woman looking out at the water

Elevate Your Vacation Style: A Comprehensive Guide to Elegant Resort Wear

Picture this: You’re in Phuket, Thailand, at a luxurious resort nestled between lush greenery and the azure sea. As the sun sets, the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant hues, casting a warm, golden glow over the landscape. You’re getting ready for an evening of dining under the stars at a beachfront restaurant, the rhythmic sound of waves creating a soothing backdrop.

Phuket’s relaxed daytime vibe turns into casual sophistication in the evenings. I loved getting out in the evenings because the sultry heat of the day yielded to the refreshing, cool twilight breezes. It’s during these magical Phuket nights that the concept of elegant resort wear truly shines, striking an ideal balance between comfort and style, a harmonious blend of relaxation and elegance that fits seamlessly into the resort setting

Looking at the ocean from a beach in Phuket
A beach in Phuket, Thailand. (Photo by Sarah Lamsam, my daughter-in-law)

Understanding Elegant Resort Wear

Elegant resort wear is like the perfect cocktail – it has just the right mix of ingredients. It’s not as formal as a black-tie event, yet it’s a step above your everyday casual wear. Picture a flowy maxi dress in a vibrant tropical print or a chic jumpsuit paired with a statement necklace.

Brands like Azulu and Faithfull have mastered the art of elegant resort wear, offering collections that exude comfort and luxury. Their pieces are designed with the resort lifestyle in mind, featuring lightweight fabrics, stylish cuts, and details that add a touch of elegance.

In the world of elegant resort wear, it’s all about embracing the relaxed vibe of a vacation while still looking polished and put-together. It’s about feeling as good as you look, whether sipping a cocktail by the pool or dining under the stars.

This style guide will help you navigate the world of elegant resort wear, from understanding what it is to choose the right pieces for your next resort vacation. So, let’s explore the chic, stylish world of elegant resort wear.

Occasions for Elegant Resort Wear

Elegant resort wear is not just about dressing up for a special event; it’s about adding a touch of sophistication to your everyday vacation moments. Brands like Lilly Pulitzer and Walker & Wade understand this versatility, offering pieces that transition smoothly from day to night.

Here are some occasions where elegant resort wear can enhance your experience:

Beachfront cocktail parties: As the sun sets and the sky is painted with hues of orange and pink, a stylish maxi dress or a chic jumpsuit can make you stand out.

Sophisticated resort dinners: Whether it’s a top-tier restaurant or a private beachfront meal, elegant resort wear ensures you’re dressed to impress.

Leisurely brunches: A sun-drenched patio calls for a comfortable yet stylish outfit, like a silk blouse paired with linen shorts.

Yacht trips: Cruising around the stunning Phuket coastline? Opt for an elegant kaftan or a stylish one-piece swimsuit with a wrap skirt.

Resort events: Many resorts host events like wine tastings or live music nights. These are perfect occasions to showcase your elegant resort wear.

Spa days: Even a day at the spa can be an opportunity to don a stylish robe or a comfortable yet chic loungewear set.

Cruising: Cruising offers numerous opportunities to showcase your elegant resort wear, whether embarking on a day trip or a multi-day journey. From stylish swimwear for poolside lounging to a chic dress for formal dining nights, choosing the right attire can enhance your cruising experience.

Elements of Elegant Resort Wear

Elegant resort wear is all about the right mix of pieces. It’s like creating a beautiful melody – each note, or in this case, each item of clothing, plays a crucial role in composing the overall look.

Consider a flowy midi dress from Zimmermann, its vibrant print capturing the essence of tropical beauty. Or perhaps a chic jumpsuit from ME & EM, its romantic design embodying modern elegance. Pair these with a statement necklace or a pair of stylish sandals, and you’ve got an outfit that’s both comfortable and stylish.

But elegant resort wear isn’t just about dresses and jumpsuits. Stylish tops, skirts, and pants can also be part of your resort wardrobe. A silk blouse from Johnny Was paired with wide-leg linen pants from Bondi Born can create a relaxed and refined look.

Elegant Resort Wear for Different Body Types

Elegant resort wear is not a one-size-fits-all concept. As a seasoned traveler and fashion enthusiast, I’ve often encountered the challenge of finding luxury resort wear that caters to various sizes and ages. It’s a common frustration – high-end resort wear predominantly caters to younger bodies, often overlooking us mature women who appreciate and demand style and sophistication in our attire.

Brands like Mara Hoffman, DIARRABLU, Reformation, and Rachel Pally are a breath of fresh air in this regard. They offer a range of sizes and designs that cater to various body types, ensuring that style and elegance in resort wear are accessible to everyone, regardless of age or size.

Remember, the goal is to feel as good as you look. You will exude a natural elegance that enhances your overall resort experience when you’re comfortable in your attire.

Seasonal Elegant Resort Wear

Just as the seasons change, so should your resort wear. The breezy linen dress that’s ideal for a summer getaway in Phuket might not be the best choice for a winter retreat in a Swiss mountain resort. Brands like Canada Goose and Moncler offer stylish options for colder climates, while Cult Caia and Calypso St. Barth shine when it comes to warm-weather resort wear.

In the summer, think lightweight fabrics and vibrant prints. A floral dress from Hannah Artwear or a stylish swimsuit from Melissa Odabash can keep you cool while looking chic. In the winter, consider layering pieces. A cashmere wrap from White + Warren or a stylish coat from Burberry can provide warmth without sacrificing style.

Accessorizing Elegant Resort Wear

Accessories can make or break an outfit, and this is especially true for elegant resort wear. The right accessories can elevate your look, adding that extra touch of sophistication. However, there’s more to accessorizing than just picking pieces that match your outfit.

Supporting Local Artisans

Traveling offers a unique opportunity to explore local markets and boutiques. Instead of packing your usual jewelry, consider leaving space in your suitcase for unique pieces from local artisans at your resort destinations.

In Bali, for example, the Ubud Traditional Art Market is a must-visit. Here, you can find everything from silk scarves and handmade woven bags to hats and jewelry, all made by local artisans.

Mexico’s markets in resort towns like Playa del Carmen and Tulum are filled with vibrant textiles, pottery, and jewelry.

In the Greek islands, local markets offer a range of handcrafted items, from beautiful ceramics to intricate jewelry and handwoven textiles.

Thailand, known for its vibrant markets, offers a range of artisanal products. From the floating markets of Bangkok to the night bazaars in Chiang Mai, you can find handcrafted silk garments, tribal textiles, and unique jewelry.

In Portugal, particularly in the Algarve region, local markets are a treasure trove of hand-painted ceramics, cork products, and traditional Portuguese jewelry.

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Elegant Resort Wear

As we become more conscious of our impact on the environment, it’s important to consider the sustainability of our fashion choices. Here are some brands that are leading the way in sustainable resort wear:

For Days: This brand aims to end clothing waste and change the fashion industry. They make organic, non-toxic, and 100% recyclable basics. Through their take-back program, they recycle used items from any brand and keep them out of landfills.

Vitamin A: They design their collections using recycled and plant-based materials. Every purchase prioritizes the health of our planet. Through their partnership with 1% For The Planet, they give back a portion of every sale to organizations that protect our oceans.

Mate: Mate is a brand that is committed to clean fashion. They use organic yarns and dyes so people and the planet are not exposed to harmful pesticides. They also have a recycling program to take your old garments back and give them new life as another Mate product.

Quince: Quince believes quality products can elevate your life, especially when they’re sustainably made and affordable. They choose organic materials whenever possible and use environmentally conscientious packaging.

Elegant Resort Wear on a Budget

Elegant resort wear doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little savvy shopping, you can find stylish and affordable pieces that will make you feel like a million bucks.

Consider brands like Lilly Pulitzer and Walker & Wade for budget-friendly high-end resort wear options. They offer a range of stylish pieces that are perfect for your next resort vacation. And remember, sometimes less is more. A few well-chosen pieces can go a long way in creating versatile outfits.

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Packing Tips for Elegant Resort Wear

Packing for a resort vacation can be a challenge. You want to be prepared for every occasion but don’t want to overpack. Here are a few tips to help you pack efficiently:

  • Choose versatile pieces: A dress that can be dressed up for dinner or worn casually for a beachside brunch can save you space in your suitcase.
  • Don’t forget about accessories: A few well-chosen accessories can change the look of an outfit, allowing you to create multiple looks with the same pieces. Better yet – leave room for accessories but consider buying them at your vacation destination!
  • Consider the location and weather: Make sure your elegant resort wear is appropriate for the climate and activities you’ll be doing. For example, Coolibar saved us in Thailand’s hot and steamy climate. The clothing also protects you from the sun’s rays.
Young man sitting on a swing near the beach in Thailand
Caught in the act! My son borrowed his wife’s Coolibar shirt for some extra sun protection on the sunny beaches of Phuket, Thailand. A lesson learned in the importance of sun-safe clothing!


To wrap up, let’s answer a few common questions about elegant resort wear:

What materials are best for elegant resort wear? Lightweight, breathable materials like cotton, linen, and silk are ideal for warm climates, while heavier materials like wool and cashmere are better for colder climates.

Can elegant resort wear be machine washed? This depends on the material and the care instructions provided by the brand. Always check the care label before washing. On vacation, it may be difficult to wash your clothes. Lighter-weight fabrics can be rinsed in the sink or tub and air-dried. Take laundry travel packets with you, such as Sink Suds.

Final Thoughts

Elegant resort wear is all about balancing comfort with style and relaxation with sophistication. It’s about feeling as good as you look, whether dining under the stars in Phuket or lounging by the pool in Miami. So for your next resort vacation, embrace the concept of elegant resort wear and elevate your vacation style.

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I’d love to hear about your experiences with elegant resort wear. Have you found a brand that you love? Or do you have a go-to piece that always makes you feel stylish and confident? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s continue the conversation.

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