The Best Sun Protective Clothing Brands for Women
After being personally affected by melanoma (you can read about that here), I’ve become diligent and conscientious about the things I can do to ensure I’m protecting my skin against further damage from the sun. I’m sure most of you know to apply sunscreen, wear a sun hat, and limit sun exposure during peak UV hours. But have you ever tried wearing UPF clothing? Today, I want to share some of the best sun protective clothing brands for women and why you should wear UPF clothing. Plus, I’m sharing a few of my favorite UPF clothing pieces that are worth investing in.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the topic of protecting your skin from the sun, I’ve written a few other posts you may enjoy:
- Cruelty-Free Sunscreens for Mature Skin
- Best Sun Hats to Protect Your Skin
- How to Spot Skin Cancer and Melanoma
What is UPF clothing?
I love clothing, but most of it doesn’t keep you protected from sun damage. Just as SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is written on the front of sunscreen bottles, UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is a similar concept that measures the amount of UVB and UVA rays that can reach your skin through a piece of clothing. Anything higher than UPF 30 qualifies for the Skin Cancer Foundations Seal of Recommendation. They rate UPF 50+ clothing as excellent, so those are the items that I strive to find when shopping.
Why is it important to wear sun protective clothing?
The reality is that while you should be wearing sunscreen every day, it can be difficult to remember and messy to reapply it every 90 minutes. I’ve been there and learned the hard way. The effects of the sun can be seen and felt even on the cloudiest of days. This is where wearing sun protective clothing comes in.
Even if you spent your younger years in the tanning bed or basking under the sun, it’s never too late to start protecting your skin. One of my favorite parts of wearing UPF clothing is that, unlike SPF, you don’t have to reapply it. In a clothing item that has UPF 50+, 98% of the UVA and UVB rays are blocked while you have them on. Sadly, a simple white t-shirt you may have in your closet only has a UPF of around 7. It’s as simple as making a choice when you get up to put it on in the morning and finding ones that fit your style.
For days when you spend a lot of time outside, especially during warmer months, I highly recommend wearing SPF on your face, UPF clothing on your body (at least a top or wrap), and a sun-protective hat with a wide brim.
Best UPF Clothing Brands
If you’ve ever shopped for sun protective clothing, you’ve likely noticed that they are not the most fashionable. Many of them are designed for outdoor athletic activities, which is perfect for hikers and bikers but not as stylish as a woman may want for her everyday life. Since I refuse to dress like I am heading on a fishing expedition, I’ve made it a goal to find stylish sun protective clothing that will keep me (and you) looking stylish while still blocking the sun’s harmful rays.
Where can you buy stylish sun protective clothing?
Below you’ll find a list of brands and stores that carry UPF clothing. One of the most popular brands you’ve seen me share before is Coolibar. I’ve been a fan of their clothes and hats for years. They probably have the biggest selection of UPF clothing that you would wear on a daily basis. Plus, you can also shop for your husband on their site.
A few of the brands, like Cabana Life, Sailor-Sailor, and Lilly Pulitzer, are resort wear brands. They carry a lot of bright, colorful patterns and prints that you might pack for a trip to Florida or Mexico. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are tons of options that are more simple and more subtle that don’t scream, “I’m on vacation.”
My Favorite Sun Protective Clothing Pieces
Some of the pieces I am sharing are short sleeve options. If you have a history of skin cancer or are more vigilant about protecting your skin, add a UPF jacket or wrap. Don’t forget your sunhat and sunscreen for the uncovered parts of your body and the backs of your hands.
1. Athleta Pacifica Jacket
If you need a very casual, light jacket to keep in your car and throw on, this jacket from Athleta would be perfect. The thumb holes add some sun protection to the tops of your hands as well.
2. Sun Protective Wrap
This wrap is so versatile. Layer it over a short sleeve shirt or a tank while you are out and about running your errands, put it over a swimsuit on your way to the pool or the beach, or wear it in the evening to dinner. I have had a similar one from this brand for years, and I love it! It comes in lots of colors like white, black, and even a navy/white stripe.
3. Cabana Life Dress and Top
Cabana Life was started by a skin cancer survivor and has a variety of sun protective clothing options including dresses, tops, and tunics. They also carry swimwear and a line of sport clothing for playing pickleball, tennis, and golf. Talbots has done a collaboration with Cabana Life for the last few years. You can grab the UPF pieces from their collaboration at Talbots.
4. Chico’s Bungee Crops
Chico’s has a surprisingly decent selection of UPF clothing. These pants would be wonderful for everything from taking an outdoor stroll, running errands, or a day of travel! They also come in pink and light blue.
5. Long Sleeve UPF Button Down
A white button down top is such a classic look. I consider them a wardrobe staple as they can be paired with virtually any bottoms and accessories. I even talked in this post about 10 ways you can wear a white shirt. These sleeves can be worn long or rolled up as pictured. You could also wear it unbuttoned over a swimsuit as a cover up.
6. Sailor-Sailor Outfits
Sailor-Sailor is another resort wear brand that has UPF 50+ in all of their clothing items. They have a large selection of prints available in many dress and top silhouettes. They also started carrying a sport line this year. I thought both of these were really great prints without being overwhelming.
7. UPF 50+ Popover
Sun protection isn’t just important in the spring and summer. This popover half zip will be fabulous on cool spring and summer mornings as well as during the fall and winter. It’s also available in a few prints, plus a classic navy.
Shop More Sun Protective Clothing Brands for Women:
Have you worn clothes with UPF and do you have a favroite brand to share?
Thanks for reading, and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.
I’ve been following you for some time now. This post spoke to me because I have had a similar experience to you.
I cover up and have several items you mentioned! I want to check out the wrap and another hat. Love your style and use your tips often. Thank you
For your time! You really try to take care of us ladies trying to be well styled and updated.
Hooked on the well styled life!
Thank you so much, Jane. I’m glad you’re here with us.
Thanks for this . Im very susceptible to skincancer and didnt realize so many brands carried upf. Im definitely going to buy more as ive forgotten about clothing with sunscreen ! Also chicos carries them ! And some cute dresses in other brands .
I will purchase soon ! I have the sunhat with tie its great !love the wrap too !
The more we can do to protect our skin the better!
I do like Land’s End UFP clothing.
I am glad other companys are bring in new up-to-date styles like the white button down, long sleeve shirt. A great summer must.
Thanks for all the great ideas. 🌞
I really enjoyed this article. Beautiful clothes. I’m ready to invest. Does laundering affect the sun protection value of the fabric?
My husband and I are sailors. We wear sun protection clothing every time we go out on the water and have for over 20 years. The reflection of the sun on the sails and the water makes exposure even greater than just the sun. We have had sun clothing from LL Bean, Lands End and Columbia. My only complaint is that it’s usually hot when we wear the clothing and I have found that it’s impossible to get the underarm smells out of the clothing. If anyone has any ideas on how to address this problem, please share it with me. The good news is that the clothing protects the skin it covers.
Columbia mostly has PFG type shirts for women & some dresses. I too prefer not to look like a professional fishing person. At TJ Maxx, I get my UPF golf pants & full zip, hand covering tops with the Tommy Bahama brand. I wear them when walking, hiking and running errands. I wear the full zip top over my tankini top for UPF 50 protection while swimming/ snorkeling.
Thank you Jennifer for a great post! I’m planning a trip to Brazil and this information is so helpful! I had no idea there was such an assortment of UPF clothing available.
Have a wonderful trip!! It sounds so exciting.
It’s so good to see more sun protective clothing out there. These were really great choices. I’ve looked for years to find clothes for golf. For a long time I just found SPF sleeves to wear with your golf shirt. Now they have sun shirts that are light weight and come in nice colors and prints. Zella at Nordstrom is where I’ve found some nice half zip shirts. Thanks for the great ideas.
Just love the IBKUL products. Got two for me in Florida this year, and one for my husband (no mesh in his sleeves). Great for golf and other outdoor activities! Love the feel of them and such light weight fabric. And so easy to launder!
I agree. My mesh is along the underside of the sleeve and in the underarm area. They’re very lightweight.
Thank you!! I wear most of those brands. One item you didn’t mention is a swim shirt or rashguard. These tops are effective sun blockers when swimming or snorkeling. I have several and I can’t tell you how relaxing it is spending a day on the water without getting burned or applying what are basically chemicals to my skin. Lands End has a good selection as does Amazon. Again, thank you for the reminder. My husband and sister have both had melanomas.
How do they fit? I have a bunch of SanSoleil tops which are similar. I like the SolCool version fit which is ample for my 38DD girls. Haha.
This is a great — and timely — post. I’m not a fan of oversized white shirts, but you have given me a reason to rethink this, with the Athleta shirt. I LOVE LLBean; they’re my local go-to for outside clothes. I find their UPF shirt kind of warm, though, so I’m looking forward to trying the Athleta shirt, which the brand says is breathable.
It’s my go-to for travel lately. LL Beam makes such great quality clothes too.
Thanks again for a great post! I’m a long time sun avoider… it’s nice to see some non athletic wear choices. I’m going to grab a wrap to keep in the car. There’s nothing worse than going to an outdoor venue for lunch/drinks/party and getting unexpectedly roasted. Everyone please get a skin check yearly!
That’s a great idea! I also use sun protective parasols if I’m out at a ball game etc.
I have bought several things from UVSkinz. They have a versatile assortment of swim wear. I no longer wear a traditional bathing suit but have the swim shirt and capris to swim in and love the extra coverage. Men’s wear and children also.
Thanks for your blog.
Happy Friday, Lin
I started wearing makeup with sun protection many years ago. It was in the most popular brands found at the mall, not the drugstore. Now it is a standard and considered a basic ingredient. This has happened to clothes. I saw the protection in sports clothes, especially tennis & golf. Thanks for your important post and your research on the brands😍
I hope more brands will start making UPF clothing.
It’s nice to see this expanding from just exercise wear.
The first time I noticed UPF in clothing was in golf clothes (I don’t remember the brand) but I’m not sure what makes it UPF. Is it the material or the tightness of the weave?
The tightness of the weave, the color and stretchiness all affect a fabrics UPF. There are also dyes that some companies use.