How to Pack for A Beach Getaway

I once rolled around with Miley Cyrus on the sandy beaches of Fire Island. As one could imagine, this drew a great deal of positive attention from the fierce, fabulous, and fashionable Pine’s boys as they strutted past me down the catwalk on the shores. While I received many nods of approval, that day was actually marred by some of my worst fashion faux pas, the horrors of which not even Joan Rivers could describe.

I remember it like it was yesterday. A group of us were spending the night in Long Island and decided to take an impromptu trip to Fire Island, Pines. Relatively new to New York, I had no idea that when it comes to fashion and fun, Fire Island is no squirrely armature high school trip to the local lake. None of us had packed for the beach, so we piled in the car and hit the strip “mawl” to stock up on beef jerky and sunscreen. I also purchased a Miley Cyrus “Hannah Montana” towel, as it was one of the last beach towels available at Target.

For those of you not familiar with Fire Island, it is a LGBTQ paradise where a day at the beach is just a warm-up for all night dancing, cruising, hooking up, and looking fly. (The Pines is known for attracting muscle boys and Cherry Grove is known for attracting the lesbros.) While the boys got a kick out of my Hanna Montana towel, I was entirely under-dressed and self conscious for the parties that followed. I recall carrying around my clothes in a plastic grocery bag, hoping that the bag wouldn’t rip and spill the contents all over someone’s designer sandals and matching swim trunks.

Some of you may be thinking that this post is so ridiculous and materialistic. I mean, fashion advice for the beach? REALLY? I can imagine the eyes rolling as I type. But here’s the thing – even if you do not care two cents about fashion, the beach (like airplanes, trains, the woods, etc.) is one of those places where you can find yourself really uncomfortable if you’re not prepared. I mean eaten by mosquitoes, burnt to a crisp, holding up your saggy shorts, freezing cold as the sun sets, while walking around with garlic hummus breath.

For those of you who DO care about fashion, let me tell you something that I learned that day; the beach is one of the best places to flaunt your dapper. You may not be able to rock a bow tie on the sand (and, as a femme, I certainly can’t rock my stilettos), but you can certainly look put together and be prepared for anything from flirting to networking. You never know! And, if you’re like me, you want your outsides to match your insides…and I don’t feel like a hot mess, if ya know what I mean.

So, let’s start from the start and build ourselves a little beach getaway bag filled with all the necessities.

Bag It!

You’re gonna need something to put all your beach necessities in. It can be a tote or a duffle, depending on how long you plan to stay (the day, a weekend, a week). Just make sure you’ve got something sturdier than a plastic grocery bag to hold all your items. A reusable bag is “greener” anyway. You can get high-end bags ranging from $50-600 from retailers like A.P.C. and Jack Spade, and affordable bags ranging from $20 (tote) – $45 (duffle) at L.L. Bean.

Stay Organized!

A dopp kit is a must for any dapperQ who travels anywhere. Your dopp will keep all your toiletries organized so you’re not endlessly digging around in your bags trying to find your sunscreen and toothpaste; and if either one should burst open, the gooey mess will be contained to the dopp and not end up all over your clothes. Always keep your dopp stocked (ChapStick, mouthwash, razors, deodorant, etc.) so you can grab and go whenever you want to hit the road. High-end dopp kits, like the one pictured from Jack Spade, can run $100 and up. Pottery Barn carries mid-range kits from $40. You can often find nice water-resistant dopps by Ricardo Beverly Hills on sale from $20. Google it!

Functional Swim Trunks!

Try to find a swim trunk or board short that can pass for shorts. This way, you can throw a hoodie or button-down over them and be ready for a fireside clambake, romantic seaside dinner, or B.B.Q. with the bois without looking like your parents just pulled you out of the plastic kiddie pool. These Orlebar Brown tailored shorts are an investment at $240, but Onia, American Eagle, and Quicksilver carry affordable options ranging from $25-130.

Cover Up!

Ok, we know to pack t-shirts and tank tops. But many of us forget about that P.M. sea breeze and post-sunburn chill. A nice button-down and/or a good hoodie will keep you warm as well as prepared to transition from beach to casual nighttime events. You can find affordable button-downs (like the one pictured here) at Aeropostale for about $20, and hoodies at retailers like J.Crew, Gap, and American Eagle from $30-$70.

Bottoms Up!

If you’re going on a beach vacation, a pair of jeans or khakis will suffice for gatherings and dinners that are too casual for dress pants but require attire more dressy than shorts. These jeans are from Abercrombie, but jean shopping is hellish for just about everyone so I’m not going to say these are “THE” ones for you. Dyke Duds offers some good advice/discussions re jeans and fit. Colored khakis are big this season; find them at J.Crew and the Gap.

Slip It On!

The debate raged on a few posts ago about whether menswear sandals are a “do” or a “don’t.” You all know where I stand, but I say that if flip-flops were acceptable anywhere, it would be the beach. (Grooming rules still apply.) However, flip-flops are a dime a dozen and you don’t need me to hold your hand to find a pair. Instead, I’m going to recommend something a bit fresher and more fashionable. Aldo Leppert espadrilles (top) and SWIMS rubber boat shoes are appropriate for the beach as well as for seaside nightlife.

Cherry on Top!

Now that you know what to pack and how to flaunt it, you’re future’s so bright, you’ve gotta wear shades! Don’t forget them!

Anita Dolce Vita

Fashion and culture blogger featured in Newsweek's Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Curve, Autostraddle, MTV/LOGO's AfterEllen, SF Weekly, Globe & Mail, DIVA, GO Mag, Beijing Review, and Bosnia's Manjine.BA. Education/Credentials: University of New Mexico (B.A., magna cum laude); New York University (MPA, top marks); SUNY Downstate Medical Center (BSN, cum laude); NYS RN.

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