The 18 Best Swimsuit Cover-ups of 2023

The Elan V-Back Maxi Dress is our top pick.

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The Best Swimsuit Cover-Ups

Travel & Leisure / Alli Waataja

There are a few things you can't go without when hitting the sand or lounging by the pool. Beyond a swimsuit, sunscreen, sandals, and a wide-brimmed hat, a flattering cover-up is crucial.

But like swimwear, the best option for you is a matter of personal style and preference. From sundresses, shirtdresses, and maxis to sarongs, tunics, and caftans, there's something out there for everyone.

In addition to the style and cut of your swimsuit cover-up, we recommend looking for breathable fabrics and loose silhouettes that won't restrict your movement. And if you're extra-sensitive to the sun's rays, consider a cover-up with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor), which is like SPF but for fabrics.

Our top choice is the Elan V-Back Cover-Up, a best-selling, billowy maxi dress you can wear long or tie up when you want to expose some leg or walk along the tide.

Best Overall

Elan Sleeveless V-Neck Maxi Dress

 Elan V-Back Cover-Up Maxi Dress

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: This flattering, billowy dress is lightweight and breathable, with two pockets and adjustable spaghetti straps.

What to Consider: It runs large, so consider ordering a size down.

Your idea of the perfect cover-up might not be the same as the next person's, but if there's one option that flatters all, it's the Elan V-Back Maxi. This long, flowy dress has a billowy, drapey, slightly oversized silhouette that covers you from armpit to ankle. You can wear it long or tie it up to show some skin or prevent it from getting wet while you walk along the shore.

This slip-on style features a deep V on both the neckline and back, while adjustable spaghetti straps allow you to customize how low-cut it is. It also has two side pockets, which — let's be honest — is what women really want in a dress.

This cover-up is made of rayon, a lightweight, breathable fabric that helps wick away sweat. It runs a bit large (even adjusting for the oversized cut), so consider ordering a size down. Also, you'll want to hand-wash it and let it air dry.

Price at Time of Publish: $78

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Rayon

Best Short Dress

Tommy Bahama Linen-Blend Off-the-Shoulder Dress

Tommy Bahama Linen-Blend Off-the-Shoulder Dress

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: This Tommy Bahama dress features a flirty ruffled neckline, side pockets, and a shortcut that falls just above the knee.

What to Consider: It calls for hand-washing and air-drying only.

If you prefer to wear shorter dresses as cover-ups, Tommy Bahama is the way to go. The brand's Linen-Blend Off-the-Shoulder Dress features a bare-shoulder cut with a flirty ruffled neckline and falls just above the knees.

It also has two side pockets for stashing your phone, wallet, or sunglasses. Made of a lightweight, breathable linen-viscose blend, this sun dress is just the thing for spending time in hot, humid climates. And it comes in eight colors, including everyday neutrals and bright, punchy hues.

Price at Time of Publish: $110

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Linen, viscose

Best Maxi

L*Space Sungazer Dress

L*Space Sungazer Dress

Revolve

Why We Love It: The flowy cut features tie-back styling to cinch the waist and side slits that create a resort-ready vibe.

What to Consider: It's not machine-washable.

L*Space is a go-to for flattering, fashion-forward cover-ups, and this maxi is no exception. The Sungazer Dress features a flowy cut that covers three-quarters of the arms and falls at the ankles.

Tie-back styling helps shape the silhouette while side slits provide a leisurely, resort-ready vibe. This dress only comes in black and cream, but we still appreciate the versatility of these wear-anywhere colors.

Price at Time of Publish: $165

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Rayon

Best Shirtdress

O'Neill Fiona Cover-Up

O'Neill Fiona Cover-Up

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: This easy-breezy button-down is lightweight, breathable, and flowy with an extra-long, oversized fit.

What to Consider: It runs large, so consider ordering a size down.

We love the oversize look of O'Neill's Fiona Cover-Up. This button-down shirtdress boasts an extra-long fit that covers your backside and falls just above the knee.

The three-quarter length sleeves offer lightweight sun protection, and you can button it all the way to the collar for a little more coverage. It's made of 100 percent viscose, a breezy fabric with a flowy quality and a naturally airy, moisture-wicking feel.

Price at Time of Publish: $60

Sizes: XS to 2XL | Material: Viscose

Best Tunic

Melissa Odabash Ashley Eyelet Detail Cotton Cover-Up Tunic

Melissa Odabash Ashley Eyelet Detail Cotton Cover-Up Tunic

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: This airy, all-cotton piece flaunts a drop waist and a split neck with flirty tassel ties.

What to Consider: The brand recommends dry-cleaning or hand-washing only.

If you have a tunic in mind, the Ashley Eyelet Cover-Up might be just the thing. Made of 100 percent cotton, the airy design features a thigh-length cut, a drop waist, three-quarter-length sleeves with gathered cuffs, and a split neck with tassel ties.

The price is steep for a swimsuit cover-up, but with Melissa Odabash, you can count on quality. Other than that, we should note this piece calls for dry-cleaning or hand-washing only.

Price at Time of Publish: $266

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Cotton

Best Caftan

Michael Stars Farrah Caftan

Michael Stars Farrah Caftan

Revolve

Why We Love It: With side slits, relaxed sleeves, and a tasseled fringe, this caftan is the perfect balance of laid-back and elegant.

What to Consider: The fit is one-size-fits-most, and the brand recommends dry-cleaning.

With an ankle-length cut, side slits, relaxed sleeves, eyelet detailing, and a tasseled fringe, the Farrah Caftan is a perfect balance of laid-back and elegant. However, it only comes in one size, which may not work for everyone.

Though it's a looser cut to accommodate different body types, the adjustable drawstring waist allows you to cinch it in the middle. The only other thing to note is that this 100 percent viscose cover-up calls for dry cleaning only.

Price at Time of Publish: $98

Sizes: One size | Material: Viscose

Best Sarong

Summersalt Easy Breezy Voile Sarong

Summersalt Easy Breezy Voile Sarong

Summersalt

Why We Love It: This sustainably-sourced sarong ties high up on the waist and has a handy buttonhole to provide a secure fit.

What to Consider: It's not dryer-friendly.

Our favorite sarong comes from Summersalt. Available in plain white or three fun floral prints, this wraparound skirt ties high up on the waist, with a handy buttonhole that promises a secure fit.

It's made of 100 percent viscose sustainably sourced from rainforests, and boasts a water-saving manufacturing process that minimizes carbon emissions. While the fabric is machine-washable, you'll want to air-dry it.

Price at Time of Publish: $75

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Viscose

Best UPF

Athleta Presidio Dress

Athleta Presidio Dress

Athleta

Why We Love It: Boasting a 50+ UPF rating, this sporty dress provides an extra layer of sun protection that never needs reapplying.

What to Consider: It may not be as breathable as natural fabrics.

We probably don't need to tell you how important sunscreen is, but to boost your sun protection, consider a cover-up made of UPF fabric. Short for ultraviolet protection factor, it's essentially the textile version of SPF, and Athleta's Presidio Dress has a rating of 50+.

This sporty yet feminine cover-up is woven from a stretchy, wrinkle-resistant blend of polyester and spandex. It's not only supremely comfy but also conveniently packable, machine-washable, and dryer-friendly.

Price at Time of Publish: $98

Sizes: XXS to 3XL | Material: Polyester, spandex

Best Mesh

Beach Riot Holly Dress

Beach Riot Holly Dress

Revolve

Why We Love It: This slinky dress covers the body with a mesh-like crochet knit while still highlighting your natural curves.

What to Consider: It’s very form-fitting, which not everyone prefers.

For something sexier, go with the Holly Dress from Beach Riot. This slinky number is knitted from 100 percent cotton and features a mesh-like crochet pattern that covers the body while still showing plenty of skin and highlighting your curves.

You can wear it over a one-piece or a bikini while you strut your stuff at the beach or hang out poolside. As a heads up, the delicate material should be carefully hand-washed and laid flat to dry.

Price at Time of Publish: $148

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Cotton

Best Patterned

Farm Rio V-Neck Cover-Up Dress

Farm Rio V-Neck Cover-Up Dress

Anthropologie

Why We Love It: The floral and striped motif makes a bold statement, while the ultra-soft, airy fabric keeps you comfy for hours.

What to Consider: There's only one print available.

Looking for a more vibrant style? You can't go wrong with Farm Rio. Though this statement sundress only comes in one print, we're big fans of the floral and striped motif against the black background. The delicate crocheted detailing doesn't hurt either.

Made of 100 percent viscose, this ultra-soft piece allows air to pass through the fabric. It's also conveniently machine-washable, but you might want to air-dry it to prevent shrinking.

Price at Time of Publish: $125

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Viscose

Best Button-Down

Kona Sol Button-Up Cover Up Shirtdress

Kona Sol Button-Up Cover Up Shirtdress

Target

Why We Love It: This oversized button-down shirt has a puckered, gauzy texture that conceals wrinkles and feels soft against the skin.

What to Consider: You'll want to air-dry it to prevent shrinking.

Sometimes, the best swimsuit cover-up is as simple as an oversized button-down shirt. We like this one from Kona Sol, which is nearly the length of a shirtdress, with wide sleeves that fall just above the wrists.

The 100 percent cotton fabric has a slightly puckered texture and a gauzy feel that conceals wrinkles and feels soft against the skin. Though this piece is machine-washable, you'll want to air-dry it to prevent shrinking.

Price at Time of Publish: $28

Sizes: S to 3XL | Material: Cotton

Best Full-Coverage

PQ Swim Billie Button Cover Up

PQ Swim Billie Button Cover Up

Revolve

Why We Love It: This ankle-length cover-up covers your arms, your entire back, and as much of your front as you want.

What to Consider: It comes in limited sizes and calls for hand-washing.

For a little more coverage, look for something with long sleeves and a maxi cut, like the Billie Cover Up from PQ Swim. Though it doesn't have a UPF rating, it'll cover your arms and as much of your chest, belly, and legs as you want — and you can unbutton it wherever you like to expose more skin.

The fabric is a breezy, lightweight blend of linen and viscose. It's exceptionally soft and flowy, which is ideal for hot days. We should note this piece calls for hand-washing and comes in a limited range of sizes.

Price at Time of Publish: $144

Sizes: XS to L | Material: Linen, viscose

Best Hooded

L.L.Bean Sand Beach Cover-Up Hooded Tunic

L.L.Bean Sand Beach Cover-Up Hooded Tunic

L.L.Bean

Why We Love It: This hooded tunic has a UPF 50+ rating, offering 10 times the sun protection as white cotton.

What to Consider: The UPF fabric may not be the most breathable.

A hooded design like L.L.Bean's Sand Beach Cover-Up will come in handy after taking a dip in the water or when you want a little more warmth after the sun goes down. But that's not all we love about this piece.

The performance fabric has a UPF 50+ rating, which, according to the brand, provides roughly 10 times the sun protection as a white cotton t-shirt. The kangaroo front pocket, long sleeves, and half-zip closure are all welcome details of this practical, sporty piece. We also appreciate that it comes in regular and plus sizes.

Price at Time of Publish: $80

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Nylon, spandex

Best Shapewear

Skims Shaping Swim Long Skirt

Skims Shaping Swim Long Skirt

Skims

Why We Love It: It cinches your waist and smooths your lower body while the stretchy fabric wicks sweat away from your skin.

What to Consider: Skims styles often sell out quickly.

Yep, shapewear cover-ups are a thing — and we have Kim Kardashian to thank (at least partially) for this trend. The Skims Shaping Swim Skirt features a midi-waist and maxi-length cut that helps cinch your waist and smooth your thighs and butt.

It's made of polyamide and elastane, the former of which is moisture-resistant to help wick sweat away from your body. We appreciate the inclusive size range, but with this brand, you can expect popular colors and sizes to sell out quickly.

Price at Time of Publish: $78

Sizes: XXS to 4XL | Material: Polyamide, elastane

Best Romper

Roxy Loved By You Beach Cover-Up Romper

Roxy Loved By You Beach Cover-Up Romper

Roxy

Why We Love It: This loose, laid-back romper is made of double-layered cotton to ensure opacity and offer a light, breathable feel.

What to Consider: It only comes in white.

Rompers make great swimsuit cover-ups too. We like this one from Roxy, which is made of double-layered cotton to ensure opacity while providing a lightweight, breathable feel.

The loose, laid-back cut features short sleeves, a folded collar, and a partial button-down front that makes it easy to slip on over a bathing suit. Though we wish it came in a few more colors, the classic white design is endlessly versatile.

Price at Time of Publish: $56

Sizes: XS to XXL | Material: Cotton

Best Pants

Aqua Swim Petal Beach Swim Cover-Up Pants

Aqua Swim Petal Beach Swim Cover-Up Pants

Bloomingdale's

Why We Love It: These flowy pants are made of multi-layered, semi-sheer rayon and feature side slits to allow air to pass through.

What to Consider: They aren't machine-washable.

Pants are an excellent choice when you want to cover your legs while still tanning your top half. We love this delightfully flowy pair from Aqua Swim, which are woven from multiple layers of semi-sheer rayon.

These pants are partially lined to cover your backside and bikini area, while an elasticized waist prevents them from slipping down. The side slits are a nice touch, too, allowing air to flow between the fabric and offering a casual, beachy vibe.

Price at Time of Publish: $78

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Rayon

Best Jumpsuit

Sanctuary V-Neck Jumpsuit

Sanctuary V-Neck Jumpsuit

Anthropologie

Why We Love It: This slouchy, pull-on piece features a low V-neckline and two front pockets for stashing your phone and sunglasses.

What to Consider: Hand-washing is best, as cotton is prone to shrinking.

Have you considered a jumpsuit? Designed specifically for use as a swimsuit cover-up, this one features a slouchy silhouette, a low V-neckline, and a pull-on style that's easy to slip on and off.

The adjustable straps allow you to raise or lower the neckline to your liking, and the two front pockets are perfect for stashing your phone or sunglasses. Since this piece is made of 100 percent cotton, the brand recommends hand-washing to prevent shrinking.

Price at Time of Publish: $89

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Cotton

Best Set

Free People Modern Summer Set

Free People Modern Summer Set

Free People

Why We Love It: This sophisticated yet casual top and bottom set is ideal for padding around a resort.

What to Consider: The cotton-linen blend fabric is prone to shrinking and wrinkles.

We also like this top and bottom set from Free People. It comes with a pair of high-rise shorts with side pockets and an exposed button-down fly, plus a matching blazer with a traditional lapel collar and a single-button closure.

On paper, the Modern Summer Set might sound overly formal for beachwear, but it's actually ideal for throwing on over a bathing suit and lounging around a resort or hanging out on a cruise ship. Since it's made of a cotton-linen blend, you'll want to be careful when washing it to prevent shrinking and wrinkles.

Price at Time of Publish: $108

Sizes: XS to XL | Material: Cotton, linen

Tips for Buying Swimsuit Cover-ups

Mind the fabric

When buying a swimsuit cover-up, pay attention to the fabric. Many are made of naturally derived fabrics, like cotton, linen, rayon, or viscose, which tend to be lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking.

You'll also find synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, spandex, elastane, and polyamide. These materials tend to be slightly less breathable but are often moisture-resistant. And some cover-ups will have UPF protection, meaning the fabric safeguards your skin from the sun's harmful rays.

Find the right balance between stylish and functional

You want your swimsuit cover-up to be flattering and stylish without sacrificing functionality. In many cases, this means a flowy, loose-fitting cut with features that allow you to adjust how much skin is exposed. For instance, some cover-ups have side slits, button-down closures, rollable sleeves, or a wide hemline you can tie up when you want to dip your feet in the pool or walk along the shoreline.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is the purpose of a swimsuit cover-up?

    The main purpose of a swimsuit cover-up is to offer protection from the sun in areas your bathing suit doesn't cover. It comes in handy when you've been outside for hours or want to cover certain body parts that might be more sensitive to UV (ultraviolet) exposure. Additionally, you can wear a cover-up to and from your swimming destination and easily slip it on and off throughout the day.

  • Can you swim in a cover-up?

    You certainly could swim in a cover-up, and there are no rules saying you shouldn't. However, some materials won't be as comfortable for swimming as others. For instance, a 100 percent cotton cover-up will likely turn sheer and cling to your skin once it's wet, whereas a synthetic fabric probably won't soak up as much water and will dry quicker once you get out of the water.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Theresa Holland is a commerce writer specializing in fashion, lifestyle, and travel. For this story, she researched today's best swimsuit cover-ups, combed through user reviews, pored over care requirements, and cross-referenced different fabrics before narrowing it down to the top picks.

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