Can You Wear a Beach Cover Up as a Dress?

Can You Wear a Beach Cover Up as a Dress

You are walking barefoot along the beach and feel the gentle caress of the wind on your skin through your cover up, the sand massaging your feet, and hear the calming sound of waves as they gently lap against the shore. These are the moments you daydream about; those idyllic moments when you were having the time of your life in your cute and airy summer outfits and beach cover-ups.

So even though you may not be able to visit the beach everyday to recreate that dream scenario, what’s wrong with wearing a cute and airy cover up during your daily life? Do you really need to be by a beach or pool to do it? Who says you can’t wear a swimsuit cover up as a dress?

If you enjoy breaking the fashion rules and you’re a practical person, then you can wear your beach cover up as a dress even in a different context. It’s not like a swimsuit cover up is distinguishable from regular clothes; most of them are totally suitable to wear in any context because they cover up your private parts. Therefore, it’s up to you whether you want to wear them as a dress or not.

In this article, we will discuss why it’s perfectly okay for you to wear your beach cover up as a dress in a different context outside of a beach or pool setting. We will also discuss what to look for in a cover up so that it can double as a dress outside of a beach or pool setting.

Is it socially acceptable to wear a beach cover up as a dress?

A good cover up can be nearly indistinguishable from regular clothing. And even if it is obvious that you are wearing a cover up in a non-beach or non-pool setting, nobody will care as long as it covers your body up appropriately.

That last point is where some problems may arise. Some beach cover ups are literally just oversized shirts that are intended to be worn without pants or shorts underneath which is considered inappropriate in most contexts. Some cover ups may also be too loose or even see-through which may be considered too revealing in a non-beach, non-pool setting.

If you plan on wearing a swimsuit cover up as a dress, you had better make sure that it still covers up most of your body otherwise you may come across as an exhibitionist.

What’s the difference between a regular dress and a cover up?

What’s the difference between a regular dress and a cover up

Technically anything can be considered a beach cover up if you’re wearing it over your swimsuit. That includes regular dresses too, not just dresses that are marketed specifically as a cover up. In other words, you can just wear regular clothing as cover ups; your dress doesn’t need any fancy features for it to qualify as one.

So what exactly are dresses marketed as cover ups offering? They typically offer more UV radiation protection due to their excellent ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). Clothes that have a UPF rating will also have a number next to it, typically 15, 30 or 50. The number represents how many UV rays it can block before it lets one through.

Therefore, a UPF 50 cover up has approximately a 98% UV radiation block rate. This is very good because it means that the areas that are covered up by it don’t need as much sunscreen applied to it, if any. This drastically cuts down on the amount of sunscreen you need to use in a day, especially since it cuts down on the need to reapply sunscreen as well.

Any clothing that does not have a UPF rating will not block nearly as much UV rays. Therefore, if you thought you were safe just because you were covered up, you may still end up sunburned or tanned even though your skin was covered by clothing.

Another difference is that cover ups are designed to be easy to put on and take off. Comfort and convenience are major selling points for beach cover ups. Thus, clothing specifically marketed as cover ups will typically feature open and airy styles. Your regular clothes worn as a makeshift cover up may not necessarily be as comfortable or easy to don and doff as a cover up.

Why wearing a beach cover up as a dress is practical

If you are a practical and financially responsible person, then you would want to buy items that are usable in many contexts. Personally, I’m not a fan of buying clothes that are “only” for the beach. I want clothing that can also be worn in my regular life either on its own or when paired with other clothing.

I’m guessing you’re the same too. If your cover up can double as a dress, then you’d be a fool not to wear it in your regular life. Especially because all of the things that make a cover up so convenient, comfortable, and cute make for a great piece of clothing no matter what context you’re wearing it in, weather permitting.

What to look for in a cover up

What to look for in a cover up

We glossed over the fact that some cover ups are inappropriate outside of a beach or pool context. Don’t make the mistake of buying a cover up that is see-through or reveals your midsection as this can make it socially inappropriate for many situations. In order for you to get the best bang for your buck, you need one that is more conservative than that.

Think about the kinds of situations you might end up in; is your cover up appropriate around children and family members? Look for something that can pass as casual wear. Plus, you also want it to look and feel good. Here’s what to look for when shopping for a beach cover up.


Would your beach cover up be deemed appropriate if you wore it outside of a beach or pool, such as at a grocery store, lobby, or restaurant? If your beach cover up is a shirt dress or sarong, which are very loose fitting and partially see-through, then no, it would not be possible to wear them in your everyday life.

Do you really want to spend money on something that you can only wear in a limited context, or would you rather get one that is more versatile? You may need to wear your beach cover up with something else to make it appropriate for the context. Therefore, consider the type of cover up as a factor when shopping for one and what you might pair it with.


Another consideration is the quality and type of fabric the cover up is made of. Being able to put it on and take it off quickly is nice, but you also need the cover up to dry quickly as well as be light and breathable.

While you probably won’t be wearing your cover up in the water, it still might get a little bit wet if you’re walking along the shore, and especially if you’re just wearing it over top your wet swimsuit.

Thus, the best materials are made from cotton, nylon, polyester, silk, and linen because these materials take dyes readily, are easy to wash, and will not be damaged when worn over a wet bathing suit.

You will also need to consider the cost of these materials. Silk cover ups are more expensive than polyester, but you might want to invest in one anyways because you can wear it indoors and it pairs well with other staple items like jeans.


You need to also consider how comfortable a cover up will feel when worn for long periods of time. Being open and airy not only feels good but it also means that it will dry faster. Nothing is more miserable than wearing damp clothing all day; it will also feel extremely chilly after a while.

How the beach cover up fits you also plays an important part in how comfortable it feels. If you have a long torso, you need a cover up that is long as well. If your cover up covers up too much of your body, then it might actually feel too hot in 90 degree weather. If you plan on walking around a lot, it cannot be too restrictive on your body.

These are just some of the considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a beach cover up you can also wear as a dress.

At the end of the day, any dress can be worn as a beach cover up; it doesn’t even need to be marketed as a cover up, and a regular dress obviously can be worn in public. And if your swimsuit cover up is indistinguishable from a regular dress, then you’ve just killed two birds with one stone; feel free to wear it in public. You get more bang for your buck if your cover up can double as a dress, so keep that in mind if you want to save money as well as enjoy the comfort that a cover up provides.