Tankinis Are Fashion's Most Practical Swimwear Trend

Upon further review, TikTok's polarizing swimsuit style has many redeeming qualities.

women wearing tankinis
(Image credit: Future)

Dive into the deep waters of TikTok fashion, and you’ll find a swimwear trend that’s making quite a splash. If you assume it’s a revealing bikini set or a sultry cut-out one-piece, think again. A surprise for many—especially to those who lived through the trend once before—some are declaring summer 2024 that of the tankini—the throwback two-piece style with a tank top and a bikini bottom.

Celebrity stylist Mickey Freeman, who has a keen eye for trends, recalls the heyday of swimsuit brands designing tankinis within the context of pop culture. “Carmen Electra (MTV's Singled Out host circa 1995) helped to bring the swimsuit into focus in the ‘90s,” Freeman tells Marie Claire.

It continued to be a popular swim style in various colors, patterns, and designer versions throughout the early aughts. Cancun spring breakers weren't the only target market. The luxury take on the tankini was front-and-center at Karl Lagerfield's Chanel Resort 2012 show, which was held in the Hotel du Cap in Antibes on the French Riviera.

Models walking down the Chanel runway in 2011 wearing black-and-white tankinis.

Tankinis flourished throughout the '90s and 2000s, even appearing on prominent designer catwalks. For its resort 2012 show, Chanel sent polished black-and-white tankinis down the runway in the south of France.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2024, it appears the tides of tankinis are rising once again in a heated debate on TikTok, where content creators are both championing tankinis as a supportive alternative to flimsy bikini tops and challenging the validity of the trend— pegged as a suit in purgatory for tweens and middle-aged soccer moms. But Freeman notes—whether you're a fan of the modest swimwear style or not—tankinis have many positive qualities for women with larger busts, accommodating more top-heavy physiques. They also provide extra all-over coverage thanks to their longer tank silhouette and covered bottom, consisting of a brief, pair of shorts, or a skirt. "A considerable draw for people not keen on revealing swimwear," he notes.

On the flip side, naysayers argue tankinis are passé and urge their followers not to fall into the trap of following baseless, fleeting TikTok trends—part of a more extensive fashion conversation about staying true to personal style.

With the official kickoff to beach and pool season, we'll soon see if the tankini becomes the It style of summer 2024 or whether the itsy bitsy teenie weenie bikini will prevail.

Shop the Best Tankinis of 2024

Minimalist Tankinis

When it comes to the products Marie Claire recommends, we take your faith in us seriously. Every product that we feature comes recommended by a MC writer or editor, or by an expert we've spoken to. Learn more about how we review products.

Simple swimsuit tops—like black tankinis or neutral tankinis—offer endless styling options. For a day by the shore, wear your tankini of choice with linen pants and beach-friendly flip-flops.

Mid-Rise Tankinis

Although many tankini styles offer complete coverage, you can always opt for a midriff-baring look.

Patterned Tankinis

If you're looking to infuse your swimwear collection with excitement, cute tankinis covered in whimsical florals, abstract prints, or vibrant color block accents will certainly do the trick.

One-Shoulder Tankinis

Put an asymmetrical twist on the tankini trend by experimenting with one-shoulder silhouettes. This style is bound to liven up any shoreside look.

Meet the Expert

Mitchell Freeman
Mickey Freeman

Mitchell Freeman, also known as Mickey, is a fashion stylist born and raised in Philadelphia. His instinctual creative flair has had very early beginnings and there's no ending in sight. There are many facets to his sartorial expertise, as he playfully calls it, that draw in many fashion brands, publications, and celebrity clients. Mickey currently works with the likes of Peyton List, McKenna Grace, Landry Bender, Aldis Hodge, Tobias Harris, Sinqua Walls, Dylan Sprouse, Azealia Banks, Keke Palmer, and Dascha Polanco.

Lauren Tappan
Fashion Editor

Lauren is the Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes trend reports, shopping pieces, and celebrity news stories. Prior to Marie Claire, Lauren worked for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE as a freelance editor with a specific focus on seasonal styles and coveted products. She also worked for Town & Country, where she developed a robust portfolio of fashion roundups and designer profiles.

Lauren graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in journalism. While attending Penn, Lauren contributed to the university's fashion magazine, The Walk, while also interning for Philadelphia Style Magazine and EveryStylishGirl.

When she’s not exploring the world of fashion, you can find Lauren sharpening her skills as DJ, discovering new restaurants in New York City (she’s a foodie), and spending quality time with friends and family. Follow her along at @laurenktappan.