CASUAL RESORT ATTIRE
The phrase "resort casual wear" or "casual resort attire" causes anxiety in many a cruise attendee and resort guests. What is casual, Is it formal, semi-formal? What kind of shoes can I wear? How long should my skirt or dress be? While the exact rules may vary by specific resort or cruise, simply imagine that you are going to a country club.
For Women's Wear
Determining what is and what is not appropriate resort casual wear for woman can actually be a more difficult endeavor. The basic tenets are fuzzier, consisting of more guidelines than rules. Women can, of course, wear khakis, linen pants, slacks and collared shirts like their male counterparts, but they are typically expected to wear dresses or skirts in situations that call for resort casual apparel. Classy, knee-length summer dresses and skirts are always a good way to go. Aim for crew neck or boat neck necklines and wide straps.
Defining resort casual for women is a little harder, simply because ladies typically have more options to choose from. As a general rule, you can mimic the gentleman's dress code, wearing slacks and a nice top, as long as you skip tank tops or T-shirts; or opt for a breezy summer dress or a matching skirt/blouse combination. If you wear denim, it should be on the high-end, dressy side of the scale, and as long as they're made of nice fabric, you can probably even get away with capris.
The rules for footwear are a little more lax for ladies than for men; almost anything dressy works, including sandals. You should avoid flip-flops unless you're going to and from the beach or pool.
A lot of the "don't wear" options are the same for ladies as for the men: Skip evening gowns (the female equivalent to a suit jacket), athletic wear, tank tops and anything with a big logo on it. However, in the more relaxed venues – or if you're lingering near the beach or pool – women can sometimes get away with wearing a swimsuit coverup, as long as it's reasonably decorous. (Sorry, ladies – a bikini top and a sarong don't quite qualify.)
For Men's Wear
Resort Casual for Men may include wearing a collared shirt, nice pants made of linen or cotton, and closed-toe shoes that aren't full-on dress shoes. Boat shoes and loafers work well, and some places don't mind nice tennis shoes as part of resort casual attire. In some venues, trendy jeans and upscale sandals are also acceptable.
Sometimes, what you shouldn't wear is as instructional as what you should. Ties and jackets aren't required, and in most venues, they'd look out of place. On the other side of things, athletic wear, tank tops, T-shirts and any shirt with a big logo are considered too casual for resort casual. Flip-flops are only allowed at the most relaxed venues or if you're planning to go back and forth to the beach.
In hot climates, dressy shorts are also acceptable. But avoid the temptation to wear board shorts, no matter how cool you think they look. Unless you're actively lounging around the pool or on your way to the beach, swim trunks of any sort are considered passé for resort casual. Country clubs naturally conjure up visions of polo shirts, khaki pants, linen pants and loafers, and these items are also appropriate for resort casual wear. Although khaki or linen pants are a nature resort casual choice for day wear, slacks are a smart choice for dinners and other evening events. Avoid sandals and other shoes that show more bare foot than a loafer or boat shoe would.
How Casual Is Resort Casual?
The "casual" in resort casual may seem formal or relaxed, depending on who you are speaking with. For a student, resort casual is essentially a type of formal dress, required nice, pressed garments not typically worn every day. Jeans are not typically appropriate, although expensive, on-trend pairs may be acceptable in certain fashion-forward settings. Women should exercise discretion in their hem and necklines, erring on the reserved side. If you are looking to spice up this seemingly bland type of attire, look to the runway resort or cruise lines. Many prominent designers from America and Europe show new looks each year.
When Is Resort Casual Required?
Resort casual is often lumped together with business casual or cruise wear, but there are things you can wear at a resort that wouldn't be appropriate for a casual business meeting, and cruise wear that you couldn't get away with at a resort. Although resort casual is the dress code on many cruise lines, there is a trend toward more relaxed cruise apparel. Check your cruise line's dress code specifically before packing to make sure resort casual dress is required. Resort wear is always appropriate at a country club, golf club or resort during the day, though you often need more formal attire for evening events.
What Is Casual Resort Dressing?
If you're heading to a country club, upscale resort, cruise ship or even some high-end hotels, you might find yourself staring down the barrel of a "resort casual" or "casual resort" dress code. What the heck does that even mean? In broad terms, think of resort attire that is comfortable but still looks good, made of breathable fabrics that don't need to be ironed – a notch somewhere between swimwear and evening wear. (That's right – if you have a stash of polyester, you can leave that at home.)
When the Rules Change
Long-distance travelers beware! Where you should be putting your resort casual clothing to work can vary a lot between climates and cultures. When in doubt, ask your cruise or resort director for suggestions, or take advantage of the information age and trawl the restaurant, resort or cruise line's social media accounts to see what people were wearing at similar events. Many resorts will publish their dress codes.
What Attire Is Appropriate for Resort Casual at a Tropical Resort?
The dress code for warm-weather resorts and cruises might be unspoken, or guests may receive specific guidance on what to pack. Resort casual tends to be the norm for most tropical vacation destinations in the daytime, with some higher-end resorts upping the formality a touch in the evenings to “resort chic.” Feel free to use a tropical vacation as an opportunity to wear a flowing maxi dress or a shirt with a bold print that might not work as well at home.
Resort Casual in the Daytime
What to wear at a resort can be easily deciphered. Most resorts and cruise ships have a “resort casual” or a “smart beach casual” dress code, if any dress code at all, in the daytime. Guests at hotels with a resort casual dress code should avoid wearing T-shirts with advertising or slogans on them and restrict athletic clothing to the gym. Otherwise, there's lots of flexibility in resort attire.
A bathing suit is perfectly fine for the beach. When walking around the resort, or, for daytime meals at resort restaurants, women should toss a dress-like cover-up over their swimwear. Men should wear a shirt, and, if their bathing suit is small, add a pair of shorts. Restaurants require shoes for health and safety reasons, and flip-flops meet the definition of resort casual during the day.
Swimwear with a beach cover-up is also fine for leaving the resort for water excursions. It’s exactly what to wear on the ride to a swim with whale sharks in La Paz or to snorkel in Grenada's Underwater Sculpture Park.
Resort casual means ditching the bathing suit for land-based excursions, though. For one thing, it’s likely too hot. Shorts and T-shirts are OK for shopping on the spice isle of Grenada or visiting the marketplace at Fisherman’s Village at Resorts World Bimini in the Bahamas. Dressing up a little, perhaps with a skirt or collared shirt, is welcome when you're exploring the capitals of the Caribbean islands, as many islanders tend to dress a touch more formally.
When packing resort casual wear for your holiday, remember to pack clothes that breathe, especially if you’re not used to the heat and humidity. Natural fibers like cotton and linen and loose-fitting clothing are best. People who wear tight-fitting clothing soon realize how sweaty they get in the heat while they explore Barbados, Honduras or Costa Rica.
Resort Casual at Night
Dressing resort casual in the evening usually means no jeans, running shoes or T-shirts (especially with ads or slogans). Fashion shorts might be OK (think Bermudas), but sportswear shorts are not. Some resorts may restrict access to their dinner restaurants or nightclubs if more casual clothing is worn.
Sometimes, evening dress codes are called “resort chic,” “elegant casual,” “party casual” or “casual chic.” There’s no need to wear a suit and tie or a sequined cocktail dress. Men will be comfortable and blend in when wearing trousers and a collared shirt and women in trousers, a skirt or dress.
While some cruise ships still have formal nights, other cruise lines are aiming for the casual elegance that many upscale guests prefer. Viking Cruises and Windstar, for example, have designated their voyages as resort casual. In the evenings, guests are requested not to wear shorts or jeans for most dining rooms.
The Definition of Resort Casual Can Vary
The degree of casualness of a dress code labeled “resort casual” can vary depending on where you’re staying, both for the type of hotel and the destination.
Stays at family resorts, tend to be more casual than resorts aimed at couples. Guests also tend to dress up more at design hotels.
City hotels in tropical locations, tend to be more formal than golf resorts.
Packing for Resorts in Buddhist and Muslim Countries
Generally, people who live in countries composed of a population that is primarily Buddhist or Muslim dress more conservatively than people who live in the United States, Australia or Canada. Many Cambodians, for example, would be embarrassed by a tourist wearing a tank-top and short shorts walking down the street in Phnom Penh. When exploring Cambodia's Angkor Archeological Park, visitors are required to dress with their shoulders and knees covered. Adjust your definition of resort casual to be more conservative for these destinations.
Guests visiting private island resorts in Muslim countries, can wear the same type of resort wear as they would in Mexico or the Caribbean.
Packing Light for a Resort Casual Vacation
Depending on planned activities, you might spend most of your vacation in your bathing suit. Plus, there’s no need to be a fashion plate if you don’t want to be. You’re not required to stuff your suitcase with a different resort casual outfit for each day of your trip.
Ideally, you can pack light, wash your resort casual clothes while you're away, and wear them again. Doing so makes it easier to stay in a place that has laundry facilities, even better when they’re free. Guests with Viking Cruises, for example, have access to laundry machines that are free to use. Condo-type resorts like Vivo Resorts near the Mexican surf town Puerto Escondido and Ocean Club Resorts in Turks and Caicos have in-suite laundry facilities.
Florida Resort Wear for Women
In the fashion world, a designer's resort collection is a harbinger of spring – a summery collection designed for winter escapes to warmer climes. In Florida, resort wear more frequently refers to the brightly colored, summery wardrobe pieces that transition from the beach to the street. Though resort wear isn't an essential part of a Florida vacation, it can certainly be a lot of fun.
Resort wear is typically lighter-weight than other fashion, making it a good choice for Florida's balmy weather. You'll often find resort wear versions of classic pieces, like skirts and blazers, rendered in summery fabrics like linen, seersucker or cotton. Lightweight knits are practical because they don't wrinkle in your suitcase, we also recommend lightweight denim and cashmere for beach travel.
Color Options: If you're packing, the most efficient way to plan your resort wear is to organize it around one color family.
Essential Pieces: Packing multifunctional layering pieces, including lightweight pants, simple jersey dresses, white jeans and knee-length shorts in addition to a couple of swimsuits. Basing your beach wardrobe around white pants or jeans and simple dresses. Drapey jersey dresses work as a swimsuit cover-up by day and dress up enough for evening cocktails. Consider where you're headed, too: If you're vacationing in an urban area, like Miami or Sarasota, you'll want to include more dress-up pieces than if you're spending your vacation in a more relaxed part of the state, like Mexico Beach or Sanibel Island.
Accessories help resort wear transition from poolside to party-ready. Pack small items that can really change the look of an outfit: bubble rings, oversized watches and oversize statement necklaces. A big cashmere wrap in a bold color is practical for cooler evenings or intense air-conditioning. Flip-flops are essential for the pool and acceptable for most daytime activities, but a pair of heeled, strappy sandals will make whatever you're wearing look more dressed up. And if you're doing a lot of walking, slim sneakers or cute flats will come in handy.
What Is the Dress Code for Elegant Resort Wear?
Resort wear refers to vacation wear that's worn at resorts or on cruises. More specifically, the term "elegant resort wear" may be used to discourage choices that are so casual as to be inappropriate. As a general rule, resort style is geared toward warmer weather and walks the line between comfort and elegance. Typically cruise lines and resorts have dress codes for both casual everyday wear, as well as guidelines for evening formal events. While dress codes vary, some general guidelines apply anywhere.
Even during the day, assume that standards of elegance apply. Though you may spend a lot of your vacation poolside in a bikini, the bikini isn't appropriate anywhere except the pool and beach. Maxi dresses are excellent for their versatility and can be used as a cover-up or as a classy yet laid-back dress for days in port or walks around town. As an alternative to shorts, wear cropped, fitted capri pants. It's wise to err on the conservative side when the dress code calls for elegant resort casual; avoid risque or otherwise offensive clothing.
Evening Attire for Women
Red carpet-worthy gowns are no longer the norm on cruises and in resorts. Since the early 2000s, when cruise lines such as Norwegian and Oceania introduced more casual guidelines for cruise wear, formal nights have become not only less frequent, but also less formal. Dressy pantsuits or cocktail dresses are usually appropriate, and packing the right accessories can give you a wider range of options. Add glamour to a pantsuit with a pair of killer stilettos, or jazz up a basic dress with a well-matched feather accessory such as a boa or dangling feather earrings.
Evening Attire for Men
Make the distinction between night and day without donning a tuxedo. Dress suits are usually as formal as it gets for cruises and resorts -- unless otherwise specified -- and sometimes a dress shirt and nice slacks are enough. Bring a jacket and tie in case. The GQ Style Guy recommends linen or seersucker suits for warmer climes, and warns that sneakers, sandals and flip-flops are never acceptable.