what to wear over swimsuit

10 Cute Cover Up Options + What to Wear Over a Swimsuit

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If I’m planning a beach vacation, my first thought is to shop for a bathing suit I feel good about wearing. And a swimsuit coverup is equally important.

I leave my coverup on when sitting by the pool or on the beach.  I use it for protection from the sun since I’m not a sunbather. But also, I want to cover my backside so it’s not hanging out there for the world to see.

If you like to spend time on the beach in your suit, a coverup is not just a cute accessory but a practical necessity. It offers quick and effortless coverage from your hotel room to the pool or beach. You want to be able to quickly throw it on to run out to the car to grab something you forgot. And it does double duty, providing coverage if you want to have a casual lunch in a boardwalk cafe. 

If you’re not sure what to wear over a swimsuit, I’m here to be your style guide. In this post, I talk about how to choose a coverup, what to wear over a one-piece bathing suit, and share 10 bathing suit cover-up ideas.  

First up, let’s talk about how to choose a beach cover-up. 

How to choose swimsuit cover ups

It’s a given that you want to be comfortable and look cute on vacation. Here are a few more things to remember as you choose cute cover-ups. 

Consider how fancy or casual the resort or town is–whether it leans more towards upscale or casual and laid-back–and choose options that match the setting. 

Think about what you’ll be doing in your coverup. Will you be browsing stores or dining in casual restaurants? Check the dress code for resort restaurants to make sure your outfits align with their guidelines. Coverups that are midi or maxi length have a more elevated vibe than mini dresses or shorts. 

Fabric is an important consideration for being comfortable. Look for lightweight materials and breathable fabric that dries quickly, like 100 percent cotton, linen, or rayon. They’ll keep you cool and comfy on warm days. 

Ask yourself how easily you need to get in and out of your cover-up. If you’ll take lots of dips in the water, skip the buttons and opt for a tunic dress you can pull on and off over your head.  

Look for a coverup with pockets if you want a convenient way to carry keys, cash, or lip balm. 

Consider the color or pattern of your bathing suit and choose a coverup that coordinates with it so it’s easy to get dressed. 

What do you wear over a one-piece swimsuit? 

Over your one-piece bathing suit, for a casual look, shorts and a t-shirt or tank top are a great option. Try a matching shorts set to make it super easy to get dressed. A sarong is perfect for strolling the shoreline. A shirtdress is a versatile option for lounging or dining. Midi and maxi dresses are chic and elevated for touring and relaxing. 

With so many great swimsuit cover-up options available, you can easily find one to wear over your favorite swimsuit. Pair it with flip flops for all-day comfort and ease while exploring.

Ready to look at 10 cute swimsuit cover-ups? Let’s dive in!

10 bathing suit cover-up ideas

1. A sarong

A sarong is a stylish option to add to your beach bag. It’s perfect for those moments when you want to quickly and easily go from lounging on the beach and playing in the water to taking a leisurely stroll along the shoreline to collect shells. Just tie it around your waist for extra coverage on your lower half, and you’re ready to walk.

swimsuit and sarong outfit

Bathing Suit | Sarong “Midnight Grey” | Similar Bag | Similar Necklace | Similar Flip-Flops

This printed block-print gray and white sarong is breathable, sizable and easy to tie and comes in a ton of different colors. I love the grey with the red of this suit.  

2. A maxi dress

A maxi dress is a great option to feel more covered and protect your skin from the sun or cool breezes. The long length makes a chic statement. You can lounge by the pool or beach and feel comfortable exploring the town or eating lunch at a local restaurant. 

striped maxi dress coverup

Amazon Shirtdress in blue | Loft Shirtdress for everyday wear | Similar Flip-Flops | Similar Bag

I never pass up a striped button-down or striped button-down shirt dress. I had to give this one from Amazon a try. It’s very oversized and is perfect if you’re looking for a cotton, long, flowy dress just for the beach that’s very forgiving in the midsection. I ordered this dress in a medium, and it was laughably huge and exchanged it for a small. The drop sleeves give the dress a very laid-back feel. It is important to roll them up to draw the eye to your waist and define your midsection.

I’ve seen striped long shirtdresses everywhere, from Talbots to Target, Loft, and J.Crew. And while this works for a beach coverup, I’d go with something a bit more tailored if you want to wear it as an everyday dress.   

3. A shirtdress

A shirtdress is a great choice if you plan to keep your coverup on. It offers a timeless look you can dress up or down and wear in various settings, from lying on the beach to strolling the boardwalk and eating an early beachside dinner.

white shirtdress coverup

Similar Shirtdress | Similar Hat | Similar Flip-Flops | Similar Bag

This dress is made of a breathable gauze cotton fabric that’s airy, cool, and comfortable in the heat and quickly dries when it gets wet. I love how tailored yet laid-back it is. If you have a wide variety of bathing suits, a white coverup will match them all.

This one from Loft is sold out from last year, but I’ve linked this year’s version for you. 

4. A striped v-neck mini dress coverup

If you’re looking for a super flattering silhouette for every body type, this v-neck mini dress has an adjustable waist and a v-neck that draws the eye to the face. The fabric is lightweight and has a silver stripe that’s fresh and fun.

A striped v-neck mini dress coverup

Coverup | Similar Flip-Flops

Their smallest size in the store was large and very big on me.

5. A floral mini dress coverup

This was an impulsive try-on at J.Crew Factory that I liked more than I expected, even though I’m not used to wearing a ton of bright colors. The material is a very lightweight cotton. It’s so airy it makes the perfect swimsuit coverup. It’s easy to take on and off like a tunic-style coverup with no buttons or belts to fasten.

A floral mini dress coverup

Coverup | Slides in “Saddle Leather”

I’m wearing it in a medium, but could probably wear it in a size small.

6. A matched set

I’ll admit, back in the day, when I went to the beach, I usually wore my junkiest pair of shorts because they were comfy, and I wouldn’t get upset when they got covered in sand. But these days, I want to feel more elevated at the beach. And matched sets are the perfect thing to wear. They are everywhere these days. They’re so easy to wear since you only have to make one decision about what to put on. And you can wear the pieces in so many different ways. Pair the shorts with a t-shirt, tank top, or white button-down shirt. 

A matched set

Similar Shirt | Similar Shorts | Bag

I love them in a lightweight fabric like gauze or linen since it’s so comfortable. You may have to buy the pieces separately from the same retailer.

This matched set is from last summer, but I’ve linked similar options.

7. Linen pants and an oversized striped button-down shirt 

On a breezy cool day or evening, a linen pair of pants is a great choice for hanging out on the beach or taking in a bonfire. Drawstring waist pants with wide legs are super comfy to wear. These Old Navy white linen pants are bestsellers every year. Plus, they have pockets!

Linen pants and an oversized striped button-down shirt 

Similar Pants | Shirt | Bathing Suit | Similar Flip-Flops | Similar Bag

I’m layering a tunic button-down shirt over the top for a relaxed fit. Since this bathing suit has a ruffle across the top, a button-down shirt is a great option thanks to its relaxed fit.

8. Linen pants and a white linen button-down shirt

Here’s another way to wear those tie-waist white linen pants. This time, I’m pairing them with a thrifted J.Crew oversized linen button-down shirt. A linen button-down shirt and linen pants create the perfect coastal vibe when paired together. Leave your shirt open to show your suit or button just a few buttons.

Linen pants and a button-down shirt

Similar Pants | Similar Shirt | Similar Flip-Flops | Similar Bag | Similar Tankini

This blue and white stripe tankini top is old, but blue and white stripes are so popular now that I had to pull it out.  I’ve linked another striped suit option.

Looking for more ideas about styling linen pants? Read 25 Best Ways to Wear Linen Pants for Spring + Summer.

9. Wide leg printed pants and a button-down shirt

I’m not one to fall in love with a pair of printed pants. But these black and white swirl wide-leg pants are gorgeous. The material feels elevated, like a soft, silky scarf. The waist is elasticized in the back, with subtle pleats and pockets in the front. Wear them on the beach with a black bathing suit or bikini top, leather flip-flops, and a linen shirt, or save them for a nice restaurant.  Pair them with block heels and a white or black top.

Wide leg printed pants and a button-down shirt

 Similar Shirt | Pants | Similar Flip-Flops

10. V-neck mini swing dress

This navy floral empire waist a-line v-neck dress from Old Navy works great for all body types. It’s a must-have piece to cover up a swimsuit since it has a relaxed fit and easily slips on and off over the head. The fabric is a soft and lightweight cotton-rayon-viscose blend. Rayon is moisture-wicking to draw sweat away from the skin and keep you dry and comfy on a hot day. And the best part is that this dress has pockets, which are perfect for holding a room key or cash! 

V-neck mini swing dress

Dress | Similar Flip-Flops

I often order the “tall” option in Old Navy mini dresses since it gives a few more inches of length at 5’6”. Old Navy’s dresses can shrink in length when you wash them so buying the tall length helps counter that.

When it’s time to choose beach cover ups, think about the venue, the activities you’ll be doing, how much coverage you feel comfortable with, and how easily you need to get in and out of it. Choose a piece that feels cute and comfortable, fits your personal style, and feels most like you.

Are you struggling to find a bathing suit that you feel great in? Check out The Most Flattering Swimsuits for Women Over 40.

what to wear over swimsuit

Hi, Friend. I'm Marya. I'm so glad you're here!

I’m here to help women feel good inside and out through approachable everyday style inspiration and encouragement for midlife. Once upon a time, I worked as a therapist and coach. Now, I’m a holistic style blogger studying style coaching! Be So You celebrates leaning into who we were meant to be! 

Read about my  journey to self-discovery at 40. Follow me on Instagram here and Pinterest here. Send me a quick question through my contact page here.  

Fit Note: I’m midsized at 5’6″, 160 pounds, with size 12 jeans.

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