The Best SPF Clothing That Isn’t Dorky-Looking

The Sun's rays can actually pierce our clothes (rude), so we sourced the best bucket hats, cargo shorts, and workout wear with powerful UV protection.

We’ve been pretty good about sun protection this summer, and not just because we’ve been living the subterranean goblincore life. When we finally emerged from our mossy logs in the spring, we asked a bunch of dermatologists about their favorite sunscreen brands that don’t smell like Lycra and won’t clog our pores, and have been religiously Super-ing our Goop ever since. 

Unfortunately, our Milky’s Way’s flaming meatball is so hot, hot, hot that its rays can actually pierce through not only shitty sunscreen, but weak clothing. This is obviously clothing’s fault (booo), and not ours—but we’re still the ones who have to resolve the issue by making Marvel-worthy, UV (ultraviolet) radiation protective clothing. According to the gorplords at REI, denser and darker fabrics usually provide more UV protection than lighter ones, while polyester and nylon offer more sun protection than natural fibers. And, though the best protection against the sun would be to entomb ourselves in a dank gaming corner like a true crypto Jesus, finding some clothing that takes its UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) seriously is another, more social way to go for people who want to see the light of day, and have the protection of sunscreen without the hassle of needing to reapply it all day long. 

Luckily, for all you social butterflies, there is such a thing as “SPF clothing,” or clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating that “indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin,” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. That means a fabric with a UPF 50 rating would block out 98 percent of the sun's rays, while a fabric with a UPF of 30 would meet the entry level requirement to qualify for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s official seal of recommendation (any rating above 50 is a gold star to the forehead). 

We don’t want cancer and we do want to look hotter than our neighbor, and while we can’t guarantee either of those things, we can do our best by bringing you UV-protective cargo shorts, button-down tops, and streetwear accessories that look stylish and sucker punch the sun like a Chad.  

The best UV protection tops

UNIQLO goes hard for UV protective clothing, and has everything from parkas to turtlenecks that it says “block over 90% of UV rays.” If you take home one thing from the collection, make it a long-sleeve top in the kind of earthy shade that can carry you through every season. 

UV Protection Crew Neck T-Shirt

$24.90 at Uniqlo

This UV-protective, sleeveless Satisfy top is made out of recycled polyester and triple-functions as a casual top, workout shirt, and a wearable conversion pamphlet for your latest cult. 

Black AuraLite Tank Top

$155 at SSENSE

Amazon is also brimming with UV-protective clothing, although most of the styles are primary-colored tops that make us look like we’re in The Wiggles—which is cool, but shouldn’t be our only date night aesthetic. Instead, we'll be wearing this UPF 30 button-down top by Columbia, because it has a 4.7-star average rating on Amazon and makes us look like the kind of jabroni who’d take Infinite Jest to the skate park (sorry, Mom; sorry, God). 

Long Sleeve PFG Fishing Shirt

$29.77 at Amazon

The shiny, mossy colorway of this Vapor Apparel top pulled us in, but it was the UPF 50+ rating that sealed the deal. “This is the best sun shirt I've ever owned,” one Amazon reviewer writes. “The fabric is very light and comfortable and they don't cling or bunch up when wet.”  

Vapor Apparel
UPF 50+ Long Sleeve T-Shirt

$24.95$21.95 at Amazon

The best UV protection jackets

A no-brainer. Some of our favorite clothing and accessories never make it out of our bedroom, and that’s cool. (There’s a place for every pair of feathered pajamas and leather horse mask.) But a jacket lives outside—so why wouldn’t you want it to have UV protection? Nike’s “Devastation Trail” jacket is equipped with UV protection, more pockets than an American Girl doll apron, and is 24% off.

Dri-FIT UV "Devastation Trail"

$135.00$101.97 at Nike

“If you’re looking for a lightweight windbreaker then look no further,” one REI reviewer writes about this UPF 40 jacket by Columbia. “[It’s] excellent! Not too hot, and not too cold, and fits perfectly!” 

Flash Challenger Windbreaker

$45 at REI

Skims, is that you?

This UPF 50-rated swimwear from Athleta is a dead ringer for Skims’ latest collection, and offers so much all-around support that reviewers say the pieces could moonlight as workout wear. “[It’s] attractive and secure,” one fan of the top writes. “[It] could double as a sports bra.”

Maldives Bra Cup Bikini Top

$69 at Athleta

The best UV protection bottoms

You have to protect your chicken cutlets, too. These plaid Nike golf shorts would look derpy with a fleece vest below 14th Street in Manhattan, but worthy of a Tyler, the Creator outfit when paired with a power-clashing bowling shirt and your ex’s strawberry vape.  

Dri-FIT UV Plaid Chino Golf Shorts

$68 at Nordstrom

If it’s a lightweight cargo-esque short you seek, then this highly rated pair by Santiny is your best bet. It has a 4.5-star average rating on Amazon from 3,400 reviews for its dreamy combo of breezy UPF 50+ material and pockets on pockets on pockets, and it comes in almost 20 colorways.

Hiking Cargo Shorts

$40.99$29.99 at Amazon

Rec Room editor Ian Burke is obsessed with chinos, declaring them “the best pants for indecisive men” who would rather let their torso sausages fly free, but know that they need protection on the unpredictable streets. This pair of UV-protective chinos by Nike comes in six colorways, and the stretchy design is tapered from knee to hem to give a more tailored look. 

Dri-FIT UV Chino Pant

$90 at Nike

The best UV protection hats

Have you ever gotten a scalp sunburn? It sucks just as much as you’d imagine. That’s why we’re adding UNIQLO’s UV protection headgear into our bucket hat rotation, and this UPF 40+ wide brim hat from The North Face to the lake/bar. 

The North Face
Class V Brimmer

$45.00$27 at Bodega
UV Protection Bucket Hat

$29.90 at Uniqlo

Here’s to staying cool, and un-crispy. 

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter


Sunscreen, UPF, SPF, uv protection

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