17 Cute Pieces of Sun-protective Clothing to Wear This Summer
It may not be the most fun part of packing for vacation, but your sun protection strategy is imperative to consider because the facts are scary. In the United States alone, there has been a 53 percent increase in melanoma cases for the past decade and “about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun,” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF).
And while most people think of sunscreen as the best defense against the sun’s harmful rays, institutions like the SCF and the Center for Disease Control say the first line of defense against UV radiation is actually your clothing. And unfortunately, a regular cotton T-shirt won’t really do much for you.
In fact, it's estimated that your go-to white tee has an SPF rating lower than 15 and if that tee gets wet, then its rating plummets even further. That’s why your best bet to protect your skin is to invest in UPF clothing. While SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures how long your sunscreen will protect you from ultraviolet rays, UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much of the sun’s UV rays are absorbed by the fabric instead of your skin. For example, if a piece of clothing is rated UPF 50, only two percent of the sun’s rays can make it through.
For that reason, UPF sunwear is made from tightly woven fabrics and is usually treated with some sort of chemical UV absorber, making them even more effective. And fortunately, a lot of brands — like Lilly Pulitzer, Lands' End, and Athleta — have now launched special UPF lines that include a large range of items that go way beyond rash guards and swimwear.
Still not convinced? The benefits of sun-protective clothes aren't just for your health but for that of the environment, as well. If you get in the habit of wearing sun-protective clothing on the beach, you will end up using a lot less sunscreen, which is one of the main culprits of ocean pollution and coral reef damage.
Here we rounded up 17 cute pieces, all of which have been rated UPF 30 or above for maximum sun protection.
J.Crew Long-sleeve Rash Guard SPF 50
This classic rash guard offers maximum coverage, has a close fit, and is perfect to wear while practicing your favorite water sport. It has a zipper in the back that makes it easy to take off.
To buy: jcrew.com, $68
Uniqlo Pocketable UV Parka
This lightweight zip-up is the perfect alternative to slathering on sunscreen when you're just going to be outside for a short while. It packs down into a tiny pouch and comes in eight pretty colors. Plus, it even has a water-repellent coating, so it can serve as your rain jacket, too.
To buy: uniqlo.com, $40
Anatomie Amelia Sleeveless UPF 50+ Jumpsuit
The stretchy, quick drying, wrinkle-free fabric makes this stylish black jumpsuit the ultimate travel-friendly option.
To buy: neimanmarcus.com, $295
Athleta Skyline Pant UPF 50+
Your go-to summer travel pant is here and it’s oh so stylish (and functional). The trendy high-waisted silhouette is complemented by a semi-fitted cut for maximum comfort. But the best thing about it is that it’s wrinkle-resistant, and it’s made from recycled polyester.
To buy: athleta.com, $89
Patagonia Women's Tropic Comfort Hoody
Take this hoody with you if you’re going hiking this summer. Not only will it keep you warm on crisp mornings but, thanks to the UPF-rated odor control fabric and smart design, it will also protect your entire upper body (hands included) from the sun. And you can feel good about your purchase — it’s made from 100 percent recycled polyester jersey.
To buy: patagonia.com, $69
UV Skinz UPF 50+ Women's Water Jacket
Wear this cool jacket over your bathing suit when you’re working out in the water. The fabric is chlorine- and salt water–resistant and dries really fast. The sleeves have thumb holes for extra coverage and protection.
To buy: amazon.com, from $63
Prana Becksa 7/8 Legging
Instead of sweating on the treadmill at the hotel gym, take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for a run outside. These leggings are fitted through the hip and the thigh and offer exceptional stretch and moisture-wicking qualities. They even have a hidden pocket for your phone and hotel key card.
To buy: prana.com, $89
Toad&Co Sunkissed Maxi Dress UPF 50+
Whether you’re headed to the beach or wine tasting, this pretty maxi dress will have you looking stylish. It’s made from lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric that’s also UPF-rated and eco-friendly.
To buy: zappos.com, $95
Tommy Bahama Floral Isles Rashguard UPF 50
A rashguard so stylish you could wear it on and off the beach! And it’s all thanks to the cute side ties and bold floral print.
To buy: zappos.com, $61
Royal Robbins Spotless Traveler Tank Dress UPF 50+
This is the dress every traveler needs to have. Not only does the stretchy fabric shield your skin from UV rays, but it wicks away moisture and is also wrinkle- and stain-resistant. The adjustable self-tie waist lets you adjust the fit and silhouette of the dress to your preference.
To buy: zappos.com, $64
Columbia Freezer Maxi Dress UPF 50
Stay cool as a cucumber this summer thanks to Columbia’s Zero performance fabric, which lowers skin temperature, wicks away moisture, and blocks harmful UV rays. This tank dress has an empire waist for maximum comfort and knee-high side splits.
To buy: columbia.com, $60
The North Face Class V Shorts UPF 50+
A pair of cute shorts is a lifesaver on a scorching hot summer day and this year, we’re relying on this pair by The North Face. We also intend to wear it in the pool since it’s made from quick-drying fabric.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $40
Fig Clothing Joe Dress UPF 50+
A classic dress like this one is a styling powerhouse if you pair it with different accessories and layers. This frock is also wrinkle-resistant and made from a cotton-spandex blend that’s flattering and breezy.
To buy: zappos.com, $89
Land’s End Women's Short Sleeve Blouson Swim Tee Rash Guard Print
Lilly Pulitzer Nadine UPF 50+ Shift Dress
A Lilly Pulitzer dress is a must-have in the summertime. Not only does it sport one of the brand’s signature vibrant prints but its soft jersey fabric is also UPF-rated for maximum sun protection.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $178
Kuhl Horizn Skinny Pants UPF 50
If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking this summer, these skinny, sun-protective pants are your best clothing option. They are made from breathable, quick-drying fabric and feature side pockets and an internal drawcord that lets you adjust the fit.
To buy: rei.com, $79
Under Armour Sunblock Crop Pants
We can promise you will not want to take off these loose cropped pants. They are the definition of comfortable, dry fast, and they've also been given the Skin Care Foundation‘s Seal of Recommendation.
To buy: underarmour.com, $50