Cover story

A Bigger Splash


Jade Nguyen

With the great summer vacation back on everyone’s agenda, GILLIAN BRETT presents the modern packing essentials to invest in this season – and wear from sun up to sundown with effortless ease

Photography Cornelius KässStyling Marquessa Whyte
Cover Stories
This image: bikini, Haight; earrings, Pippa Small. Opening image: blouse, Batsheva; bikini bottoms, Haight

As our much-anticipated wanderlust becomes a reality, the act of packing a suitcase becomes a thrilling rather than laborious task. This year, we’re approaching our castaway closets with the same fervor and attention to detail we apply to our new-season wardrobes. We’re seeking the dream sundress, swimwear we’ll never want to take off, and easy separates to style out with sandy hair and sun-kissed skin. When carefully chosen and well-cared for, these pieces become a capsule collection in your closet, for which you’ll need only a few seasonal flourishes to refresh. After all, great vacation staples are always a wise investment.

The hit of nostalgia

Begin with the foundations: bikinis you’ll feel phenomenal in. Rio-based Haight harnesses a minimalist ’90s mood that will appeal to those who appreciate clean lines and sophisticated shades. In a pretty lemon hue – one the label evocatively calls ‘Moon Light’ – its ‘Ligia’ bikini comes with a flattering balconette-style top that features underwired cups and fully adjustable straps for support. While the label takes a mix-and-match approach, we suggest pairing it with the high-rise briefs in the matching shade. This medium-coverage design has a retro feel, so offset its vintage vibe with Batsheva’s puff-sleeved blouse, decorated with a romantic floral print from the archives of iconic British textile designer Laura Ashley. “It’s such an easy piece to throw on over a pair of cut-off shorts, or a skirt for evening,” says founder Batsheva Hay. “I love it for a beach vacation, but it’s also ideal to wear running around the city.” Channel Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley and simply knot at the waist for a laid-back look.

Bikini, Zimmermann

Bikinis embody the free-spirited verve of summer vacations and, whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist, offer an opportunity to try the things you usually rule out. “Bikinis are the perfect way to experiment with the prints and colors that you might not want to commit to in a head-to-toe look,” say NET-A-PORTER’s fashion director Kay Barron. “I like to mix and match, too; I wear printed bikini bottoms and a block color that complements on top – that way, you can make swimwear work with your personal style.”

The slip-on-slip-off sundresses

There is a spontaneity to summer dressing that requires you to be ready for a day at the beach followed by sundowners. We’re calling this prized closet-unicorn piece the ‘18-hour dress’. You want something that will easily layer over your swimwear, slip off when you want to take a swim, and be easily dressed up with jewelry or a pop of red lipstick.

We’re seeking the DREAM sundress, swimwear we’ll never want to take off, and EASY separates to STYLE out with sandy hair and sun-kissed skin

Dress, Yvonne S; sandals, Saint Laurent
Dress, Dôen; earrings, Yvonne Léon; bag, Loewe

When flouncing around the cobbled streets of a dream destination, we need wafty dresses in lightweight materials. Enter former model and fashion editor Yvonne Sporre, whose eponymous label Yvonne S is inspired by her bohemian Ibizan lifestyle and specializes in dresses with striking hand-drawn prints that traverse beach and city dress codes. This billowy trapeze style goes beautifully with Saint Laurent’s suede leather sandals by day and can be dressed up for after dark with strappy sandals and stacks of gold bangles.

A white, floaty dress, meanwhile, is to summer vacations what the LBD is to party season – find your perfect fit and it will serve you well for years to come. Dôen’s version comes in a flattering, waist-defining silhouette with pretty broderie-anglaise trims, and telegraphs an easy elegance when styled with a basket bag and gold hoops.

The hardworking one-piece

Bikini, Fisch; blouse, Dôen

Find the right swimsuit and it will not only become your beach go-to, but it will also double up as a sleek bodysuit once your vacation is over. Hunza G is a fashion-editor favorite for its sexy shapes in signature crinkle-stretch seersucker and rainbow of colors. “For me, a vibrant one-piece is a great way to introduce color into your wardrobe if it isn’t something you’re usually drawn to,” says Libby Page, NET-A-PORTER’s senior market editor. “If you want something versatile and fashion-forward, a yellow one-piece paired with neutrals, like chocolate brown, is a great way to show off your styling ability on the beach.” Case in point: this pastel-yellow Hunza G style pairs just as well with loose-fit, light-wash denim on off-duty days.

Find the right SWIMSUIT and it will not only become your BEACH go-to, but also double up as a sleek bodysuit once your VACATION is over