Warm Weather Fashion Essential – The “Sun Shirt”

Today, I took a nearly four mile walk in 87 degree temps (accounting for humidity) and wore a long sleeved shirt.

I’m sure by now you’re thinking to yourself WTF? Yes, I really wore a long-sleeved shirt – but it was a long-sleeved shirt with a specific “job” to do – keep the sun off my skin. I wore what is commonly referred to in the fashion industry as a “sun shirt.” Such animals typically have a SPF factor of about 50, and are also breathable – and moisture-wicking. Some are more dressy looking than others – they might have utility pockets on the front, and come in plaids, patterns and solids – and either short or long-sleeved.

Aside from aesthetics, the moisture-wicking and breathability are especially important – if you’re like me and plan to be outside when the weather is warm and sunny. And also important, if you’re like me – and tend to get a little  “moist” when you’re exercising outside when it’s warm. Sunblock never works quite like you want it to –  add to that the sweat factor, and you’ll probably start thinking:

Why bother? I think I’ll just stay in the A/C until Labor Day, or when weather cools off – whichever comes first.

You might have to make some fashion “sacrifices” when you’re really getting yourself hot and bothered with outdoor exercise when it’s warm and humid. Behold:


Me in my super fashionable hiking ensemble – sun shirt, moisture-wicking cargo shorts, sun visor – at Moore’s Knob in North Carolina in 2011. I really liked that REI visor – it never pinched my forehead too much (maybe I will get another one of those). Moore’s Knob is 2,579 feet high, which is not anywhere near as high as Mount Mitchell, NC’s highest peak at 6,684 feet.


I’ve had a couple of different brands of “sun shirts” – The REI brand – and Columbia. I prefer the Columbia shirts (sleeve lengths are more generous – I’m a tall person, so that’s kind of important). I recently scored one from the clearance rack where I work and only wound up paying about $3 for it (retail price was $75). That’s the shirt I wore today – with the second to the top two buttons buttoned (to cover my neck and chest) and the collar flipped up to protect my neck. Yes, I was super fashionable (not)!  Bonus? This shirt is men’s tall size – so the sleeves and body are super long. My shirt is similar to this one – it’s this color, but not this same exact model:


These densely-woven shirts tend to keep bugs from biting fairly well (I should know). I like to spray “key” zones with DEET spray, such as sleeves and the back of the collar. I’ve had no problems spraying Deep Woods OFF! on Columbia or REI sun shirts, though it’s always best to “test” the fabric you’re spraying in a non-conspicuous spot.

Some Other “Warm Weather Essentials” (For Men/Women)

  • Loose moisture-wicking pants, capris, shorts
  • Linen/linen blend shorts/pants/skirts (be sure you have an iron/ironing board and someone to iron for you if you’re like me and allergic to ironing)
  • Moisture wicking “base” layers – underpants, bras, camisoles, etc. Camisoles with built-in shelf bras are great for women who don’t necessarily need steel-belted radial grade “bounce” protection. I used to have a couple of these that I absolutely ADORED in warm weather.
  • Hat/visor to shield face/eyes from the sun’s rays
  • Decent sunglasses
  • Sandals that are actually comfortable to walk in

What are you waiting for? Go out shopping and buy all of this stuff right now! 🙂

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