Best alternative dresses 2022: Red to Dryrobe

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If you’ve ever tried to change into a bathing suit on a crowded beach with an awkward little towel, you’ll appreciate how handy the best alternative dresses can be. Spare dresses were originally designed to keep surfers warm after emerging from the sea in cold climates – providing shelter while changing wetsuits. But you don’t have to be a water sports pro to benefit from the latest changing dress designs. For anyone who loves the great outdoors, changing robes are quickly becoming as essential to your capsule wardrobe as a hat, raincoat and swimsuit.

Whether walking the dog, camping or for use after swimming, the surf poncho style robe will protect you from the elements. The latest designs can keep you dry and cocooned when temperatures drop. They have large, handy zippered pockets to hold everyday items like your phone, wallet and keys and give you quick access to your headphones and water bottle. And if you’re wondering why a dressing gown can sometimes make you look like a walking sleeping bag, it’s because it’s designed to be purposely oversized so you can discreetly change clothes while you’re wearing them.

That said, you can find a growing selection of online boutique brands offering remarkably chic bathrobe designs that can keep you looking effortlessly cool when the surf is up. We could go so far as to say that some of the sleeker and more stylish parka designs won’t look out of place in a casual urban environment either.

“Switching over bathrobes is epic and we’ve even used them in the past to slow down hyperthermia during a paddleboard race,” says Savior Aquilina of The Sup Store. “The best designs are lightweight and comfortable to wear and will keep swimmers dry after they get out of the water. I find them invaluable in both summer and winter as they will save your dignity when changing or removing your wet clothes in public.

“They come in so many styles and colors that you can find a range of designs with an attractive fit and finish that are as comfortable to wear as your regular coat. Besides keeping my bathrobe handy by the shore, I wear it as an outer layer for walking the dog on cool, early mornings. It keeps me warm and makes me feel like I’m still in bed and wrapped up in my duvet! The waterproof finish also makes it ideal when it rains.

What is the best dressing gown in 2022?

Just like choosing an ordinary coat, it takes a keen eye to search for the most stylish bathrobe. There are plenty of designs to choose from, but we’ve set the stage to narrow down the best shift dresses for 2022 and rounded them up in the GQ edit below. To make things a little easier, we’ve highlighted three of our favorites here:

Best Overall Change Dress: We admire the luxurious finish of Bathrobe EVO Red Original (£149.95), which has a soft, moisture-wicking fleece lining, stretch side panels for easy changing and a breathable, waterproof outer shell. It is available in a range of attractive colorways including Parker Green, Teal and Hawaiian Blue.

Best Lightweight Dress: While its Sherpa fleece lining is warm and the waterproof exterior will keep you dry, the Passenger “Escapism” Recycled Sherpa Lined Bathrobe (£119.95) feels comfortably light and easy to wear. It’s also available in a selection of on-trend shades, including the season’s must-have Rust finish.

Passenger Escapism Recycled Sherpa Lined Changing Robe

Passenger Escape Changing Robe

Best Premium Bathrobe: Despite being on the higher price scale at £199, the Vivida All-Weather Quilted Bathrobe looks great as a smart, casual performance coat, which looks just as good in town as it does on the coast.

Vivida all-weather down jacket

Vivida All-Weather Quilted Bathrobe

£199

Vivida all-weather down jacket

What to look for when choosing a replacement dress:

The best changing gowns are made from warm, waterproof materials that are sustainably sourced. Pay attention to these design details when finding your perfect fit:

Poncho or parka style: Do you want to be able to put on and take off your dressing gown like you would a coat? Or maybe you prefer a poncho towel that you can throw over your head and forget about? There are models suitable for both. Look for stretchy side panels or ones that open completely to make it easier for you to change clothes while wearing one.

Sleeve length: Think about when you plan to use your bathrobe the most, as this will help you decide which style you prefer. If you only want to use it on the beach – summer or winter – short sleeves may be more appealing. If you want to stay warm during winter open water swims, long sleeves may be a better fit. If you opt for a robe with long sleeves, look for adjustable cuffs that give you extra protection when the elements hit.

Cut: When trying on the latest shift dresses, we noticed the sizing was very generous, so keep that in mind when choosing your perfect fit. Some brands only offer one-size-fits-all styles, but if you have a choice, check the sizes carefully and don’t necessarily go for the size you would normally choose for a standard jacket or robe. If you’re normally a size large, you might be surprised that a medium looks and feels better.

Large pockets: Whether it’s for a hot water bottle, water bottle, keys, snacks, wallet, dry bag or phone, many models have interior and exterior pockets. Some designs have pockets that include a hole to run your headphone wire through, which can come in handy if you don’t have an AirPod and want to listen to your music on the go.

Waterproof qualities: The best changing dresses are both waterproof and windproof to protect you from the elements and have soft, warm linings. Look for “moisture wicking liners” that will not only feel great against the skin, but will keep you as dry as possible after you emerge from the water, conch in hand.

Shop GQ’s selection of the best alternative dresses below

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