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Inside the World of Skin-Protective Clothing

clothing patches

If you’ve followed the news lately, one of the latest innovations in the clothing world is clothing that is designed to protect you from the sun. Recently, our clothing patches company came across this Business Insider article that explores UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing and the best brands to turn to if you want to expand your skin-protecting wardrobe:

“With warmer weather finally here, we’re sure beach days, backyard BBQ’s, and pool parties are quickly filling up your calendar. Because spending more time outdoors during the summertime is just inevitable.

Even if you are super careful and slather on SPF every two hours, the sun’s harmful rays can unfortunately still penetrate your clothing, and that’s why investing in clothing with UPF is so important especially during the hot and sticky months ahead.

Clothing and accessories with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) feature tighter weaves than normal clothing which helps prevent UV rays from passing through. The average cotton tee has a UPF of 5, which means the garment allows 95% of the incoming UV rays to penetrate it, while an item with UPF 50+ will only allow 2% of the sun’s rays to pass.

UPF clothing may have been hard to find in the past, but more and more of your favorite clothing brands have been designing pieces that offer built-in sun protection. To help you find the most stylish sun-smart offerings on the market, we’ve rounded up five fashionable brands that sell clothing with a minimum of UPF 50.

Here are the best sun protection clothing brands:

  • Best overall: L.L.Bean
  • Best sporty brand: Athleta
  • Best stylish brand: Lilly Pulitzer
  • Best brand for swimsuits: Lands’ End
  • Best brand for accessories: Coolibar

More about the top picks

L.L. Bean

There’s a reason why L.L.Bean is a go-to source for stylish yet durable outerwear and accessories. The American brand has been making high-quality functional goods for more than 100 years. While you probably own a pair of L.L. Bean’s winter boots or cozy thermals, the company’s summery UPF clothing is just as good.

The iconic company has more than 150 fashionable items with built-in sun protection in the women’s category alone, including separates, dresses, outerwear, and accessories. Trousers and tops mostly retail for $60 or less, while fancier pieces like hiking jackets and polarized sunglasses range from $100 to $250.

This year, the brand earned The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation on dozens of styles in the collection. The foundation’s Seal of Recommendation is given to sun conscious products that meet the strict criteria of an independent Photobiology Committee.

One of L.L. Bean’s most popular items with UPF is the Cropped Comfort Trail Pants. They have a 4.4-star rating and 90% of the 761 reviewers say they would recommend the trousers.

One shopper wrote, “These are my go-to pants for summer. So comfortable, protection from the sun, quick drying. I wear these for golf, shopping, and around town.”

Pros: Great basics with sun protection of UPF 50, mostly reasonably priced, lots of options and variety in products, Seal of recommendation from Skin Cancer Foundation

Cons: Fancier items can get pricey

Athleta

Do you love to workout in the sunshine? If so, check out the UPF clothing at Athleta. The activewear brand is known for its fashionable yet functional pieces and the company also has a large variety of sun conscious items.

While Athleta offers plenty of basic tanks, leggings, jackets, and swim that have built-in protection, many of the brand’s most popular UPF items can pull double duty in your summertime wardrobe. Like the Stinson Back Zip Tank, which can be also used as a rashguard or the Makaha High Neck Reversible Bikini Top and Makaha Reversible Bottoms, which can be mixed and matched into four different swimsuit combinations.

Insider Picks writer Kylie Joyner is a huge fan of the brand’s Sunlover UPF Tank saying, “it provides excellent protection from the sun’s rays.” She added that it is great for hot runs because it “wicks sweat away easily, and dries quickly.”

Kylie also mentioned that the Athleta UPF top is on the more expensive end but “its performance, quality, and the features it offers make the price justifiable.”

Pros: Stylish activewear with UPF 50+, many versatile pieces that can be worn multiple ways, high-quality

Cons: Expensive

Lily Pulitzer

Resortwear brand Lilly Pulitzer is known for making colorfully printed clothing that screams summer. Knowing that a lot of the brand’s customers pack its cheerful designs for tropical holidays, Lilly Pulitzer expanded its collection to include pieces made with sun protective fabrics.

The vacation-ready UPF 50+ line includes everything from preppy pullovers and sporty leggings to flirty frocks and ruffled skirts, all in the same vivid and happy prints as the regular collection.

The UPF 50+ Sophie Dress was the brand’s first foray into sun protected clothing and remains one of the most popular pieces to date with a 4.7-star rating on Lilly Pulitzer’s website. The feminine frock comes in six different prints and can be customized with your initials.

It’s just one of the pieces from the stylish line that can offer protection when worn as a cover-up to the beach but is sleek enough to take you from the sand to dinner in a snap.

Pros: Fashionable feminine items with UPF 50+, large variety of items and multiple prints to choose from, great for vacations

Cons: Very bright colors and prints might not be for everyone

Lands’ End

While Lands’ End has a huge offering of clothing with UPF 50, its swim and cover-up collection is the largest we’ve ever seen. The swim line includes one-pieces, bikinis, swim skirts, rashguards, and even dresskini styles.

Land’s End also offers plenty of cover-ups with built-in sun protection, including dresses, tees, shorts, and skirts in a variety of colors, prints, and sizes. A lot of the clothing also has The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation including the Women’s Perfect Suit One Piece and the Women’s Swim Fabric Skirts.

The Good Housekeeping Institute tested out the brand’s Swim Tee Rashguard and found it “not only provides effective sun protection with a rating of UPF 50, but it also was impressively comfortable by being lightweight, smooth and stretchy.”

While most of the line is at a moderate price point, some of the pieces with technical features like tummy control and Slendertex fabric can be pricier.

Pros: High-quality swimwear and cover-ups with UPF 50, The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, large variety of options

Cons: Pieces with technical functions can get expensive

Coolibar

Coolibar is an apparel and accessories brand that was started with the sole purpose of creating sleek wearable fashions that offer high-quality UPF 50+ protection. Coolibar was actually the first sun protective clothing company to receive The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation.

The company’s UPF 50+ accessory line offers everything from scarfs and hats, to beach shawls and even gardening gloves, so you’ll stay safe from the sun’s harmful rays no matter what outdoor activity you partake in.

Coolibar sells more than 500 items on Amazon, and almost 100 of them are women’s accessories. The brand’s most popular accessory is the Women’s Marina Sun Hat with UPF 50+.

It has a 4.3-star rating and comes in six fashionable colors. One reviewer commented, “I have worn this hat kayaking, and found it was awesome sun protection. Even with sunglasses, there are times when I would have been miserable without this hat. The big brim covers your eyes, and you can keep paddling into the sun! It looks really cute too.”

Pros: High-quality accessories that feature sun protection, fast shipping on Amazon, large selection of different types of accessories

Cons: Amazon Prime is not offered on a few select items”

Don’t forget that you can add clothing patches to any of your UPF pieces! View our patches gallery for some inspiration.