Bikini, bra, and lingerie: They might look almost the same but they’re actually different. You can get away with wearing a bra as a bikini top and vice versa, but you can’t wear lingerie as a bikini without getting weird stares from people.

The main difference between bikini, bra, and lingerie lies between the fabric material and the purpose and occasion in which each garment is expected to use. Here’s an in-depth explanation as to how these three pieces of clothing look exactly the same, yet different at the same time.


A bikini is a two-piece garment worn as a swimsuit. It usually has a very brief bottom. If you want more coverage though, opt for the high-waisted bikinis that cover the tummy area and offer full butt coverage.

difference between bikini bra and lingerie
Two types of bikini styles: the brief bikini (left) and high waisted bikini (right)

Purpose: Worn as a swimsuit.

Fabric: Lycra/ spandex is the perfect fabric to manufacture bikinis because of its following properties:

  • Lycra is highly stretchable and easily allows movement.
  • Lightweight even when soaked with water
  • Highly resistant to deterioration by body oils
  • Its resilience allows it to be stretched repeatedly and still recover to very near to its original shape and size.
  • More durable and has a higher retractive force than rubber

It’s isn’t just pure lycra though. Most bikinis have mixed fabric in them like polyester and nylon which are also known for added durability. When blended with lycra, they give birth to a swimsuit strong enough to withstand the assault of salt and chlorine water.

Can you wear a bikini as underwear?

Absolutely. You’ll do just fine. Nobody’s going to judge you underneath your clothes. Some bikinis might feel less comfortable though. If you’re planning to wear your bikinis as underwears more often, opt for bikinis with minimal details, devoid of tie side and ruffles. Nude and neutral colors are your best color options if versatility is what you’re after.


Bra’s main function is to cover the breasts and provide support. But years of refining gave bras a new task: to enhance the breast size visually and create a deeper cleavage, especially for small-breasted women.

is push up bra good for small breasts

3 main types of bra

All these types can be either push up or not.

  • A T-shirt bra is designed to be seamless because the goal is for it to go invisible underneath body-hugging or drapey outfits.
  • A strapless bra is your lifesaver when occasions like weddings call for you to wear a bare-shouldered attire. The best way to test if a strapless bra does its job is to jump for about 10 times while wearing it. If it doesn’t fall off an just has the right snug fit, you just found yourself a good bra.
  • Stick-on bra operates through adhesive that sticks to your breasts so you can wear backless attires without showing any hint of a bra. Not for everyday use as it only lasts around 5-7 uses, but definitely something you’d need a hundred percent when the situation calls for it.
  • Sports bras provide support when you’re lifting weights and doing cardio. Designed to prevent bounce and hold the bust firm during strenuous movement, sports bras are versatile and practical. Heck, you can even wear it as an everyday bra. It’s that comfortable.

Can you wear a bra as a bikini top?

Technically, yes. Some bra designs can be passed for bikini tops for swimming, however, understand that a bra doesn’t possess the resistance to water that a swimsuit bikini has. If worse comes to worst and you don’t have a swimsuit around, feel free to wear your bra. However, only do this sparingly and wash it with fresh water immediately after wearing.

Can you wear a panty as a bikini bottom?

Yes and no. There are panties that could pass for bikini bottoms just fine, but there are others that look like they’re meant to be worn in the bedroom and not for swimming.

difference between bikini bra and lingerie

Take this lingerie pair for example. The bottom is opaque and plain so it could easily pass for a regular swimsuit. However, we can’t say the same for the bra. Its lace details could easily remind the onlooker of Victoria’s Secret lingerie fashion show. It looks like it’s designed to be worn in private than in public.

Before wearing a bra or panty as swimsuits, consider the following:

  • Don’t wear bras or panties with lace details. Lace is a common material for underwear that, when seen, it’s quickly associated with lingerie.
  • Don’t wear cotton materials. Cotton retains a lot of water and will weigh you down in swimming.
  • Make sure the panty has strong thread support on the hips to keep it from slipping off once it’s soaked with water. Some panties don’t have that capability since they weren’t designed for swimming.
  • Actually, just buy yourself a swimsuit and you’ll save yourself all the trouble. 🙂 Only resort to underwears if you don’t have a choice.


Lingerie is the general term for all undergarment a woman wears. This means that a bra is only a subcategory of lingerie, and there are many others like panties, boy shorts, briefs, etc.

Other meaning for lingerie

When someone says lingerie, the first thought that pops up to most people’s head is “sexy time”. And in a way, that is correct.

A few decades ago, a new market for men and women looking for a special category of lingerie outfit emerged. Brands like Victoria’s Secret sprouted.

Lingerie vs Bra and Bikini

This led the lingerie category to split into two: the one side that caters to the most basic needs of coverage, comfort and support, and the other that caters to sensually designed garments.

In short, the lingerie’s main purpose is to flatter the female figure to make you look more attractive and sexually appealing. Or just make you feel good about looking sexy overall.


The fabric properties of lingeries are similar to bra: silky, transparent with a fluid drape, lightweight, lacey, soft and silky to touch.

Can you wear lingerie to the beach?

Absolutely not, if you don’t want to draw attention for the wrong reason, that is. Keep your lacy lingerie in the bedroom where your lover can see you. 🙂 Reserve the swimsuits for the beach. You’re gonna ruin the luxurious fabric with saltwater anyway.

Can you wear intimate lingerie as a bra?

Since sexy lingerie can do the job of covering and supporting the breasts as a bra does, then yes, you can wear it underneath your clothing. A plain bra is more practical though. But should you run out of fresh bra to wear, then lingerie it is. Or a swimwear bra for that matter.

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