There’s no rulebook when it comes to beach style, but deciding which look aligns best with your personality type, does require a bit of gravitas. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed minimalist who prefers the simplicity of a neutral linen dress, for instance, or someone who isn’t afraid to take risks with Y2K-level accessorizing and print mixing, the key is finding pieces that feel authentic to your lifestyle.
If you’re leaning towards a more nostalgic look, there’s an abundance of inspiration to pull from via the catwalks. On the Spring/Summer 2023 and Resort 2024 runways, many collections had a nostalgic tune that might speak to you. Chanel, for example, tapped into the opulent vacation aesthetic they made popular in the ‘90s with gold lame pants and tropical pastel shorts accessorized with chunky jewelry. Meanwhile, Dua Lipa-approved brand GCDS presented bright-colored open-knits alongside a host of novelty bikinis. DSquared2 leaned into its signature early aughts aesthetic with grungy graphics, triangle bikini tops, and a good amount of denim.
“There are studies that found when we engage in nostalgic thinking we feel happier and more content,” fashion psychologist and author of Big Dress Energy, Shakalia Forbes Bell tells TZR. “We always look back on the past with rose-colored glasses, thinking how much better they were.”
If you’re feeling a bit more risqué with your style, consider subtle, skin-baring separates for the beach in bold colors and tropical prints to embody the island spirit. This is what Forbes-Bell describes as dopamine dressing, a phenomenon that’s always been around but became especially popular in the last three years. From Louisa Ballou’s neon-clad resort wear to the custom blue hue from artisanal brand Nia Thomas’s new collection, designers known for bold color stories are always a great place to start. “Brighter shades are often linked with increased happiness,” she says.
In terms of tropical sartorial aesthetics, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Continue ahead to find a comprehensive list of beach styles and decide which resonates with you best. Then, shop the key pieces needed to successfully pull off each look.
If you’re someone who prefers getting dressed up to sit seaside rather than diving head first into the waves, opt for pieces like a matching set that can elevate your swimsuit. The key to pulling off this glamorous look is by selecting luxe separates and cool accessories that take your beach ensemble from day to night.
The coastal cowgirl aesthetic has been making waves all over TikTok and the one thing that brings the micro-trend together is the iconic cowboy hat, as seen on Lori Harvey. Pairing it with a plunging one-piece swimsuit (that doubles as a bodysuit pre- or post-beach trip) and gold, turquoise accessories will give it a subtle western feel that’s not too on the nose.
Elevate the classic bikini and denim cutoff combination by swapping out your hot pants for longer jean shorts, instead. In true ‘90s fashion, all you need to complete the look is a colorful beaded necklace and claw clip for your hair. Take it a step further and finish your outfit with a jelly bag to really evoke the nostalgic spirit.
Showing off your sun-kissed skin at the beach is part of the fun, but rather than baring it all and risking a sun burn, opt for knitted separates and mesh materials for coverage. See-through garments feel sensual and you can amp up the wow factor by experimenting with bold colors. Stylist and lifestyle editor Zanna Roberts Rassi says she noticed that shoppers are gravitating towards deep blues, orange, and yellow beachwear for summer.
Sometimes you just want to be comfortable without sacrificing style. Channel your inner Adam Sandler by swapping out second-skin separates with oversized silhouettes like striped boxer shorts and a roomy crewneck shirt. Keep the look functional yet cool by finishing it off with a large tote and cushioned flip-flops.
Just because you’re going to the beach or hanging out poolside at the resort doesn’t mean you need to abandon your city-girl sartorial senses. Bring some of that uptown dressy vibe to the island via a printed button-down shirt and fun accessories like a colorful sandal or earrings for that extra oomph.
Perfect for going from the street to the beach, this quintessential cargo look is about as Y2K-coded as it gets. From the platform sandals and tiny cropped top to the baggy pants and sporty crossbody bag, this ensemble is the epitome of early aughts style. And if you’re feeling a bit more daring, just swap out the white tank for your bikini top.