Bed Coats & Kimono Cardigans for Summertime Sun Armor

Obviously, sunscreen is the most important part of your outdoor experience during the summer. But no matter how much sunblock you glob onto your arms and shoulders, it doesn’t keep the sun from beating down directly onto your skin like a blanket made of bees. Covering up is coincidentally crucial in the summertime, and while sweaters and jackets are out of the question, silk robes and bed coats aka “kimono cardigans” are the perfect weight.

These kimono cardigans, called that because of the loose sleeves and and length which are similar to a Japanese kimono, may seem like they’re meant to be worn exclusively on the trip between your bed and shower, but let me tell you – there’s something extremely glamorous about wearing one of these sheer or silk robes as an alternative to a cardigan or jacket. I’m pretty sure that every time I wear one, I invoke the spirit of Liz Taylor and gravitate towards blue eyeshadow and false lashes.

Kimonos are most commonly worn closed, and use a type of belt called an obi to tie them closed with a beautiful wrapping technique and even more beautiful knot at the back. I sort of hate that these popular sheer bathrobes are being tied to the word “kimono” because they really have very, very few things in common, but if that’s how people identify them, that’s a tough road to divert. We can start by calling them “robes” or “bed coats” instead of kimonos, yeah? Yeah.

I first fell for a sheer robe when I stumbled across a shorter, hip-length, floral robe from Gilligan & O’Malley – arguably Target’s best in-house lingerie brand.

Gilligan & O'Malley Sheer Robe

In the above photo, I have my sheer robe closed because bra review, and I find the ability to tie the robe shut a huge reason to check out actual bathrobes in the sleepwear section on your quest to find the perfect, lightweight, summer outerwear. But I admit that I struggle with finding logical ways to wear it open that don’t involve “spaghetti strap tank top” or “crop top.” Everything else just feels… not right.

It’s sheer, so your skin is shows through – that’s the fun part about wearing sheer fabrics, right? Sadly, that also means that you have to consider how your under-things are going to look through the sheer overlay. Embellished tees or sweaters are definitely off the table due to texture incompatibility, so what does that leave us with? T-shirts, sleeveless tops, and… bras? (Though, a cute, longer-length bralette would be kind of amazing under a sheer robe.)

Billabong Salty Wavez Kimono, $45.46
Billabong Salty Wavez Kimono, $45.46

Crop tops are already becoming more comfortable for me, but I think that combining the skin-baring look with a bed coat – designed deliberately to cover up skin – would add another layer of security and comfort to the whole crop top idea.

If I had to pick one item that was probably perfect to wear with a bed coat, I’d probably gravitate towards a basic, pretty slip dress. That’s the feminine option, whereas the practical option I’m most likely to wear probably includes a little tank top and some well-fitting skinny jeans with boots. I have a feeling that’s going to be my summer-to-fall-transition uniform.

Full Tilt Floral Kimono Cardigan, $27.97
Full Tilt Floral Kimono Cardigan, $27.97

The different styles of kimono cardigans are seemingly endless, which means (to be cliché) there’s something for everyone. I am a huge sucker for velvet burnout and embroidery – anything that looks like an heirloom. But I also love the basic, minimal styles that are solid colored with only a small pattern, not eye-catching or flashy. So… I either like my bed coats flashy and extravagant or minimalist and basically unnoticeable. Makes sense.

…And then there’s the fringe element. Embellishments include everything from short tassels at the hip to long, jellyfish-like strings that reach the floor. I haven’t taken the plunge into fringe yet, and I think I’m going to wait a little bit longer, but I can’t deny now naturally whimsical it looks at the openings of a bed coat.

Where to find bed coats & kimono cardigans?

Right now – everywhere. If you’re looking for this boho-chic style of garment, you can definitely check any of the trend-loving stores around the internet and mall. Just in case you, like me, are probably going to love this lingerie-turned-casual-wear classic, a good spot to consistently look in is the sleepwear & lingerie sections. I have found lots of great bed coats, including the one I wore in the photo above, in the clearance section for under $10.

You’ll find some actual bathrobes, of course, but the number of bed coats that deserve to be seen by the public is staggering. Help liberate beautiful lingerie by wearing it – this is literally the most modest way to do it!

Probably watching Netflix.