Privilege Blog

The Privilege[d] Guide to Packing for Bathing Suit Resorts

A mesh beach bag my sister found in Los Angeles. Transparent beach bags are good for a) sand release b) finding books, sunscreen and glasses.

There’s an entire category of vacation places we might call “bathing suit” resorts. You know, the kind where days are passed by the side of a pool, a lake, or the ocean, and one’s bathing suit is rarely dry. I have often packed my bags for these occasions. It’s my favorite way to spend time off.

Tory Burch beaded skirt, five gold bangles, the joys of a tank top, black jeweled sandals

I’ve believe I’ve got this packing down to a science, or, to be fair, an art. Science obeys universal laws, but style varies person to person. My mother still packs a special travel bathrobe. She still has special grape-cutting scissors too. But I digress. So.

The [Privileged] Guide to Packing for Bathing Suit Resorts, Or, What To Bring?

Olive shorts and shirt. Ironically, minimalism can be achieved with very little. Orange Havianas. Exceptionally comfortable rubber flip-flops. With some style.

  1. Bring at least 2 bathing suits. 3, even better. Putting on a wet suit is one of the more unpleasant first world problems. Your life will be made easier if you pack complementary colors. Green, peach, and pink, or, blue, white, and black, for example. Hues of any sort terrify me in regular life. Vacations are different. Packing for a resort is all about color, since you will want limited structure in your clothing, and minimal texture to your fabrics.
  2. A cover-up, for walking to the water. I prefer sarongs. Thin fabric over bathing suit tops reveals straps and various bumps and wiggles. Looks messy. You hair will have already developed its own lovely wisps and frizzles. No need to turn up the mess dial. Whereas a sarong covers that which must be covered, and cascades gracefully down your legs. If you need something up top, wear a button-front shirt, or a plain white heavy tee. Millions of Southeast Asian men have proved the concept.
  3. 3 pairs of flip-flops, some, um, flippier than others. If you make sure that one pair is bejeweled leather, you will never have find yourself teetering on lava stone steps, or sinking into spongy paths. Again, explore interesting colors. It’s amazing how stylish a pair of lavender flip-flops can look, when you’re wearing little else.
  4. A pair of shoes for activities more strenuous than walking, on terrain more difficult than sand, or tile.
  5. A hat. Not a baseball cap – they can’t shade the critical parts of your face. Not stiff-brimmed either. Stiff-brimmed hats prevent one from laying one’s head back on a lounge chair to read. Mid-size, soft, white hats are perfect, as the brim can be folded up to make a point in conversation. Or watch particularly attractive passers-by.
  6. Sunscreen. But not too much. Over 30 SPF often discolors clothing. Sun umbrellas are your best friends. Just hide. Come out for swimming. Hide some more.
  7. A cloth or straw beach bag. Enormous pink slouchy patent leather bags don’t mix with water. And they disturb my serenity besides.
  8. Workout gear. For justifying mini-doughnuts sprinkled with coarsely granulated sugar or the third glass of pinot noir. Or both.
  9. Some shorts. Some tank tops or tees. For meals. I am from the old school that feels dining rooms should not be entered in visible bathing suits. It’s just not that hard to walk back to your room to put on your suit after breakfast.
  10. A couple of skirts. And your “good” tank tops or tee shirts. No top you have to fuss with is worth the effort, for warm nights by water. Impunity. If you are going somewhere with cool nights, bring a pair of pants. Warm nights were made for white jeans.
  11. Gold or silver bangles. If you sport silver sequins, the bangles should be gold. It’s vacation – live dangerously – mix metals. Aim to appear nonchalant, under the theory that ‘displaying the affect brings the effect.’ Smile and the world smiles with you. Bangle, and the world bangles with you.
  12. A wrap, a shawl, or, if you have more panache than I, some kind of 3/4 coat with kimono sleeves that you happened to pick up in, say, Bali. In 1972. Or 1986. Or 2001.
Bathing suits. A sarong. And yes, now that you ask, those are sequins. I didn’t say life had to be all work and no play. Or all appropriate and no edge.

Happy swimming, where ever you may hit the water. It’s been 95+ degrees Fahrenheit in Northern California these last few days. Good timing for a getaway, and serendipitous last minute plans.

22 Responses

  1. I love to go shopping in really glamorous resort areas for things I can wear to any beach, anywhere. I don't go to the beach that often–but why not look as though I do? It increases confidence–which most of us need more of when we're wearing a bathing suit.

    I'm one of those who has to hide from the sun, and I got a lot of use out of a couple of Lilly Pulitzer cotton lawn dresses. They worked as dresses for lunch or dinner–and the next day as beach cover-ups.

  2. 1. My entire life is complementary colors; it's the way I dress. I am Queen of the Separates. I also own four bathing suits, two of which consist of one bathing skirt and two different tops (in complementary colors, of course).

    2. I have a lovely, attractive bathing robe I use as a cover-up, but I also own a sarong purchased in Hawaii. The woman who sold it to me showed me at least six different ways to tie it, only one of which I remember.

    3. I can't do flip-flops; things between my toes irritate me. I wear one of the other 4,000 pairs of sandals I own that don't go between my toes.

    4. Believe it or not, I own hiking shoes. I even wear them sometimes.

    Eh, this is getting too long. I own two large, floppy hats, I don't do sunscreen (there's more and more research coming out showing it turns carcinogenic when exposed to the sun), and who would take patent leather, pink or otherwise, to the beach? Workout gear? On vacation? Surely you jest (I just don't eat the donut.) I never, ever wear my swimsuit anywhere but to the beach or poolside. Skirts are good, I don't wear jewelry and panache and I aren't even on speaking terms, much less a first name basis.

  3. Oh I like the idea of a sand release bag – I always find a miniature dune in my suitcase when I get home. I agree with you on colour and white jeans (always good in summer) though on the sandal front I take two pairs of flip-flops and one pair of Birkenstocks for comfort. And I have perfected the art dashing into the sea from under the umbrella, without falling over/trampling over small children!

  4. Bangle and the world bangles with you!
    Love that…bangling and jangling from here…
    I love your WASPY advice on packing…I need all the help I can get in that area…I am challenged when it comes to deciding what to take.
    Maybe I'll ask you next time I have a trip planned!

    Have fun…doughnuts and Pinot hmm…interesting combination!

  5. We've never been Bathing Suit Vacation types, although we've been lucky for 15+ years now to live beach-side so we do manage to get some swimming in during the summer.
    But this past summer we spent a week poolside in north-central Portugal and it was glorious. And I have to echo your rec. for 2 or more swimsuits. Pater thought I could manage with one, and given that I was fitting a month's travel wardrobe into a carry-on, I was tempted to stick to that plan. But I thought ahead to those unpleasant moments squeezing into a still-wet suit and I anticipated your good advice!

  6. I usually go with 2 or 3 pairs of jangly statement earrings. Earrings are small and much easier to pack than statement necklaces and bracelets.

    Enjoy your bathing suit vacation! Despite living (almost) on the beach, I rarely swim here in New England, too damn cold for this wussy girl.

  7. Your fashion style tips are for… keeps!
    Your advise truly transcends time; it will be as good in the future as it is now.
    Thank you a million!!!

  8. May you resort with a sarong in your heart. A caftan is nice too.

    Love your advice about sunscreen. Lower spf + hiding!

  9. I too LOVE 'bangle and the world bangles with you'! And the idea of orange havianas too… Great bathing suit holiday packing advice Lisa…x

  10. I love a resort holiday at the beach or on an island.

    If you ever come to Australia you have to visit Hayman Island and Hamilton Island on the Barrier Reef, Noosa, and the Gold Coast. Most of my wardrobe is "resort wear" because Mr FF and I love the beach 11/10.

    I always pack several bikinis (altho as I age I might have to rethink this) and sarongs and sheer caftans as coverups and a big straw hat. I also have lots of what you call flipflops and what we call thongs, and I have 2 beach bags, a giant straw one and an Anya Hindmarch canvas one.

    I long for my beach holiday when I think of all of this.

  11. One piece or two?

    My cousin Mary was showing us their pictures of a vacation at a nice looking resort in Mexico and remarked that she takes her "out of the country bikini" with her because no one in Mexico wears a one piece bathing suit.

    She tells me that the beach is full of women with rolls of fat hanging over their bikini bottoms and it's no biggie if yours is also.

    Is this true?

  12. Poppy – I agree. Shopping in resort areas sometimes you also find either local designers who make cool stuff, or a shop owner with a good eye who just didn't want to fight the big city life.

    Jan – OK. I will go to Hawaii with you any day:). But no jewelry at all? Hmm. I might have to try to undermine your resolve.

    That's not my age – Yes, we must protect the small children even at the cost of our dignity and loveliness.

    hostess – Do not worry. I don't eat the doughnuts and Pinot together…

    mater – You obviously are an eminently sensible woman:).

  13. Patsy – My problem with earrings is my long hair – which at the beach or after swimming is prone to tendrils. And New England might be cold in the water but have you ever tried the California Pacific? Freezing!

    Anna – Thank you so much.

    Duchesse – Ha! Took me a minute to get that:).

    Semi – I'm thinking of building a whole collection of Havianias….

    FF – I hear the beaches in Australia are the best. My son said Frazier Island was astonishing. I am so glad you don't take leather to the beach.

  14. Barbara – Ah. Would that I could just take a little beach out of my pocket now and then. The ocean part. The sand is easier:).

    Rose – I had worn one piece suits for years, then tried a tankini, and now even own a bikini. Which I wear only in select places myself:). I haven't been to Mexico in 30 years, so I do not know, but it sounds plausible.

    Her Preppiness – Thank you!

    Buckeroo – I am flattered that you like those shoes. In fact I bought them at the same hotel I stayed in this week, several years ago.

    Gayle – You are welcome.

  15. "Millions of Southeast Asian men have proved the concept" – and women too! Vietnamese, Indonesians, Malays…

  16. I too covet those black jeweled sandals. I wish I had found them at the beginning of summer. For me beach resorts mean tunics and pareos. My hips are not resort ready and tunics and pareos make the beach a possibility. Love your taste, as always!

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