Dress Code: What To Wear To The Beach This Summer

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Dress Code: What To Wear To The Beach This Summer

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge | Photography by Mr Jack Grange | Styling by Ms Otter Jezamin Hatchett

19 July 2021

What should you wear to the beach? We’ll say this up front: it doesn’t really matter. A day at the beach is, by definition, a day off. Unless you work as a lifeguard, that is, in which case you already know what to wear. As such, your choice of outfit is not something to fret over. Plus, there are those who would claim that the beach is fashion’s last frontier: the one public space where nobody really cares how you’re dressed.

With that being said, we are a style publication, and it would be remiss of us to not point out the many opportunities for adventurous, expressive and downright fun dressing that a trip to the beach presents. It’s not just a case of endless variations on swim shorts and sandals, either. The beach is not one place but a broad term that incorporates an incredibly diverse range of environments, from sun-drenched to windswept, boujee to bohemian, with each demanding a subtly different approach. Here are just five sandy style scenarios.

01.

The city beach

Beaches located in waterfront cities have a uniquely urban quality and tend to draw a more fashion-conscious crowd. Anyone who has visited Barcelona, for instance, will have seen first-hand how the locals blend traditional beach attire with something that feels much closer to streetwear. That’s the inspiration for this high-concept beach outfit consisting of a swim shorts and bucket hat combo from Dries Van Noten, logo T-shirt from JW Anderson and rubber beach slides from Bottega Veneta. The finishing touch? Bold, square-framed sunglasses from LOEWE’s long-standing collaboration with the legendary Ibiza boutique, Paula’s.

02.

The backpacker beach

The “bohemian backpacker” look is an easy one to get wrong; too many articles of tie-dye and you’ll end up looking like a caricature. (Or, worse, an actual backpacker.) We’ve played it safe here by focusing on brands with serious style credentials, such as Camp High, KAPITAL, Stüssy, visvim, WTAPS and Neighborhood. We’ve also played with a variety of patterns: the Ikat print of the swim shorts, tie-dye of the hoodie and leopard print of the baseball cap keep things from feeling too one-note.

03.

The adventure beach

Sure, swim shorts and flip-flops might do the job at a Mediterranean resort, but the same getup will leave you feeling decidedly underdressed on the wild and windy beaches of northern Scotland, our inspiration for this outdoor-themed look. The answer? Layer up. We’ve opted for a long-sleeved tee from LA streetwear brand PARADISE worn under a breathable linen-blend shirt from cult Japanese outerwear brand And Wander, and a pair of fast-drying recycled nylon swim shorts from Patagonia, should you wish to take an icy dip. Trail running shoes from Nike offer steady footing while exploring the craggy coastline.

04.

The boujee beach

Amid all this talk of beaches being places where nobody cares what you wear, it’s worth pointing out that, in certain cases, this isn’t exactly true. An upmarket beach resort – the sort that’s open only to guests of the adjacent five-star hotel, or those willing to pay a hefty fee to rent a sunlounger – is hardly the place for those faded, baggy swim shorts your significant other has been nudging you to dispose of for years. Instead, we’d recommend turning the dial up – just a little, mind – with a few touches of luxury. Try a pyjama-like shirt from SMR Days, a tote bag from TOM FORD and some subtle jewellery (or a fine watch) on the wrist.

05.

The tropical beach

A lazy day spent on a tropical beach asks very little of your wardrobe. Indeed, the only thing you really need to worry about here is the risk of being overdressed, and we’ve put this easy look together with that in mind. There’s very little more than the bare minimum here: sandals from Birkenstock, sunglasses from Cubitts, tonally coordinated swim shorts and shirt from Faherty and Mr P., respectively, and a tote bag from Onia stuffed with a few basic necessities, including a towel and beach ball set from Frescobol Carioca. The one flourish? A beaded necklace from Roxanne Assoulin that echoes the sea-blue shades of the swim shorts and shirt.