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Beach Outfits: How to Dress Appropriately for the Beach

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Warm summer weather entails sunny days perfect for heading out to the beach, taking a dip in the ocean with the bright sun out, relaxing on the sand and watching the waves crash on the shore, and maybe even partaking in some fun watersports. With all that in mind, planning what to pack and wear can always be a bit of a task, no matter if you’re an avid beach-goer or planning a once in a lifetime, major moment trip. 

Aside from the essential swimsuit, bikini, swim trunks, and of course, sun protection, you might be stumped on what beach items you need to bring with you on your vacation, how to look good on days that transition from hot afternoons to cool and windy evenings, and how to dress up for possibly a night out in the hotel or resort. We’ve got a few beach outfit ideas for men and women as well as other tips for what you should bring for style under the sun to ensure that this beach vacation will be unforgettable.

How Can I Look Stylish on the Beach?

For many people who are used to cold and gloomy weather, packing and thinking of beach outfits can be a bit tricky. Wearing a denim jacket and trainers to the beach doesn’t sound very tropical or comfortable at all, but wearing a plain shirt over a simple pair of shorts throughout your vacation, while comfortable, doesn’t exactly scream style or beach fun. If you’re in the mood to immerse yourself in the vacation theme, here are some pieces you can incorporate into your beach look and that will make you feel breezy and cute all summer long.

What Should Ladies Wear to the Beach?

Classic Cover-Up

When you’re making your way to the beach from your resort or hotel, don’t just go for a pair of denim shorts and a shirt to cover up your swimsuit. Instead, opt for a cute cover-up that doubles as an outfit in itself while also being a much more practical option. 

If you were to go for the denim shorts and shirt look, popping these back on to head for lunch right after you’ve gone for a swim will feel uncomfortable, won’t dry right, and will look strange when it’s soaked. But if you go for a loose, dress-like cover-up or two-piece crop top and skirt instead, not only are these easier to throw on over your wet swimsuit, but they also dry significantly faster and make for an outfit that’s much more suitable for casual beach fashion. 

If you plan on going sightseeing, island-hopping, or going to a beach-side party at night, this look can easily be dressed up with gold jewellery and a strappy pair of sandals.

Playful Accessories

Even if you are wearing a plainer outfit for practicality’s sake, that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Accessories can do wonders to make a minimal yet fun summer-by-the-beach look, and you can style them with almost anything. A patterned bucket hat or sun hat paired with a triangle bikini top and shorts is both protective and eye-catching, and you can also opt for jewellery like anklets and statement earrings to pair with and add life to a simple bikini top and bottom matching set or your favourite one-piece swimsuit for a day spent on the beach. 

These are also great for turning your evening outfit into something a lot more interesting and complete, and we think you should always bring a couple of statement pieces that can be just as practical on the sand and under the sun.

High-Waisted Wide-Leg Pants/Trousers

Whether it’s for an afternoon on the sand or a date night in a restaurant by the shore, an airy pair of flowy high-waisted pants/trousers are an essential summer wardrobe pick to wear at the beach. 

For wearing it in the daytime, we think this would be a great option as an alternative to a cover-up, creating a cute fashion look when partnered with a bikini bra top or worn over a one-piece swimsuit, and you can complete the look by adding some simple accessories. For the evening, this can be part of a laidback beach outfit when worn with a cropped blouse and statement earrings.

Maxi Skirt or Maxi Dress

For a super romantic summer and beach outfit, you can never go wrong with a good maxi dress or maxi skirt. Beach-wear is all about comfort and ease, and there’s nothing better than pieces that are basically already full beach outfits in themselves. 

We think a tie-dye maxi dress is a super cute option to go for that also saves a lot of suitcase space, as you can throw it over your swimsuit or bikini as a cover-up or wear it throughout the day as a casual dress that’s perfect for the hot summer weather. Maxi skirts serve a similar purpose, and these look incredibly cute when paired with your favourite bikini or one-piece swimsuit for a beach day.

What Should Men Wear to the Beach?

Linen Button-Down Shirt

While you might think men have fewer fashion options than women for the beach, think again. There are many different ways men can upgrade their beach-side style, with the first upgrade being to replace plain t-shirts with a linen or cotton button-down. 

These shirts are perfect for the beach, as their crisp and airy material keep you feeling cool all day, and they also make for a practical cover-up before and after swimming. Packing these definitely keeps your luggage light as you can wear them for both day and night, so keep that in mind for your next vacation.

White Tank

The beach is the perfect place to ditch tops altogether, and when you do have to put on one, nothing feels or looks better than a white tank. This is a great summer fixture to wear because of its lightness, and are so simple that you can style them however you want. 

You can even dress these up for a casual night out, so you can style these with a pair of loose drawstring or elephant pants/trousers to truly give your beach outfit true tropical vibes.

Bucket Hat

We love an accessory that is both useful and good-looking, and bucket hats are definitely vacation must-haves in that regard.  Not only are they more protective than caps thanks to their all-around brim, but they are also effortlessly fashionable and make any beach outfit look cooler. 

This summer-wear essential can be worn on and off the beach, and you can dress it up with a polo and loose trousers in the evening to complete a down-to-earth yet stylish outfit.

Relaxed Fit Shorts

Switch out your denim cut-offs for shorts that are way more comfortable and look way more designer. Wide leg, high waisted shorts are a very fashionable look no matter where you’re going, and they’re the perfect way to make your outfit look effortlessly cool without even having to style it. 

Wide leg shorts are the best option you can go for when it comes to the beach and give you the same ease as a women’s skirt, as they can easily be put on and off even if you’re soaking wet from taking a dip. While these are already pretty good-looking on their own, you can dress these up even further for a night out by pairing them with a button-down top.

Fun Sandals

Yet another practical piece, you won’t have to pack an extra pair of footwear with you as long as you have these. Sandals are the most practical shoes you can bring with you to the beach, as you can wear them on the sand, in the water, for a hike, and even to a party. 

While you can go for a plain pair to style with your beach outfits better, we think a more colourful or interesting pair is an easy way to upgrade your look and can dress up an otherwise understated outfit to look a whole lot more fun.

What Do I Wear to a Beach Party?

While you might have been to a number of parties in the city, dressing up for a beach party can call for a total wardrobe change. It’s best to stay away from tight pants or jeans which are a bit out of place in such a setting and can also make you feel a lot warmer in an already warm climate. 

We recommend you opt instead for looser clothing that lets the cool air in and lets your skin breathe so you can dance without restriction, as well as open-toe shoes so you can easily take them off and carry them in your hand in case you find yourself walking by the water. 

We definitely think that flowy dresses, skirts, or trousers are great for women to wear, while airy button-downs, stylish shorts, and a cool hat can make a man’s party outfit look as cool as it’s comfortable.

Final Note

A stylish beach outfit might not be your number one concern on vacation, but it can certainly bring an added layer of fun to your trip. And no matter what your style, these tips and articles of clothing can definitely help make your vacation feel a little more hassle-free thanks to their usefulness and duality when it comes to styling. 

So for your next trip, keep these items in mind so you don’t have to pack more than you need while also knowing that you’ll look good in every one of them.

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Katie Davies

Katie Davies lives in Gloucestershire with her two young children. Katie juggles working life alongside duties at home but has found an escape through the world of clothing. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her thoughts on the latest in womenswear.

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