I went to the beach this weekend. On the surface, that sounds simple enough, but I am not a regular beach-goer. I’ve always loved the ocean, but I tend to be too much of a city-dweller to make it there with any regularity, and as of this weekend’s trip, it had been nearly two years since my most recent previous beach jaunt, and along with that, the last time I packed a beach bag. In that time, I had managed to forget a few things: I’m really pale, I don’t own a proper beach towel and my sunscreen-applying skills are at a third-grade level, among other things. (I didn’t even own a bathing suit?) I paid for some of those mistakes on my otherwise perfect beach day, and as a result, I’ve come to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes I did on any impending vacations you may have planned.
Beach packing may seem logical, but packing is always a bit tricky because the excitement of the event can tend to take over the more sensible side of your brain. That’s especially true of the beach – colorful coverups! beach snacks! playlists for the car ride! Below, a guide to what we’d bring with us on the perfect beach day. Which may be next weekend, if we play our cards right.
Sensi Studio Maxi Hand Woven Bag
$282 via Matches
There are two things you need in a good beach bag – size and material. This hand-woven artisan tote bag provides both in a beach-friendly way, and the colors are varied enough to match basically anything else you’re bringing, if that sort of thing matters to you.
Cococare Coconut Oil
$3.25 via Amazon
Most people give some thought to their skin when preparing for the beach, but what about your hair? Most of us spend big bucks on cuts and colors, and salt water and UV rays can leave hair dry and faded. Lather your follicles up with coconut oil before you hit the water to keep the salt from seeping in and sapping moisture, then hit your hair with some of your UV-resistent spray sunscreen if you have color issues. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)
Matthew Williamson Escape Short Kaftan Coverup
$695 via ShopBop
Truth be told, I’m partial to less expensive beach garb, but this kaftan is just so pretty. Williamson’s beautiful sense for print was made for the beach.
Boostcase Hybrid Battery Pack Case
$55 via Amazon
No, this case isn’t waterproof. Locate your towel correctly and it won’t need to be. (Also, bring along a zip-lock baggie to store your phone in when you’re not using it.) You’re going to want to take pictures and videos of your beach time, though, and often the reception on the beach leaves something to be desired while uploading an Instagram. Sadly, there aren’t any outlets to plug in a charger where you’ll be, but with a battery case, you won’t need one.
Echo Design Batik Scarf
$48 via Chic Tweak
Scarves are so versatile at the beach. Wrap one around your head to stave off scalp sunburn or disguise wet hair when taking a lunch break, tie one around your waist for an insta-sarong when you go in search of funnel cake on the boardwalk, drape one over your shoulders when clouds roll through and give you a temporary chill.
Hampton Sun SP35 Continuous Mist Sunscreen
$32 via Net-a-Porter
Take it from the girl with the sunburn so bad that she left work early to blog at home while lying on her stomach – sunscreen is super important, and especially if you’re not prone toward easy tanning, you’re going to need at least a moderate SPF or higher. This stuff is sweat proof, waterproof, smells great and can be applied to the face – it’s oil-free!
WOW John Baldessari Double Beach Towel
$95 via ShopBop
Trust me, you’re going to want a double beach towel, even if you’re a single person. Why not go with one featuring the work of American conceptual artist John Baldessari?
Bop Basics Raffia Hat
$98 via ShopBop
No one’s hair looks cute after the beach, but sometimes you want to look cute after the beach. A floppy, not-too-large straw hat is your new go-to.
Thierry Lasry Poetry Cat Eye Sunglasses
$445 via Net-a-Porter
Laying out in the sun is not the time to skimp on the size of your sunglasses – the skin around your eyes is fragile. Cover it with as many lotions, potions and foreign objects as possible.
Hampton Sun After-Sun Moisturizer
$32 via Net-a-Porter
Even if you don’t burn easily (lucky), being out in the sun sucks essential moisture out of your skin and makes it more sensitive. Lather this stuff on in the car on the way home to replenish moisture and vitamins.