In western culture, men's swimsuit styles include boardshorts, jammers, swim trunks, briefs or "speedos", thongs, and g-strings, in order of decreasing lower body coverage.

Women's swimsuits are generally one-piece, bikinis or thongs. The most recent innovation is the burqini, a more modest garment designed for Muslim women, which covers the whole body and head (but not face) in a manner similar to a diver's wetsuit. These are an updated version of full-body swimwear, which has been available for centuries, but complies with Islam's traditional emphasis on modest dress. In Egypt, the term "Sharia swimsuit" is used to describe full-body swimwear.

Special swimsuits for competitive swimming, designed to reduce skin drag, can resemble unitards. For some kinds of swimming and diving, special bodysuits called diveskins are worn. These suits are made from spandex and provide little thermal protection, but they do protect the skin from stings and abrasion. Most competitive swimmers also wear special swimsuits including partial and full bodysuits, racerback styles, jammers and racing briefs to assist their glide through the water thus gaining a speed advantage (see competitive swimwear).

Swimsuits are also worn for the purpose of body display in beauty pageants. Magazines like Sports Illustrated's annual "swimsuit issue" feature models and sports personalities in swimsuits.