The ten most important beach style codes
Are you already packing for your summer vacation? Don´t tap into clichés and look like a nouveau riche in the French Riviera! The real codes of beach style are much different from what fashion magazines tell you
Life on the beach is supposed to be easy - there is only one problem: the fantasy versus reality. While preparing for vacation, we easily tap into the cliché. That is, the cliché of Riviera Chic and Cote-d-Azur style - we picture ourselves in coloured kaftans and wide-brimmed hats like models in a fashion magazine photo shoot. That look, of course, works well for a trip to Hotel Eden Roc in France or the famous Cala di Volpe in Sardegna, where the nouveaux-riches and movie stars play old-school-glamour. But in most other beach locations, the codes of style are a little different.
Moreover, being elegant at the beach in most of the cases means: less is more. Too much styling can look slightly tacky. To avoid this, you need to know the biggest mistakes that restrain you from being the laid-back beach goddess you would like to be.
style code No. 1: local beachwear
As I said, life on the beach is supposed to be easy. You want to get rid of all the worries of your daily life for a few days. The more expensive your clothes, the bigger the preoccupations will be: will the salt water destroy my patterned Pucci dress? Will somebody steal my Missoni pareo while I am swimming? Also, the beach is not a place for status symbols, because when in a bikini, we are all the same! Everything with a logo on it will destroy that marvellous feeling of freedom only a day at the beach can give you.
What to wear instead: Everything you find in the local shops! It will also give you an instant update on what is on trend this season - long, striped shirts or embellished linen dresses? The locals will know. They live by the beach, after all - opposed to the buyers from international fashion stores.
style code No.2: simple straw bags
Straw bags are the symbol of a relaxed beach lifestyle. But, no one should have to buy them from designer labels for hundreds of Euros. Why is this so? Firstly, their lifespan is rather short. To justify the price, designer straw bags come with lots of tacky adornment like pom poms and other infantile embellishments - only to fall off after the first day at the beach.
What to wear instead: The stylish woman buys them at the local market and uses them for grocery shopping as well as a beach bag. This easy-going-attitude is an unwritten rule even in Saint Tropez, the jet set village and designer shopping centre of the Mediterranean!
Style code No. 3: Flats
Yes, usually heels make everything look better and leaner. So very often, women used to wearing heels in their everyday lives tend to choose wedges for their beach holidays. In reality, they are the antidote of looking good by the sea - just picture yourself balancing over sandy stretches in very high plateau espadrilles. Being elegant on vacation really means being free. So free yourself of any doubts about yourself. You really are tall enough. Nobody cares, by the way.
What to wear instead: Uncomplicated flats like slides or sandals. Avoid gladiator styles; you need something where you can slip in and out of according to the tides or the burning sand under your feet.
Style code No. 4: The right hat
Nothing can look more out of place than an overly dramatic hat. While it seems perfect during a not-so-relaxed stay at a chic hotel pool, it can also make you the laughingstock on a Cycladic island in Greece. That is because of the Meltemi, a strong northern wind loved by sailors. A woman always in a panic about her hat flying away can never be elegant. So check the weather conditions first and choose your hat accordingly.
What to wear instead: A cotton bandana or printed foulard wrapped around your head.
Style code No.5: bye bye to the long, wide kaftan
This is a good look for luxurious beach hotels somewhere by the Ligurian Coast, maybe while having breakfast. In real beach situations, it will make you look like a desperate Elizabeth Taylor taken out of Bel Air, abandoned by her butler and therefore completely helpless. This rule does not apply to people who actually have a butler, of course.
What to wear instead: shorts and cropped tops, ankle-length shirt dresses, midi skirts with t-shirts - anything goes as long as it doesn´t make you look like a diva in distress. Times have changed, fortunately.
Style Code No. 6: the unexpensive beach towel
Investing in costly beach towels from designer brands does not make sense at all: French terry is heavy, does not dry well and if it´s from Hermès, it will make you look like an oligarch´s wife, which is the contrary of a relaxed beach girl. There are indeed many beautiful beach towels from famous brands - go for them if you are the proud owner of a pool. In all other cases, spare your money for some more drinks at sunset.
What to buy instead: Kikoys - light, African cotton towels that dry quickly and come in striped pastel versions. Or Pestemals, the Turkish version of the sauna towel.
Style Code No. 7: No Silk
Nothing looks more elegant than a floaty silk dress on tanned skin, I agree! Only that it does not work well with heat: your lovely silk dress will cling to your skin once the temperature hits the 30-degree level. Also, it will attract stains of any kind from sweat to salt water to olive oil from your delicious Spaghetti Alle Vongole.
What to wear instead: Light cotton or linen.
Style code No. 8: diving in
You wouldn't really consider to go swimming with your sunnies on, would you? In that case, you probably won´t dive under water because you are worried about your hair too. This is the completely wrong attitude when close to the sea. Because it makes you look old. Even if you are very young.
What to do instead: Stay at the pool. Or let go and dive in!
Style Code No. 9: No posing
The tackiest beach trend of the last years is the plastic Unicorn. Or Flamingo. Or better, a woman on a plastic swimming device in general. You are not 5. You are a grown-up beach babe. Not seeking for the perfect Instagram picture, but the perfect beach moment. And those cannot and should not be photographed.
What to do instead: Absolutely nothing. Just relax!
Style Code No. 10: Gold Jewellery
I strongly encourage you to buy anything you like at beach bazaars or beach dealers - bikinis, beach cover-ups or towels - apart from jewellery. Not only will you never wear it again after your holidays, because at home, it will suddenly look cheap - strange shell necklaces will also make you instantly look like an unleashed tourist from hell.
What to wear instead: Do it like the Italians and wear your real Gold jewellery. Nothing looks better on tanned skin and shows that you really are a laid-back beach person. You can also mix it with some high-end costume jewellery like style icon Leandra Cohen. Also, what you are wearing cannot be stolen in hotel rooms. It really is all about making everything easy at the beach.