Casual resort dress code explained:
Meaning of resort casual attire
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.
Resort Casual for Men
When it comes to defining resort casual, men have it a little easier than women – or at least the rules are a little more clear for gentlemen. As long as you're wearing a collared shirt, nice pants made of linen or cotton, and closed-toe shoes that aren't full-on dress shoes, you're fine. 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.
Men's Resosrt Clothing- Men should wear a clean and pressed button-down shirt or a nice polo shirt. Paired with khakis or other quality pants, this creates a classic resort casual look. Light- and bold-colored shirts are acceptable as are subtle patterns. Jackets and sport coats are not needed.
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.
Resort Casual for Women
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.)
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.
1. Resort casual Style may normally refer to polo style shirts, sundresses, linen pants, skorts, skirts, button up tops, nice shorts, and dresses. Nothing fancy, but not just t-shirts and jeans either. Do not wear cutoffs and tank tops for sure!
2. Resort casual attire is exactly as it sounds - clothing you would be wearing at a resort. This clothing should usually include something such as a nice khaki pant or shorts with a crisp, clean top.
3. Women's Clothing for Resort Casual
• Women have several options when dressing to fit the resort casual dress code. A clean and pressed blouse can be paired with a nice pair of pants or a skirt. Neutrals such as black, gray, navy, brown and khaki are the most acceptable colors for pants. Skirts should be no higher than knee-length. Bold colors and prints are fine as long as they coordinate nicely with the rest of the ensemble. A casual dress or sundress is also a popular choice, as long as the dress is tasteful--not too short or low-cut.
Are jeans OK for resort casual?
If your dress code states: "Dressy Resort Casual."
Invitations with the term, "resort," indicate attire that is a cut above very casual clothes. So, avoid jeans, flip flops, camisoles, t-shirts, and short shorts or very short skirts. Resort wear appropriate for men and women are "country club" type clothing. Since the invitation is for dinner, then evening resort attire for men would be nice slacks, polo shirts, button down shirts, nice shoes or sandals, with the option of wearing a sport coat.
Daytime resort attire includes the same clothing suggestions as evening resort plus nice shorts can be worn as well.
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.
Accessorizing your Resort Casual Attire
Clever use of accessories can help dress up your Resort casual outfits, especially in the evenings. Instead of bringing your expensive jewelry, pick up inexpensive pieces to take to the resort. If you lose them or they get stolen, there will be little financial loss and less hurt and frustration. Casual beach wear accessories may include jewelry made of shell, or jewelry with nautical symbols like fish, shells, octopus, mermaids, etc. A large tote bag in bright color is always a good idea. Comfortable shoes are recommended for daytime, while evening attire might require heels or other dressy shoes. If you plan to exercise, pack a pair of sneakers. A bag or purse to carry items during your onshore excursions is a useful accessory.
Expert Packing Tips
Pack clothing that you can mix and match to create several outfits. This saves space in your bag and in the cabin. For example, choose a pair of slacks that works for both a casual daytime outfit and an evening outfit when paired with a dressy shirt. A sundress is another versatile option. Wear it with sandals for a casual daytime outfit. Add jewelry and change into heels for the evening. Some cruise ships offer laundry service or a laundromat so you can wash your clothes to wear more than once. Check on the laundry services and cost before you leave.
Resort Casual in Summer
Resort Casual in Spring
Resort Casual in Fall
Resort Casual in winter
The designation of "semi-formal" has the advantage of flexibility for both men and women. Cocktail dresses with heels are standard for women, while men should opt for dress pants and collared shirts. Jeans are occasionally acceptable, but only if they are dark and without holes or other signs of wear. It may be helpful to think of a semi-formal dinner cruise as a somewhat relaxed version of a formal one.
Not quite dressy, but not too laid-back, resort casual strikes a useful balance between flip-flops and stilettos (women) and oxfords and tennis shoes (men). Resort casual is the realm of boat shoes and leather sandals and is often a gray area for would-be cruisers. For women, however, capris, sundresses and knee-length skirts are always acceptable, while men can't go wrong with khakis, golf shirts and button-ups. Take along a cardigan or an attractive pullover for cool sea breezes.
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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, such as the Hilton Puerto Vallarta and Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa, tend to be more casual than resorts aimed at couples, such as the TRS Coral Hotel or Privilege Aluxes Isla Mujeres. Guests also tend to dress up more at design hotels like Live Aqua Urban Resort San Miguel de Allende and Grand Residences Riviera Cancun.
City hotels in tropical locations, like the Bristol Panama in Panama City’s downtown business district, tend to be more formal than golf resorts in the same area, such as The Santa Maria, which is 10 minutes from Panama City’s main airport.
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, such as Bawah Reserve in Indonesia or Coco Privé in the Maldives, 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.
She designs limited edition high end printed spring dresses, casual resort attire, wearable art clothing, and swim coverups. Beautiful prints are inspired from around the world to be worn during travel, resort stay or cruise holidays.