What We’re Wearing To The Beach This Summer
The essential items we’re packing for our vacations (bucket and spade aside).
It is here, we have arrived in the most wonderful time of the year, the time of swim shorts and sunglasses, rosé and rays. Yes, we are knee-deep in holiday season, which means: beach time. Sure, you want to kick back and relax, but the dunes are as much about show as play, so choose your clothes with care.
To help you find the perfect beachware, we asked the MR PORTER staff for the clothes they’ll be making a splash in this summer.
I might have grown up beside the seaside, but that doesn’t mean I had much chance to develop any kind of beachy style prowess – the Costa del Cleethorpes is not exactly known for its sartorial savoir-faire. What my formative years spent by the sea did teach me however, was that the key to dressing well for the beach is versatility. In other words, the best summer holiday investments are the ones that will look good on the sand (or by the pool) as well as away from it, and that’s the basis for what I’ve chosen here. This Prada polo shirt has a pleasingly vintage appeal that’ll look great with these classic D-frame sunglasses from Saint Laurent – the brand’s shades are invariably comfortable. I also want some sharp swimming shorts that will pass for something smarter when I’m not by a body of water, and this two-tone pair from Saturdays NYC fits the bill rather nicely. So, there you have it: versatility, plus a summer outfit that will look good everywhere from the local chippy to the Amalfi Coast. Sadly, I have no immediate plans to go to Italy for the summer, but at least I’ll be dressed the part for when I do.
Fortune favours the bold, and this summer I’ll be boldly chopping an inch or two off the length of my swim shorts. I’ve been motivated to do so after buying a pair of 1970s-style – read: skimpy – running shorts from Tracksmith, which reveal an unfortunate mid-thigh tan line that I developed last winter. (Seriously, it looks as if my legs have been dip-dyed.) These swim shorts by Thom Browne should go some way to correcting the problem. As for the rest, I’ll need a couple of white polo shirts (Ralph Lauren), a pair of leather slides (Bottega Venet), sunglasses (Cutler And Gross) and a towel. Never forget the towel.
The beach is a place of play and display. A chance to delve into aquamarine waters and play biff-bat on the shore, a place to indulge the childlike voice that still exists within us all. But people watch you. Especially if you are in Southern Italy, where I am going. It is one long beauty parade and I have discovered, after intensive study, that if you wear a pair of shorts, rather than briefs on the beach you are cocking a snook at local custom. So I am taking the plunge with this pair from Orlebar Brown. I will be wearing them with these Fendi espadrilles, which, quite frankly, could charm the birds from the trees, so beautiful are they. And then I’ll top the ensemble off with a pair of sunglasses from Oliver Peoples. Ciao bello, no?
On the beach, I keep it simple. While everyone else is careering around, hitting, chasing, riding and splashing things, I sit back and relax. People-watching behind a good pair of sunglasses is an underrated pastime – I love the retro feel of these Gucci D-frames. A flattering pair of swim shorts is essential, too, when I do decide to dip my toes in. This bold pair by Missoni will look good against my darkening tan, plus they are mid-length. When I’ve put my book down, I’ll grab an ice-cold beer, a suitable adversary and settle down with this beautiful backgammon set by Smythson. As for where I’ll be doing all of this, it’ll be India or Sri Lanka this year. I can’t decide.
There’s a careful balance with a vacation wardrobe between dressing the part and looking as if you’re playing a part. You want to look and feel appropriate for dropping anchor in Capri, Mykonos or St Tropez – a tad nautical, perhaps – but you also need to avoid looking like Osgood Fielding III, the old boy who sails off with Mr Tony Curtis at the end of Some Like It Hot. Navy and white do make good holiday companions, however: the white shows off the tan, the navy mutes the sunburn and masks the crab linguine that slipped down your front at lunch. Orlebar Brown is my go-to beach brand as its designs, fabrics and fit see you comfortably from deck to disco. And a pair of bleached blue Castañer canvas espadrilles always slip out of your suitcase and onto your feet with consummate ease.
I always feel a bit braver when it comes to dressing on beach holidays. Maybe it’s because everything looks better with a tan, or maybe it’s because of all the afternoon cocktails. Either way, it makes a nice change from my uniform of muted clothes. I’m headed to Croatia for a long weekend and am planning to pack a condensed wardrobe of versatile pieces. During the day I’ll be pairing these Dunhill swim shorts with this Albam camp-collar shirt, which is cut with a loose fit so will work just as well as an overshirt. I’ve never really liked feet, and although there is nothing particularly wrong with mine I feel more comfortable in espadrilles than in sandals. These tan suede ones by Bottega Veneta are so soft I’ll struggle to take them off.
This summer, rather than heading off to the beach for some much-needed R&R, I have decided to do the polar opposite and head to the beach for a festival – I can catch up on sleep on the return flight, right? There’s nothing worse than going to a party with your friends and losing them in the mist of glitter and sequins, so this bold, graphic cotton rugby shirt from Polo Ralph Lauren will ensure I am always eye-catching in a crowd. I’ll pair it with these Gucci swim shorts, which are made from nylon so will dry nice and quickly, easing the transition from beach to bar. My final holiday essential is a pair of shades. Not only will these Cubitts sunglasses protect my eyes from the sun (and look great whilst doing so) but they’ll also help shield my eyes from the technicolour lighting come nightfall. Now my wardrobe is sorted, I guess it’s time to prepare my body!
If the angry shade of red it turns is anything to go, my skin does not appear to enjoy being in the sun quite as much as I do. So, industrial-strength sun cream is a must when I’m heading to the beach. Come to think of it, for a man with a pale complexion, spending time on a large expanse of sand in searing heat is as much an exercise in survival as it is about relaxation. So my second pick is a bucket hat for 360-degree, portable shade. Third? A corkscrew, of course. Because once you’ve splashed about in the sea for a bit and read your book from cover to cover, there is little else to do but have a drink.
Illustrations by Mr Joe McKendry