A couple of weeks ago, while I was watching one of my favorite reality TV shows, Project Runway, and was very excited to see the weekly challenge task the designers with creating a resort wear look. Interestingly, the designers showed us their interpretation of resort wear. Collectively, it ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other. What we saw was semi-sophisticated swimwear and cover-ups, not so sophisticated swimwear, an outfit that bordered on the line of hard-edged lingerie and matronly separates. Even for up and coming designers, the definition of resort wear is not necessarily clear. So…what is resort wear?
As an up and coming loungewear and resort wear designer, I have developed my own definition for this clothing niche. Many consider resort wear to be vacation clothes, beachwear, swimwear and the like. For some, when they think of resort wear it may be Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian flowered shirt, it can be five of your hottest swimsuits and matching cover ups and flip flops. Maybe you reach back to the 80s and 90s for the Ralph Lauren nautical inspired resort wear look. None of this is wrong. Resort wear varies depending on where you travel. Today, women have limitless options in resort wear. Good or bad.
The perfect getaway for one woman may be an Alaskan cruise while another woman may yearn for a spa retreat in the desert. Obviously each would require different resort wear. But we all want to achieve the same result from our resort wear at the end of the day. Clothing that makes us feel appropriate in our chosen environment, comfortable and attractive. So is it necessary for you to have the skimpiest bikini on the French Riviera if it doesn’t make you feel good about the money you’ve spent to be in the French Riviera? Or is it more important for you to have a more flattering one-piece swimsuit and an amazing cover up, allowing you to really enjoy yourself? Would you climb Kilimanjaro in flip flops? Heck no. It would be extremely uncomfortable and ridiculous. So why would you put yourself in an uncomfortable situation at the beach or anywhere else you choose to go? Same difference.
When picking the right resort wear, here are a few rules to making sure you have the proper resort attire:
Rule No. 1 – Make sure you’re prepared for your destination with the appropriate attire.
There’s nothing like getting where you’re going and realizing you didn’t pack the right clothes. And nothing eats more into your vacation budget than having to spend money you didn’t plan on spending when you get where you’re going. If you’re going skiing and you don’t usually ski, make sure you know what is required. Do you have the right pants, the right boots, the right undergarments? Will you need formal attire? Are you going to need layering pieces because the temperature drops at night? Are you going to make multiple destination stops that require a variety of clothing to accommodate a range of temperature changes? Check the weather. I can’t tell you how many times people come to visit me in Southern California assuming 80 degree weather and sunshine, only to realize that when the sun sets in L.A., the temperature goes way, way down.
Rule No. 2 – When choosing your resort wear, decide for whom you’re really dressing.
We’ve all had vacation fantasies of what we’re going to look like when we spend a fortune on our travel wardrobe. We look in the Neiman Marcus Resort issue and think, “How hot would that be for my Mediterranean cruise?” We push ourselves to shed that last 15 pounds so we can feel comfortable in a bikini in front of a world of people we don’t know and who aren’t even bothered with looking at us anyway. So you have to ask yourself, “Am I going to get to where I’m going and stress about how I look, hence making myself look uncomfortable and out of place, or find pieces that make me look amazing as I am?” I hope you choose the latter. Pick clothes that you like, make you comfortable and look good for who you are. Don’t try and emulate some model in a catalog that’s untouchable, even for her own standards (because she’s been retouched and reworked so much she probably can’t even recognize herself). Pick colors that make you feel pretty and will look great in your photos.
Rule No. 3 – Make sure you don’t buy items that you can only wear on this vacation.
Sometimes this is unavoidable. If you’re hiking through the Himalayas and you live in Manhattan, perhaps you have no choice. But in most instances, resort wear isn’t only useful at a resort or on vacation. Be sensible here. Make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
Rule No. 4 – Choose items that are versatile
When shopping for your resort wear, be careful not to make your vacation wardrobe too tricky. If you’re going to be gone for 10 days, other than underwear, there’s no reason why you can’t repeat clothing items. For example, is there a nice maxi dress or lounge dress you can take from poolside to dinner by accessorizing with the right jewelry and shoes? This has become a way of life for me, and how I think when designing my resort wear and loungewear collection.
Rule No. 5 – Keep it simple
Don’t over think your clothes. Bring what you need and leave room for a few tokens and souvenirs to take back home. Think about it. You are spending enough money on the vacation itself, why give the airlines more of your money, if you don’t have to, because you exceeded the weight limit on the bag you already had to pay to check!
Resort wear is fun and easy and should evoke those feelings when you’re wearing it. Remember that while preparing your next vacation wardrobe, and your escape will be the best one you’ve ever had.
Erin Braxton Loungewear, Resort wear and Sleepwear