What Is the Difference Between a Bikini & a Two-Piece?

Adrienne Bailon works it in this sexy bikini.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

In case you didn't know, a bikini is not the same as a two-piece. So the next time you're on a quiz show and are asked this question, get it right by saying they are actually two totally different types of swimwear...but are both timeless and fabulous.

Differences Betweeen the Bikini and Two-piece

While it's true that a bikini does come in two pieces, it can't be referred to as a two-piece bathing suit for this reason: It shows too much skin. A two-piece bathing suit doesn't show the navel, whereas a bikini shows the navel...and a boat-load of other things. Two-piece bathing suits are a bit more conservative; they often come with skirted bottoms and modest tops that don't show the world what your mama gave you. Bikinis, on the other hand, show just about everything that is legal.

The History of the Bikini

The man credited for bringing this shocking new piece of swimsuit to the world in 1946 is French lingerie designer Louis Reard. His intention was to create a bathing suit that would get people's attention, and that it did. Unfortunately, the fashion world deemed it so indecent that they wouldn't even speak of it, until two years later when Vogue finally printed a picture of it. The bikini was named after a chain of islands in the South Pacific on which the American military tested out an experimental atomic bomb.

The History of the Two-piece

The two-piece bathing suit could be considered the bikini's more shy, timid and modest cousin. Halter or bandeau tops often appear on two-piece suits, as do cute little skirted bottoms. This classic look was often worn by old-school actress Esther Williams. But the popularity of the bikini created a shift in what swimwear gals wore, and many started reaching for the bikini. The bikini was more comfortable to surf and swim in and became the fashionable thing to wear.

Today's Styles

You can't walk into a department store without seeing hoards of different bikinis and two-pieces. Bikini babes often traipse around in string bikinis, or the variety that pushes up their bosoms. Those who prefer the two-piece set commonly choose the popular tankini or the skirted suit, which is being seen more and more. The fact that these two styles of bathing suits have been around for so long just proves how effective and complementary their designs are.

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