Swimsuit season is officially here, and it’s time to tie up that itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini and hit the sand with all the confidence you’ve got. But while any collegiette™ can heat up the beach in just a swimsuit, once you’re off the beach you’ll need to cover up. And no matter how adorable your new retro floral bikini or sexy cutout one-piece may be, pulling on a five-year-old pair of Soffees and a ratty wifebeater post-beach will instantly kill your summer glow. To help you put your best foot forward every time you step on the beach, we’ve found the 20 best pieces to cover you up in the sun, from caftans to cutoffs. Now all you need is a little SPF and you’re ready to catch some rays—and some eyes—on the sand this summer!
The easiest, breeziest and most traditional swimsuit cover-ups, caftans are something between a shirt and a dress: they’re loose, flowy and made of super-light fabric, often lighter than summer-weight cotton and linen. They work perfectly on the beach, but they can just as easily transition to a Saturday shopping trip or even a summer party with the right shoes and accessories. What’s more, they come in all sorts of styles to fit your look: stripes or solid for classic girls, eyelet or lace for girlie girls, crochet or embroidery for boho collegiettes™, or cutout or backless for the edgier among us. Check out HC’s top picks!
The sweet embroidery and deep V-neck give this caftan a romantic feel—try it with coral wedges and a neutral clutch for a night out after your day in the sun. ($25)Old Navy
This open-knit tunic is subtly sexy without being too sheer to wear on the street—perfect for showing off your new bright bikini without exposing too much skin! ($44) Urban Outfitters
An oversized T-shirt dress makes a perfect cover-up for the beach, and with a belt and cute sandals, a perfect outfit for an impromptu post-beach dinner! ($45) American Apparel
The perfect summer caftan, this flowy number features a bold but wearable tribal print that can go easily from surf to turf with some simple gold accessories. ($49) Victoria’s Secret
Remember in middle school when we all had those strapless terry-cloth cover-ups from Juicy Couture? Well, here’s 2011’s version—a versatile, fashion-forward hooded caftan that matches with everything—and keeps you warm on a windy beach! ($79) Juicy Couture