Summer’s Coolest Coverup Explained: Why You Should Trade In Your Caftan For a Rash Guard


I love a breezy beach tunic as much as the next girl, but there are definitely times when something so flimsy is just not practical. Playing volleyball, for example. Or running. Paddle boarding.

Basically, anytime you’re doing more on the shore than sunning.

Luckily, there are tons of new, sportier options to, um, keep you covered. One of my favorites? The rash guard.

“A rash guard is a special shirt that surfers wear in the water to protect them from sun and friction,” two-time women’s world surf champion Carissa Moore told me at a recent International Surf Day event she hosted for Hurley. Usually made of nylon or spandex, rash guards (or “rashies” as some pros cutely call them) come with built-in ultraviolet protection and are worn by surfers when the water is too warm to warrant a full-on wet suit. Designers like Proenza Schouler, Missoni, Michael Kors, Mara Hoffman, Tory Burch, and Cynthia Rowley recently sent suped-up versions of them down their runways, and now the surf classic is quickly becoming a swim staple for non-surfers too. Brands like J.Crew, Madewell, Land’s End, Free People, and Old Navy all currently offer affordable versions, marketing them as swim tees, surf shirts, or, my favorite, “fashguards.”

Follow Moore’s lead and wear yours over your bikini anytime you’re craving a little extra skin protection and coverage. Thanks to their slim lines and T-shirt cuts, they’re not only surprisingly flattering, but they’re also shockingly versatile as well; paired with denim cut-offs or a flippy skirt, they make for a very modern sports-meets-tech vibe. Come fall, they’ll work as a cute underlayer too.


And don’t worry that real surfers will think you’re a poser. Moore says she’s totally in favor of the attention her sport’s gear has garnered. “It’s actually really cool to see how trendy surf wear has become,” she says. “Rash guards and board shorts have been integrated into everyday wardrobes, and it’s been really fun to see how different people style them in their swim outfits.”

Some surf-inspired swim shirts at every price, below.

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