I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the beach lately: from St Tropez, France, to Cabo, Mexico… to Kona, Hawaii and right back at home in Venice Beach, California.
So, from experience of overpacking then only wearing a few practical things (bet you’re not surprised I do this a lot) I narrowed down an edited list of what I ACTUALLY wear on beach vacations. It’s no surprise that unless I’m working on some extravagant shoot, the pieces I most often reach for are the most comfortable, versatile, and easy. It’s the beach: you want to relax, get a tan (well, for me some sun over my spray tan and SPF) and hang out.
When I look for coverups I ask myself three questions: A) Is it comfortable enough to sit and lie down in a beach chair in? B) Does it have a fun print or color but could still work with most bikinis?
And, the most important question of all, which is C) If I don’t have time to go back and change before dinner…. can I wear this straight to dinner?
Question C eliminates most crochet, see-through, skimpy/sexy pool-only coverups. Sometimes “dinner” in a beach location is on the beach anyway, and you can wear whatever in the world you want. It also depends on location: for example, in Ibiza anything goes; the smaller the better. For the purpose of finding a universally acceptable beach to dinner dress, let’s just leave out that scenario out and pretend you want to walk to a casual restaurant and be slightly covered for dinner.
Enter the beach to dinner dress, like this spaghetti strap high-low one that I love (currently on sale in white). I’ve worn it over a bikini with sandals, than swapped it out for heels and a clutch at night, as shown here. I’ve found Red Carter to have very cute, affordable cover-ups like this white off the shoulder number. This palm tree maxi would be perfect to throw over a white bikini, and this loose navy dress is casual yet flattering. For stunning dresses worth the splurge, Camilla with Love is also amazing.
My go-to easy accessories are round shades and a straw clutch like this lightweight one with navy fringe detail. I opted for nude wrap heels here (as this was shot in LA) but have paired this dress with sandals and straw wedges as well.
Find more of my favorite beach to dinner dresses below!