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A stylist’s guide to chic beach cover-ups

A stylist’s guide to chic beach cover-ups


by Sinead Keenan
11th Jun 2024

From palazzo pants to chic kimonos, let IMAGE contributing fashion editor Sinéad Keenan pack your suitcase with this season's chicest beach cover-ups to take you from beach bar to bistro.

As the summer sun beckons and the allure of pristine beaches and shimmering aqua pools become irresistible, style-savvy vacationers know that the right swim cover-up is as essential as the perfect swimsuit.

BREEZY KAFTANS

Gone are the days when a beach cover-up was just a functional afterthought. Current styles are celebrated for their ability to transition seamlessly from sun-soaked sands to beachside bistros. Kaftans and tunics, with their breezy silhouettes and intricate patterns, remain a suitcase favourite. They’re perfect for those leisurely strolls along the shoreline or an impromptu lunch date, offering just the right balance of modesty and freedom.

SHEER FABRICS

Sheer and peek-a-boo fabrics are making waves this summer, allowing a hint of the swimsuit beneath to show through. These lightweight materials, whether in the form of flowing maxi dresses or body-hugging slips are perfect for keeping cool yet looking hot. Think delicate lace, soft chiffons, and flirtatious meshes or crochet pieces that play with light and shadow, adding an element of mystery and allure to your beach ensemble.

BOLDLY BOHEMIAN

For those who love a touch of bohemian flair, this season’s cover-ups feature a medley of vibrant prints, earthy tones, and artisanal details. Crochet designs and fringed edges add texture and movement, while bold prints inspired by global travels infuse a sense of wanderlust. Pair these pieces with oversized sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and Grecian leather thong sandals to give a nod to the free-spirited mood of the 1970s. How cool are these crochet styles from high street favourites Zara and H&M?

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS

As the fashion world increasingly embraces sustainability, eco-conscious cover-ups are gaining prominence. Designers are turning to organic cotton, bamboo fabrics, and recycled materials to craft pieces that are as kind to the planet as they are to the wearer. These sustainable options often feature minimalist designs with a focus on quality and longevity, ensuring they remain staples in your summer wardrobe for years to come. One of my favourite designer brands is Kalita. Inspired by the effortless style of Greece, and with a sustainable ethos and a large celebrity following this dreamy collection is designed with beach to evening wear in mind.

For a cooler laidback vibe, Pitusa, a new collection to Brown Thomas and Arnotts, is a female-led brand employing female-operated ateliers in Peru and India with an emphasis on ethical and sustainable production.

CHIC JUMPSUITS

This summer, however, you can also step beyond the traditional kaftans and sarongs to explore a world of alternative cover-ups that promise to redefine your beach and poolside style. Consider some new innovative options to make a fashion statement while enjoying the sun and surf.

For example, jumpsuits are making a splash as the ultimate all-in-one cover-up. With their easy, slip-on design, they provide effortless style and comfort. Look for lightweight fabrics like linen or cotton to keep cool, and opt for wide-leg cuts to add a touch of elegance. Bold prints, from tropical florals to geometric patterns, can enhance your beach look, while solid colours offer a timeless appeal.

PLAYFUL PLAYSUITS

Playsuits or romper styles are the super cute cousin of jumpsuits, providing a youthful and practical option for beach cover-ups. These short, one-piece outfits are perfect for those who want to show off their legs while enjoying the sun. Opt for adjustable straps and elastic waists for a comfortable fit. Fun patterns, ruffles, and lace details can add a touch of whimsy to your poolside look.

LAYERING KIMONOS

The kimono, with its flowing lines and intricate designs, offers a sophisticated alternative to traditional cover-ups. These versatile pieces can be worn open for a relaxed look or cinched at the waist for a more defined silhouette. Rich, colourful patterns inspired by traditional Japanese motifs or modern, minimalist designs can transform your beach attire into a work of art. Layer a kimono over your swimsuit and add some statement jewellery to effortlessly transition from beach to bar.

I have always loved Mona Swims, a luxury resort wear brand, handmade in Ireland, fusing intricate print-work, expert craftsmanship and a uniquely dark and surreal aesthetic. Born out of Irish folklore, all prints are designed in-house by the founder, Carla Johnson, an award-winning textile artist. This silk snake print Kimono is the epitome of luxury and can be worn open on the beach and then closed for transitioning to evening wear.

PALAZZO PANTS

For those who prefer separates, palazzo pants are a stylish and comfortable option. These wide-legged trousers, made from airy fabrics like chiffon or crepe, provide excellent coverage while allowing for maximum movement. Choose vibrant hues or playful prints to match the summer mood, and pair them with a simple bikini top or a fitted tank. I adore these Max Mara clever wrap trousers, perfect to pull on with a simple white T over your swimwear to achieve an elegant sophisticated holiday.

COOL CO-ORDS

Another great separates option is the shirt/shorts combo. Matching printed co-ords are perfect solutions as a bikini cover-up. This borrowed-from-the-boys look is effortlessly cool and can be worn as a full look but also separately. I love this beautiful printed set by Suncoo at Seagreen.

Ultimately, the best cover-up is one that reflects your personal style and makes you feel confident and comfortable. Whether you prefer the understated elegance of a monochrome maxi dress, the playful charm of a printed kimono, or the modern edge of a sheer sarong, this summer’s cover-ups offer something for every fashion sensibility. Embrace the season with pieces that allow you to express your unique style while enjoying the sun, sand, and sea.

Here are some more of my favourite pieces to pack for that much-needed summer holiday!

Shop Sinéad’s Edit

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