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Wardrobe Oxygen: Must-Have Fashion Essentials for a Beach Getaway

By (view all posts by AlisonGary)
at 9:54AM Monday July 18, 2011
under Shop Smarter

I just got back from my annual beach getaway with my mom, sister and daughter. I love going to the beach--the surf, the sand, the sun and the great food and shopping! A key to a fun and relaxing beach getaway is packing appropriately for the event. Who wants to stress about what to wear when you are supposed to be relaxing?

After all my years as a beach fan, these are my must-pack items for a great beach getaway wardrobe:
  1. At least two bathing suits. One of the ickiest feelings is trying to wriggle into a still-damp swimsuit. You also want to rinse your suit after each wear to keep the fabric safe from chlorine and salt water. On top of that, considering that your vacation is based upon a body of water, it's good to have a backup in case something happens.

    Don't love how you look in a swimsuit? That's no excuse to not have one and wear one to the beach. No one loves their beach body, so highlight your assets and distract the eye with gorgeous colors, flattering necklines, and strategically placed gathers, belts and ruching. I am a fan of Lands End swimwear collection--they have a great variety of separates to flatter so many different bodies, extended sizes, and the quality can't be beat.

  2. A swimsuit cover-up that can double as an outfit. Sarongs and sheer caftan are elegant, but not always the best choice for a beachside café come lunch time or a bit of shopping when the sun begins to set. I really like crisp cotton cover-ups that can double as a sundress--they dry quickly, don't cling to damp skin, and will make you feel more comfortable when indoors in your suit.

    I often take two different cover-ups: the lightweight one for when at the beach or pool, and a second one tucked in my tote for when I leave the sand for the street.

  3. A small (preferably crossbody) purse. You have your beach tote, you have your luggage. You may also have your standard day purse with you. However, it's a smart idea to pack a smaller purse for when you head to the boardwalk for lunch or seeing the sights. No one wants to lug their giant beach tote into a restaurant or small shop, and it's hard to wield such a bag with a stroller, your umbrella, excited children, or a cart overflowing with towels and chairs. Having the smaller bag means you have your hotel or car keys, cash, and cell phone right at your fingertips.

    If you choose well, this bag will also be the perfect choice for nights at the beach--visiting restaurants, nightclubs and pubs. Again you have your hands free, and it makes it easy to wiggle through crowds and dance without worrying about your purse.

  4. A casual dress. It's easy to see a beach getaway as a time to live in your swimsuit and maybe a tank and cutoffs. However, a breezy dress can really be the perfect choice for beach nights. I prefer a cotton maxi dress, it's comfortable on sun- and wind-burned skin, shows off your tan, won't fly up in a beach breeze and can be toned down with simple flip flops or flat sandals.

    You're on vacation, celebrate the event by dressing up a bit, wearing a bright color or fun print, soft layers that catch the breeze!

  5. A bandanna or square cotton scarf. This item takes absolutely no space, but you will find so many times where you are glad you brought it. Use it like a headband with wild beach-frizzed tresses, tie like a kerchief for boat and convertible rides. Keep it dry and use it to brush off sand from your face and body, dip it in cold water and put on your back or neck to keep cool or soothe a sunburn. Tie to the handle of your bag for a bit of flair, or if it's large you can make it into a unique top for a sexy evening look.

What are your must-pack items for a summer beach getaway? Share your essential fashion items in the comments.

Alison Gary has over ten years experience as a personal shopper, stylist, and visual merchandiser. Her blog Wardrobe Oxygen provides fashion advice to all women, regardless of age, size, budget, or lifestyle. She is a full-time working mother, blogger, wife, and frugal fashionista located in the Washington D.C. area.