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Tips for styling sun protective clothing for women

We know that you, like most women, want to protect your skin from the harmful consequences of the sun, including skin cancer, sunburn, and premature aging. About 80% of all signs of aging are due to UV exposure. Sun protective clothing for women aims to protect against solar radiation.

What is sun protective clothing for women?

It's easy to keep your skin covered up when the weather turns cold, but clothing that shields you from the sun’s harmful rays is necessary all year long.If you’re worried that all UPF-protective clothing resembles hazmat suits or safari gear, we’ve rounded up a bunch of stylish options.

Ratings for sun protection

Before we dive in, let’s talk about what’s required to make clothing UPF protective. Most of us understand the sun protection factor listed on bottles of sunscreen. On clothing, rather than SPF, look for UPF, the ultraviolet protection factor. (UPF refers to protection against both UVA and UVB rays.) This number rates how much radiation can reach your skin. For instance, with a UPF of 50, the fabric blocks about 98% of the UV rays.

If you want adequate protection, consider this guideline from the Skin Cancer Foundation: A UPF rating of 30 to 49 is a very good buffer from the sun, while a UPF rating of 50 or higher is known to offer excellent protection.

Factors for sun protection

To determine which clothes to wear in the sun, look for the UPF rating. For regular clothes without a UPF rating, try holding it up to see how much light penetrates. Ideally, the tighter the weave the better — but it isn’t as well-guaranteed as choosing a UPF-rated item.

Try loose-fitting clothes instead of tight ones. When tight clothes stretch, the fibers pull away and let the light pass through. Loose clothing allows air circulation to protect you from overheating on sunny days with high temperatures.

How to style sun protective clothing

There are lots of ways to marry sun protection with fashion. Our best advice? use sunscreen where you need it and dress to shield the rest of your skin.

Sun hats

Sun hats are a popular choice for good reason. They are lightweight, with a broad brim to protect your face and eyes. These timeless hats are fashion staples. Look for simplicity with neutral colors that match your wardrobe.

A floppy sun hat is made for the beach, but that doesn't mean you have to keep it there. Pair yours with a sundress or jeans and a flowing blouse for an outdoor brunch. Many sun hats are large statement pieces, so try opting for minimal accessories when using hats as sun protective clothing. Avoid crowding the hat with scarves or large jackets as they can make your outfit feel cluttered.

Additionally, choose your hat according to body type. For example, if you have a round face, try a more angular hat for balance. Steer clear of short, small hats if you are tall, as the hat may make your head look disproportionately large. Conversely, if you're short, choose a smaller brim within your shoulder width.


Most summer clothes have short sleeves and minimal coverage over the arms and chest, so it’s a good idea to invest in a shawl. Without one, you either risk sun damage or have to reapply sunscreen constantly. Shawls add new life to outfits you may be growing tired of and elevate even the most basic look to new heights. They come in lightweight fabrics for warm days as well as knitted and warm fabrics for winter. 

Long sleeves

Your arms are one of the most common places that skin freckles or burns under UV rays. Fortunately, long-sleeved sun protective clothing does not need to be packed up when the weather turns warm. Long-sleeved shirts with a high UPF are made with tight knitted fabric but may not cling to your skin. Wear loose shirts to allow cool air between your skin and the fabric. Many sun protective shirts are also sweat-wicking and can protect against heat rash.

Wide-leg pants

Flowy pant silhouettes are a classically chic style we’ll never tire of, and luckily many of them function as protective garments. Wide-leg UPF pants can look sleek while making excellent, comfortable loungewear, as many of them come with adjustable drawstrings.

Swim shirts and tights

Swimsuits don't have to expose a lot of skin to feel comfortable and look fantastic. Swim shirts (also called rashguards) and tights are lightweight and easy to swim in. Many tops have long sleeves and coverage over the entire back and abdomen, while tights cover the legs to the ankle. They come in various patterns and colors, allowing you to express your style while staying covered. Bonus: Many UPF swimsuits are made with medium compression fabric, which can help with body contouring without being too restricting.

Stay safe with sun protective clothing for women and sunscreen

Sun protection is critical to your health. Without it, your skin could burn, resulting in a long and painful healing process. What's worse, UV exposure can result in premature aging and skin cancer.

You can look stylish without sacrificing your skin to the sun. Whatever the season, invest in appropriate sun protective clothing.  The more of yourself you protect, the more likely you are to look youthful and avoid skin cancer.