Beach parties generally begin during daylight hours; so the most important aspect is protection from sunburn so include a long-sleeve shirt and long pants or a caftan.
The best protection from burning UV rays is provided by fabrics which are dark in color and tightly woven. But wait! Those two characteristics also absorb the infrared heat rays and keep the cooling breezes from reaching your skin. Darker colors are also more attractive to insects. Drat! The solution to one problem just caused two more. Now we have to worry about heatstroke and insects. Luckily, the clothing choices keep improving.
Sporting goods stores and catalogs now sell clothing which protect against UV rays and are especially breathable. Some items purport to do both, although perhaps not perfectly. As with so many things in life, we must compromise. Although you can get sunburned through clothing, even a light-color, lightweight fabric will offer some protection.
To protect your head and face, a straw or fabric hat with a large brim is a good idea but it can blow off in the wind. A visor scarf is a good alternative, providing the protection of a hat without those problems. It is also easy to wash and dry. You can wear it with the tails hanging out, or tucked in like a baseball cap (some men wear it this way). A pattern and instructions are included in It's In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel at chateaupublishing.com.
You'll still want to use sunscreen, and you should apply it at least 30 minutes before going out. Apply a non-greasy type to your face and neck instead of moisturizer in the morning. The backs of hands and the tops of sandaled feet also need protection. If sunscreen gets rinsed off, you must re-apply.
"You always want to be ready to go anywhere when you head off to the beach," says Ketura Persellin of The Ladies Paradise. Ketura says flexibility is key -- you might be on the beach playing volleyball at a party and then heading to a nice dinner shortly thereafter without the chance to change.
You also want to look nice but you want to be able to get wet and sandy without worrying too much about what will happen to your clothes and your look. The key piece above is a Sweet Pea by Stacy Frati dress. "I wore one the entire week I was in Costa Rica -- it hand-washes and, more important for this story, it dries very quickly!" Ketura says. It's a great dress for a party but it's also a great cover-up.
The woman wearing this dress in our conception above, has a sleek black maillot in her big bag. She's wearing flip-flops, her hat and her sunglasses but she's packed a cute and on-trend pair of gladiator sandals for après-swim. The starfish pin gets put at the waist if she wants or just stuck on the bag. Earrings are great with a suit, even going into the water if they aren't fancy. She'll wear the hat and sunglasses and, when the sun goes down, throw the silk shawl over her shoulders if she gets chilly.
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