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Swimsuit Cover-Up Style Guide

Updated on August 16, 2017


After slipping on your cutest swimsuit, slathering on the sunscreen, and cuing up your playlist, you might just forget what you're going to wear to the beach until you're halfway out the door--and no, you're not allowed to throw on that old t-shirt of yours. Light, airy, and sexy swimsuit cover-ups are perfect for getting you to the sand, not to mention also adding a whole new dimension to your swimsuit game and providing some extra protection from the sun. The best part of choosing a new cover-up is that the style options are endless. From surfer-chic rashguards to billowy caftans and trendy rompers, there's a cover-up for all of your sartorial whims. Below are just a few of the most common cover-up styles, along with some tips for how to rock them.

Tunics provide just the right amount of coverage
Tunics provide just the right amount of coverage

Tunics - The Short and Sexy Showstopper

These simple "just-long-enough" sheaths can do no wrong. As comfortable as a t-shirt and way sexier, you might find yourself wanting to wear your favorite tunic all around town. Snag a lacy number and wear it over your favorite streamlined swimsuit. You'll have just enough coverage for when you're out and about, and just enough peek-a-boo appeal to keep heads turning all day long.

Caftans are elegant and chic, wherever you are
Caftans are elegant and chic, wherever you are

Caftans - Not Your Mama's Mumu

While caftans might bring to mind your mom or even your mom's mom, fear not--today's flowing and free-spirited caftans are modern, chic, and totally boho-chic. These beauties often have a maxi silhouette, and come in both solids or colorful, trendy prints (think ikat and ombre). Caftans are perfect for mixing it up by the pool in the Hamptons, or down in Turks and Caicos. Pair your caftan with a wide-brimmed floppy hat and a good read, and your look is complete.

Dresses are one of the most versatile cover-up options around
Dresses are one of the most versatile cover-up options around

Dresses - The Girl-On-The-Go's BFF

Dresses are without a doubt the workhorses of the cover-up world. Not only are they available in every color and print imaginable and a ton of lengths and styles (sun, short, and maxi, to name a few) you can throw one on over your swimsuit and run all over town without anyone being the wiser. Meaning, you can go from errands, to lunch, to the beach, and to your gal pal's evening soiree without a wardrobe change. A timesaver is always a plus.

Rompers can be dressed up or dressed down to your liking
Rompers can be dressed up or dressed down to your liking

Rompers - The Easygoing Go-To

Relaxed, casual, and undeniably unique, nothing will help you channel the girl-next-door vibe better than a romper. Perfect for the girl with stems and arms that beg to be shown off, this cover-up option looks cute with sandals and some chunky gold bracelets, or even with your favorite kicks and a baseball hat. Regardless of your style, feel free to dress up your look however you please. As perfect on the beach as it is at Coachella, the romper is definitely primed to be you new summer staple. You're welcome.

Sarongs can be tied a number of ways, so you get multiple looks for the price of one
Sarongs can be tied a number of ways, so you get multiple looks for the price of one

Sarongs - The Ultimate Transformer

If you're more of a minimalist, you have got to get yourself a sarong. Also called a pareo, you've probably seen them slung around the hips of many a beach-goer, but they can actually be styled about a million different ways. Think halter dress, Greek Goddess-inspired gown, and more. Guaranteed to add a little flirty flair to any style of swimsuit, sarongs are also easy to stash in even the smallest beach bag, so you can keep your haul to a minimum.

Beach pants are great for both hot and cool temperatures
Beach pants are great for both hot and cool temperatures

Beach Pants - The New Favorite

Don't worry, we're not talking about skinny jeans for the beach, but rather lightweight, wide-legged beach pants. Beach pants are a great cover-up option and come in a variety of fabrics, and we're betting you already have a pair stashed in your drawer. Perfect to ward off a chilly breeze, lightweight beach pants also provide enough circulation for even the warmest days. Choose a sheer fabric like lace or crochet to highlight your legs even more, and wait for the compliments to come rolling in.

Easy, breezy shorts let you show off your legs
Easy, breezy shorts let you show off your legs

Shorts - The Beach Wardrobe Staple

If you've got legs for days, you can't go wrong with a good old reliable pair of shorts when you're looking for a new cover-up. While cut-offs, bermudas, or your favorite short-shorts are all great cover-up options, we suggest also snagging a pair made from lycra or nylon so you can wear them in and out of the water if you so choose. Pop on a tank before you head out the door, and you're good to go.

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