Here’s the thing about bikinis: a few square inches of fabric can be the difference between total comfort and spending your day at the beach tugging at your bottoms to make sure they’re still where they’re supposed to be. Shopping for swimsuits online can also involve a bit of additional guesswork: What exactly is a “cheeky” bottom? Will it look like a thong on a non-model-sized ass? How much coverage is “full coverage,” exactly?
Our options for swimwear silhouettes have expanded significantly in recent years, from the default mid-rise brief to a bevy of styles both retro-inspired and more risqué; even Victoria’s Secret Swimwear (RIP), expanded its offerings to include an “itsy” style in 2014, signaling just how mass the skimpy Brazilian look has become. With so many choices, knowing what makes you look—and, more importantly, feel—your best has become a crucial step in the buying process, lest your new bathing suit get confined to the back-of-the-drawer graveyard or you have to deal with the hassle of returns.
Here, we’ve compiled a glossary of the terms you’re most likely to encounter while browsing for bikinis, along with shoppable options in case you want to test the waters with a new style.