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Beach cover-ups are a summer must-have. And, while the fact that they are meant to cover up a swimsuit as needed is reason in and of itself to invest in a good cover-up, what makes them a warm-weather staple is that they are ultra-comfortable on a hot and sticky day—a lot more comfortable than a pair of jean shorts and a T-shirt.
Another reason why beach cover-ups deserve a spot in our warm-weather wardrobe is that “no one wants to be changing while they are on a beach,” says Brooke Shannon, founder of Jilaine Swimwear. “Having a cover-up can make it easier to transition into your swimsuit to get to what you want to do, which is to relax,” she adds, noting how cover-ups can also be a major confidence boost as they make a person feel so much more comfortable.
From maxi dresses to tunics to the classic sarong-style cover-up, we searched high and low for the best beach cover-ups. Find our top picks ahead.
Best Overall: Express Dippin' Daisy's Deep V-Neck Swim Cover-Up
As far as design specs are concerned, swimsuit cover-ups aren’t a one-size-fits-all matter. That makes finding an overall best pick a challenge, but we are up for it. For this category, we researched styles that flatter most body types, offer a good amount of coverage while still showing some skin, and are available in black and white, making it easy to pair them with any suit. The winner is this V-neck cover-up dress from Dippin’ Daisy’s. The short-sleeve style and V-neckline keep things breezy while the cinched waistline gives a flattering appeal. On top of that, it’s available in three solid colors—black, white, and pink—for easy pairing with your favorite swimsuit style.
Material: 100% rayon | Size Range: S-M
Best Maxi Dress: Madewell Double-Gauze Cover-Up Maxi Shirtdress
Maxi dresses are great for covering up at the beach or pool and this shirtdress maxi is a must. We love the softness of the gauzy cotton material, the blend of clean lines and slightly oversized fit, and the button detailing—it’s so chic, you’ll want to wear it with and without a swimsuit underneath.
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XXS-XXL
Best Designer: Missoni Stripe Plissé Cover-Up Maxi Skirt
If you’re looking for the best designer swimsuit cover-up, we found it. This maxi skirt from Missoni features a fresh sheer striped print in classic Missoni multicolor with a flattering slit up the side to keep you covered and cool.
Material: 100% viscose | Size Range: XS-L
Best Long Sleeve: Icon Swim Cover Your Basics Coverup
For a quick and easy long-sleeved bathing suit cover-up, go for an oversized button-up shirt. This one made our top list because, despite its sleeve length, it’s quite breathable thanks to its lightweight fabric material. You can wear it on its own with the sleeves rolled up or down, or rock it with a pair of cotton shorts for added coverage.
Material: 85% nylon, 15% spandex | Size Range: XS-4X
Best Romper: Isabella Rose Villa Cover-Up Romper
Romper cover-ups are great for jetting from the beach to lunch, giving an effortless style that still feels put together. We love this one for its loose and lightweight design, flattering fit, and added tassel detailing, giving it a touch of bohemian flair.
Material: 92% rayon, 8% metallic fiber | Size Range: S-L
Best Kaftan: Pink City Prints Green Safari Pintuck Kaftan
Pink City Prints creates gorgeous hand-worked dresses in Jaipur, India. We fell in love with this bright green kaftan that has been screen-printed by hand and features intricate pin-tucked details. Flowy and light, it’s the perfect summer companion, whether you’re throwing it on over your swimsuit for the beach or pool or wearing it to al fresco brunch.
Material: Organic cotton | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Sarong: Monday Swimwear St. Tropez Sarong
Sarongs are a classic swimsuit cover-up and are great for throwing something on real quick. While they come in all sorts of variations, we love this one from Monday Swimwear for its timeless silhouette and variety of solid color options—making it easy to pair with bold prints and colors.
Material: 65% modal, 35% linen | Size Range: OS
Best Pants: Trina Turk Pacheco Wide Leg Cover-Up Pants
When shopping for a pair of pants to cover up with, sheer is always the way to go as it not only flatters but also keeps things breezy on a hot day. We are obsessed with these drawstring cover-up pants for their billowing design, slit leg style, and sheer pattern.
Material: 60% cotton, 40% nylon | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Matching Pants Set: Lulu’s Grab Your Passport Two-Piece Swim Cover Up
Whether you’re looking to cover up at the beach or need a fun poolside look, this two-piece pants set is a great choice. We chose this set for our top pick because the pants are fully lined, making it possible to wear them sans swimsuit, and loose enough to keep it cool on a hot summer day. On top of that, we love the contrast between the billowing pants and crop cinched top.
Material: 85% rayon, 15% nylon; 100% rayon lining | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Matching Shorts Set: Free People Fresno Set
This set screams versatility—which is a must when frolicking in warm weather. You can wear the cozy pajama-like shorts and button-up top as separates or pair them together (with the top either open or buttoned up for extra coverage) depending on what you’re feeling at the moment. Another reason to love this set? It’s made from a terry fabric, so it has ultra-plush vibes.
Material: 4% elastane, 56% cotton, 40% polyester | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Sheer: Forever 21 Billowy Sheer Swim Cover-Up Dress
Many swimsuit cover-ups have a sense of sheer to them, but if you’re on the hunt for something a little more revealing, this is our top pick. The ultra-sheer fabric and high-slit design provide a veil of coverage, allowing for your swimsuit to still peek through. This would be great for ultra-warm and humid environments as it covers up while still allowing for airflow and breathability.
Material: 95% nylon, 5% spandex | Size Range: XS-3X
Best Terry Cloth: O’Neill Poolside Terry Romper Cover-Up
We swoon hard for this terry cloth romper cover-up. Featuring a lounge-worthy loose fit with button closures, the relaxed swimsuit cover-up offers an excellent outer layer when you want to cover up poolside.
Material: 60% cotton, 40% polyester towel terry | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Tunic: Lauren Ralph Lauren Button Sleeveless Tunic
Tunics make for a preppy approach to swimsuit cover-ups, and no one does prep quite like Ralph Lauren. This straight-cut sleeveless tunic dress features a scoop neckline with a V-neck slit with button detailing on the sides, giving it a nautical appeal.
Material: 100% cotton rib | Size Range: 0-20
Best Shorts: Summersalt The Silky Wrap Shorts
When wearing shorts as a cover-up, something loose-fitting and airy is a must—especially if you need a quick cover-up while still a little damp from swimming. We love this pair of wrap shorts because they have a sarong-like design, giving them a nice and flowy fit. On top of that, they're made of recycled charmeuse, making them a great sustainable option.
Material: 100% recycled polyester charmeuse made from plastic water bottles | Size Range: XS-2X
Best Shirt: Dos Swim Isla Shirt
Button-down shirts make for ultra-cool swimsuit cover-ups and the key is to go for something slightly oversized and breathable. This shirt from Dos Swim is our top pick for its relaxed boyfriend-style silhouette, 100 percent cotton material, and fun block printed design.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-XL
Most Versatile: Rielli Antibes
When it comes to versatility in swimsuit cover-ups, we’re all for something that can be taken from the beach to the restaurant, and this dress is it. Also known as a “beach dress,” this halter mini dress is made up of lightweight, spongy fabric that is ultra-soft and ultra-breathable. It can be worn over a swimsuit or on its own, making it as versatile as it is stylish.
Material: Spongy crinkle fabric | Size Range: XS/S-M/L
Best Jumpsuit: Becca Ponza Strapless Cover-Up Jumpsuit
Similar to dresses, jumpsuit cover-ups are another quick and easy way to throw something over your swimsuit. Our top pick for this category is this strapless cover-up featuring an adjustable waist tie and is made of lightweight rayon material. The jumpsuit is available in classic black or white, plus a fun bronze for an added touch of earthy color.
Material: 100% rayon | Size Range: S-L
Best Kimono-Style: Icon Swim Take Cover Kimono
Kimono-style cover-ups are another way to cover up without sacrificing comfort—especially when you’re in a more tropical and humid environment. We love this floor-length kimono for a little extra coverage in the back while remaining open and flowy in the front.
Material: 100% polyester | Size Range: S-4X
Best Scarf: Asherah Swimwear Nyx Tortoise Scarf
Cover-ups are also a fun way to style a swimsuit and this scarf tie adds some major flair. You can belt it up around your waist or open it as wide as it goes and wrap it around your hips for added styling.
Material: 100% polyester chiffon | Size Range: OS
Best Pattern: Icon Swim Effortless Shine Coverup-Smokey Abstract
Like swimsuits, cover-ups come in all sorts of fun patterns. A printed cover-up is an expressive way to style a solid swimsuit, and we love this sheer bodycon-style dress for its abstract print and added crop top detailing. But, another great reason to love it is the cover-up dress comes with a matching bikini bottom so you can achieve this head-to-toe poolside look in one purchase.
Material: 95% nylon, 5% spandex | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Wrap Dress: L*SPACE Daydream Tunic
Wrap dresses are an easy and chic way to cover up and head to lunch or dinner. We are obsessed with this one from L*SPACE for its ultra-flattering silhouette, collared design, and slightly sheer style.
Material: 85% viscose, 15% cotton | Size Range: XS-L
Best Off-the-Shoulder: Lemlem Sisu Beach Dress
This designer cover-up dress is our top pick for best off-the-shoulder thanks to its versatile design, lightweight cotton material, and effortless silhouette. If you’re looking for the best swimsuit cover-up for a beach vacation, this is it. Its fringed hem and flowing midi skirt will transport you from the seaside to an afternoon of shopping with ease.
Material: 95% cotton, 5% acrylic | Size Range: XS-L
Best Crochet: Summersalt The Crochet Halter Dress
Crochet has always been in style when it comes to swimsuit cover-ups. Our top pick for a crochet cover-up is this dress from Summersalt. We adore the simple wide stitching of the yarn paired with the sleek halter tie and low scoop back, giving it extra breezy vibes.
Material: 100% certified U.S. combed cotton | Size Range: XS-2X
Best Colorful: Trina Turk Rio Cover-Up Tunic
If you’re looking for something bright and colorful, we found the ultimate pick. This tunic cover-up from Trina Turk features bright pops of color in a retro printed pattern with a slim-fit skirt and billowing sleeves for a statement-making swimsuit cover-up.
Material: 83% nylon, 17% spandex | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Wrap Skirt: Summersalt The Beach to Brunch Wrap Skirt
Wrap skirts are another easy and stylish way to cover up while at the beach or pool, and they are one of the most flattering silhouettes around. This one from Summersalt features a flirty fringed hem that slits up the side and is available in a range of fun patterns, including polka dot, leopard, and paisley.
Material: 100% polyester/charmeuse | Size Range: XS-2X
Best Maxi Skirt: Melissa Odabash Alessia Eyelet Cover-Up Maxi Skirt
When covering up with a maxi skirt, you want to find something that is light and airy and can be paired with a matching shirt or worn with your bikini top. This one makes all of our beach dreams come true with its dreamy cornflower blue hue, eyelet lace detailing, and flattering silhouette.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-L
Best Midi Dress: Cala de la Cruz Nane Dress
Linen dresses are another fantastic way to cover up at the pool or beach as they boast breathability and comfort. This designer cover-up from Anthropologie is cut to flatter the body with its midi-length skirt, more fitted bust, and puff sleeves—not to mention the stripe design has major yacht sailing vibes.
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Mini Skirt: Free People Ruffle Me Up Skirt
Like maxi skirts, mini skirts are another easy and stylish way to cover up. This skirt from Free People is considered an activewear skirt, but it can be slipped over your swimsuit and worn as a cover-up. We love it for its moisture-wicking material, A-line silhouette, and ruffled detailing (and the back zipper pocket is an added plus).
Material: 80% polyester, 20% elastane | Size Range: XS-L
What to Look for in a Swimsuit Cover-Up
Because cover-ups are meant to be put on and taken off frequently, Shannon says it’s important to consider how easy they are to remove. With that in mind, she prefers cover-ups that “have minimal buttons and a relaxed fit.”
“It’s also important to look at the fabric content,” Shannon says. “More than likely, you are out in the sun and it is hot, so look for a cover-up that has a breathable fabric such as silk or rayon.”
What is a swimsuit cover-up?
“A cover-up is a lightweight piece of clothing that can be worn over your swimsuit,” Shannon explains. Cover-ups range from a dress to a sarong to a pants set.
Can you wear a dress as a swimsuit cover-up?
You can absolutely wear a dress as a swimsuit cover-up. “There are so many different articles of clothing that can be used as a cover-up,” Shannon explains. “Just consider where you will be wearing the cover-up—whether it’s a fancy resort or a neighborhood barbecue—and that can really help you decide what cover-up is most appropriate."
What are swimsuit cover-ups used for?
According to Shannon, a swimsuit cover-up’s main purpose is to cover yourself up while wearing a swimsuit so that you don’t feel overexposed, whether on the beach or at the pool. But, they can “also help protect the skin from sun exposure,” she says.
Why Trust Byrdie
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism. From working in the fashion closet and interviewing designers at NYLON Magazine to now writing about the best style trends for various publications, Jessie researches and sources the best fashion finds. When it comes to finding the best beach cover-ups, Jessie used her background in fashion to find options that are stylish and versatile.