Readying oneself for the beach this season–be it Saint Tropez or Santa Monica–necessarily entails more than just a gym membership renewal. Beyond the requisite crunches, there are of course bikinis to consider, or, judging by this season’s swimwear collections, perhaps a more modest, albeit still-sexy one piece. Cover-ups that pull double duty as day- and even night-time gear are essential, as are wedge sandals and comfy flats. Just don’t forget to pop the sunscreen and shades in your new backpack. Here’s a list of our latest summer must-haves, both trend-driven and tried-and-true.
Be they itsy bitsy or downright demure, bikinis have long been the go-to choice of swimwear for lounging poolside or taking a dip. Spring runways however, suggest that one pieces, including monokinis, are officially making a comeback. While Emilio Pucci‘s variant on the asymmetric, neoprene zig zag–an ’80s fave–is probably better left to those avoiding the water altogether, Gucci’s sporty, black and electric blue halter tank is made for making waves. Ditto Zero + Maria Cornejo’s new line of practical-yet-chic swimwear, available in both ultra-flattering one- and two-piece styles.
“I love a one-piece and feel like every women should have at least one in their swimwear wardrobe; sometimes you need that extra coverage if you plan on really getting into the ocean. And sometimes a one-piece can be more alluring and unexpected than a two-piece,” says Nell Love, a beach-loving swimwear aficionado who just launched Sirene Collection, a go-to site for your pool and beachside stylings.
Athletic-inspired beachwear is indeed one of the season’s biggest trends, but the latest looks are a far cry from the staid Speedos of yore. Lisa Marie Fernandez‘s collection of brightly-colored, zippered tanks and racerback bikinis hearkens back to the body con early ’90s, while Cyntia Rowley for Roxy‘s black and pastel-hued suits offer a surprisingly sophisticated spin on surfer girl cool. Check out both designers’ neoprene minis if you’re not already donning Proenza Schouler’s scuba tops for evening.
Just as skirts and dresses have taken their cues from the beach, cover-ups increasingly blur the lines between day and night and surf and turf. “I think when on vacation, women want a double duty item that will take them from poolside to dinner. Often, I’ll just shower off at the pool and take my suit off and pull my skirt up as a dress,” says Love. Some of the bestselling items on her site are versatile cover ups such as the Pareo from Ondademar and the Camilla Guadeloupe skirt.
In lieu of sarongs, Chloé offers billowy harem pants, while Tara Matthews‘ and Zimmerman‘s respective silk print and keyhole v-neck jumpsuits make easy alternatives to button downs and cutoffs. Traditionalists can still top their retro-inspired ruched maillots (Norma Kamali‘s gets our vote) with maxi dresses à la Jean Paul Gaultier and Diane von Furstenberg.
When it comes to footwear, sandals are key, be they Melissa‘s plastic t-strap gold flats, or Gap x Pierre Hardy’s lace-up denim platforms. Spanish fave Castañer, meanwhile, marries the bootie trend with summertime jute and canvas with its espadrille wedges. Speaking of warm weather fabrics, canvas is a no-brainer when it comes to toes–we like Want Les Essentials de la Vie‘s streamlined black cotton and leather carryall. If utility’s the name of the game, try J.Crew‘s rumpled sateen backpack. Or, for a chicer variant, there’s always Alexander Wang‘s nylon-lined leather Sydney backpack–roomy enough for those wedges and a guilty-pleasure beach read, but still stylish come fall.