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When it comes to swimwear, many women automatically opt for the classic bikini when they're looking to show off a bit of extra skin. But the popularity of bodysuits and the explosion of stylish, sustainable swimsuit brands over the last few years has led swim aficionados to another style that's just as sexy as the string bikini: The low-back swimsuit, a.k.a. the backless swimsuit, which is often a one-piece that plunges down to (or past) the base of the wearer's spine while providing full coverage in the front.
Chantal Levesque, founder and designer of SHAN Swimwear, says that these swimsuits became popular as a result of two crucial late 20th-century fashion changes: greater accessibility of stretch fabric, and greater social acceptance of women showing more skin. And while bikinis exploded in popularity, women who didn't feel comfortable baring their midriffs often opted for one-pieces.
"This is where low-back swimsuits became a popular choice for a lot of women," Levesque explains. "This type of one-piece swimsuit offers the full front coverage some women are looking for, but at the same time creates the illusion of a two-piece thanks to its low back cut."
But Natasha Tonić, founder of her own eponymous swimwear brand, points to a 1976 photo of Farrah Fawcett as the moment that truly catapulted the low-back swimsuit into fashion fame. While in some ways the suit resembled swimsuits from the turn of the century—"in 1915, Jantzen, a small knittery in Portland, made low back swimsuits out of wool," Tonić reminds us—the relaxed beach regulations of the 1970s allowed for everyday women to finally enjoy low-back swimsuits in public without reproach. And based on how popular these pieces remain summer after summer, the fashion world has never looked back.
"Open-back swimsuits are popular because they reveal more skin without necessarily being over the top," says Tonić. "Women can feel seductive without showing so much of their body. It leaves things to the imagination, which is sometimes the sexiest thing anyway."
Below, the best low-back swimsuits money can buy, along with tips and tricks on how to buy and wear them. Let your imagination run wild.
When to Wear a Low-Back Swimsuit
Between swimming, playing beach games or sports, and simply lounging on the beach, there are a variety of activities you may be getting up to while donning your favorite swimsuit. This begs the question of whether your low-back swimsuit is up to the task for each of these, or whether you're better off opting for another, less risky style.
"In my opinion, low-back swimsuits are best suited for casual sunbathing," advises Tonić. "They are also great for that beach bar or restaurant look where you don’t want to feel underdressed while standing among people or eating food." Indeed, she says that low-back swimsuits can lend your beach bar fit a "subtle sexy movie star look."
Valentina Suescun, designer at ONEONE Swim, agrees, adding, "Low back swimsuits may not be the best choice for activities that require a lot of movement, such as water sports or beach volleyball, as they may not provide enough support."
But if you're absolutely determined to wear your low-back swimsuit to your beach volleyball tournament, or if you want a suit that's ready for anything, there are a few tips you can keep in mind when picking your suit.
"The lower the cut is in the back, the less support it gives to the front," Levesque reminds us. Furthermore, she says that low-back swimsuits with underwire or strings that tie in the back can provide greater support when you're running or swimming, and might be the most comfortable swimsuits for those with large busts.
What to Look For in a Low Back Swimsuit
Now that you know when to wear a low-back swimsuit, you may be wondering what to look for in a high-quality piece that feels comfortable and lasts season after season. After all, it's better to invest in a luxurious piece that you love and that you know will last than to buy a piece that disintegrates after just a few wears (trust me, I've been there).
"The fabric should be durable and not so thin that it wears out over time," agrees Tonić, who points in particular to the hemp-based, sustainably produced fabric of her brand's swimsuits. Levesque also points to the importance of quality, explaining, "A high-quality Lycra fabric will always give a better fit, without exception. A good Lycra fabric will also extend the durability of the swimsuit."
In terms of fit, Tonić says, "A high quality low back swimsuit should have a perfect fit where the straps look as if they can slip off anytime to the sides and reveal a little bit more—yet they never do." In other words, the straps should sit securely on your shoulders, but they shouldn't be cutting into your skin.
But no matter how high-quality your swimsuit is, its longevity is also determined by how well you take care of. "It is always better to just rinse after swimming with water and leave inside out to dry," warns Tonić. "This is better for our environment and the longevity of any swimsuit."
The Best Low-Back Swimsuits
- Best Low-Back Swimsuit for Curves: Soma Ruffled One-Piece Swimsuit
- Best Low-Back Swimsuit for Long Torsos: Andie Swim The Tulum
- Best Sexy Low-Back Swimsuit: Ayra Swim The Hype Cheeky One-Piece Swimsuit
- Best Modest Low-Back Swimsuit: Inez Valentine Peyton One-Piece
- Best Low-Back Swimsuit for Sport: Adidas Originals Trefoil Swim Suit
- Best Low-Back Swimsuit Overall: Natasha Tonić Rebel - Red
Best Athletic Low-Back Swimsuit
You won't be hard to spot in this Adidas seafoam green one-piece, which is made for both sleek aesthetics and high-octane athletic performance. And while it boasts a sexy low back, it retains a sensible high cut in the front so you can swim, dive, run, and jump without worrying about whether you're covered. Form-fitting and flexible, reviewers rave that it's true to fit. Plus, it's machine washable—a godsend for the low-maintenance (or, admittedly, lazy) swimmers among us.
Customer Review: "The color is even better in person!" -Amazon
Best Vegan Low-Back Swimsuit
"This style is one of our most popular ones," says Levesque of this unlined one-piece, which is made entirely of vegan suede. Of its popularity among women of all sizes, she explains, "It has a low front and back cut, but gives a good support for both smaller or larger busts, because of the large straps that maintain the breast in place." A classic, trend-transcending silhouette, the suit comes in both tan and black.
Best Adjustable Low-Back Swimsuit
This one-piece swimsuit from Bleu Rod strikes the rare balance of full coverage, a plunging neckline, and maximum bust support. The lace-up neckline is completely adjustable, so you can show off or cover as much as you'd like, and the piece also features matching lace detailing on the lower back. Plus, it comes with removable soft cups and is made from a soft, flexible blend of nylon and spandex for your most comfortable swim experience yet.
Best Patterned Low-Back Swimsuit
Suescun highly recommends this one-piece from her swim brand, ONEONE. In particular, she says she loves its unique silhouette, calling it "very sexy and trendy"—especially when coupled with its unique, vibrant pattern of tiny illustrations. She adds that " the fit is comfortable and flattering" as well, with its cheeky bottom coverage, high leg cut, and adjustable back and shoulder straps. It's also eco printed, meaning that the colors and designs on the suit are printed using dyes made from organic materials (like seeds, bark, and flowers).
Best Cutout Low-Back Swimsuit
Natasha Tonić's luxury swimwear brand specializes in making pieces from hemp-based fabric that reduces microfiber pollution when you wear it in the ocean. Plus, it's UV resistant and anti-microbial, with elastin in its back and straps for extra bust support. "My customers’ favorite is also mine," Tonić says of this piece."It's more closed in the front and on the bottom. It is designed to be a combination of 20’s style swimsuits but with the open back of the ’70s."
Best Longwear Low-Back Swimsuit
The concept behind all of Hermoza's pieces is that they can be worn both as bathing suits and as bodysuits when you're transitioning from the beach or pool to lunch, dinner, or drinks. I especially love the soft, pastel blue color of this piece and the retro white tie straps on each shoulder. It provides full coverage to the chest and bottom, has a scoop neck, and is fully lined with soft, comfortable fabric that the brand boasts is "silky to the touch."
Customer Review: "I normally don't wear colors this vibrant, but there was something about this suit that drew me in. Maybe it was the cute little bows that paired with the sportier color blocked tones. Whatever it was, I am SO glad I got this. It fits incredibly well and offers light compression so that I feel supported and confident. The construction is 10/10 - top notch. I also love the fact that the cups are built in so I don't have to worry about them shifting or getting folded up in the wash. I've worn this as a bodysuit and get a ton of compliments! Looks super cute with some light wash denim shorts." -Hermoza
Best Sustainable Low-Back Swimsuit
This belted one-piece boasts a backless cut without showing too much skin, striking the perfect balance between being flattering and family reunion-appropriate. It also comes in four neutral colorways, including this terra cotta-like shade of deep orange. The brand, Kōraru, also uses sustainable materials and packaging for all of its suits, and donates five dollars from every purchase of a set or one piece toward the Coral Reef Alliance. A swimsuit that feels good on physical and ethical levels? Don't mind if I do.
Best Baywatch-Inspired Low-Back Swimsuit
Tonić says that this bright red bathing suit is another one of her absolute favorites—and, being that this is a bestseller, this seems to be the case for her customers as well. This bestseller is designed to have extra coverage on top so that you can tan, swim, run, and dive comfortably. Furthermore, Tonić says that this piece "has a more plunging neckline and high rise bottom that reveals more skin and resembles more of a 90’s Baywatch, Pamela Anderson look."
Best Lacy Low-Back Swimsuit
I love the lace-like detailing on this daring one-piece, which is perfect for those looking to flaunt what they’ve got. The suit’s fabric also mimics the look and feel of leather, ensuring that you'll stand out wherever you are and also giving leather lovers (like me) an opportunity to bring their favorite style into summer. Founder Gigi and her mother, Tina, also ensured that all of the brand's pieces, including this one, don't sacrifice practicality for style—the suit is made with swimming, surfing, and splashing in mind, so you can trust that it won’t budge while you have it on.
Best Simple Low-Back Swimsuit
I love Boteh's sultry style, which balances minimalism with a Bohemian, Meditteranean sensibility. The brand's pieces are also practical—this white jacquard low-back bathing suit is double-lined (an extra important detail for a white suit), has easily adjustable straps, and is comfortable enough to be worn all day long without discomfort, itching, or chafing. Plus, the brand champions slow fashion and a "fewer, better" ethos, so you can trust that your Boteh pieces will last you for many summers to come.
Best Size-Inclusive Low-Back Swimsuit
Woman- and AAPI- founded brand Dia is a size-inclusive apparel company intent on creating stylish pieces for women of any size. In fact, founder Nadia Boujarwah was inspired to start the brand because she had long been frustrated at the lack of style options for people sizes 12 and up. This adjustable, sailor-inspired one-piece is an excellent example of how Dia pushes back against this industry norm, bringing sexy designs and unique, innovative styles to curvy women at reasonable price points.
Best Affordable Low-Back Swimsuit
With its svelte silhouette and the lace-up straps on its front and back, this affordable swimsuit reminds me of lingerie in all the best ways. But never fear: While it has both a low back and plunging neckline, the suit also has a full coverage bottom that prevents you from feeling too exposed, and its cups are completely removable. Plus, it's made from sun-blocking fabric with a rating of UPF 50+, meaning that the suit itself works to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Customer Review: "Absolute perfect fit! This is my first one-piece bathing suit and it makes me feel amazing." -Target
Best Customizable Low-Back Swimsuit
Andie Swim founder Melanie Travis has spoken with Marie Claire about how her brand fights the male gaze that's so prevalent in the swim industry by creating practical, comfortably pieces that make women look and feel good—sans any objectification through the brand's marketing. The LGBTQ+-owned brand also makes their swimwear super customizable: In addition to coming in six distinct colorways, you can also choose a ribbed or smooth feel for this swimsuit, and you can have it adjusted for a classic or long torso fit.
Customer Review: "This suit is great for a trans+ person. Slimming in the right areas (decreases appearance of width of shoulders, slimming through the torso), the long torso option made ALL the difference in making the fit. It's nearly impossible to find fitting options from a mainstream brand. 5/5" -Andie Swim
Best Retro Low-Back Swimsuit
Latinx-owned brand Ayra Swim hand-cuts and sews all of its pieces ethically in Los Angeles, and each suit is made from UV-protective fabric that protects your skin while you lay on the beach or by the pool. This piece in particular (which comes in a whopping seven colors!) is made from nylon and spandex, is fully double-lined, and was designed as an ode to the '80s with its bright colors, high leg, and deep V neck. Think: the summer version of leg warmers.
Best Timeless Low-Back Swimsuit
Sanctuary Clothing was founded by husband and wife team Ken and Deb Polanco, who wanted to create a womanswear collection that combined the aesthetics of both the East and West coasts for an effortless yet polished overall style. This bathing suit epitomizes that ethos, marrying a sexy low-back cut and lace-up detail with a timeless silhouette and flattering high-leg cut. Plus, it's made from recycled polyester composed from bottles and other plastic waste, and it's produced using means that reduce waste and cut energy use by 59 percent (compared to the energy required to work with virgin polyester).
Customer Review: "This is the best one-piece black swimsuit you will ever find—anywhere. I struggle to find a one-piece that doesn't make you look like an old lady and still stays put and is not too revealing; this suit is perfection." -Sanctuary Clothing
Best Eye-Catching Low-Back Swimsuit
Take some inspiration from the James Bond Goldfinger movie in this gold getup, which will undoubtedly have all eyes on you. Its metallic nylon-spandex fabric is designed not only to glitter in the sun, but it’s also flexible and made to slip on and off with ease. Personally, I also love its retro high cut and its risqué fit along the sides. Reviewers warn, though, that the piece runs small and that it may be revealing for wearers with large chests.
Customer Review: "Fits so well! Got in in an XS for vacation, def recommend." -Revolve
Best Low-Back Swimsuit with a Plunging Neckline
The plunging neckline and ultra low-back makes this striking swimsuit flattering on every body type, particularly since it's built to cinch subtly at the waist. Wear this halter one-piece beyond the beach by adding a mini skirt and wrap sandals for a night out on the town. It comes in black, brown, beige, and a striking ocean blue shade, and it's made from an ultra-soft nylon/spandex mix. I own the suit myself, and can attest that it feels buttery to the touch.
Best Elevated Low-Back One Swimsuit
This simple, sleek low-back one-piece has a high neck and low back, resulting in an elevated feel (quiet luxury, anyone?). The off-white color is also bound to match with all your summer cover-ups—or with a pair of jeans or shorts when worn as a bodysuit—which makes it the perfect go-to piece when you're trying to pack light. It's also double-lined and seamless for maximum comfort and an overall smooth look, and is made entirely from recycled and regenerated nylon and spandex.
Best Belted Low-Back Swimsuit
AAPI-owned brand 5B makes this suit in two different, highly inventive styles: One in structured, belted black and white, and the other a whimsical mix of pink and tan. While I love both, I'm particularly fond of the first, with its leg-elongating high cut and the slimming effect of its black colorway and white cinch belt. And the best part? The suit is made of the light, breathable, sustainably produced fabric Econyl, which is made to move with your body and last you year after year.
Best Ruffled Low-Back Swimsuit
Lean into the romantic fashion trend sweeping streets and runways alike by donning this piece on vacation this summer. Its ruffled shoulders are fun and flattering, and they soften the effect of the piece's deep neckline. And because this bathing suit is relatively modest, you can lounge about without feeling self-conscious at family-centric beaches, pools, and resorts. It's also made from 78 percent recycled material and includes built-in soft cups for extra coverage.
Customer Review: "Love love love all of their suits but this one takes the cake. It’s very classy, modest but yet feminine for the mom of five kids!" -Summersalt
Best Romantic Low-Back Swimsuit
Juillet is one of my all-time favorite swim brands, and this low-back one-piece perfectly demonstrates why. The brand's stock is rife with flattering romantic pieces that are perfect for this summer's ultra-feminine trend. In particular, I love the way the burnt orange flowers and tiny green leaves look against the off-white suit. The color scheme results in an overall antique effect, which beautifully offsets the plunging cut and daring cheeky backside of the suit. Plus, if you act quickly, you can buy this piece for over $100 off its normal retail price.
Best Trendy Low-Back Bathing Suit
Frankies Bikinis is one of the busiest swimwear brands around, counting the likes of Naomi Osaka, Sofia Richie, Kendall Jenner, and Gigi Hadid among its most famous fans. This particular swimsuit is one of the many pieces from the brand's partnership with Sydney Sweeney, and I'm absolutely obsessed. It's nylon and spandex fabric is dyed a deep, sultry blue and embellished with intricate black lace along the neckline. Meanwhile, the back of the suit dips down the middle of the wearer's spine and has cheeky coverage along the bottom.
Best Low-Back Swimsuit for Diving
Another athletic option for the swimmers among us, this Nike low-back swimsuit is made from recycled materials using production methods that are aimed at reducing carbon emissions by at least 30 percent. The suit also comes in three flattering colors, including coral, black, and light blue, and it has soft removable cups for optimal bust support. Reviewers also appreciate how many sizes the suit comes in (XS to 2XL) and how true to fit it is.
Customer Review: "I love the swim suit! It fits good, quality material is great, and its simplicity works just great for me!" -Nike
Best Low-Back Bathing Suit for Curves
Can you tell that ruffles are in this summer? This bathing suit from Soma comes in both red and black, is universally flattering, and is a perfect elevated basic to bring on any vacation or to grab for an impromptu swim. It also features a sultry lace-up neckline, which plunges to the base of the bust but can be adjusted to reveal as much (or as little) as you want. Multiple reviewers also note that it's especially flattering and comfortable for fuller figures. To make matters even better, the suit is currently 30 percent off.
Customer Review: "Finally, for the first time in my life, a suit that doesn’t dig into my shoulders. I have a very long torso even though I’m only 5’8”. It’s so pretty and feminine without revealing too much." -Soma
Meet the Experts
Natasha Tonić is a swimwear designer of Serbian and Croatian descent with advanced education in molecular biology, art, business, and fashion marketing. In 2008, she launched an independent, sustainable fashion company. This commitment to environmentalism eventually led to her founding her eponymous swimwear brand, which makes unique designs using innovative, hemp-based fabrics that are produced sustainably and that withstand saltwater, thereby reducing waste.
Chantal Levesque is the founder and designer of SHAN, a luxury swimwear brand based in Montréal, Canada. Her award-winning brand, founded in 1985, was established upon the premise of creating luxury, ready-to-wear swimwear, lingerie, and accessories using localized production methods and high-quality raw materials.
Valentina Suescun is the designer at ONEONE Swim. She is currently based in Colombia.
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Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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