Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Six Pieces to Bring on Resort Trips

Dear Belle,

I’m headed to a tropical resort for a few days next month (lucky me!) and I don’t really know what to wear. I even tried Googling “resort wear” and got page after page of boxy, shiny, awful and overpriced stuff.

So what do I buy? Can I shop my closet? Do I really need to wear a shiny jacket with teal flowers all over it? Or maxi dresses, which make me look stumpy?

If it helps, I’m petite, early 30s, and my usual style is classic and a bit retro/vintagey.

Not a Boca Matron

Dear Not a Boca Matron,

I was initially so jealous of your upcoming trip that I was hesitant to help you.  After all, I will be trapped in my cube without sunlight or love until November.  But alas, I wouldn’t want to leave one of my readers in a lurch and have her wind up looking like Magda from “There’s Something About Mary,” so here are the six pieces that every girl needs to hit the resorts.

A Swimsuit Cover

When talking about cover-ups, you have two options: you can buy one or make one.  This black and white printed wrap is light and fun but also a bit chic (Dillard’s, $78). Also, never spend more than $100 on a cover-up unless you live near the beach because you will never get the wear out of it.

If you prefer to make one, steal one of your boyfriend’s white button ups and add a rope/braided/string belt.  It looks effortlessly chic, like a 1970s beach babe.  Why try too hard? You’re at the beach.

White Jeans

White denim is a warm weather necessity.  Think of it as the basic black pant but for summertime.  They can be worn over a swimsuit for a casual lunch or with a sequined top and cardi for a nice dinner on the beach.  I prefer a flare leg style like these Ginger jeans by Seven for All Mankind.

The Short Easy Jersey Dress

This jersey wrap by Velvet (ShopBop, $152) is kind of the dress that you can throw in an overnight bag and take with you anywhere.  If you prefer something a little more casual to the wrap style, try this puffed sleeve mini-dress

Stylish Sandals

A metallic sandal is a stylish addition to any resort wardrobe.  They can be worn during the day and at night, so it eliminates clutter in the suitcase.  These rose gold sandals by Frye caught my eye, but if you want something more casual, a huarache is always in style

The Long Dress

You’re problem thinking, “Belle, what do you mean two dresses?”  Allow me to explain.  When I’m on vacation, I like ease and comfort.  Nothing is easier than a dress; throw it on, add a little jewelry and some sunglasses and it’s like you actually tried to look pretty even though it took ten minutes.  The dress above is from Isabelle Oliver and can be twisted and folded to create multiple necklines.  It also has pockets.  However, if you want something a little more basic, this black scoop neck maxi with gold ring detail is a steal at $87.

An All-Purpose Clutch

Repeat after me, “I am on vacation, I do not need my big purse.”  When traveling to warm destinations, I pack two bags a big plane bag and then I tuck a clutch inside of it.  Because once I get to my destination the only items I need are my wallet, my ID, my phone and some lip balm.  So stop punishing your shoulders and pare down to the essentials.  The Rebecca Minkoff clutch above is the perfect size and neutrals are very hot right now. 

If none of this catches your eye, I would remember two rules: wear cotton and a light color palette.  There is no reason why you can’t pack gauzy blouses and cotton shorts or simple cotton dresses.  Just keep the color palette to the white, ivory, dove grey, navy and bright warm weather colors and the style and shape will take care of itself. 


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  1. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the great ideas, Belle! Luckily I have plenty of jersey dresses, and I love the idea of a white button-down as a coverup (especially over my black two-piece). I’m going to have to look around for some white jeans – I find that J.Crew fits me best, so I’ll start there.

    Thanks again!

    January 28, 2010/Reply
  2. Come on, Spring! says:

    Ahem – this is GREAT today, especially in light of the impending snow; winter cannot end soon enough!

    January 28, 2010/Reply
  3. Key West Bound says:

    Nice post!! Perhaps Beau can be persuaded to cover the same topic for men next week?

    January 28, 2010/Reply
  4. Jill says:

    Anthropologie has a resort-wear feature now that might help, especially the vintagey swimsuits for the vintage lover. Gorgeous. And some sale items that might work.

    January 28, 2010/Reply