Warm weather and the balmy sea air are good excuses to shed yourself of the constricting layers of workaday wear, but of course, there are some body secrets that you’d like to keep.
Here a couple of suggestions for that to include in your bag:
Sarongs are the easy, versatile staple of beach wear—a towel on the fly, a mat in a pinch and so many ways to tie to suit your needs. It’d be good to have at least one in your arsenal, in a bold pattern that makes you happy or in a soft wash of color to offset a vibrant swimsuit. Because there are at least three ways to tie it—around the waist, over the chest or slung over your shoulder—it can complement any body type except if you’d like more arm coverage. A sarong can be dressed up, but it’s best kept beach- and pool-side.
In addition, a lovely boho alternative would be the peasant skirt, low slung over generous hips. It can still double as a strapless dress, just use a belt to cinch it.
SHORTS, OR PANTS OF DIFFERENT LENGTHS
The most utilitarian cover-up, this is definitely for women who don’t mind baring their torsos. (Of course, a shirt, tank, or hoodie is easy to slip on, but that isn’t necessarily seaside garb.) Ranging from the every girl’s denim cut-offs to elegant drawstring linen pants, they’re a breeze to pull on and when paired with a suitable top could can take you to the more formal seaside places. The numerous fabric and cut options make this suitable for any body type, save for the leg that is cut too close. Like leggings since they may be too constricting for a shore day—anything that body-conscious is usually a wetsuit, and unfortunately that doesn’t really flatter anyone human. The length and how it rides your hips make a difference, too: Creating an illusion of or accentuating hips and booty? Keep it low slung. Petite? Go for shorts or full-length pants—the many mid options would cut you in a most unflattering manner. And always always get a pair that fits you well, no muffin tops please— some jelly belly is surprisingly sexy if it’s not being choked by an unforgiving waistband.
If your fabric options for bottoms are limitless, your tops should definitely have to be cotton or at least some blend of it. And though the different lengths would make this versatile enough to be a dress, fitting poorly over the shoulders is most unflattering. A too-long cuff can always be folded, too loose at the shoulders will make you look sloppy and not casual. Make sure though that the tunic skims your hips and is not held in place by them—this will camouflage a heavy lunch. If belted, make sure that it’s long enough first—and this will provide a waist for those with a more linear silhouette. Not sure where to get one? Try the tunic-and-pants combo from Natori, which is shown in the picture.
The neckline of these tunics go a little deeper, allowing some of your bikini top to peek through and will draw attention up to where it should be—your bronze goddess face.
Dresses are a personal favorite. Pick silhouettes that you would usually get for city wear, in fabrics that are softer and lighter. Consider patterns and colors that are bolder and brighter without being costume-y. (No, you don’t have to wear gumamela print.)
If you really can’t abide by bright colors, try jewel tones. Do consider baring your arms, if not for the warm weather, but for a more even tan. The strapless, halter, or spaghetti strap options can always be balanced out by a maxi option. If you have more curves than most, you may want to make sure that your dress cinches at the waist—a tent dress usually rounds you out instead of holding your form. Halter dresses are great for enhancing your natural cleavage, while tubed or strapless styles draw attention to well-formed shoulders. The key is matching the cut of the dress to what you want to hide and what you want to show off.
Caftans are the more dramatic cousins of the tunic. The sleeves open up to a bell shape or may seem like butterfly wings. The abundance of fabric creates soft layers hint at your curves while concealing at the same time.
They're ideal for most body types, but those who are petite should consider the shorter, mid-thigh options lest the full-length ones swallow them whole. The blue caftan from Natori shown in the picture looks both attractive and comfortable, but is unfortunately not made for the vertically challenged.
Most importantly, choose cover-ups that you can forget about, throw them on and you're set. So you can focus on what you’re there for—to take a vacation from real life.
(Photos for sarongs, shorts, and dresses by Paolo Pineda; photos of tunics and caftans courtesy of Natori)