What Should I Wear Under a Wetsuit?

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“What should I wear under a wetsuit?” is a common question for anyone who’s new to wearing wetsuits. Any experienced diver or surfer can tell you that there really isn’t specific attire to be worn under a wetsuit – You just wear what’s most comfortable according to the situation. 

However, it helps to know the pros and cons of each specific garment you can wear under a wetsuit so that you can decide what works best for you.

What Should I Wear Under a Wetsuit?

Whether you’re a man or a woman, you should wear a full bathing suit under a wetsuit to reduce chafing. Women can also wear a bikini top to support their breasts, since not all wetsuits come with additional padding in the chest area. In cold climates, a full-body jumpsuit or rash guard will help keep you warm.

Group of surfers on the beach all holding their matching blue and white surfboards

Men also tend to wear standard board shorts under their wetsuits. Boardshorts are often worn due to convenience rather than for comfort. However, because boardshorts are loose-fitting, they can easily bunch up inside your wetsuit and cause further chafing.

The Best Garments to Wear Under a Wetsuit

Some people wonder why regular underwear isn’t preferred. This is because any clothes you wear under a wetsuit will get wet. Wearing a wetsuit will not stop water from getting your clothes or body wet. 

So, if you decide to wear underwear under your wetsuit, they will get soaked and stay soaked. This can most likely cause a rash in your private areas and will be very irritating. 

To help you better understand which attire is best for you to wear under a wetsuit, I’ve put together a list of the best garments that can be worn under a wetsuit.

Diving Shorts

Diving shorts are similar in design to bicycle shorts, though with material more suitable for water activities. These shorts work for both men and women because they fit close to the body which allows the wetsuit to slip on easier. 

They are also better due to the length. Diving shorts stop right above the knee. This prevents the wetsuit from rubbing against your inner thighs, which can cause chafing. 

Rash Guard

A rash guard is usually paired with diving shorts to give you a semi full-body suit. Rash guards can protect your neck and armpits from chafing while wearing a wetsuit. They are also a good option when diving in low-temperature weather or deep water. 

One-piece Swimsuit 

This is a good idea if you will be wearing a wetsuit to surf or another water activity that makes you move a lot. A classic monokini can give you more movement in your arms and legs under a wetsuit. You won’t have any tight-fitting clothes restricting your arms or legs. 

Thin Jumpsuit

Deep-sea divers often wear a thinner jumpsuit to swim in cold water. A thin wetsuit is typically 1 millimeter thick, and it gives you full-body protection under a wetsuit. Because it is so thin, you can wear it as additional layer underneath a thicker wetsuit. 

Garments to Wear Under Wetsuits

AttireWhat to wear
Attire 1Diving shorts
Attire 2Bikini top
Attire 3Rash guard
Attire 4One-piece swimsuit
Attire 5Thin jumpsuit
Woman sitting beside a surfboard wearing black and white wetsuit

Do I Have to Wear Anything Under a Wetsuit?

No, you do not have to wear anything under your wetsuit, however, there are consequences that come along with not wearing anything. This is why most people who wear wetsuits wear garments underneath. 

These are some of the reasons why you would need to wear something under a wetsuit:


The inside of a wetsuit is not smooth against your skin. This means that moving a lot in your wetsuit can cause it to rub against your skin and cause chafing in sensitive areas such as the inner thighs, armpits, neck, stomach, chest, and behind your knees. 

Wearing clothes underneath your wetsuit can add a barrier between your skin and the inside of the wetsuit. 


A wetsuit takes time to pull on and off. This is especially made difficult when you have nothing underneath the wetsuit to allow it to slip on smoothly. Diving shorts or full-body jumpsuits can help you easily slip your wetsuit over your legs and thighs which is the toughest area to get the wetsuit over.

Not only this, sometimes you will have to get your wetsuit on while on a boat or dock. This means you won’t have many private places where you can get fully undressed. 


To keep your wetsuit as clean as possible, it’s best to at least have something to cover your genitals. People also tend to borrow or rent wetsuits when going scuba diving. For this reason, you should always wear undergarments to protect yourself, as well as others who may wear that wetsuit after you. 

Should I Wear a Swimsuit Under a Wetsuit?

Yes, you should wear a swimsuit under a wetsuit since wetsuits don’t have a comfortable fabric when in direct contact with the skin. A rented wetsuit can even lead to rashes when in direct contact with the skin, and wearing a swimsuit helps prevent this contact. 

It also helps prevent excessive friction between the wetsuit and the skin, preventing chafing. The swimsuit fabric also adds a layer of insulation, keeping you warmer.

What Are the Reasons to Wear a Swimsuit Under a Wetsuit?

Generally, layering a swimsuit underneath a wetsuit offers the following benefits without sacrificing flexibility and insulation. 

Woman wearing a black wetsuit while riding her surfboard to catch some waves


Water is a good conductor of heat and can rapidly draw heat from your body to the surrounding water, making you feel cold and shiver. The wetsuit prevents this heat loss by trapping a thin layer of water between your body and the fabric, allowing body heat to warm you. 

The warm water acts as insulation, keeping you warm in cold water. Wearing a swimsuit underneath offers an additional insulation layer, keeping you warmer.

How to Choose the Right Swimsuit to Wear Under a Wetsuit

Although you can try different options until you get your preferred comfort and fit, the following tips can help you choose the right swimsuit to layer under the wetsuit:


If you plan to spend extended periods in cold water, a neoprene swimsuit would be the warmest option as it provides excellent insulation to help retain body heat. On the other hand, lightweight fabrics such as polyester and spandex blends are ideal for swimming in warmer waters.


The swimsuit style depends on the coverage level you want and the reason for wearing it. For instance, wearing the swimsuit as an additional layer of insulation beats the logic if you go for a two-piece style that leaves a gap between the top and the bottom.

On the other hand, if you wear the swimsuit to eliminate friction and chaffing in areas such as the groin, a Brazilian bikini or a one piece swimsuit might be a better option as it serves the purpose without a considerable addition in coverage.

Seam Placement

To prevent friction and chafing, go for swimsuit trends or styles with flat or low-profile seams, especially in areas that may come into contact with the wetsuit. You can also go for swimsuits with covered seams, as the seams are less exposed. This prevents direct contact with your skin, minimizing the chances of chafing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Wear a Bra Under a Wetsuit?

Yes, you can wear a bra under a wetsuit to support your breasts. However, this depends on the type of garment you have decided to wear under the wetsuit.

For instance, if you are wearing a swimsuit under the wetsuit, there is a high chance that the swimsuit comes with a built-in bra.

What Is the Difference Between a Wetsuit and a Swimsuit?

The main difference between a wetsuit and a swimsuit is the coverage. Most swimsuits, like thong bikini bottoms, are designed to reveal curves and offer minimal coverage.

On the other hand, wetsuits are designed to keep you warm and usually cover the entire body.

Which Material Makes Wetsuits?

Most wetsuits are made of neoprene, which is a type of rubber. The wetsuit is designed to trap a thin layer of water between this rubber and your skin, insulating your body from the outside cold.

Although the thickness of the neoprene material varies across wetsuits, it’s generally thicker than the fabric in swimsuits.

Can I Wear a Swimming Brief Under a Wetsuit Instead of a Swimsuit?

Yes, you can wear a swimming brief under a wetsuit instead of a swimsuit. This features smooth and flat seams, minimizing friction when swimming. 

Does Wearing a Swimsuit Under a Wetsuit Affect Sizing?

Yes, wearing a swimsuit under a wetsuit can affect the fit. It can act as an additional layer of fabric between your body and the wetsuit. It’s also important to note that your swimsuit can shrink or stretch depending on the material, which can affect sizing.

Can I Wear a Sports Bra, Swimsuit, and Wetsuit Simultaneously?

You can wear a sports bra, swimsuit, and wetsuit simultaneously. The sports bra will help to keep your breasts in place, the swimsuit will provide a layer of protection from neoprene material, and the wetsuit will help to keep you warm.

100 Years of Bikinis | Glamour


There are many garments made specifically to wear under wetsuits. A quick search will give you several options to choose from. Although, if you choose to wear nothing under a wetsuit, well, that’s entirely up to you.