Lifeguard apparel is made to be layered to suit the weather; it starts with a swimsuit. Shorts, a t-shirt, and a hooded sweat jacket may be layered on top of swimwear designed for lifeguards, but these pieces must be easy to remove in case of an emergency to allow the lifeguard to get into the water quickly. Pull-on pants such as drawstring waist sweatpants with the word "lifeguard" on one of the legs or the rear are also available, but don't tend to be worn as much as different styles of shorts. Red is one of the most popular colors of lifeguard apparel; white, blue, black, gray, yellow, and orange are also worn by many lifesaving professionals.
A red cross or the word "guard" or "lifeguard" often appears on clothing especially designed for lifesaving professionals. In addition to swimsuits, shorts, t-shirts, sweat jackets, and sweatpants, hats and slip-on footwear are commonly worn types of lifeguard apparel. Slip-on beach shoes allow the lifeguard to be able to kick them off quickly when they need to enter the water during an emergency. Common types of lifeguard hats include cloth baseball-type caps as well as straw or nylon brimmed hat styles.
In general, lifeguards wear modern, yet conservative swimwear. Female lifeguards may wear a two piece swimsuit, but the pieces aren't revealing at the chest or rear. Male lifeguards typically wear swim trunks that are the length of shorts rather than briefs. Single colors with a cross or "lifeguard" graphic as well as suits with sporty stripe accents are popular swimwear looks for beach or poolside duty.
Board shorts are lifeguard apparel worn by both men and women. These are longer, slimmer shorts that usually have a drawstring waist and are made of a soft material such as cotton jersey. Wearing necklaces or other jewelry is often not permitted for lifeguards to wear on duty. Instead, a whistle on a rope or cord is worn by lifeguards to signal warnings to swimmers. Some lifeguard apparel companies sell whistles in different colors to coordinate with their clothing.
Rain ponchos or jackets with hoods are sometimes worn by lifeguards who work in rainy or windy conditions. Many beach lifeguards have other responsibilities besides supervising swimmers from a tall chair. They must ensure the beach is kept free of debris as well as post signs with rules for swimmers to follow. All lifeguard apparel is made to be worn in layers as needed, from a swimsuit to a rain poncho.