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What to Wear to the Beach: Hawaii Edition


Wear to beach Hawaii.jpg

Target skirt | Madewell swimsuit | Ray Ban sunglasses | Old Navy t-Shirt | Madewell Chambray shirt | Essie nail polish | J.Crew tote | Target watch | Bamboo sandals | Topshop scarf

Recently, my husband stopped me on my way out to ask if I had anything on the calendar for the following weekend; I said no. By the time I returned, he’d booked flights to visit his father in Hawaii. With only a few days’ notice and a single carry-on bag, I had no idea what to pack.

Poor me.

After Googling “what to wear to the beach Hawaii” and not finding what I wanted – barely there cutoff shorts and teeny bikinis don’t really work for me – I started from scratch. Though “beachwear” was a given, early spring weather in Honolulu can be unpredictable. Plus, whatever I packed for the beach would also have to work for lunch, sightseeing, shopping and anywhere else my photographer husband might want to stop along the way.

I decided to stick with a basic palette of black, white and gray — a strong trend for spring (though when is it ever not appropriate?) and I already own a lot of it — punched up with some chambray, coral (it is Hawaii, after all), and a few gold accessories.

For once, I was really happy with everything I brought — a pretty decent marriage of form and function. The only additional items I packed were undies, running clothes, a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts and a skirt.

So in case you find yourself facing a similar dilemma, here’s my edited packing list for a five-day trip to Hawaii…

Beach Packing List:

__Tote bag. Finally got to use the J. Crew Farmer’s Market Tote I received as a Christmas gift. Love the size, interior pocket and leather handles.

__Swimsuit(s). Since we had several beach days built in, I packed two — a black and white patterned maillot I’ve had for ages (similar here) and a simple black Speedo tank suit I found at Costco for $20 (similar here). They were a perfect base — fast drying, layered well, and no chance of falling off in rough waves.

__Maxi skirt. The striped gray maxi skirt I picked up at Target proved a perfect layering piece — dressy enough for shopping, cool enough for the beach and ample sun protection. It’s seven times more expensive, but I also love this striped maxi dress from Lily Aldridge for Velvet:

Velvet dress

__Vintage v-neck tee(s). I packed two — a white one from Old Navy and this one in heathered graphite from J.Crew (now on sale). Both play nicely with the maxi skirt.

__Chambray shirt. Great for layering over the suit for a beach walk; tied at the waist it doubled as a lightweight jacket over the t-shirt for lunch/shopping. I also own and really like this one (in ‘light chambray’) from Old Navy.

__Hat. Not pictured above, since my favorite beach hat is the black Lululemon Speedy Run Hat (pictured below) but they no longer make it. (This Nike one is a decent alternative.) While there are plenty of cute straw beach hats on the market, I find them impractical both for packing and for keeping on my head at the ocean. My running hat, on the other hand, shields my face, keeps my hair off my shoulders, takes up no suitcase space and does double duty for running and hiking.

My beloved Lululemon speedy run hat. RIP.

My beloved Lululemon speedy run hat. RIP.

__Watch. On the same trip to Target that yielded the maxi skirt, I also bought an inexpensive white watch. I usually try to avoid impulse buys, but I liked the chunky white band, gold accents on the face, the fact that it would work with everything I brought, and especially that it’s waterproof.

__Sunglasses. Naturally.

__Nail polish. Essie’s E-nuf is E-nuf has been my go-to summer pedicure polish for years. The Essie site describes it as “a subdued creamy coral” but I don’t find it all that subdued — just a really pretty coral that’s surprisingly versatile.

__Scarf. My coral scarf was a last-minute addition to the suitcase, and I used it way more than I expected — even as a mini-sarong. Nordstrom no longer carries it, but this one from Topshop is similar.

__Sandals. Couldn’t pass up the gold accents on these black Bamboo thong sandals. Spotted them at Marshall’s the day before I left and ended up wearing them every day of the trip. (Note: Although the online description says “synthetic,” the footbed is actually leather; they’re surprisingly comfy, too.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jere Miller permalink
    04/03 5:04 PM

    I always value your tips! Love the beach look; it’s stylish, comfortable and complete to the pedicure color. THANKS
    Jere M

    • 04/24 8:48 PM

      Looking forward to a few beach trips together this summer, my friend!


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