Summer is just around the corner fellas and with that comes beach vacations! We all love to get away and feel the sand between our toes but when the temperature rises it can be difficult to stay looking good and comfortable.
I would know; I live in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam where the temperature stays above 25 degrees celsius all year round. I am also lucky enough to be able to take a beach vacation a few times a year (beaches are close to here and hotels are relatively inexpensive).
Athletic gear will have you looking underdressed and more formal clothing that you might wear on a day-to-day basis will likely make you uncomfortably hot. So what’s a good balance? What are appropriate men’s beach vacation clothes?
Fear not there is a solution, today we give you a 15-item men’s beach vacation wardrobe (my 15-item beach vacation wardrobe!). Trust me, these essential items will help you stay comfortable, cool, and classy no matter how hot it gets.
1. Light Coloured Chinos
Leave the jeans in your closet when packing for a beach vacation. There is no item of clothing that beats the heat so effortlessly and stylishly as a pair of light-colored chinos.
They are also so versatile and can be dressed down with a polo and sandals for a beach stroll or dressed up with a button-down shirt, and a pair of classy loafers for a sea breeze dinner.
If you are a regular reader, you will know that I don’t see chinos as something you should break the bank on. I get mine from Uniqlo which cost about $40 USD. I keep a few pairs in rotation at once. Opt for khaki, stone, and other natural hues to compliment the sand and sun of beach vacation spots.
2. A Polo Shirt
If you are normally a tee-shirt sort of guy when on vacation but want to look a little more mature, classy, and put-together, a polo is your answer.
A good polo shirt is like a blank canvas. You can dress it up with a pair of chinos or dress it down with a pair of shorts and sneakers.
When the temperature rises, there is no better casual option. You can’t go wrong with classic colors like white and navy here.
3. Leather Loafers
The best shoes for summer are undoubtedly loafers.
They are so versatile and dress up or dress down easily. Wear them with shorts, chinos, or even dress pants and no one will bat an eyelid. This also means you really only need two pairs of shoes for a beach vacation; loafers and sandals (see point 7).
While suede loafers look fantastic around the beach, I would recommend a leather pair that can are more water-resistant and easier to clean. If you take care of them, they will last you years. Brown is what I like for loafers as it’s the right mix of laid-back and casual for me.
Shoes are an area where you should splash out a little. Sometimes spending a little more is actually cheaper in the long run.
Make sure they are real good-quality leather and they will serve for years to come. Choose the cheapest ones you can find and you will be lucky if they make it through one or two vacations.
By the beach, you will be wearing sunglasses a lot.
And you should. You need good UV protection. Make sure they are polarized too.
In terms of style, stay away from any that look too sporty and pick up a pair of aviators or something similar. Get a hard case to keep them and don’t leave them on the beach.
5. A Linen Shirt
Linen is a great material to wear in the Summer in general but is especially good for the beach due to its laid back classy quality. The material will keep you feeling and looking cool like no other. It will crease however so make sure to only wear it when appropriate(ie great for the beach, not for your office or formal events).
6. A Pair Of Sandals
I don’t normally recommend sandals for a classy look. Even in summer, in a city, they can look a little too casual. However, for a beach vacation, I would make an exception. They fit in so well.
Avoid plastic and opt for something in leather which can be worn with rolled-up chinos and shorts.
7. Swimming Trunks
It goes without saying that if you are going on a beach vacation, you will want to cool off with a swim in the ocean. For this, you will need some swimming trunks.
I would avoid anything too sporty or skimpy(leave the speedos at home). Opt for a pair in a lighter color with a pattern. I have a pair with light blue stripes.
Also, avoid very long board shorts. For a classic look, your trunks should end a few inches above your knee. Trunks at or below are too long.
8. An Oxford Button Down Shirt
If you are a regular reader of this site, you may have noticed that I continually talk about versatility. I love the versatility. It means one item can be worn for multiple looks. This is especially beneficial for traveling unless you want to lug around a very heavy suitcase.
There is no item of men’s clothing more versatile than an oxford button-down shirt in a plain light color like light blue or white.
These shirts are perfect for a beach vacation as they strike the perfect balance between casual and classy and will keep you looking and feeling good.
9. Chino Shorts
Like sandals, we hesitate to recommend shorts to men who want to look classy. It can be done but shorts often look out of place in big cities. Not so by the beach. Shorts are perfect for beach vacations.
Like chinos, I would recommend opting for a neutral color like khaki or even white to compliment the coastal colors and keep you cool.
In terms of fit, I advise looking for some that finish just above your knee. They should be longer than your swimming trunks but certainly not below your knee. Also, there seems to be a trend of skinny-fitting shorts these days. For a classic look, stay away from these. Unless you are actually very slim, they will make you look and feel like sausage meat!
10. A Sun Hat
A hat to protect your face from the blazing sun is worth its weight in gold.
For the beach, you could wear a simple baseball and for the most part, this will do the trick and with the rest of the items on this list, will give you a preppy, youthful look.
For extra style points, however, and extra protection, you might consider a Panama straw hat. You probably won’t wear this when you are at home in a city or non-coastal area but when you are on a beach vacation, it will be invaluable.
11. A Canvas Bag
You need a bag to carry stuff to the beach and to put some souvenirs in.
We always recommend using a leather briefcase on a day-to-day basis and avoiding backpacks. And for a beach vacation….we still recommend avoiding backpacks.
That said, on a beach vacation you don’t need something as formal as a leather briefcase to look put together.
A canvas bag that you carry by hand is a great option. I use a canvas bag I picked up a Muji for literally a few dollars. I think it’s designed as a reusable shopping bag but its color size and formality work remarkably well for strolling around coastal towns and taking things (like a bottle of wine) to the beach.
12. A Brown Leather Woven Belt
The black belt you wear on a daily basis probably won’t cut it here; it will likely look a little to stuffy. The solution? A brown leather woven belt. These belts sit perfectly between smart and casual and will work just as well with shorts as they will with chinos.
Get one in a similar tone of brown to your loafers and be on your way. Once again, it’s probably worth spending a little more here to get a quality belt that will last you for years to come.
13. No-Show Socks
Often forgotten are socks. The long socks you wear to work or the athletic socks you wear to the gym won’t cut it on a beach vacation. What you need are some no-show socks to wear with your loafers.
Some say that you can wear leather loafers without any socks at all but from experience, I would highly advise against this. If you do any walking in the heat, your feet will sweat.
An easy solution is some no-show socks. They will give you that sockless, casual beach look but also keep you comfortable when walking around.
14. A Merino Wool Sweater
When the sun goes down and the temperature drops, you need something to keep you warm. The solution? A merino wool sweater. The material will keep you warm whilst still being breathable making it suitable for a range of temperatures.
Merino wool also packs very small, is crease-resistant, and naturally, odor resistant making it a great option for a beach vacation, or any traveling really.
15. Optional: A Linen Blazer
If you really want to class up your beach look, a linen blazer is a great addition. One can literally transform an outfit from casual to dapper.
I put this down as an optional piece as it won’t always be necessary and as you may know, blazers can be awkward to travel with. I have a custom-made navy-blue linen blazer which I take on beach vacations if I know there will be some slightly more dressy dinners etc.
If you have a school reunion, birthday party by the beach, or even a casual beach wedding, this should be in your suitcase.
That’s it for today fellas.
I hope you found this post helpful and that it has given you some ideas on how you might construct a beach vacation wardrobe that works for your needs.
If you think I have forgotten something important, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.