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Casual Resort Wear: Dos, Don’ts, & Styling Tips


casual resort wear

Casual Resort Attire

Vacation season is just around the corner! Is your wardrobe ready for your next getaway? If you’re headed somewhere with a dress code, it might be time to update your vacation wear. 

These days, having casual resort wear on your packing list is a must. Hotels, cruise ships, and all-inclusive resorts all have dress codes, usually adhering to resort casual attire. 

Thankfully, this guide to resort wear will help you learn the dos and don’ts, plus offers fashion advice, and staples you should always have in your suitcase.

What Is Resort Casual Wear?

Simply stated, resort casual is clothing that’s appropriate for a semi-casual evening out. Think about it as the next level up from casual resort wear. It’s not exactly semi-formal, but it’s also not too laidback. Typically, it’s worn during the day and in the early evening. 

The trick is to pack pieces that have a crossover appeal. Dresses, chic shorts, woven tops: these are all perfect for resort casual. Shoes like fashion sandals or open-toe heels are a good final touch.

Check out this resort wear style video for a more in-depth look:

Women’s Casual Resort: Dos & Don’ts 

First, let’s talk dos and don’ts of casual resort wear and attire:

Do:
  • Opt for colorful dresses and tops with personality. Just because there’s a dress code doesn’t mean you have to leave eye-catching pieces at home.
  • Choose breathable fabrics like cotton and linen or flowy fabrics like silk. These fabrics will help you look chic and stay cool.
  • Wear upscale athleisure wear like polo shirts and skorts. These items should be ready for adventure without looking too much like sportswear. 
  • Add accessories that give looks sophistication. Simple gold and silver tone pieces go a long way, but so do chunky necklaces and large sunglasses.
  • Check the weather to be sure you have what you need. Make sure you have pieces that are right for the climate and inclement weather.
  • See what other vacationers are wearing. Checking out your destination's social media accounts can be helpful when you’re having trouble deciding what to bring.
  • Check the destination’s website for dress code tips. Usually, you can check with your destination to ensure you’re on the right track.
Don’t:
  • Get too formal with pieces like cocktail dresses unless specified. You may need semi-formal pieces, but only wear them when it’s requested.
  • Wear flip flops, tank tops, cut off shorts, pajamas, or gym attire. Relaxed and casual are not the same thing; go for casual resort attire rather than relaxed sporty looks.
  • Bring distressed items (like jeans), even if they are fashion forward. While ripped jeans might be in style, they just aren’t right for casual resort dress.
  • Overpack – just bring what you need. It can be enticing to bring your whole wardrobe, but that only leads to more confusion. If you need help minimizing your packing list, try creating a travel capsule.
  • Dress out of your comfort zone. Even though there’s a dress code, only bring pieces that make you feel comfortable.
  • Stress. Most likely, you’ll have the right pieces with you, so long as you prepare.

Style Tips for Women’s Casual Resort Wear

Now that you have the dos and don’ts, here are some tips to further refine your selection of casual resort clothes.

  • Go for polished, yet casual. This means button front shirts paired with denim crops, sundresses finished with heeled sandals, and skorts matched with polos. Each of these pairings is one part polished, one part casual. For example, while the button front top is polished, the denim crops are more casual.

  • Pair prints with solids. This tip works for pretty much any packing list: print tops and solid bottoms or print bottoms with solid tops create multiple looks. That way, you can mix and match tops with bottoms without sacrificing style – or looking as if you’re wearing the same outfit over and over.

  • Accessories are important. Accent pieces shouldn’t be an afterthought. Carefully select standout items that add character or refinement to your look. When done right, accessories add an extra element of style. Consider your looks and locale, then decide what needs to come along with you. For instance, if you’re going someplace sunny, you’re going to need a sun hat and fashionable sunglasses.

Styling Resort Casual Attire

Now that dos, don’ts, and fashion tips have been covered, it’s time to introduce the must-have pieces for your resort wear packing list:

Sundresses

At least one easy, breezy sundress is required. In fact, depending on your destination, dresses may be a top selection for resort casual looks. Lightweight, flowy fabrics like cotton are your best friend, especially if you’re headed somewhere tropical. Paired with fashion sandals, dresses are the definition of polished yet casual.

casual resort wear
This silk blend print dress is vibrant, comfortable and dress-code appropriate.

Button Front Shirts

It’s easy to create fresh, versatile looks with button front shirts. They have a timeless cut and fit with crisp, clean style. Plus, they can be worn as shirts or jackets, especially if they’re tunic length. Dress them up with pull-on pants or dress them down with fashion shorts. Go with a No Iron button-down shirt so you can minimize care.

casual resort wear
Stripe button front shirts paired with elevated shorts are perfect for days on the deck.

Blouses

Just like a button front shirt, a blouse adds an element of sophistication. Sold or print woven tops are a step above knit fashion tees. Blouses are sleeker and more elegant, making them key for dressing up denim. Plus, they’re often crafted with an easy body so they’re easy to wear.

casual resort wear
This print pullover blouse elevates the wide leg jeans, especially when finished with heels.

Knit Tops

On the other hand, it’s necessary to bring some easy knit tops as well. Just don’t go too easy. Pick pieces that are a blend of ease and fashion. Knit bodies with woven accents have just the right look and feel for pairing with wide leg pants. 

casual resort wear
This easy knit body features a feminine woven ruffle accent – a perfect blend of comfort and style.

Chic Shorts

Sometimes you just have to bring shorts. Warmer locales require cooler resort casual clothes so you can stay comfortable. However, that doesn’t mean any style will do. Only opt for shorts if they’re designed with a modest length and fashionable details. If possible, avoid denim and opt for cotton or linen blend. Always pair them with something slightly more elevated, like a button front shirt or blouse.

casual resort wear
These sailor button shorts are a perfect length and have adorable details perfect for cruise and resort wear.

Wide Leg Pants

Of course, you’ll need a good pair of pants. Wide leg pants not only have a trending leg shape, but they’re also wildly comfortable. This leg shape is usually fitted through the hips, with a wider leg from thighs to hem. The fitted midsection offers a polished look, and the wide leg has a relaxed feel – exactly what you need for casual resort wear.

casual resort wear
Create an easy chic look with stripe wide leg pants and a solid color fashion knit top.

Denim Capris

Are jeans resort casual? Well, it depends. Denim is okay, so long as it can be dressed up. Make sure the denim doesn’t look worn and isn’t distressed. Plus, choose a style that isn’t too bulky or relaxed. While a wide leg fit on pants gives them just the right feel for resort casual, on denim a wide leg fit might be too relaxed. 

casual resort wear
Slim leg capris in white or black are more elevated and appropriate for women’s casual resort attire.

Ponchos

Ponchos are an underrated resort casual wear option. They’re versatile since they can be worn as a top or covering. Plus, when worn as a covering, they can hide a tank underneath while giving a polished, breezy look. That way you can cool off in your room without the poncho, and then put it back on when you’re ready to head out for brunch.

casual resort wear
This knitted poncho conceals a tank underneath, giving it an airy yet appropriate look for women’s resort casual attire.

Jackets

Bringing a light topper is a good idea. Even if you’re going to a warm climate, the dining rooms and event spaces may still be cold. Jackets made from lightweight materials like cotton are your best bet. Make sure you choose something versatile enough to match with most of your looks, but standout enough to qualify as resort casual.

casual resort wear
This moto jacket features embroidered palms on cotton blend fabric, making it the ideal look and weight for resort wear.

Swimwear

If you’re going to a tropical resort or on a cruise, there’s no doubt you’ll need swimwear. The first tip for resort attire swimwear is to pick reserved pieces, like a one piece worn with a modest coverup. Always remember to only wear swim attire when it’s appropriate, like when you’re relaxing by the pool.

casual resort wear
This button front coverup is a modest length, isn’t too sheer, and has long sleeves.

Casual Resort Wear Style is Calling

It’s the right time of year to answer the call of resort wear style. With new trends just emerging, you can stay in fashion and follow the dress code. Shop Chico’s for all your resort casual attire, from tops to bottoms, shoes to accessories.