What is Resort Elegant Attire?

Ready for your next exotic getaway but unsure of what to pack? While you may be spending most of your time near the water or exploring nearby hiking trails or cultural landmarks, it’s smart to pack more than sexy designer swimwear and your favorite athletic wear for the journey. Even if you want to keep the packing as light as possible, there’s always room for a few outfits when the occasion calls for elegant attire. 

What is elegant resort attire and what kind of clothing is appropriate? Don’t let the term “elegant” throw you off from what’s expected when staying at a resort. It doesn’t necessarily mean formal resort attire where you'd have to dress to the nines in a gown with perfectly styled hair and a full face of makeup. However, the expectation does mean wearing more than a swimsuit cover up and flip flops when you’re out dining or attending different events. 

During the day, beach dresses are a wardrobe staple for resort elegant attire. They’re comfortable, flattering, and fashionable all in one outfit. Plus, they don’t take up much space in the suitcase. Roll up your favorite styles to conserve packing room and have an assortment of options available when traveling. One of the keys to resort wear fashion is to dress it up or down with beach accessories


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Jewelry, shoes, scarves, and jackets all change the look of any dress, jumpsuit, or skirt you pack. This makes mix-and-matching resort outfits easier to adapt to the occasion. From beachside cocktails to multi-course dinners at gourmet restaurants and daytime weddings to evening gatherings, you’ll have all you need with only a few key pieces. Knowing the difference between resort elegant and resort casual attire, when to wear each, and how to pack for both will set you up nicely for your next vacation.

Resort Elegant Attire vs. Resort Casual Attire

Resort elegant attire is typically reserved for evening wear. After you’ve spent the day adventuring and are ready for a relaxing night filled with delicious food, cocktails, and entertainment, it’s time to change your look from day to night. Popular resort elegant attire includes maxi dressesbeach skirts (with thicker fabrics and fuller coverage), and jumpsuits. Adding designer sleeveless tops to your ensemble can elevate your look, especially when paired with elegant beach sandals or low heels to create an elegant resort dress code.

In certain situations, a beach mini dress and a pair of stilettos may be called for, but rarely is an evening gown and excess jewelry necessary for where you’re at. A resort elegant dress code is typically instituted at five-star resorts and onboard premium cruise lines and is always culturally appropriate for various regions of the world. It’s important to be aware that in some places, it’s important to be more covered up when going out for the evening or even when sightseeing around the town. 

Compared to resort elegant attire, resort casual attire is significantly pared down. Shorts, cover ups, and sandals are all welcome to wear. However, if you’re staying at a resort, think about the style of shorts or cover ups you want to wear. You can stay comfortable and classy at the same time with printed shorts over cutoffs, long elegant cover ups rather than ratty tees, and sandals that are easy to wear but still convey a polished look. 

One of the best things about being on vacation is playing with fashion and wearing clothes you wouldn’t normally wear in your day-to-day work and home life. Feel free to dress things up the next time you have a trip planned. Evening resort wear doesn’t have to be a high-maintenance look. It feels good to plan an outfit from head to toe and feel extra confident when you walk out the door. When it doubt, it’s always best to go dressier than casual. 

Resort Elegant Dress Code: What to Wear

To inspire your packing list of resort elegant attire, we have a few of our favorite recommendations to wear on your next weekend resort getaway. 

For a pop of color with a unique print, the Emily Long Dress rises to the occasion in terms of dressy resort attire. The modest neckline and gold hardware has a sexy appeal without being too risque. A racer back provides a  comfortable look that’s easy to dress up or down as needed. Add a pair of flat, neutral sandals and minimal jewelry during the day and swap out the sandals for wedges and a loose-fitting jacket or cardigan to transition to the evening. 

Additionally, the Black Luana Dress is a staple that can be transformed for a special occasion or a more laid-back one. By starting with such a classic staple, it’s easy to meet any resort elegant dress code. The sexy cutout look and leg slit keeps the look resort-ready and ideal for warmer temps. Pair with metallic sandals and statement earrings for a purely sophisticated look or try with a colorful pair of espadrilles and dangly earrings for a festive take. Either way, this dress can be worn in many different ways, day or night, and is a must-have for any tropical destination.

If you want another option in addition to dresses or skirts, a designer jumpsuit is a classy way to meet a resort wear elegant dress code. The Serena Jumpsuit, in particular, allows the shape and color of your outfit to make a statement. The billowing detail and tapered leg make the look feel fresh and modern, without the need for too many extra accessories. Just pull your hair back and show off a pair of statement earrings or leave your hair loose and add a fresh flower tucked behind your ear. Put your own personal spin on this one-piece outfit to create your resort elegant look.

For a fourth versatile piece to pack, the Ananda Pants is an elegant choice that works for a casual or elegant resort look. The belt and side pockets are comfortable for all-day wear and the streamlined silhouette it creates on the bottom is the perfect pairing for a bodysuit or flowy top. Remember, dresses aren’t the only option when it comes to resort elegant attire - you can stay stylish in a great pair of vacation pants as well. Plus, black never goes out of style and serves as a go-to base for any occasion.

When it comes to dressy resort attire, consider what’s most flattering to your figure and what you feel the most confident wearing. Beach dresses with longer lengths give you movement, but have enough style to be polished for a fancy dinner or night of dancing. Alternatively, a jumpsuit worn in the evening is an unexpected choice that leaves a fashionable statement, especially if you play up the look with jewelry and stunning shoes. Adding a few of these items to your wardrobe allows you to be prepared wherever you plan to go to next.

How to Determine the Resort Dress Code

Most resorts have more relaxed rules about what to wear, but many offer recommendations of what attire is appropriate on their website. If you’re unsure of what to wear, you can always call the concierge to ask, especially if you have special events planned, such as a birthday celebration or beachside wedding. Also, what’s allowed on the resort may not be the case when dining in town. You want to make sure to honor where you are in the world and what is deemed suitable for various occasions. 

When traveling internationally, do some research on what’s usually expected in terms of dress to have guidelines to follow. This will help you determine how dressy you need to be and will keep you informed of potential changes in weather from day to night. Certain regions require covered knees and shoulders when exploring historical buildings or temples. In addition, some areas cool off significantly when the sun goes down, so you don’t want to be left shivering in a sleeveless dress without a light jacket to cover your shoulders.

It will help you feel more confident in what you’ve packed if you know what kind of conditions to expect. Having the right resort wear options make a difference. Every plan needs room for spontaneity, especially when away from your regular routine. It’s nice to have flexibility in what you wear depending on the weather, occasion, and mood. 

Pack for Your Personality

After you know the basics of what to pack, it all comes down to your own personal style. Add flair to any outfit based on your personality and what you like to wear the most. If your wardrobe consists of all-black clothing, stay in your comfort zone with an LBD and a few, neutral pieces. Or, if color is the name of your fashion game, go bold with unique prints and designs. 

On the other hand, vacation is a time to switch things up if you want to get out of your normal routine. Think of it as a way to take chances with your fashion, as resort elegant attire still has an element of playfulness to it so being buttoned up and fully covered isn’t a requirement. Feel free to bare your shoulders, show off your shape, and have fun with your clothing. It’s all about finding the right balance of sexy sophistication that you feel comfortable wearing as you travel around the globe.