Traditionally, rash guards were meant to be worn relatively tight and close to the skin—that’s how they prevent chafing without adding drag during active water sports. However, rash guards are worn for more than surfing these days! When selecting the fit, the most important thing to consider is what the different styles can do for you
If you want a rash guard for surfing, open water swimming, climbing or any demanding sport or activity, a tighter performance fit is not just preferable, it may be a matter of safety. You do not want a loose or baggy rash guard that could get caught in your equipment or even under your body. Anything that could hinder your movement or snag on something is a liability when you are depending on your gear and mobility for safety.
Alternatively, if you simply want the superior sun protection provided by a full-coverage rash guard, you have the option of wearing a rash guard with the fit of a regular T-shirt. These are comfy, and fine for splashing around at the beach or pool, taking the kids canoeing, or even just mowing the lawn. Rash guards wick moisture and dry quickly, making T-shirt style rash guards ideal for low-impact water activities or particularly sweaty chores.
When you purchase a rash guard, avoid “unisex” styles. Specifically, because rash guards are meant to stay in place and prevent chafing, they should be cut properly to accommodate the body inside them. If you prefer androgynous style, achieve your look through features and color—a rash guard must be proportioned for broad shoulders or a bust, or the underarms could chafe painfully.
Look for lightweight materials that will be comfortable out of the water, and a sleeve length that suits your needs and taste. Always look for flatlock seams in your rash guards. This important feature provides a further guard against chafing; flatlock seams moves with the body and keep your shirt flat against your skin
If you are wondering if rash guard are supposed to be tight more because you are unsure of how your bathing ensemble should look, we can answer those questions, too! While you can choose whatever fit you prefer, we recommend the tighter performance fit for swimwear. It’s comfortable, more in keeping with current swimwear styles, and feels better in the water. If you want a rash guard for modesty, you will find that even a performance fit is not unduly clingy or revealing. I, a plus-size woman, regularly wear a close-fitting rash guard with bikini bottoms in lieu of a traditional swimsuit. It provides superior, dependable sun protection, and allows me to concentrate on my child rather than keeping my bosom tucked into the deep-V one pieces I tend to go for.
I mention my personal preferences because I want you to think about rash guard ensembles as just one more option in your swimwear wardrobe. This isn’t an either/or proposition. Your bathing suit drawer might contain a teeny bikini for vacation, a tankini for swimming laps, a swim dress for pool parties, and several mix-and-match rash guard ensembles for sun protection. Making rash guards part of your swimwear wardrobe is always a great idea! The certainly are sensible and protective, but they are also cute and comfy.
If you were wondering, “Are rash guards supposed to be tight?” the short answer is, “Usually.” The most important thing is to be comfortable. Wear the rash guard that helps you look and feel your best so that you can concentrate on enjoying the fun, active lifestyle we all deserve.