What is a Swimsuit Coverup?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A swimsuit coverup is a lightweight garment which is designed to be worn over a swimsuit to protect the modesty of the wearer. Swimsuit coverups are also used to provide shelter from the sun and reduce exposure to harmful UV radiation. They can also keep swimmers warm when they are out of the water, and allow swimmers to transition from the beach to the streets or a casual restaurant with ease. Swimsuit coverups are sold by most companies which make swimsuits, and they are often readily available in beach towns.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The defining characteristic of a swimsuit coverup is that it is designed to be easily removed so that it can be taken off to swim. As a result, many coverups are loose, and they may be elasticized or tied for rapid removal. Buttons are unusual, as are zippers, which can rust if they are frequently exposed to water. Some swimsuit coverups are simply made from stretchy material like jersey knit which is easy to pull on and off, with no straps or ties needed.

Sarongs and related wraps are commonly used as swimsuit coverups, as are caftans, loose flowing robes of Middle Eastern origin. Some companies make tunics which can be used as swimsuit coverups, and it is also possible to find sundresses which are designed to be worn over swimsuits, especially bikinis. Most swimsuit coverups are made for women; men usually wear board shorts and t-shirts if they want to cover up at the beach.

Some women like to wear a swimsuit coverup for reasons of modesty, or because they do not want to attract attention at the beach; many women are shy in public about areas of their body which are normally concealed, such as the stomach and upper thighs. Others may use coverups which tend to reveal more than they conceal. It is also not uncommon to view coverups as practicalities, rather than fashion statements, using a swimsuit coverup to warm up after a swim or to reduce exposure to the sun.

When selecting a swimsuit coverup, it can be a good idea to wear the swimsuit it will be used with, to ensure that the garments go well together. It's also a good idea to find a garment which can be washed and dried in a machine, and a garment which will resist crumpling: these two traits can be very useful for people who are traveling to the beach.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Can you wear it to swim?


If you're going to wear a coverup, why even bother to wear a swimsuit in the first place? And why tan an area that you're not going to show off? Duh!

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