I live a few miles from the beach in extremely sunny South Florida. I grew up here as well, back in the days when we went to the beach every weekend and slathered baby oil all over our bodies to get a deep dark tan. Or a bright pink burn.

For the last 15 or so years, I’ve been extremely diligent about wearing sunscreen. EVERY DAY. And I’m happy with how my skin looks. I wish I had started using sunscreen earlier but I also wish that I had bought Apple stock a few years back. Some things you just can’t change.

Last month, a large portion of my immediate, and not so immediate family, took up residence on a North Carolina beach for an entire week. That means 7 days on the beach for at least 6 hours a day. In the hot, strong Carolina sun. My kids and I went prepared with a variety of sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and UV protection swimshirts. (My husband, with his damaged, former lifeguard Polish skin, primarily stays inside and cooks for all of us.)

But the best skin saving item that I brought to the beach was given to me by my sister-in-law a few weeks prior when we were visiting in Colorado together. It’s a ruched swim-shirty, cover-up kind of thing that she ordered from Athleta.com. One for her and one for me. Both in black. It’s long-sleeved, fitted, has a partial zip front and sides that can be cinched to adjust the length from that of a shirt to a short dress. And the material gives you 50+ UPF protection which means that it blocks 98% of the UV radiation.

Plus it looks really cute.

She and I wore them together on our first day at the beach and got many compliments. Sitting by the edge of the water, wearing wide brimmed black hats and large sunglasses, we laughed at the fact that we could pass for old Sicilian widows. And later, walking down the beach, we figured we could also wear them as short dresses, pair them with some high heels and go night clubbing. If we were ever to go clubbing.

Come to think of it, if you added a black latex hood, a pair of gloves and a whip, you could have a dominatrix outfit. If you’re in to that sort of thing.

A three-in-one item : sun protection, night clubbing and bondage. Such versatility!