So, yesterday I shared with you all my long and difficult (*sob*) history with sunscreen — particularly the fact that most conventional sunscreens contain chemicals that have been flagged as likely carcinogens, and that natural sunscreens tend to feel like wearing mayonnaise. UGH!
As promised, I am here today to share the third and far less gunky option... clothing made out of fabric designed specifically to disrupt UV rays, either through the weave and material of the fabric, through specific types of dyes used in high concentrations (the color isn’t the important thing here, the type of dye is what makes the difference), or through additives embedded in the cloth.
At this point you might be asking, why go to all that trouble? OF COURSE you already wear clothes… Don’t they block the sun? Yes and no is the (annoying) answer… it depends a lot on the type of material as to how protected you are by the clothes you are wearing. In general though, an ordinary cotton shirt has a UPF (fabric equivalent of SPF) of about 5-8, meaning you are frequently still getting a hefty dose of UVA through your clothing, in all its cancer-and-aging-causing glory.
Now, if you have encountered UPF clothing in the past, you probably are feeling a little depressed by this idea, with visions of camping/hiking wear and rashguards dancing through your head. Sure, those things serve important purposes, but aren't exactly something you’re going to wear from day to day.
Good news!! Style-conscious, comfy clothing with UPF DOES exist, and today we’re going to talk about my favorite brand, Summerskin!
Sun-protection is near and dear to the heart of Summerskin founder, Summer Kramer. Here’s her story:
The SUMMERSKIN™ journey began in 2007, when founder Summer Kramer was diagnosed with melanoma on her lower left leg. Fortunately, she caught the cancerous mole very early, but it changed her life forever. Following the surgery, and at her dermatologists recommendation, Summer rolled down her sleeves and started an exhaustive search for fun, stylish sun protective clothing. To her dismay, all she could find were clothes that were either specifically designed for an outdoor activity -- like running or surfing -- or styles that targeted an older demographic. What she wanted was stylish apparel that would protect her skin from harmful UV rays, while still maintaining a sense of versatility and expression. Something she could feel confident wearing to a picnic or an outdoor function, or just walking around the city. And just like that, the idea for SUMMERSKIN was born.
Dressy but casual. Timeless elegance. Everyday essentials.
UPF by construction. Feminine lightness. Luxurious and comfortable.
I love Summerskin in general and they have a ton of gorgeous pieces, but today we’re going to focus on one specific dress: Summerskin’s "Your Favorite Maxi".
(don't take that graphic as an example of their design, haha! I just threw that together so you could see all three color options side-by-side. From left to right, black-and-grey striped, coral, midnight black)
Summerskin was awesome enough to provide me with a Your Favorite Maxi dress in black and grey stripe in exchange for my honest review, and I honestly can’t say enough good things about it! Check it out -- the stripe is much more visible in real life then it is in the computer photo above... (Yea, I'm super goofy)
I've decided that Summerskin's "Your Favorite Maxi" might be really, really well named... in fact, I think there are 8 reasons why "Your Favorite Maxi" might actually be just that!
#1 So CUTE! I love the grey and black stripe of this maxi, and it fits beautifully into my existing capsule wardrobe! Effortless and endless style options.
#2 So LIGHTWEIGHT! This is the lightest UPF fabric I’ve encountered so far — pretty much on par with any other lightweight-but-not-sheer summer-time jersey you might find at the mall. That means it is perfect for a hot summer day... it doesn't weigh you down, and your skin can still breathe!
#3 So COMFORTABLE! It is soft, stretchy, and completely comfortable for lounging in, as well as for wearing out and about. The Summerskin website jokes that "PJs never felt this good," and it really is true!
#4 Great style details — There is a dart at the back of the dress that adds to its personality, and makes the top of the dress more fitted while leaving the waist-down more flow-y. Very forgiving for those “no, not pregnant, just ate a huge burrito” days, as well as for providing more air circulation when its 100+ degrees out.
#5 Perfect for easy movement and an active lifestyle! A lot of maxis tend to be restrictive — just by design those long skirts can make it hard to move freely. This one has a great knee-high side-split to prevent that issue, BUT in a dose of brilliance, it can be fastened shut with two small buttons for added sun protection. The buttons hook into tiny elastic loops, so there is still give even when they are fastened, and if you decide you want to suddenly clamber up the side of a waterfall or hike a rocky hillside at Yosemite to get that perfect picture (yea, I’ve done both those things in a maxi…) you can unloop them altogether for unfettered movement.
#6 Perfect for multi-season use! Dead-of-winter is the only time you wouldn’t be able to wear this dress… it is perfect for layering through autumn, and I’ll be busting it out again at the first hint of spring! SO versatile.
#7 Great quality! Lately I've been annoyed to find several quite-new additions to my wardrobe from should-be-durable-brands coming loose at the seams after only a wear or two. I've worn this dress on multiple occasions now, and not a thread is out of place. I'll update this post if I'm disappointed with how the dress holds up over time, but from what I can tell at this point, the quality is excellent.
#8 (which arguably should have been #1) This dress protects you from cancer and premature aging!!!!! With a UPF of 50, 98% of the sun’s rays are completely unable to reach your skin through this dress. And this while you are cool, comfortable, and cute, and without the potential carcinogens of standard sunscreen or the chalky-mayonnaise texture of natural sunscreens. Can we say GIANT WIN? Oh yes we can!
Okay now time for the cons… only… I haven’t found one yet. No seriously, I haven’t! However, I am 5’8 and the dress skims the floor when I’m in my barefeet, so if you are petite you probably want to be aware of that.
Other good things worth noting about this dress — it’s made in the USA! The fabric is tested independently to be sure it is free from any harmful substances! It’s machine-washable! And currently you can get 30% off your Summerskin purchase with the code FALL30! Oh frabjous day! Callooh callay!
To conclude, this dress would be a fantastic addition to any fashionista’s wardrobe just based on the design and quality, but then there is the TOTAL added benefit of it also providing protection from the sun with 0% hassle and 100% style. Even if a maxi isn’t your usual fashion choice, you’re still going to want this one for your next sunny vacation! It is the PERFECT travel dress: lightweight, easy to move in, super cute for pictures, AND functioning like non-sticky sunscreen.
A few quick thoughts from a minimalist-wardrobe perspective… If you’ve been building your happy closet with me, I know that your aim, like mine, is to have a curated collection of clothing rather than a random mishmash of shoddy fast-fashion. This maxi (Your Favorite!! :P) is worth considering not only from a style perspective, but from a health and long-term beauty perspective. It is a great example of the benefits of choosing “quality over quantity” regarding our clothing purchases, and definitely deserves a place in your happy closet. :) I'll be posting soon with outfit ideas for styling with this type of maxi.
Going forward, I am excited for the opportunity to be a Summerskin affiliate! This brand combines two of my favorite things, sun protection AND fun fashion, and I can wholeheartedly recommend them. While this dress was provided to me free of charge, I have also purchased several other things from Summerskin independently that I will be reviewing soon. :) As always, all opinions are my own.
Linking up with Throwback Thursday, Paula's No Rules Blog Hop, Funtastic Friday, Link-It To Me, Wednesday Showcase, Motivation Monday, Elegantly Fashionable, Style Me Wednesday, and Watcha Wearing Wednesday.