If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, WWD may receive an affiliate commission.
Travel is finally back and whether you have grand plans for far away getaways, or simply a day trip to your local seashore, cute beach outfits are a must when it comes to summer shopping. If you’re aiming to keep things casual and cute, or prefer statement-making pairings that will stand out in a crowd, you will want to inject a little playfulness into your beach look.
“I think what makes beach dressing fun and fashionable is the freedom to try something new and embrace a look outside your typical style,” Patricia Bonaldi, founder and creative director of PatBo, tells WWD. “I know so many New Yorkers who wear head-to-toe black in the city, but lean into color and print for the beach as a fun, different expression of their style.”
What to Wear to the Beach
We saw a lot of runway trends perfect for the beach this Spring/Summer 2022 season. Vacation was on many designers’ minds, from crochet summer dresses at Gabriela Hearst and Jonathan Simkhai, to surfer style taking center stage at Stella McCartney, Etro and Isabel Marant. Even the return of gladiator and other cute summer sandals at Alberta Ferretti and Valentino, instantly sparked ideas of dreamy, vacation-ready outfits. However, both our experts agree, you don’t have to follow the trends when it comes to forming your perfect beach capsule wardrobe.
“I personally don’t tend to follow trends; I dress with my gut and what makes me feel good,” Bonaldi says. “I also love exactly that — a beach wardrobe! — pieces that are versatile and not just swim, but for the boat, seaside dinners and exploring the town, while still feeling comfortable and beachy,” agrees Marysia Dobrzanska Reeves, founder of Marysia. “I’m not a super trends driven designer. I had this plaid print designed for years and it finally felt right to add it in. I loved our green plaid last season and wanted to continue in a slightly different feel but super strong, yet soft, by adding the water colored polka dots by my friend, artist Caitlin McGauley.”
So what is important when shopping for beach outfits? “Comfort! When you are comfortable in your own skin, your confidence shows,” Reeves tells WWD, while Bonaldi confirms that “for functionality, the key is to feel super comfortable, supported and free to not stress about the swimsuit brands and or the clothes after you unpack. Being on vacation and at the beach is a time to have fun and relax, not to worry or feel discomfort! I think about this every time I design for the beach and always aim for versatile, comfortable, chic, joyful and flattering.”
Take it from the experts and have a little fun when styling out your beach looks this summer. Just remember comfort is key when it comes to pulling off any outfit. Below, discover the tips and tricks to building the best beach outfits for vacation and beyond.
Cute Beach Outfits for Women for 2022
- The Wide-Brimmed Straw Hat: Sensi Studio Aguacate Hat Long Brim
- The Denim Cut-Off Shorts: Levi’s Women’s 501® Originals Shorts
- The Printed Board Shorts: Roxy Women’s to Dye 7” Boardshort
- The Rubber Slip-On Slide Sandal: Birkenstock Unisex Arizona Essentials Eva Sandals
- The One-Piece Swimsuit: Marysia Mott Maillot
- The Long-Sleeve Cover-Up: J.Crew Cotton-Linen Beach Shirt
- The High-Waisted Bikini: Patbo Hibiscus Ruffle Bikini Bottom
- The Wide-Leg Palazzo Pant: Alémais Sofia Printed Cotton and Linen Wide-Leg Pants
- The Flip-Flop Sandal: Havaianas Women’s Flip Flop Sandal
- The Floral Beach Dress: Patbo Aster Cut-Out Maxi Dress
- The Billowy Long-Sleeve Dress: H&M Balloon-Sleeved Dress
- The Oversized Designer Sunglasses: Celine Eyewear Square-Frame Tortoiseshell Acetate Sunglasses
- The Terry Cloth Short: Kule The Terry Venus Short
- The Printed Cover-Up Robe: Cin Cin Oracle Sheer Robe
- The Carryall Canvas Tote Bag: L.L.Bean Boat and Tote
- The Retro Crochet Dress: Mango Daisy Crochet Dress
- The Sarong Skirt: Sea Ida Print Sarong
- The Bucket Hat: Business & Pleasure Co. Bucket Hat
- The Cabana Shirt: Tombolo Company Island Hopping Shirt
- The White Denim Short Overalls: Madewell Denim Corsica Short Overalls
- The Gladiator Sandal: Cornetti Istana Sandal
- The Smocked Sundress: Hill House Home The Nap Dress®
- The Rashguard Swimsuit: Marysia North Sea Rashguard
- The Belted Linen Mini Dress: Anemos x Ciao Lucia Belted Mini Dress
- The Crafty Straw Bag: Cesta Collective Raffia Tote Bag
Keep scrolling to see all the ways you can create cute beach outfits this summer from our experts and more.
Sign up for WWD’S The Essentialist newsletter to get the scoop on the best in beauty and style with in-depth reviews of exciting new releases and buyer’s guides to find the products you need to try ASAP.
Sensi Studio Aguacate Hat Long Brim Hat
The Wide-Brimmed Straw Hat
A wide-brimmed hat is equally fashionable yet functional, shielding the face from powerful rays while acting as a cute accessory, finishing off your beach look. Sensi Studio’s version is made from 100% Toquilla straw and features a thick black ribbon trim for a fashion-forward touch. Founder Stephany Sensi works closely with artisans in Ecuador, her birthplace, to create authentic products with a modern twist. This hat will look great with everything from denim cutoffs and a triangle bikini to cotton sundresses and luxurious kaftans.
Related: The 30 Best Sun Hats to Wear This Summer
Levi’s Women’s 501 Originals Shorts
The Denim Cut-Off Shorts
Levi’s 501 Originals jeans are a heritage cut that never goes out of style. It is no surprise that customers can’t quit the shorts version as well. As one customer raves, “I waited a whole year to buy these shorts and I wish I wouldn’t have! They are INCREDIBLE.” Available in over twenty washes from blues to black and more, and with sizing up to 42, there is something for everyone. Mix yours with all the summer favorite pieces, from striped tees and sneakers to flowy tops and sandals for a day at the beach.
Roxy Women’s to Dye 7” Boardshort
The Printed Board Shorts
Surf-style saw a major comeback on the runway this spring and it’s the perfect opportunity to break out the board shorts when you’re hitting the waves. Roxy’s spin features a 7 inch length, for plenty of coverage, and comes in 6 colorways of various prints and solid colors. “I really like these 7 inch board shorts to go in the water and be able to walk around without a cover-up on after,” one customer reviewed. Another adds “They fit beautifully and are clearly well made but so light and comfy! Perfect for the beach and warm weather.” Take inspiration from the ‘90s, and pair yours with simple flip-flops, a solid colored bikini and an oversized white t-shirt for a relaxed feel.
Birkenstock Unisex Arizona Essentials Eva Sandals
The Rubber Slip-On Slide Sandal
When you’re headed to the seaside, you definitely want something waterproof that won’t ruin from sand, sun and the salty water. Birkenstock’s infamous Arizona sandal shape now comes in the Eva, a style made from rubber. The Eva sandals start at just $40 and are available in eighteen different colorways and counting. They are offered in unisex sizing and are extremely comfy, with Birkenstocks signature ergonomic footbed technology. “These are very comfortable, and I think the black ones look enough like leather to fool most. But the comfort!!!!” one customer proclaimed. Wear yours with all your favorite casual wear items, from floral maxi dresses to overall shorts and tanks.
Marysia Mott Maillot
The One-Piece Swimsuit
Every beach wardrobe begins with a great swimsuit. Marysia’s best-selling one-piece features a high-cut halter neck and moderately covered bottom. This style has become a fan favorite due to the special scallop details that the brand is known for and extensive color selections. “Our core customer loves our classic scalloped pieces,” Reeves shares with WWD. “They crave a fresh color in the same tried and true silhouette.” The soft and stretchy fabric is extremely comfortable and this particular style comes in sizes up to XXL. Wear yours with a billowy linen pant and lace-up sandal for a refined beach-to-street look.
J.Crew Cotton-Linen Beach Shirt
The Long-Sleeve Cover-Up
“I love a long-sleeve cover-up in a lightweight fabric,” Reeves says. “It protects you from the strong rays when you’ve had enough or you’re standing around in line for a lobster roll from a food truck in Montauk.” J.Crew’s linen version is the perfect gauzy fabric that will keep you protected, but still have that easy, breathable feeling. This piece also comes in an array of colors and in sizing up to 3X. Style yours over a favorite one-piece or bikini and add a straw hat and sunnies for a simple beach outfit.
Related: The 30 Cutest Swim Cover-Ups to Wear on the Beach This Summer
PatBo Hibiscus Ruffle Bikini Bottom
The High-Waisted Bikini
Glam up your beach game with a high-waisted floral bikini, trimmed in feminine ruffles, like this little Patbo number. “I have equal appreciation for a chic one-piece, or a bikini, which I prefer to be high-waisted,” Bonaldi tells WWD. High-waisted bikinis provide coverage in the mid-section, allowing for a comfortable feel. This bottom has a matching bandeau or string top, depending on your style preference. Pair yours with a coverup that opens down the front, whether it be an oversized button down or fluid robe shape, to show off the ruffle bottom details.
Alémais Sofia Printed Cotton and Linen Wide-Leg Pants
The Wide-Leg Palazzo Pant
A palazzo pant makes for a glam coverup that doesn’t need to be reserved for the beach only. This Alémais style is made from cotton and linen blend, so the fabric will be soft to the touch and breathable on hot days. The elastic drawstring band provides comfort around the waistline and the voluminous leg won’t cling to the skin. The retro-inspired print features olive branches and small bouquets, nodding to a vintage wallpaper motif. “I’m really into wide leg pants,” Reeves mentions. “The looser the better, paired with one of my fitted maillots or tanks.”
Related: The 25 Best Summer Pants to Keep You Cool All Season Long
Havaianas Women’s Flip Flop Sandal
The Flip-Flop Sandal
We have seen a resurgence in ‘90s fashion the past few seasons, which includes the flip-flop sandals as a must-have summer shoe. When dressing for a day at the beach, Reeves says her essential footwear choice is “Easy flip-flops. I love black or gold Havaianas.” Known for their durable quality and comfortable feel, Havaianas have been a customer favorite for over 50 years. “Over my 60+ years of flip flop purchases and wear I always look for sales of this brand! They are sturdy and with minimal use last f-o-r-e-v-e-r!” one customer raves. “Plethora of styles and patterns to choose from. Easy to pack and easy to wear. I never purchase any other brand.”
PatBo Aster Cut-Out Maxi Dress
The Floral Beach Dress
“I’m loving floral prints this summer — both bold and feminine, like our Aster and Hibiscus prints,” Bonaldi tells us. “[When packing], I’d definitely include one of our PatBo beach dresses — perfect for feeling elegant and pulled together for a boat day, cocktails or dinner, but still easy and beach-friendly.” PatBo’s cut-out maxi dress will fit over your favorite triangle bikini for beach barbecues. You can always remove the bikini underneath when you are ready to go home or on to the next location. Style this one with black gladiator sandals and a straw bag for an elevated look that will take you from sunrise to sunset.
Related: The 30 Best Summer Dresses to Wear for Casual and Formal Occasions
H&M Balloon-Sleeved Dress
The Billowy Long-Sleeve Dress
This H&M style is designed with an oversized fit, in a linen and cotton blend, for a floaty option that is perfect over your favorite one-piece or bikini. The subtle striped pattern nods to the nautical, a favorite seaside print. The voluminous balloon sleeves provide breezy air flow, while still adding coverage for the skin to protect on the hottest of days. One customer reviews, “Like this one very much. Great for hot days. I like to add a belt for a dressier look.” Pair yours with a chic espadrille shoe and an oversized tote for an effortlessly cool, French girl vibe.
Celine Eyewear Square-Frame Tortoiseshell Acetate Sunglasses
The Oversized Designer Sunglasses
A good pair of sunglasses is an essential beach item, when it comes to sun protection and style. We recommend splurging on a designer shade, whose quality will hold up over time over a cheaper alternative, for beach days and beyond. Celine Eyewear styles are a fashion favorite, with good reason. The clean, minimalist designs are flattering on most faces and never go out of fashion, season after season. They are made in Italy and offer 100% UV protection. This oversized square-frame shape will look great with everything from chic black maillots to floral swimwear and crisp shirt dresses.
Kule The Terry Venus Short
The Terry Cloth Short
Terry cloth is trending this summer and we are loving the cute and slightly ‘70s styles designers are offering for the season. Kule’s terry short features an elastic waist, making it a breeze to slip on, off and over your favorite suit with ease. Throw it on for quick runs to the beachfront taco stand or take a wander on the boardwalk. The short is offered in nine different color ways, from classic navy to bold and bright lemon yellow, in the irresistibly soft cotton blend fabric. When styling, we recommend trying out a full matching set with either The Terry Flamingo, their short-sleeved cabana shirt or The Terry Selena, cropped strappy tank top, to lean into the trend fully.
Cin Cin Oracle Sheer Robe
The Printed Cover-Up Robe
A lightweight robe cover-up is a no-brainer at the beach. Soft and flowy, it is a comfortable option for those moments that you need a little something extra. Go from hotel room to ocean front lounge chair with ease in this retro floral print version from Cin Cin. Wear it open or with the optional self-belt when you want to hide a bit more. “I love beautiful matching cover-ups and skirts to add interest and coverage over my swim,” Bonaldi recommends and we can’t agree more. Look out for matching bikinis or one-pieces in the same floral to wear together as a full look, or break it up with a clean and simple white or black suit for a mix and match look. Oversized hoop earrings and a minimal slide sandal will complete this cute beach vacation outfit.
L.L.Bean Boat and Tote
The Carryall Canvas Tote Bag
The L.L.Bean Boat and Totes have been a customer favorite for years. Their heavy duty canvas material comes in four sizes ranging from small to extra-large, and in 8 handle colorways. Starting at just $30, it is an affordable buy that can be used for the beach and beyond. “This bag is a beast! I used it as a carry-on on our recent international beach trip and I used it to carry everything to and from the beach every day,” one customer raved about the extra-large size. “I also use it all the time for going to the pool and it still looks new. Amazing quality!” Don’t forget the monogramming option that allows you to personalize your tote as well. Pair with a gingham dress and nautical-inspired swim for a truly New England summertime feel (the brand is based in Maine afterall).
Mango Daisy Crochet Dress
The Retro Crochet Dress
Crochet has been seen on and off the runways the past few seasons, making a comeback as a closet staple for beach getaways and vacations aplenty. Mango’s 100% cotton crochet dress nods to the ‘60s with the delicate daisy pattern design and mod, mini skirt shape, showing off lots of leg. The higher-cut neck allows for a little more coverage in the bust area, while dainty spaghetti straps highlight a strong shoulder. Style yours with a brightly colored string bikini that peeks out from below, adding an extra hit of fun. Bold shell jewelry and a cool bucket hat will instantly update the vintage feel of the dress.
Sea Ida Print Sarong
The Sarong Skirt
Sarongs are a one-and-done type pieces that are always a must-have beach buy. They are also easy to pack since they fold so thinly, whether you are traveling abroad or just throwing in your beach bag and heading to your local coast. Sea’s sarong adds that something extra, with a playful contrast ruffle trim. The tie-closure waist allows for easy dressing, while the 100% cotton fabric will be soft and breathable all day. Tie yours over your favorite one piece before heading to cocktails for a party look with a sexier shoe and beachy jewelry.
Business & Pleasure Co. Bucket Hat
The Bucket Hat
You already know a hat is a necessity for a day in the sun. Business & Pleasure Co.’s bucket hat style channels New England summer style in all the right ways. Designed in a soft pink and white stripe print and available in two sizes, you can find just the right fit while looking stylish. The canvas hat is 98% UV blackout and UPF 50+, adding even more protection, as well as being treated for water and mold resistance. Wear yours with a linen button down and wide-leg linen pants to reach peak coastal grandmother chicness.
Tombolo Company Island Hopping Shirt
The Cabana Shirt
Known for their quirky prints, Tombolo Company’s Island Hopping shirt depicts illustrations of the islands of the Northeast, from Shelter Island to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The shirt is a sustainable style, made from 100% Tencel, and sizing is unisex with a relaxed fit, available up to XXL. “A shirt for any occasion! The colors are vibrant, the fabric soft and breathable,” one customer reviews. Pair yours over a simple swimsuit, denim cut-offs and add a fisherman sandal for a downtown take on the trend.
Madewell Denim Corsica Short Overalls
The White Denim Short Overalls
Cut from a customer favorite vintage-inspired fit, the ‘90s one-piece overall short comes in an ecru shade for a truly summer appropriate wash. Available in sizes XXS to XXL, the relaxed style is made from premium 100% cotton non-stretch Cone® denim. Madewell partners with the BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) to improve cotton farming globally, for a more sustainable approach to production. “I love these! I got them on a whim and I’m happy I did,” one customer comments. “Loose, but not baggy. And the shorts aren’t too short.” Layer yours over a bandeau bikini for a truly ‘90s feel with gold chain jewelry and Birkenstock slip-on sandals.
Cornetti Istana Sandal
The Gladiator Sandal
We saw statement gladiators rule the runway for Spring/Summer 2022, but if you are looking for something with a bit more practicality for seaside adventures, try this easy style from Cornetti. Handmade in Italy, Cornetti sandals are produced with care and comfort in mind. The Istana style is offered in a brown suede and a red and white calfskin leather. A wrapped ankle strap is delicately finished with a small gold buckle closure. Try the Istana with flouncy summer dresses over your favorite swimsuits for a Mediterranean look that is sophisticated, yet no-frills.
Hill House Home The Nap Dress®
The Smocked Sundress
Hill House Home’s best-selling Nap Dress® created a phenomena since launch. Now you can shop the shape in over 10 colors and prints as well as a variety of fabrications and sizes, from XXS to 2XL. The striped lavender version in soft linen is our essential summer buy for best dresses to wear at the beach. Featuring the signature smocked bodice and flutter sleeves, the dress will bring a feminine flair to any destination. In a blink of an eye, it can easily go from a day in the sand to sunset cocktails with a quick accessory change. Wear yours with flat sandals and a cute hat for long days by the ocean and swap for a strappy pump and statement earrings for dinner after at the local beach club.
Marysia North Sea Rashguard
The Rashguard Swimsuit
Whether you are planning to surf, paddle board or just sunbathe at the beach, a rashguard allows for activity without any unwanted slippage, while providing a great layer of protection from the sun. Marysia’s version is made from recycled nylon and has a long zip closure. If you’d like to show a little more skin, throw on a coordinating biking top underneath, and unzip a bit. Keep things sporty on a day out with a board short of any length acting as your cover-up and an athletic-inspired pool slide sandal. A scrunchie and shield sunglasses will finish the look off fabulously.
Related: The 21 Best Long-Sleeve Swimsuits for a Sleek and Safe Beach Day
Anemos x Ciao Lucia Belted Mini Dress
The Belted Linen Mini Dress
Two warm-weather favorite brands, Anemos, a luxury swimwear brand, and Ciao Lucia, a RTW label known for their easy dresses, come together to create the perfect cover-up you didn’t know you needed until now. The ’90s-inspired fit of this mini button-down shirt dress was designed with a chic belt detail that can be tied along the waist. Available in an eco-friendly cotton voile, the dress makes for an ideal cover-up alternative in crisp white. It is a bikini or one-piece friendly style, and looks great with a raffia bag and a lace-up shoe to show off the legs for a cute beach vacation outfit.
Related: The 20 Best Linen Dresses for an Easy and Stylish Summer Wardrobe
Cesta Collective Raffia Tote Bag
The Crafty Straw Bag
No beach outfit is complete without a great bag, and summer is the best time to break out the raffia. Cesta Collective’s tote is made from organic vegetable-dyed raffia and handwoven by female artisans in Rwanda, Africa. Each piece is hand-finished in Italy with luxe details such as leather straps and 18k gold-plated brass hardware. The medium sized tote fits your beach necessities marvously, and the canvas liner is removable. The tote comes in seven different colorways and patterns, from this rainbow melange to breton-style stripes. Pair yours with a sleek swimsuit and oversized shades for a day of fun in the sun.
Related: The 15 Best Designer Tote Bags That Carry It All
Tips for Women’s Beach Outfit Ideas
- Start with a great suit: The building blocks, if you will, to a cute beach outfit starts with a well-fitting and comfortable swimsuit. Whether you prefer a one-piece swimsuit, bikini, or even rashguard style, make sure to look for quality fabrics and fits that you will want to reach for time after time. The sky’s the limit when it comes to colors and prints, but make sure to have a few good, simple suits in the rotation, too. Shopping with mindfulness is key for longevity and a more sustainable wardrobe.
- Cover-up in style: A swim cover-up doesn’t have to mean an oversized kaftan (although we love them, obviously). Your favorite warm-weather essentials, like a smocked dress, an oversized button down, plain white t-shirt, wide-leg summer pants or even white jeans, make for great options that will take you from beach to street effortlessly. Make sure to look for airy, lightweight materials, like cotton and linen, to keep you cool and refreshed all day long. And don’t forget the denim! Cut-offs and overalls are equally great for a day of play when it comes to casual beach outfits.
- Accessorize: No beach look is complete without the right accessories. Summer hats will keep you cool and protected, just look for fresh shapes, like a straw wide-brimmed or the ‘90s favorite bucket (don’t worry, you can fake a natural summer glow with the best self tanners). Reach for raffia designer beach bags or a classic canvas when looking for the best place to stow all your belongings. Cute summer sandals will complete every beach outfit and you can’t go wrong with a chic pair of glamorous sunglasses for the final touch.
Meet the Experts
- Patricia Bonaldi is the founder and creative director of Patbo, a Brazilian brand that captures the vibrant energy of South America through its artfully hand-embroidered RTW and swim collections. Patricia began her career by opening a multi-brand store in her hometown of Uberlândia. Soon after, she began receiving requests to design her own collection, launching her eponymous label, known today for the richly detailed embroidery and bold prints that are a hallmark of the label and a perfect example of the brand’s commitment to both technical expertise and boundless imagination.
- Marysia Dobrzanska Reeves is the founder of Marysia, her namesake luxury womenswear brand, which launched in 2009. While her scalloped edge swimwear has become her signature, Marysia continues to expand the brand’s offerings. With a focus on vacation wear, Marysia designs with travel in mind, creating collections a woman can wear from day to night. She is also constantly inspired by women who wear the collection and their appreciation for art, style, culture and adventure. Like them, Marysia wants her swim and off-duty resortwear to transport her to places she dreams of, from Harbour Island to Biarritz.
Meet the Author
Kristina Rutkowski is a New York-based freelance writer and editor with a focus on fashion. She was previously the Senior Fashion Market Editor at InStyle, covering all things trends and shopping related. She has also worked in the fashion departments at Self and Glamour. Her bylines have appeared on Vogue.com, TheZoeReport.com, VanityFair.com and InStyle.com. Editing RTW and swimwear throughout her career, she has been able to see, try and research the best brands available on the market today.