Style

Opinion: The Struggles Of Beach Fashion

Packing for the beach, needless to say, makes Jeremy Langmead hot under the collar.

BY Jeremy Langmead | Jul 29, 2016 | Fashion

Getty

What could be more relaxing than lying on a beach? Perhaps you're on one now. Are you enjoying it? Have you got everything you need? I suspect you haven't. Because beach holidays aren't what they were: they have become complex and demanding. I'd prefer to lie on a towel next to my desk at work than pack a canvas tote and head to the sea.

At least when you get up for work each morning you mindlessly know what to wear, what to put in your rucksack and how to get there. You face the day ahead assured that you have reserved seating (your desk), a free supply of tap water, access to working loos and potentially a branch of Itsu no more than five minutes away. At the beach? Endless vistas of let-down is all I see.

Perhaps it's just me who finds his beach bag competes with his vacation suitcase for size: suncream (separate ones for face and body), towels, drinking water, phone, books, charger, wallet, sunglasses, spare shorts (in case trunks are too wet for beach café), T-shirt, long-sleeved top (to be worn if there are signs of burning), keys, wet wipes. Then you look for the right spot (near café and conveniences is crowded with fatties in smallies), far away is more secluded and yet every time you want a glass of rosé you have to huff and puff across alien terrain in toe-torturing flip-flops for 15 minutes. All too much... and that's assuming you haven't got kids in tow, too.

To add to all the vacation stress, holiday wardrobes, unless you're in the middle of nowhere, are no longer as simple as they were (mostly because of people like me). Long gone are the days of damp cargo shorts and T-shirts with the name of your favourite band on the front seeing you through the fortnight. Now it's about slim-fit swimwear, artfully crumpled linens, leather-trimmed espadrilles and designer bat and ball sets. The thing is, all those items are lovely, and looking good on holiday makes you feel good—and feeling good is mostly the point of a holiday—but it's also as tightly packed with conundrums as your Rimowa suitcase.

Case in point: white trousers. Should you? They obviously look good with a tan, pair perfectly with a blazer, team nicely with a chambray shirt, and were worn to perfection by style legends such as Jean Cocteau ("style is a simple way to say complicated things"). And yet there are so many worrying elements, too: they show up spaghetti stains and negroni spills, can all-too easily make you look like a cast member of Made in Chelsea; or even worse, a tent.

My ex-wife solved the holiday conundrum quite successfully. Each summer she would head to Cornwall (no need for airports and baggage limits) and rent a cottage on the edge of a cliff with panoramic views of the coastline. For those three weeks, she would endlessly tweet how marvellous seaside holidays are while sitting on the sofa, puffing on a fag and looking through the windows. She wouldn't go to the beach once; in fact, she would only leave the actual cottage for Instagram pictures, trips to well-reviewed restaurants and galleries that sold artworks made from pebbles and driftwood.

The British weather has put me off following in her footsteps (I say footsteps, but obviously she doesn't leave any as she doesn't walk anywhere), so I tend to opt for long weekends in European hotels that have sunbathing terraces cut into cliffs. With these, you're never too far from your room, a waiter, or the sea, and yet have none of the inconveniences of sand and distance. My favourite is Il San Pietro in Positano, Italy. I've only been twice for a weekend—it isn't what you'd call a bargain—but the hotel itself is on the edge of a cliff with amazing views out to sea. And, if you do fancy venturing down to the rocks and waves below for a spot of sunbathing, there's an elevator carved into the cliff that whizzes you down from lobby to water's edge—ensuring there's no need for an unsightly sweat when you need to get back up again. Here, white trousers, sun-kissed linens and leather-trimmed espadrilles seem perfectly effortless and at home.

If, as with this year, I haven't got the cash for a trip to Positano, I'll stay at home instead. It's easier: no packing, no borders, no sweating, no damp beach towels. Dorothy Parker wittily argued in her poem, 'Resumé', that all forms of committing suicide are so stressful you may as well live. I feel the same about vacations some years. They're all so stressful, you may as well stay home.

From: Esquire UK.