It’s chilly outside. Clouds scud, skies darken, the wind reddens our cheeks. A perfect time for warm-weather vacations. But how to pack well for heat when you’re cold. And, more practically, how to buy a bathing suit when you don’t even want to take off your sweater?
Let’s think tropically today. Start with bathing suits. At a resort, the usual packing priorities are reversed. You wear bathing suits and occasionally put on something else.
You will want:
- 3 bathing suits (yes, 3 if possible, wet bathing suits are horrid). This year I’m looking at a) sophisticated colors b) ruching c) high-waisted bikinis. Yes, bikinis. I’m tired of covering myself with wet stretchy fabric and the world, I think, can handle the sight of my midlife stomach without self-destructing. That said, I’m going to ask the bikini bottom to help out just a bit with restraint. And the ruching is for when I tire of my belly myself, or fear sunburn. That which sees sun rarely, suffers mightily by the beach.
- 2 coverups (they are small, foldable, and it’s fun to have variety).
- Sandals in multiple colors.
- Sunglasses. If you need reading glasses, prescription sunglasses are worth the investment.
- A hat with a wide brim. I have discovered that cloth hats win the category, as you can rest your head back on your chair while reading.
- Of course, you’re also going to need sunscreen, unless the destination is luxe. In that case they provide huge pump bottles of the stuff everywhere, like gas stations on the New Jersey turnpike.
But where and how to buy said bathing suits? Well, this year I’m going to try online. Sure, it might be hard to find sizes etc. But that’s true in person too. And online purchases magically transform those godawful store dressing rooms into your own friendly bedroom. I found when buying my wedding shoes that ordering 6-7 pairs to try out made the final decision quite simple.
You’re also going to need day wear for land. I don’t like to eat breakfast, or any meal for that matter, in my bathing suit. Unless I’m right by the pool or sea. So I always pack long shorts and a couple of tees/tanks.
You also want to consider other planned activities. Hiking? Yoga class? Tennis? Workout room? Pack the minimal requirements to protect your feet, and cover the relevant body parts, because it’s highly probable that you’re still going to wind up mostly in your bathing suit, mostly by the water. By the way, Wigwam hiking socks are a foot comfort miracle.
And then night falls. On these kinds of vacations I appreciate my cultural tradition of dressing for dinner. You’re going to want to shower off all that sunscreen and salt anyway, why not get fancy?
I know exactly what I’ll bring for a 5 night trip,
- Loose pants. I have invested in a soft white pair from Black Crane, via Grechen’s Closet and Totokaelo. They are a little warm, but I think with a tank and gladiator sandals they’ll be great for evening.
- 3 dresses – I like them loose, or light, or both. Specifically, I’ll bring my Dressed USA lavender shift and the 8-year old Tori Burch skirt, along with my Christopher Kane wedding rehearsal dress for one night in the fancy restaurant, dressed down with very bare sandals. Maybe some simple pearl studs.
- Even when my feet are fine, I don’t wear heels to the beach, or anywhere near it. They undo all the serenity. I’ll substitute black jeweled flats, bronze flats, and Havaianas in multiple colors.
- A white cotton/linen cardigan. I don’t find wraps helpful, in the tropics. Wool is to be avoided at all costs, and silk/cotton is often stiff.
And Don’t Forget
A few other categories worth considering:
- Flourishes – I accessorize with jewelry, rather than scarves and belts. Another cultural and family tradition, most likely. I tend to embellish for vacation, with bangles and dangles. However, Sturdy Gals always bring screwback stud earrings to swim in. No fools we. I also bring metallic hair elastics or hair forks for updos – hair tendrils are lovely and romantic but they have a way of finding their way into your mouth just as you’re trying to stuff it it with rock lobster.
- Makeup – All I wear at the beach is some concealer or tinted moisturizer with sunscreen, mascara, and a sheer lipstick or lipbalm. Anything else bugs me. Whether it’s the humidity or the desire to throw aside civilization, I’ll leave to you.
- Airplane gear – I’ve found it best to dress for the destination and then cover up with one big layer. Warm coat, hat, scarf, and gloves, over a tee or even tank top. I fly in loose jeans, which are OK under a long coat for passage through the cold zones. Put flip flops in your tote. Which reminds me, bring a tote or beach bag. Enjoy the outdoor baggage claim, and the tropical plantings that begin before you even leave the airport.
And there you go. Here’s to the warm winds of evening on your ankles and shoulders, and walking on paths so quiet you can hear the ocean just around the corner.
Clothing links (some of which will generate commissions to be donated to Dress for Success)
Lisa Marie Fernandez bikini with zipper
TopShop aztec print bikini
Orchid Boutique ruched one piece
Heidi Klein via net-a-porter mauve snakeskin one-piece
A plus size high-waisted bikini option from Miracle Suit
Converse cover up at Target
Havaianas at Zappos
Heidi Klein pom pom sarong at net-a-porter
Calypso St. Barth Dorcia Flyaway Cardi
Mystique jeweled sandals, here
And Artsy in Colorado, this was for you. Probably too late for this year’s trip, but my intentions were the best.