroll through TikTok and Instagram to see that it's no longer exactly being worn in the same way. A trend that reality TV fans will have definitely noticed. Whether it's about asserting one's style, embracing one's body and curves, or being intentionally provocative, it's clear that the young women who appear in many of the most popular reality TV shows of the moment are sorely lacking fabric when it comes to taking a dip in their 5-star pools. The swimsuit seems to be overly tight, revealing much more than it should -- but then is there a rule that breasts should be covered by a swimsuit top? -- namely vertiginous cleavage, but also, and above all -- because this is part of the recent phenomenon -- all of the lower part of the chest which, in fact, appears to emerge and rise.

But we shouldn't just point the finger at reality TV stars, who aren't necessarily the first to have adopted this trend. Let's give credit where credit is due. And in this little game, some of the biggest American celebrities are leading the ranks. Forerunners in the matter, some of them go to extremes. Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian, and Megan Thee Stallion have long been sporting swimsuits that are a little too small for their cup size. It's not a brand new trend but rather one which has been gaining ground over the seasons, now ubiquitous on some beaches as well as on social networks. Megan Thee Stallion even recently created a swim line for Fashion Nova that seems to be largely founded on this aesthetic.

Upside-down bikinis are next

But wearing a swimsuit that's a couple of sizes too small for you won't be enough to turn you into a summer siren. Because this trend actually incorporates yet another phenomenon that we didn't see coming and which basically consists in wearing your bikini top... upside down. Yes, you read that right! Why make something simple when you can make it complicated? In short, instead of tying one string behind your neck and the other in your back, you do the opposite. This results in revealing more skin, especially the lower and inner parts of your chest. Again, this is not a new trend, but it has become so popular that brands like PrettyLittleThing are now launching their own collections of reverse triangle swimwear -- remember, you just have to reverse the direction of the strings.

This trend of revealing a vertiginous neckline also shows up in ready-to-wear with summer collections offering ultra sexy cuts at the level of the chest, particularly in beachy dresses. Is it about revenge dressing after a year of staying at home? Upping the ante when it comes to being daring and getting attention? All about women being sexy and provocative or about wanting to assert themselves and show that they are at one with their bodies.

Christelle Pellissier

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