What to Wear to the Beach

The cruelty of summer beauty is best defined by scorching hot sands, ultra-expensive airplane tickets, and the fact that you can’t cram every bucket list to-do between those 3 coveted months. 

We try to soak as much as we can before the August chill hits—and most of us spend the majority of our days setting up shop at the beach. 

Fruity, fun, and the best way to escape ‘urban suffocation,’ warm water stay-cays are just what the doctor ordered. Preparation is key to ensuring an excellent afternoon, which begs the ultimate question—what is considered beach chic attire? 

Before you pack your chilled watermelons, sunhats, and sunscreen bottles, it’s best to shop for a stylish set of swim trunks or a bikini set. 

For those not prepped for hot girl summer—don’t worry; we’ve got your back. We’ll show you what to wear to the beach using 11 different outfit ideas. From cute cover-ups to Cuban shirt ensembles, readers can take care knowing that we only included the best of the best. 

What is Swimwear?

Before we address what to wear at the beach, we thought it best to define swimwear to mitigate any confusion. In short, they’re designed to be water-friendly.

Commonly categorized into bikinis, swim trunks, and one-pieces, swimwear is what you usually fashion at beaches, poolsides, and waterparks. They don’t absorb much liquid compared to cotton or linens, which ultimately prevents drag and that unwanted heavy feeling. 

Swimwear is divided into casual attire or performance garb. If you’re an athlete, we suggest surfer one-pieces, diving suits, and bathing caps made out of high-quality fabrics.

For the purposes of this ‘what to wear to the beach’ article,’ we’ll only focus on the fashion aspect. Be sure to check out our other articles, such as “what to wear white water rafting’ for other recommended outfit ideas. 

What to Wear to the Beach

Let’s address the obvious. You’re never going to reach for a pair of Levis or a grandma-knit sweater when heading off to the beach. Unless you’re hitting tides in sub-degree weather, most of us prefer warm waters instead of arctic cold waves. 

It’s easy to answer the ‘what to wear to the beach’ query with a simple set of shorts, a tee, and a swimsuit underneath—but we’re here to jazz things up a little. Just in case you’re looking to spice up your Insta-feed. 

We’ve got beach day outfit ideas for all genders to enjoy. From Kim K-approved bikinis to conservative but elegant silhouettes, we’re showcasing 11 OOTDs for readers to consider. 

11 Outfit Ideas to Wear to the Beach

So, you’re wondering what to wear to the beach in 30-degree humidity. At this point, you’ve probably ditched clothing altogether—but I’m sure most of you have reservations about visiting a nudie resort. As a better alternative, why not beat the heat by wearing this breezy ensemble? 

Composed of a gingham poplin skirt from Caroline Constas and an asymmetrical white blouse, it’s a super cute OOTD for margarita sipping on the poolside veranda. Of course, the look isn’t complete without a pair of gladiator sandals and a beach style rattan bag. 

Not a fan of booty shorts? If so, we recommend donning a pair of denim dad shorts for a more conservative silhouette. Free of cheeky peeps, these bottoms ensure a supportive fit that’s definitely parent-approved. 

It’s considered one of the best casual beach outfits, as the white racerback tank keeps things light and fresh, while the yellow knotted sweater acts as a backup cover-up in case of chills. We don’t recommend wearing a pair of white sneakers to the beach, but a set of shades are an absolute must. 

The scorching Californian sun warrants as little clothing as possible. Of course, I’m sure that some of you aren’t keen on revealing too much skin. Considered a slight compromise, this unique outfit features a bright orange bikini set concealed by a sheer white dress by Fendi. 

I know, it’s a sultry take on conservative wear, but let’s be honest—sweat stains aren’t sexy. We suggest topping the look off with tarnish-resistant jewelry and a pair of platform espadrilles. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a local lakeside spot or an exotic getaway to Santorini, Greece. Anniversaries require some serious thought when it comes to clothing. For those wondering what to wear for photos on the beach at sunset, we highly recommend a Reformation-style midi dress to mark the occasion.

Elegant, sophisticated, and undeniably sexy in silhouette, this jaw-dropper works to accentuate the decolletage while elongating the legs. Dainty jewelry and a pair of strappy heels are a must. If you’re looking to score all 10s, how about conducting a self-tanning session before the big dinner? 

In terms of ‘what to wear to the beach guys’ outfits, you can’t go wrong with a classic Hawaiian shirt and pair of khaki shorts. For so long, floral prints on bright colors were considered the peak of cheugy fashion—but not anymore. 

The best way to ‘un-cheese’ the tourist-y look is to opt for a half-button down silhouette, a cool pair of shades, and a well-fitted set of beige bottoms. It definitely screams ‘cowabunga dude,’ but in a refreshing sort of way. 

Next up in our “what to wear to the beach men outfit’ lineup is this playful ensemble. It’s an excellent look to consider if you hate monochrome ensembles, as it features a white graphic tee, a pair of green shorts, a baseball cap, and the ultra-famous foam runners by Yeezy. 

We don’t recommend wearing socks to the beach, but it’s considered passable if the shores call for rocks instead of sand. Best paired with a tote bag, this OOTD is perfect for casual picnics by the lakeside. 

The best way to beat the summer heat is to opt for breathable fabrics, such as linen. This two-piece set comes with a collared shirt and a pair of drawstring shorts. Beige in hue, it’s a lightweight ensemble to consider during 30-degree humidity. 

Of course, you can opt for swim trunks to help save some space in your carry-on, but we recommend picking a design that pairs well with the top. 

Looking for more beach outfits for women? How about a matching bikini set with a white cover-up over top? Breathable, chic, and practical for hot and humid days, this summer outfit is the easiest way to answer the ‘what to wear to the beach question.’ 

If you don’t consider yourself a style wizard, opting for the monochrome fit requires little to no OOTD coordination. We suggest picking a design that comes with unique cut-outs of an added twist. Of course, you can never go wrong with a simple one-piece for a more conservative look. 

The sun has gone down, the waters begin to chill, and the fairy lights near shoreline restaurants start to glimmer. By now, you’re probably Googling ‘what to wear to the beach in 60 degree weather’ before you head off to dinner. Instead of opting for a mini skirt, we suggest a midi-length gown as a warmer alternative. 

Don’t worry; it doesn’t encourage any sweat stains, as the linen material keeps things breathable and light. For shoes, we recommend a pair of low-heeled sandals and a cute rattan bag to really imbue those exotic beach vibes. 

Short shorts aren’t for everyone, which is why we’ve included this number in our ‘what to wear to the beach’ lineup. Composed of loose, drawstring bottoms, this outfit is an easy-breezy alternative that keeps things conservative. It’s a great beach coverup after swimming, as the pants help to block out unwanted chills. 

In addition, you can definitely wear this OOTD if you’re wondering what to wear to the beach at night. Just make sure to layer up with a button-up shirt for added warmth. 

Bikinis will forever be a hot girl summer staple, but what about our fellow one-piece bathing suit? With a bit of tweaking, they can definitely surpass that kiddie aesthetic. For instance, this stunning ensemble features a straight-across neckline, spaghetti straps, and super high-waisted leg holes. 

It’s certainly a godsend for shorter girls, as the bathing suit provides the illusion of a short torso with long legs. To top off the look, we recommend a pair of espadrilles and a stylish headscarf to match.

What Type of Beach Outfits Can You Get?

So, have you finally decided what to wear to the beach? From the 11 outfit ideas we’ve featured, there’s a good chance that you’ve picked on a few styling ideas. If not, there’s no need to sweat. We’ll discuss some common OOTDs to consider for your next getaway vacation. 

It’s worth noting that our list consisted of a mix of swimsuits and summer-appropriate ensembles. To carry on with the theme, we thought it best to divide our style directory by type of beach outfit. Without further ado, let’s get started! 


  • The bikini set: Considered the OG of hot girl summer outfits, there’s nothing more classic than donning an itty bitty bralette and a cheeky thong. 
  • One-piece bathing suits: If you’re not a fan of showing too much skin, one-piece suits are definitely the way forward. You can get them in a variety of cuts, ranging from high-waisted to the traditional boxer shorts silhouette. 
  • Swim trunks: In the mood for something loosey-goosey? If so, nothing’s more freeing than a pair of swim trunks. The best thing about this garment is that it comes in a variety of fun prints and patterns.
  • Performancewear: This usually entails diving and surfer suits. They’re typically made out of high-quality spandex or scuba fabric. It’s not meant for casual use, as athletes commonly wear them to enhance their performance. 

Summer-appropriate outfits:

  • Shorts: No summer wardrobe is complete with a set of shorts. This usually includes denim bottoms, bermudas, linen cover-ups, or skorts if you’re feeling extra. 
  • Flowy dresses: July is all about floral print skirts and midi dresses. In our opinion, it’s the best way to beat the summer heat, as this type of garment keeps things light and breathable. 
  • Linen pants: If you’re wondering what to wear to the beach when it’s cold, we suggest a pair of linen bottoms as a breathable yet warmer alternative. 
  • T-shirts: I know, it’s quite a vague category to include—but it should be featured nonetheless. This can entail blouses, crop tops, graphic tees, or button-up shirts. 

How to Choose The Best Beach Outfits

Here’s a controversial tip: the best beach outfits aren’t bought at those cheap roadside vendors. We appreciate the hustle, but not the number of rips and dips we’ll get after one singular use. 

If you want to get the most out of your midi skirt or pair of shorts—it’s best to consider five crucial factors when shopping: price, quality, material, fit, and degree of breathability. We’ll lay down the ground rules in the following paragraphs.

 Summer is the season of sweat stains, melted makeup, and tanning. Naturally, you’ll want to beat the heat by wearing breathable clothing. Fabrics such as linen, organic cotton, rayon, and chambray are considered the most lightweight, so you should be on the lookout for these types of materials. 

Textiles like canvas and leather should be avoided at all costs unless you love the look of perspiration. Of course, it’s important to consider elements such as durability to ensure continued use. Nothing is more disappointing than disposable fashion. 

When it comes to swimwear, fit is incredibly important. You don’t want to end up with a saggy one-piece or a micro bikini. As always, a form-fitting bathing suit is a must, as it helps accentuate your waistline, bust, and legs. We suggest looking at the measurements chart at your chosen shop before hitting checkout. 

In terms of price, you should never settle for super cheap clothing or uber-expensive pieces. You should try to aim for what’s decently affordable. Again, this depends on your personal budget.

How to Style Beach Outfits

Once you’re figured out what to wear to the beach, it’s time to do some additional styling. There’s nothing plainer than an outfit devoid of accessories, which is why we’ll imbue you with some fashion intel. From rattan bags to espadrilles, here are some ways to jazz up your final fit before leaving the house. 

  • Sunhats: no sunscreen swatch is complete with a beautifully woven sunhat. Not only does it pair with several beach outfits, but it also provides a layer of protection. Of course, you can always swap them for a baseball or a bucket hat. 
  • The rattan bag: woven carry-ons are all the rage this summer. If you want to jump on the bohemian bandwagon, it’s best to pair your look with a Jacquemus or a Kate Spade. 
  • Espadrilles: Not keen on ditching heels? If so, we suggest swapping your stilettos with platforms or wedged espadrilles instead. 
  • Tarnish-free jewelry: For those adamant about wearing jewelry to the beach, we recommend fashioning water-resistant alternatives to mitigate any greening or rusting. 
  • Sunglasses: Of course, we can’t end off our list without including a pair of sunnies. This entails aviator-style frames or the classic cat eye. 

Fashion Tips to Avoid With Beach Outfits

Arguably, the best way to tackle the ‘what to wear to the beach’ question is to consider what not to wear. There are dozens of fashion faux pas when it comes to casual summer attire, and boy—do we have a list for you. From sharp stilettos to leather pants, here are some fashion tips to avoid with beach outfits. 

  • Full-length jeans: Let’s leave denim pants for urban wear. If you want to stay cool as a cucumber, it’s best to wear shorts instead of your Levi 501s. 
  • Stilettos: This styling tip is no-brainer, but it’s not a good idea to walk in the sand with your Christian Louboutins. 
  • Leather jackets and pants: Leather is by far one of the sweatiest materials to wear during the summer. Do yourself a favor and sub them out for linen or cotton alternatives instead. 
  • Tights: Like nails on a chalkboard, tights worn on sandy premises imbue the worst vibes. This also includes stockings and socks as well. 
  • The micro bikini: There’s nothing more horrifying than an accidental nip slip. You can easily mitigate this by wearing a bathing suit with more fabric. 

How To Take Care Of Swimwear

Given that most bathing suits and swim trunks are made out of polyester and spandex, you’ll need to pay special attention in terms of care and maintenance. Fortunately, you don’t have to visit your local cleaner to get the job done. We’ll show you how to wash your swimwear using three easy steps. 

  • Use mild detergent only: Harsh substances, like bleach, will often fade the color of your swimsuit. If anything, put a ¼ of a cup of mild detergent in cold water to ensure a gentle wash. 
  • Hand wash only: I know, it’s tempting to throw your swim trunks in the laundry machine. But, if you want to preserve the stretch and durability of your garment, it’s best to hand wash it instead. 
  • Air dry: Tossing your swimsuit in the dryer may weaken the elastic fibers built into the garment. To prevent this, we suggest letting the piece dry over time. 

Best Places to Buy Beach Outfits

Congrats! You finally know what to wear to the beach. Now, here’s an equally more important question: where can you buy the best swimsuits? To help cut down on your shopping time, here are a few recommendations to check out:

  • Miraclesuit
  • Monday Swimwear
  • Summersalt
  • Everlane
  • Ansea
  • Vitamin A 

Final Thoughts

As summer rolls around, magazines and public posters will incessantly remind you to get beach-bod ready. It’s a controversial topic, one that warrants a discussion about body positivity and social standards. 

Arguably, the best way to prepare for the July heat isn’t excessively working out. Instead, it posits a unique opportunity to shop til you drop. It’s the season of bikinis, shorts, cover-ups, and espadrilles; soak in it while you still can. 

Hopefully, by the end of this top 11, you’re one step closer to figuring out what to wear to the beach. From linen pants to pinstripe dresses, our list is anything but short of cute OOTD ideas. 

Now that you’ve made the beach your own personal runway, where else can you flaunt your fashion sense? We have a few ideas:

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