Let’s just say that you wake up, the sun is shining, temperatures are skyrocketing and you have a day off work with no plans. If you ask us, this sounds like a perfect day to go to the beach!
That said, what are you supposed to wear? The right outfit will look cute and make you feel confident while still being comfortable in the heat.
After all, there’s nothing worse than tight fabrics or shoes that won’t allow your feet to breathe in warm weather. Right?
What to Wear to the Beach: 10 Beach Outfits
Let’s take a look at some of my fave beach outfit ideas that are fashionable as well as functional.
1. Swimwear and Beach Skirt
First things first, if you’re planning on sunbathing or having a dip in the sea, you need to throw on some high-quality swimwear.
Whether this is a sultry two-piece or a more modest swimsuit, add a chic cover-up in the form of a beach skirt or sarong. This will give you another layer to travel in and then you can simply whip it off when you get on the beach.
Oh, and don’t forget your flip-flops! We’re a fan of neutral Havaianas (*) that go with every outfit colour palette and are sturdy enough to last the test of time.
2. Swimwear and Kaftan
Following on from the first point, a kaftan and bikini or swimsuit combo is another failsafe beach look. This is especially the case if you’re planning on heading straight there and can’t be bothered to put on a full outfit.
(The latter is how we feel every day at the moment — we adore pieces that we can just throw on and go! Hey, we’re all busy people since lockdown lifted — right?)
For example, this In The Style Yellow Abstract Wrap Swimsuit (*) is playful yet elegant when teamed with this Dobby Tie Waist White Kaftan (*). Add these complementary, on-trend ASOS sliders (*) to turn heads on the sand.
3. A Bikini and Denim Shorts
Speaking of beach outfits that you can put on in a hurry, the bikini and high-waisted denim shorts pairing is ideal.
This works wonderfully for particularly hot days where a top isn’t necessary but you want something on your bottom half to prevent any chafing. (Oh, the chafing…)
We’re obsessed with denim shorts that are ripped and mid-blue in colour, like these from New Look (*). They look as cool as they feel if you pair them with a colourful bikini, such as this Matalan tropical floral top (*) and high-waisted bottoms (*). Yay for practical yet stylish beach looks!
4. Vest Top and Shorts
Next, we have to cover what to wear to the beach if you’re planning on doing other things before or after. In other words, you’ll be going to sit inside a restaurant or pop in some shops.
In this case, consider wearing more heavyweight clothes over your swimwear. We’re talking specifically about a vest top, shorts and sandals.
It helps in the warm weather if the vest top is a cami with teeny tiny straps that won’t pester you too much (bonus points if they’re adjustable!). I also prefer linen shorts to any other fabric, given that the weave wicks away moisture from your skin and allows more airflow.
Pick classic hues for these pieces (like black, white, navy and grey) that you can mix and match with other items in your wardrobe. We like trusty M&S for their summer basics, including these camis (*) and linen shorts (*).
5. Vest Top and Skirt
Assuming you’re wanting to get your tan on as one of your reasons for going to the beach, may we recommend sticking with a vest top? Although, you could easily swap shorts for a skirt.
Opt for an adorable mini like this In The Style Blue Daisy Print version (*) that will let your legs roam free. Alternatively, long, flowy midi or maxi skirts are great if you want a bit more of a cover-up.
Either way, finish off your pretty, feminine beach aesthetic with some embellished slip-ons like these Accessorize Wavy Strap Sandals (*).
6. Vest Top and Wide Leg Trousers
If temperatures aren’t too humid, you could even opt for a vest top with wide-leg trousers.
Like we mentioned before, linen is a good call for allowing heat to escape from the body. It’s lightweight, has movement and doesn’t stick to you. Likewise, cotton is soft, lightweight, breathable and soaks up sweat as an alternative.
These M&S Wide Leg Linen Trousers (*) would look fabulous with this Matalan Pink Spot Cami (*) and your sandals or flip flops of choice. Don’t forget to add a straw bag as the perfect finishing touch or a floppy fedora hat. Now, that’s what we call beach sophistication!
7. A Sundress
Another of our favourites when it comes to what to wear to the beach is a dress. But not just any dress — a sundress.
In other words, this is a short and strappy number that shows maximum skin for maximum tanning opportunities. *Wink-wink.*
A solid bright hue would be a winner here — or a colourful summer print, such as florals, gingham or stripes. Here are some fun examples:
- Matalan Ditsy Floral Cami Dress (*)
- ASOS Black and White Polka Dot Sundress (*)
- M&S Midaxi Blue Embroidered Dress (*)
Just add some statement sunglasses and sandals for simple yet standout style.
8. A Maxi Dress
Not feeling a mini dress? Not to worry — the maxi is here to save the day by being just as humble as it is hip.
We like basic designs that nip in at the waist so that they flatter your silhouette, like this Very Jersey Maxi Dress (*). Bright tones pop against a clear blue sky, but neutrals are great for versatility and being able to wear them for seasons to come.
And if the sun goes in, you can always throw on a cropped denim jacket (*) or shirt for an extra layer. Did someone say sensible yet sassy?
9. Swimwear and Oversized Shirt
Another minimal beach aesthetic is your swimsuit or bikini under a comfy oversized shirt. That is to say, you would wear said shirt buttoned up like a dress off the beach and unbuttoned on the beach.
Think soft fabrics like cotton and linen. For instance, this plain Rhythm White Cotton Shirt (*) would look elegant when paired with a neutral bikini or tone down a loud-patterned swimsuit. On the other hand, this River Island Green Striped Shirt (*) can dress up a solid-hued swimsuit or add to the extravagance of a tonal green bikini.
Either way, add oversized sunglasses and chunky sliders to amp up the drama.
10. A Matching Co-Ord
Lastly, what to wear to the beach when you’re not planning on sunbathing much? A fashion-forward co-ord.
We’re talking about a top in the same colour or print as your bottom piece. Crop tops and mini or midi skirts are charming for summer, as are bra-lets and wide-leg trousers.
We think the Billie Faiers x In The Style collection has some lovely ones at the moment, such as:
- This Paisley Print Bikini Top (*) and Paisley Print Paperbag Trousers (*)
- White Dobby Bardot Top (*) and White Dobby Shorts (*)
Add strappy sandals for an elevated beach look.
What Not to Wear for the Beach in Warm Weather
We’ve covered what to wear to the beach when the temperatures are soaring, so let’s talk about what not to wear.
We’d recommend avoiding anything that gets too far up your bum and can make you feel constricted, like hotpants or tight trousers. These pieces are only going to make you feel flustered in the heat and wish you’d chosen something looser.
We’d also steer away from one-piece outfits, like jumpsuits or playsuits. These can be a faff to get on and off. When you’re sticky, you just want to be able to slip something on quickly and effortlessly.
Keep to the best fabrics for warm weather that allow breathability, such as:
And if you’re planning to do any hikes across nearby cliffs, consider wearing walking sandals that will protect your feet and prevent them from overheating.
Shopping for and Finding Beach Outfits That Work
Given that you’re going to be stripping off on the beach, it’s important for you to feel like you could conquer the world in whatever you’re wearing.
Pick pieces that fit and are made well so they’re realistic for the hot weather without compromising on style.
And don’t forget your suncream with an SPF of 30+!
Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded Trendy Tourist. Since 2017, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.