Even though it’s the middle of winter, one of the trends taking over our social media feeds is the curious case of the “upside-down bikini.” The Kardashian-Jenner clan is no stranger to the revealing style, nor are supermodels looking to change up their signature swimwear selfies.
For the record, the name of this trend is slightly misleading. You are by no means expected to wear your bikini bottoms as a top, nor vice versa. Instead, just the bikini top is worn upside down. You can tie it as a cross halter like Kourtney Kardashian, a traditional halter (see Rianne Meijer below), or a super-skimpy bandeau if that’s your aesthetic (see Kendall Jenner below).
According to numerous reports, Italian model Valentina Fradegrada was the first to start the trend in 2018. But recently, it’s picked up momentum from the stars. Frankies Bikinis founder Francesca Aiello is also a fan. “It’s essentially more bang for your buck,” she tells GRAZIA over email. “A two in one deal: a beautiful bikini that can be styled in a multitude of ways if you open your mind up! It’s a way to express creativity in the moment and also comfort.”
Ahead, two GRAZIA editors debate the controversial trend, including its benefits and its drawbacks.
Take 1: Against the Upside-Down Bikini Trend
Ashley Joy Parker, Senior Editor: Look, I’m all for a skimpy bikini. Here in sunny Los Angeles, it’s practically a year-round wardrobe staple, but there is no way I’m flipping for this upside-down bikini trend. Sure, if you stand perfectly still for an Instagram photo, it can look totally chic. But one wave crash in the ocean, consider that top lost forever. One splash at a pool party, hello nip-slip for all to see.
This gravity-defying trend is also totally discriminating against us big busted ladies. When it comes to swimwear, I need a top with some lift and support, not something that will flatten me down or, God forbid, make my boobs look droopy. Usually, for the same reason, I avoid bandeau tops. There is a fine line embracing your curves and letting them all hang out, and when you’ve got more to work with, you’ve got more to think about. Perfect example as to why this trend can look classy on petite frames like Kourtney’s but could easily look not-so-cute on someone voluptuous like her sister Kim Kardashian.
Call me boring, but I’ll continue wearing my bikini top the old fashioned way.
Take 2: in favor of the Upside-Down Bikini Trend
Marisa Petrarca, Beauty and Style Editor: I admit that I have managed to put on a bikini upside down before by accident, out of sheer confusion. At the time, though, I didn’t consider it the least bit fashionable—nor did the world—and so I quickly resorted to the standard way of wearing a bikini top. But now, the upside-down bikini top trend is in, and I expect it to peak in summer 2021.
Today (at 9:30 am EST on February 1, to be exact), I slipped out of my gray turtleneck and unearthed my favorite string bikini to test out the look. To copy Kourtney’s “thirsty” swimwear pic, I flipped my bikini top upside down and wrapped the ties that normally go around my head around my back. Conversely, I tied the back straps up and around my neck in a cross halter shape.
When tied tightly, the style feels a lot more supportive than it looks on the Poosh founder. My favorite part about wearing my bikini top like this (even if it’s just in my living room, at the moment) is that it eliminates the potential for side boob and instead promotes a Victoria’s Secret-approved pushup moment.
Nevertheless, I see how the trend has its limitations. It’s not ideal if you have a large bust and, if you don’t tie it securely, there’s a strong potential that you might accidentally expose your entire chest by taking a dip in the ocean or getting caught in a strong gust of wind. I asked my small, but reliable, social media following their thoughts about the trend, and the strong majority feared it would result in catastrophe. “Looks unreliable,” one person wrote. Another said, “My boobs would just laugh at me if I tried this.”
As a curious journalist devoted to trying everything at least once (with some limitations, obviously), I’ll be testing this out come summer. In the case that you are a fan of the upside-down bikini top trend, too, keep scrolling to shop a range of styles from Versace, Inamorata, Frankies Bikinis, and more. Plus, shop Kardashian’s sunnies, in case you want an accessory to pair with your new swimsuit.
VERSACE TIE-STRING BIKINI TOP, $595 VIA FARFETCH. SHOP NOW