Ready for your next tropical getaway? The resort is booked, the countdown is on, and now it's time to decide what to wear while on vacation. Certain resorts and hotels have resort casual dress guidelines to follow when on the property so make sure you're prepared. But wait, what is resort casual and how will it affect how you pack? Don't worry, it's not as strict of a dress code as you might imagine. Think of it as a sophisticated spin on your wear for warm weather. Keep your resort outfits light and laid-back, but tastefully sexy and polished at the same time.

For example, at home, you may rock sexy designer swimwear or a polo shirt and a pair of cutoffs, which is perfectly fine for a day spent by the pool. However, at a resort or on a cruise ship, the acceptable attire tends to call for something a little more conservative. Shorts are still an option, but keep it covered up with an appropriate length and fit. Common resort wear also includes summer beach dresses, pants, or maxi skirts, and a flowy blouse (leave your well-worn t-shirts at home this time).

To sum up resort casual dress code, it's comfort meets classy. Some resorts will have specific details about their dress code, while others will have a general unspoken rule about what works and what doesn't. Consider your options as you plan for your next beach adventure. Where are you going and what activities will you have on your agenda? This makes a difference in what ends up in your suitcase and what can be left behind. You might even find that the dress code calls for resort elegant attire at certain times or in certain parts of the resort. Let's explain all there is to know about a resort casual dress code so you can be prepared for your next vacation.

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When To Wear Resort Casual Attire

Resort attire is best suited for beachfront properties where most of your days will be spent by the pool or on the beach, but with shopping and dining close by. It also applies if you're on a cruise or in a destination with tropical weather where you want to stay cool but still be respectful of the culture. Comfort is key, but some areas call for a more conservative dress than others. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be so you can dress appropriately and comfortably.

While many weekend resorts have explicit stipulations around guest dress codes, others have a general unspoken rule about what works and what may earn you a disapproving scowl from the couple in suite 22D. 

You’ll want to pack resort casual dress if you’re finding your bliss at any of the following types of establishments:

  • Resorts
  • Beachside hotels
  • Spas
  • Cruises
  • Country clubs

Resort Casual: What To Wear For Every Occasion

Now that we’ve established the no-no’s, it’s time to dive into the myriad options there are for resort casual wear. Beach dresses, maxi skirts, and flowy blouses are all some go-to’s for those headed to a seaside destination—but your warm-weather wardrobe should also account for whatever activities are on your agenda.

Below, we’ve laid out outfits for 4 enticing vacation activities, from horseback riding to outdoor dining, so you can look the part no matter what your vacation has in store.

Model in blue tunic

#1 Resort Casual for the Pool, Beach, and Spa

When relaxing by the pool or getting ready for a pampering treatment, you need little else than your bathing suit, beach sandals, and a colorful cover up to take you through the day. This makes sense for the location and activity since you'll be spending most of your time in the water, sunning on the sand, or setting in for a massage. No need to worry about covering up or being conservative as it’s a relaxed beach setting, so you can bring out that new swimsuit and get your tan on!

Beach cover ups like the Alice Short Chemise and Anni Kimono are ideal selections to slip on and off as you switch from time spent at the pool, to the beach, and back at the spa. The deep hues, flowy sleeves, and embroidery detailing will amp up the elegance for this casual daytime look. These come in handy for the times when you don’t want to be walking around in your bathing suit but you also don’t want to put on a whole outfit. Our beach cover ups are the perfect medium between coverage and comfort.

To find out what types of bathing suits work for you and a resort casual scene, check out our blog.

#2 Resort Casual for Shopping and Dining

No need to restyle your beach-brined hair before you head from beach to town! If you have the right cover-up in tow, your outfit will do the gussying up for you so you can enjoy shopping or a late lunch in style. A few details to keep in mind:

  • Opt for a cover-up that’s not as short as the ones you may sport by the pool. The Gisa Short Dress keeps hemlines high while providing the coverage (and style) you’ll need on a shopping spree.
  • If you’re headed out for a bite, choose fabrics that veer opaque, rather than sheer. The Emily Caftan lives up to its name while keeping you feeling airy and cool in cotton.
  • Pick a cover-up that adds shape without being too much of a hassle to slip on, like the Braid Caftan. The classiness and versatility of this piece will make it easy for you to create day and night looks such as a beach date outfit.

#3 Resort Casual for Boating and Beach Time

Headed for the docks? If boating and beach time is on the agenda, you’ll want an outfit that can seamlessly adapt to land and sea. 

If the occasion is on the preppier side, aim for high-quality fabrics with a crisp cut, like the off-white linen Laura Blouse to show off your tan. Remember that the sun can get extra strong on the ocean, particularly between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. In addition to SPF, you’ll want to wear a straw hat or wide-brimmed visor to give your bikini-sarong ensemble a more sophisticated feel—while leveling up your sun coverage.

Dropping an anchor at a nearby town for a sunset cocktail hour? Take a lush, ankle-skimming dress in vibrant hues like the Namaste Winnie Dress, which will dazzle at the golden hour.

Model walking on the beach in resort casual

#4 Resort Casual for Dinner And Drinks

Being on "vacation time" means there's no separation between spending time on the beach and when it's time to get primped and polished for dinner and drinks. If you need to get ready in a cinch, you'll want a look you can take from day to night:

  • Choosing a two-piece look saves you the minutes spent with your entire suitcase spilled on the suite room floor. With an hourglass-enhancing set like the Lurex Slim Wrap Top and Bandhani Klein Fringe Scarf, your ensemble is already pre-styled, so that you can head into a sultry night out.
  • If you’ve taken your time rinsing off the sea in the shower, lean on the foolproof little black dress to take the guesswork out of the night’s outfit. The Alana Midi Dress gives Old Hollywood glam, with a sweetheart neckline and flattering crepe textile that will make any wearer feel like Marilyn Monroe.
  • If there’s any occasion to choose a showstopping look, it’s your last night out. The vibrant Asha Gisa Midi Dress adds interest with an asymmetrical hemline and deep neckline to tread between sleek and demure. Pair with some gold hoops to bring out your sun-kissed skin.

To complete your day-to-evening look, throw on a pair of glitzy gladiator sandals like the ViX Paige Sandal, which won’t have you feeling sore after a night of dancing at the local cantina.

Resort Casual: What Not To Wear

Before we dive into the many options for resort casual attire, here are a few styles you can rule out from the get-go:

  • Cut-offs – That pair of jean shorts you like to pair with a crop top to clean the house in? Nix ‘em. While modern times have made some styles of shorts appropriate resort wear options, consider your cut-offs off the table. If you do bring shorts, make sure they’re hemmed no higher than-mid thigh, have a looser fit, and are made of a fabric like khaki or linen.
  • Jeans – As a general rule, jeans toe the line between resort casual and casual-casual. Some styles may be more appropriate than others, like high-end, crisp dark washes or starch-white styles, but you may stick out of the crowd if you wear jeans to a nice dinner out. Furthermore, they’re not the most comfortable option, particularly if the weather is scorching hot. The better alternative would be a pair of linen pants. They are light enough to be comfortable on a humid day, but formal enough to pass in a classy resort.
  • Tank tops – The tank-top is another garment that tests the boundaries of resort casual. If you do pack one, make sure the straps are at least 4 fingers wide, and that you pair it with a stylish cover-up like a cardigan, silky beach cover-up, or a gauzy top.  If you still want to wear sleeveless attire while you're out and about, how about going for a summery cocktail dress? Or a maxi dress? Both options can be worn throughout the day or as resort evening wear. The point is there are more formal options than tank tops.
  • T-shirts – T-shirts aren’t appropriate attire for most restaurants in your day-to-day life, and they don’t belong on a posh vacation either. Feel free to rep your love for Radiohead in the privacy of your bedroom, but keep your band preferences to yourself in social resort spaces. Frankly speaking, the aloha shirt is outdated and overrated anyway. Instead, find a dress shirt that looks formal enough for a high-class resort but still comfortable enough to wear on a hot summer day.
  • Flip flops – Don’t forget your feet when planning your vacation outfits. Sandals are a great way to stay casual and cool, but keep flip-flops out of the mix—especially the ones you bought on a whim in the checkout line at CVS. But you don't have to go frolicking in strappy sandals either. Instead of tacky flip-flops, try wearing boat shoe style footwear. Not only do they elevate your attire, but they also keep your feet comfortable. 
  • Swimsuits – Naturally, you’ll be wearing swimsuits during your long days lazing by the beach or poolside—but don’t wear your bikini top to lunch at the resort. The same rule applies to men and their favorite swim trunks (sorry, guys).

Make no mistake—everyone has a well-worn favorite t-shirt, gauzy (and semi-transparent) pair of gauchos, or a designer swimsuit they break out on days spent by the pool. These garments may fly in private, but at a resort or cruise, you’ll need to err on the conservative side. Of course, these are just general examples. If you want to know for sure what not to wear, check the resort’s dress code. 

Woman in animal print dress

Keep It (Resort) Casual in ViX Swimwear

Now that you're savvy about what resort casual is, take your fashion up a notch when on vacation by bringing along resort outfits that simultaneously look pulled together and are still comfortable to wear. When you factor in both to the clothing equation, you'll achieve the ideal resort casual look that many destinations require. Likely, you already have several pieces in your wardrobe that will work. Just remember that when you make your selections, choose casual clothing that moves with you for all of your beach-friendly activities and fits your personal style.

Whether you lean more toward shorts, skirts, dresses, or pants, choose quality fabrics, special design details, and longer lengths to fit this type of dress code. Fortunately, these options pack well because they don’t take up too much space in the suitcase. When planning your vacation wardrobe for your next weekend resort getaway, the clothing you pack doesn’t have to be fancy or fussy but it also shouldn’t be overly laid-back. Resort casual attire hits the sweet spot in between and makes dressing for a vacation feel fun and special.


Sources: 

  1. Ocean Reef Vacation Rentals & Real Estate. What is Resort Casual?
  2. https://www.oceanreefresorts.com/blogs/what-resort-casual#:~:text=Resort%20Casual%20refers%20to%20styles,%E2%80%9Cpreppy%E2%80%9D%20or%20Ivy%20League.
  3. Healthline. Is There a Best Time to Tan Outside in the Sun?
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/best-time-to-tan#best-time-to-tan