What to wear to a beach party

Girls at the ZRCE pool party
Photo credit: ZRCE

Those two words: beach party. They have the ability to strike the fear of god into many a girl. Especially one who’s tentatively coming out of (if you live in the UK anyway) a few incredibly long months of polo necks and tights.

But fear not. There are ways to get around the initial dread. Learn how to rock the beach party look with a reckless abandon that will have people wondering how you manage to look so darn relaxed.

A beach party tends to lend itself to the less clothed but there are chic cover-ups around this summer and many a way to by-pass the itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-polka-dot-bikini. Your summer beach look will be the envy of those around you for its sheer ability to take you from a lazy day soaking up the rays to becoming a beach night outfit in one flick of an artfully styled beachy hair do.

What to wear to a beach party

Girls at the Misguided pool party
Photo credit: Misguided

So when you get the invite to a beach party, you should feel excited! Even if you’re not the Love Island kind of girl who’s going to wear a thong bikini and a pair of wedges (though hats off to you if you are), there are so many different ways to look chic on the beach.

Beach party clothes are many and varied and should not be reduced to that one holey kaftan you bought on sale at TKMaxx all those summers ago. The trends around at the moment are lending themselves to hard working items that you can just as easily wear to the office and on holiday. The only thing to remember for a beach party outfit is that it can be, and must be, colourful! Leave the monochrome in the city and experiment a bit. Go out of your comfort zone and have a bit of fun with your outfits.

Beach party fashion is varied and exciting, but there are of course a few pointers to note depending on the time of day or whether you are sea side or pool side. Read on to find out more.

Day Party

Girls dancing at a beach party
Photo credit: Smashd

So this is the best kind of invite. Open-ended, with no real dress code, this is the party that requires minimal thought or preparation. Even so it’s often the easiest dress codes that cause the most amount of stress. It’s the day party that suggests beach party wear, so let’s find out the key pieces for your best summer beach look.

The over-sized shirt

Shirtdress outfit grid for a beach party

This can be in any colour, shape or size. Whatever you’ve got lying around really. Or even steal it off a boyfriend/dad/brother. It doesn’t matter. But this shirt will be your fall-back option when nothing seems to work. If you are wearing a brightly coloured or patterned bikini underneath, choose a sheer option with minimal details. If you’re rocking a classic swimming costume, dare to be bold in your shirt choice. A neon pink, an embroidered red number or even a navy blue collarless shirt can jazz up an otherwise plain look.

The playsuit

Playsuit outfit grid for a beach party
SHOP: H&M / Zara / ASOS

A playsuit will be that one item of clothing in your wardrobe that will work harder than all the others, so make sure you choose it with care. Ensure when you buy it that you can move around in it, sit down in it and it doesn’t look unappealing over your bottom, because no one wants that on the beach. Playsuits were designed to be fun, so go printed and patterned, the brighter the better. If you’re wearing a halter-neck bikini, choose a halter-neck playsuit to allow for minimal strap marks. There are a whole mass of shapes to choose from: strapless, spaghetti straps and t-shirt to name a few. The choice is yours.

Pool Party

Girls selfie at a beach pool party
Photo credit: Favim

Now the pool party is probably the most ambiguous of dress codes. There will undoubtably be a lot of standing around the pool rather than actual swimming, with the potential to fall in really quite high. So pool party outfit ideas must be ready to be thrown off at a moment’s notice. But they do need to look slightly more put-together than if you were partying on the beach.

The boho top and shortsBoho top and shorts look for beach party

The two-piece outfit is ideal for this kind of party because it can be anything from a cute sleeveless top and maxi skirt to a vintage t-shirt and cut-off Levis. You can look the part without actually having to try too hard. Throw on an old cap or a floppy-brimmed hat to bring your look together perfectly.

The swimming costume

Swimming costume outfit grid for beach party
SHOP: ASOS / New Look / Motel

Not for the faint-hearted, a pool party does not need to signal a cover-up, if you’re brave enough to bare (nearly) all. There are loads of styles of swimming costume out there for every kind of girl. If you are feeling super brave, a cut-out costume can look gorgeous with minimal jewellery and a floppy-brimmed hat. If that’s a bit too daring for you, choose a classic striped style with a scoop back to show off your tan.

Evening Party

Girls at a sunset beach party
Photo credit: Tumblr

What to wear to a beach party at night? Well this is probably one of the easier moments in your outfit choosing nightmare because the reality is that night beach party wear lends itself to a simple yet gorgeous dress. One piece, one decision, the beach party dress will save you hours in your hotel room when you could be out enjoying the sunset. An evening party is also where you can have the most fun with your outfit because, as the sun slowly sinks beyond the horizon and the party is softly lit, no one will be able to see your terrible sun burn or dodgy tan lines. You can experiment with your holiday outfit choices and choose something that maybe you wouldn’t dare to wear on a weekend at home or keep it classic and choose a shape that you know will show off your best assets.

The off-the-shoulder dressOff the shoulder dress outfit grid for a beach party

This is a style that is everywhere this summer. The shoulder is having a moment and this style of top and dress is even beating the cropped designs to being a girls go-to on holiday. The dresses come in every colour and pattern you could imagine. You can either choose straight across the shoulders or opt for a style that also has straps. Wear short with a pair of wedge espadrilles and dance your way into the early hours of the morning.

The maxi dress

Maxi dress outfit grid for beach party
SHOP: Surf Gypsy / ASOS / ASOS

This has always been a staple in any girl’s holiday wardrobe. And when you find the one for you, you’ll never look back. Clingy in all the right places, choose either a loose jersey fabric for a more casual look or go for soft cotton and detailed embroidery if you want to rock the boho look late into the night. Just be careful of the colour you choose. If you are prone to a bit of sun burn on the first few days, keep your brightly patterned dress until the final few days of your holiday. You don’t want your lobster-red skin clashing with your dress.

What type of shoes to wear to a beach party?

Girl sitting in white beach dress
Photo credit: Lookbook

So here’s the thing I bet most of you are thinking: why would I need to wear shoes to a beach party? It’s a fair observation. But realistically you are probably going to be going through the day into the evening and your shoe choice can bring your outfit together. You can choose to go for a simple pair of old espadrilles which will keep your look simple. Or you can choose an embellished pair of wedge heels (always wedge on holiday – any other shape of heel will look strange on the sand and will be impossible to walk in anyway). Or of course you just stick to a pair of slip-on sandals, a style that is easy to find this summer.

Beach Party Accessories

beach party accessories - straw beach bag and straw beach hat
Photo Credit: Sheerluxe

These, along with your shoe choice, can also transform an outfit. A floppy hat around the pool screams of the famous sirens of the ’60s and ’70s protecting their lily-white complexions from the sun’s harsh rays. A wicker basket will hold all your beach essentials but will also look great as you head off into the night. You can also use this back on dry land when you return from your holiday. Just be sure to shake out the sand before you cram it full of your groceries. And jewellery is another way to jazz up a simple outfit or just embellish a dramatic one. The options are endless, so play around and find one that works for you.

Top Tips

So before you pack for your holidays remember these top tips:

  1. Beach parties are fun! So your clothes can be fun too.
  2. Don’t be afraid of a little colour or print. Just because your style in the city is monochrome and minimal, doesn’t mean you have to stick to those guidelines on holiday.
  3. A beach party does not have to mean just swimwear.
  4. Cover-ups of every shape, size and colour are your best friend: an old shirt ‘borrowed’ off someone or this summer’s key item, an off-the-shoulder dress.
  5. Shoes are an essential part of your outfit. Just make sure whether you choose a flat shoe or a heel, you can dance in them.
  6. Accessories, including a hat, bag or beautiful jewellery, can transform an outfit and allow you to make it totally unique. Seen someone in the same Zara maxi? Add a floppy hat and stacks of bangles to leave them looking like the copy-cat.
  7. Never turn down an invitation to a beach party. You’ll always be able to find something to wear and you’ll always have an amazing time. Promise.
Girls sitting on the back of a car having fun
Photo credit: Pinterest



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