women's fashion

The Best Swimsuit Cover-Ups, According to Stylish Women

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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We’ve written about lots of beach essentials before — including the best bathing suits to buy — but you’re also going to need something to actually wear to the beach. And while any t-shirt and shorts you have lying around could work, wearing jean shorts over a wet bathing suit is never fun. Plus if you’ll be hitting brunch or the pool bar afterwards, you’ll want a cover-up that’s actually nice-looking. So whether you’re looking to find something sensible and practical or fun and flirty, we spoke to ten stylish women for the best cover-ups to buy right now, including pants, dresses, button-downs, and sarongs.

Dresses and robes

Photo: retailer

Most of our experts thought a dress — or a long, tunic-type shirt — was the most practical for a cover-up because it covers everything with minimal work. Lifestyle and travel blogger Lindsay Silberman says she’s “pretty particular when it comes to cover-ups,” because she spends a lot of time writing and testing different swim options. But Silberman calls this woven dress “one of my all-time greatest finds.” It comes in more than three dozen colors and patterns, so you could buy more than one if you’re looking to match different swimsuits. It’s easy to throw on, and because of the woven material, you can toss it in your bag without worrying it will wrinkle and look messy once it’s time to put it on again. Plus, “it’s almost always in stock,” says Silberman.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of my dresses no longer fit, and waistbands can be quite uncomfortable,” says content creator and talent manager Ariel Oz, who is five months pregnant. “So these kinds of loose dresses that don’t have any seams or tight areas are so perfect to be able to grow into.” But Oz adds that she would have gravitated toward this dress even before getting pregnant, as she loves wearing loose, flowy dresses in the summer. “I’d wear this while walking around town in the Hamptons, with simple sandals, a little cross-body bag, and some sunglasses — it’s my easy-breezy day look for going about town,” she says.

Oz has also been throwing on this long black robe from Aerie, citing the loose tie-front as a plus “since it can adjust to where your belly’s at.” She’ll slip it on when getting out of the pool, or when she wants to be covered up but “still show a little bit of skin.” She also notes that for pregnant people in particular, “It’s a fun way to highlight your bump without showing too much off.”

When content creator April Lockhart took this crocheted Mikoh dress on vacation to Saint Martin earlier this year, she was faced with a flood of compliments. “It’s a piece that you wouldn’t think would be flattering until you put it on,” Lockhart says. “It’s very slimming and has a lot of texture and depth.” She especially appreciates its ability to spice up a variety of outfits: “It looks great over a swimsuit, or you could wear it as a dress with a slip underneath. Or you can do shorts under with a top. It’s very versatile.”

Freelance graphic designer Daisy Pyo has noticed lace skirts and dresses everywhere lately, and decided to hop on the trend with this airy Gimaguas dress. She styles it with kitten heel sandals, or will even “layer it with longer pants and a pointed-toe shoe.” Though she finds a lot of cover-ups feel odd being worn outside of a beachy context, she feels comfortable going to brunch with this one “or taking it to more casual environments.”

Photo: retailer

Yes, these are pants, but they’re as easy to throw on as any of the options above, which is why we’re including them here. And Kendall Glazer, co-founder of Stoney Clover Lane, is “obsessed with overalls” because they’re just as versatile as a dress for summer, and she tells us she’s been living in these. “I wear them over a bathing suit to the beach or just during the day,” she adds. These overalls are 100 percent cotton and baggy enough where if you throw them on over a wet bathing suit, they won’t stick or feel weird.


If you’d rather stick to separates, several experts said that Faithfull The Brand offers a wide range of options (in lots of fun patterns) that are great for cover-ups. Jenna Igneri, freelance writer and stylist, recommends their linen shirts because it’s a cover-up “that can double as a casual daytime look.” As she puts it, so often, “A day at the beach turns into post-beach outdoor cocktails or backyard hangs.” Instead of having to bring additional clothes to change into after the beach, this top is versatile enough to work for most scenarios — even for a walk on a boardwalk post-ocean. It even comes with some matching pants in case that’s your vibe. (Igneri says it’s definitely hers.)

You can’t go wrong with classic, clean white linen in the summertime, says Oz, who has been wearing this L*Space tunic on repeat: “I like that it’s really lightweight and on the longer side, so that I’m still covered up if I’m going to get food at the pool bar.” She’ll leave it open or tie it into a knot above her stomach and wear it with some loose linen pants for a coordinated look.

Not everyone loves linen, especially because many linen shirts require dry-cleaning and, if not maintained properly, (a.k.a. just thrown in a beach bag), they can severely wrinkle. As an alternative, content creator Kelsey Kotzur likes this cotton button-down from Sezane that’s just as breezy. “I’ll throw it on over my suit and add a pair of shorts or jeans and it’s a perfect summery outfit,” Kotzur says. “It’s a very day-at-the-beach-turned-into-lunch sort of outfit.” It also comes in an array of pretty colors and embroidered patterns, like flowers and hearts.

Skirts and pants

If Kotzur is planning to take photos or videos at the beach and wants something a little more elevated and stylish, she’ll turn to this tiered midi skirt from Free People. “It’s very cute with a bikini top and looks very flowy and effortless, but you can also wear it with just a white T-shirt and go to the grocery store,” she says. However, she does warn that the gauzy material is quite delicate, and suggests going the hand-wash route rather than subjecting it to the washing machine.

Though these Blush pants would fit in perfectly poolside, writer and model Lydia Okello initially bought them to be worn just out and about. Okello has been obsessed with sheer lately, so the pants were a must-have. “They’re fun to slip on over a cute suit or underwear you don’t mind having on display,” Okello says. “You could also style with bike shorts for a more modest look.”

Oz, who is five-foot-two, was pleasantly surprised when she discovered that these Reformation linen pants were available in a petite length. “A lot of Reformation pants are usually too long, but these fit perfectly,” she reports. She’s been wearing them daily, in both the black and white colorways, and has convinced several friends to pick up a pair as well — “I’ve seen a bunch of people posting them recently, so they’re definitely becoming the pant of the summer,” she predicts. She’ll style the pants low-slung, paired with “tight little cropped tank tops, with my belly sticking out a little bit. I’m trying to lean into the Rihanna maternity look.”

Strategist writer Arielle Avila just bought this sarong during Parade’s big summer sale, and is excited to make it a warm-weather staple. She can see herself “easily throwing it on if I’m going from the beach to a bar or restaurant,” adding that if it’s “anything like their mesh bras, I know it’ll be comfortable and breathable.”

Silberman loves the pastel tie-dye pattern on this sarong and calls it the “perfect entry point” for those looking to “jump onto the tie-dye bandwagon.” Because it’s not too bold, it can pair with any swimsuit, and for Silberman, the best part is that “it doubles as a beach blanket.”

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The Best Swimsuit Cover-Ups, According to Stylish Women