Gaze-activated light-up dresses, tweeting frocks, body-shaping jeans…oh, and ultraviolet protective clothing. Right, that last one, which we so often forget about, is the sleeper hit of wearable tech. It’s been here all along, The New York Times reminds us today, even if the charm of its utility gets forgotten about in the face of the flashier (sometimes literally) services of other technologically-enhanced garb.
UPF clothes — garments are UPF, sunscreen is SPF — are designed to do exactly as it sounds: protect their wearers from ultraviolet rays. A plain t-shirt has a protective factor of about 5; clothing made with a specific tight weave, primarily in synthetic fabric, or treated with certain chemicals or dyes, offers a much higher protective factor, usually between 20 and 100.
Brands devoted to sun protection that have launched within the past couple years include Mott 50, Parasol, and Cover (all pretty fashionable and consequently a little pricier than some of the UV protective sportswear already out there). Mainstream companies who offer sun-damage-preventing garments within their general collections include J. Crew, Nike, and Patagonia (which sells UPF clothing in a range of protective factors, from 20 to 50). Gap Inc.’s sports-leaning site, Athleta, has a multi-brand category devoted to sun protective clothing. There’s even a literally-named site, UPFclothing.org, peddling a number of the more sports-leaning UPF clothing lines.
Since sun protective clothing is suddenly so stylish, we picked our favorite pool-side, UV-blocking looks: