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What to Wear to the Beach Man leaning on surfboard with sunglasses and boardshorts
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What to Wear to the Beach: The Essential Guide for Men

David has been covering men's style and grooming topics for The Adult Man as a writer and photographer since 2020. We asked David to sum himself up in four sentences, and here it is. Serial learner. Aspiring wordsmith. Bourbon enthusiast. Jack of some trades. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Feb 23, 2024
18 min read
Key Takeaways

If you’re going swimming, wear boardshorts, a t-shirt, tank top, or short-sleeve button-down, and light, open footwear like flip-flops. Going to do some shopping or to check out a casual bar? Opt for some linen, drawstring shorts and a patterned short-sleeve button-down, add in some jewelry, and finish it with espadrilles or leather sandals.

There’s nothing worse than going to the beach and being wholly unprepared with what to wear.

I recently went to Miami Beach, and realized too late that after I landed I wasn’t able to check into the hotel for two hours. So, I was left to wander in the glaring sun and 100% humidity in a heavy cotton t-shirt and cotton chinos.

Not ideal. 

While it’s straightforward to figure out the clothes you need for a day of beach swimming, it can be a little more murky when considering going out, grabbing dinner or drinks, going shopping, or attending a beach wedding. 

That dark wool suit you keep in the back of your closet for formal weddings? Not going to cut it at the beach.

In this article I’ll walk you through all the clothes and outfits you’ll need for a successful trip to the beach, whether you’re staying at the Ritz Carlton or in a secluded beach bungalow.

Beach Wear for Men: A Complete Guide in 2023

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Let’s talk about general rules of thumb before we dive into specifics.

In general, you want to wear light, cooling fabrics to the beach. Linen, light cotton blends, synthetic fabrics, etc. Avoid wool and heavy cotton, unless you’re going to a beach in Northern Scotland in Winter.

Besides fabrics, and assuming you’re going to warm beaches, generally stick with shorts, t-shirts, short-sleeved button-downs, tank tops, flip flops, or any other light, open footwear. 

Let’s dive in.

Tops

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If you’re the type of guy who will spend his entire day at the beach in the water, just grab a t-shirt to start the day. You’ll hardly be wearing it, so it might as well be something that you can take on and off easily. 

I recommend light, breathable t-shirts here, like a cotton blend with polyester, nylon, or elastane, as these will be cooling and won’t stifle you during the walk over the hot band to your beach spot. 

Tees are also great for strolling the boardwalk, grabbing a quick bite, or doing some casual shopping in touristy shops.

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If you’re a “suns out guns out” type of guy, wear a tank top instead of the t-shirt. This is more casual, but totally fine for a day of swimming and lounging at the beach. 

I’m a big fan of Vuori’s Grandview Tech Tank in general, but especially for the beach. It’s made from 100% recycled polyester and the fabric is perforated for breathability, which will keep you cool and dry all day.

Vuori Grandview Tech Tank

I’m a big fan of this tank in general, but especially for the beach. It’s made from 100% recycled polyester and the fabric is perforated for breathability, which will keep you cool and dry all day.

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If you want something a little more stylish, swap the t-shirt for a short-sleeve button-down. I like to leave the top few buttons unbuttoned to allow the breeze to roll through, and this also gives an effortless, comfortable beach aesthetic.

Short-sleeve button-downs come in a huge variety of patterns and prints, so don’t be afraid to experiment here and try out some shirts that look like modern art or have floral prints that compliment your surroundings. 

You’ll also look like the entire male cast of Outer Banks. 

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You can also wear a lightweight, long-sleeve button-down or long-sleeve t-shirt to the beach. These are great options for when the beach isn’t extremely hot and you might be in need of an extra layer while out of the water. 

Also, they’re handy for covering sunburned or overexposed skin when you “forget” to put on sunscreen for the fifth time. 

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For long-sleeve button-downs, don’t wear a dress shirt. Stick to light, flowy materials like linen.

Luca Faloni Forte Linen Shirt

This linen shirt has a band collar, and nothing screams long walks on the beach like a laid back band collar.

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Lastly, if part of your beach vacation includes maintaining an active lifestyle, many performance wear shirts are made with built-in sun protection. These shirts will also be lightweight, stretchy, and moisture-wicking when you get your sweat on. 

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If you like to keep it classy and get active with court sports, Vuori’s Strato Tech Polo is the perfect choice to stay cool and look slick. It’s made with super soft polyester and elastane fabric, and has UPF 30 sun protection.

Bottoms

For most guys, the only bottoms choice for spending an active day at the beach is boardshorts. 

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Some of my favorite boardshorts come from Vuori, especially their Puerto Boardshorts. These slick swimmers have a retro style and are made with a 6” inseam, which show off a healthy amount of those quad gains. 

Vuori Puerto Boardshort

These slick swimmers have a retro style and are made with a 6” inseam, which show off a healthy amount of those quad gains.

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If you prefer a slightly longer inseam, Vuori also offers the Cruise Boardshorts, which have a 7.5” inseam. All of Vuori’s boardshorts are made with a blend of polyester and elastane, which offers 4-way stretch and quick-dry and anti-odor properties. 

Vuori Cruise Boardshort

With their 7.5” inseam, these boardshorts are ideal if you're a taller dude or you're rocking bigger quads. All of Vuori’s boardshorts are made with a blend of polyester and elastane, which offers 4-way stretch and quick-dry and anti-odor properties. We're fans.

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If you feel that 6” is too short and 7.5” is just a smidge too long, check out Vuori’s Peak Boardshorts, which feature a 7” inseam and clean, modern colorways.

Vuori Peak Boardshort

Bringing four-way stretch, side ventilation, a secure drawcord, and some tasteful colorways to the table---these bad boys are some of our favorite 7" inseam boardshorts around.

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Some guys have enough self-confidence (or delusion) to wear Speedos, and if that’s your thing, more power to you. 

After a swim and a shower, you might decide it’s time to grab drinks or dinner, but want to wear something nicer than boardshorts. This is the perfect time to break out cotton chino shorts, linen shorts, loose linen pants, or lightweight chinos. 

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Lots of brands offer a cross of dress pants with sweatpants, where the pants have a crease down the front and back and generally look like dress pants, but have an elastic, draw-string waistband that gives them a casual, relaxed look. 

These types of pants are incredibly comfortable and breathable, and pair well with short-sleeve button-downs and long-sleeve, linen button-downs. 

I’m also a big fan of performance fabric shorts and pants, like Vuori’s Kore Short, which is part of their new Court to Resort collection. 

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The Kore Shorts, and other performance wear shorts, are made with a blend of polyester and elastane, which gives these shorts a light, breathable, and super stretchy feel. This fabric is also great at drying quickly and wicking moisture, which are both good things to have at the beach.

Vuori Kore Shorts

The Vuori Kore is my go-to workout short. I prefer the lined version myself, as they're super comfortable and offer enough support for an intense workout.

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Footwear

When it comes to footwear, light and open are the names of the game. 

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You don’t see people wear leather boots to the beach for good reason. They’re hot, heavy, and you’ll get a pile of sand in there before you know it. 

Flip flops are classic choices for beach-going footwear, and nicer, leather pairs can work well with chino shorts and a short-sleeve button-down. If you’re rocking boardshorts and a t-shirt or tank top, any old pair of flip flops will do. 

My go-to flip flops are the Sami’s from HEYDUDE Shoes. They’re super lightweight, have HEYDUDE’s proprietary Flex & Fold Technology, and have a perforated footbed that lets water and air easily flow through.

HEYDUDE Shoes Sami

These are my go-to flip flops. They’re super lightweight, have HEYDUDE’s proprietary Flex & Fold Technology, and have a perforated footbed that lets water and air easily flow through.

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Leather sandals that aren’t flip flops are also a great option for the beach, and many can be dressed up to work with more formal outfits. Birkenstocks are a classic option here, but any leather sandals with straps over the foot will work well and keep your feet cool and dry. 

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Boat shoes aren’t a bad choice for the beach, either. If you have a nautical, preppy style these will pair well with light chinos and a polo or short-sleeve button-down. 

Generally speaking, you want to wear shoes to the beach that you can wear without socks. This excludes most sneakers and boots, which might be your entire wardrobe, but you’ll be significantly more comfortable with open, light shoes that sand can easily slip in and out of.

Accessories

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Accessories play two roles when it comes to the beach. They can either make you more comfortable and protect from the elements, or dress your outfit up and add extra style. Some accessories do both.

Let’s look at sunglasses

These protect your peepers from harmful UV rays and excessive eye strain, and can also provide an extra dose of style. I have good personal experience with Knockaround Sunglassses, which strike the ideal balance of price, style, and UV protection.

knockaround sunglasses relaxed profile view
The classic Wayfarer look of the Knockaround Paso Robles

I always get nervous taking my Ray Bans to the beach, where it’s super easy to lose them in the water or sand. Knockaround’s sunglasses are cheap, easily replaceable, and still provide full sun protection, so they’ve become my go-to beach sunglasses.

Hats, depending on the type of hat, can offer similar benefits as sunglasses. Baseball caps are a staple for me at the beach, especially after the skin on my face has taken enough of a radiation beating from the sun. 

Bucket hats are popular these days as well, but are casual and shouldn’t be worn with more formal beach outfits. 

When it comes to watches, if you plan on swimming it’s probably best to leave them in your hotel room, unless it’s a dive watch that’s specifically intended for underwater exploration, like the Baltic Aquascaphe.

Baltic Aquascaphe

Measuring a highly versatile 39mm in width (47mm lug-to-lug), French microbrand Baltic bring to the conversation one of the finest sub-$1000 dive watches on the market with the Aquascaphe. We particularly love its clean design lines and symmetry, unique "grainy" dial finishing, and particularly the aesthetic of the black / cream variant.

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Adding jewelry—whether that be rings, chains, or bracelets—to your outfit can also easily dress out the whole outfit and add some personal touches of style. Since jewelry has the unfortunate habit of getting lost, I recommend wearing these accessories when not actively swimming.

Skin

Despite having fried our skin to a crisp many times, many of us still shrug off wearing sunscreen at the beach like it’s an optional, annoying nuisance and not a necessity. 

Well, I have bad news.

Up to 90% of visible signs of ageing in the skin are commonly attributed to the sun. So, if you don’t want to look 45 years old when you’re only 30, slather on some sunscreen. 

I’m a big fan of Geologie’s SPF30 Face Sunscreen, which is made with both mineral and physical sunscreens that block a broader spectrum of UVA and UVB rays. 

It’s oil and fragrance-free, which is great for me since I’m prone to oily skin, and is formulated with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid for anti-aging benefits.

Geologie Broad-Spectrum SPF30 Face Sunscreen

I’m a big fan of this sunscreen, which is made with both mineral and physical sunscreens that block a broader spectrum of UVA and UVB rays. It’s oil and fragrance-free, which is great for me since I’m prone to oily skin, and is formulated with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid for anti-aging benefits.

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What to Wear to the Beach at Night

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Whether you’re going out for a bonfire, a long walk, or trying to woo your crush in a romantic setting, the beach is a great place to be at night, but can get chilly. 

Cooler air temperatures in the evening can be made even colder by the wind blowing off the cool surface of the water, so it’s best to layer up slightly before going out.

This is the perfect time to wear light sweatshirts, long-sleeve button-downs, long-sleeve tees, and light pants. Vuori’s Long-Sleeve Strato Tech Tee and Ponto Performance Crew are great options here, and will provide extra warmth while staying light and airy.

Vuori Long-Sleeve Strato Tech Tee

Boasting oh-so-soft moisture-wicking SPF30 polyester/elastane blend material, this is a superb long-sleeve tee for those breezy afternoon beach days.

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My legs don’t usually get cold, so I’d pair cotton chino or performance shorts with a light tee, crew sweatshirt, or long-sleeve button-down, and finish the outfit with leather sandals that can easily be removed to walk in the sand.

If you want to keep your legs warm, swap out the shorts for linen pants or light, cotton chinos.

What to Wear to the Beach in 70 Degree Weather

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70 degree weather at the beach can often be a tricky balance between being cold and being hot. A lot of this is dependent on how cold the water is, and how much breeze is coming off of it. 

I recommend layering for this type of weather. 

If you’re headed for a swim at the beach, pair your boardshorts with leather sandals or flip flops, a t-shirt, and a light top layer like a crew sweatshirt.

Vuori’s Infinity Boardshorts are a good choice here, as they have an 8.5” inseam and will provide a bit more warmth than their shorter inseam options. 

Vuori Infinity Boardshort

These are a great choice for 70 degree beach weather, as they have an 8.5” inseam and will provide a bit more warmth than their shorter inseam options.

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If you’re out and about in a beach town, pair cotton chinos or shorts with a neutral-colored tank top, and wear a short-sleeve or long-sleeve button-down over top for a little extra warmth.

Generally speaking, you want to have layers that you can cycle through for when you’re hot or cold so that you can stay comfortable no matter what.

11 Beach Outfits for Men That Exude Cool

Tee and Boardshorts

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This outfit is about as simple as you can get, short of skinny dipping. It’s functional, it’s easy, and it gets you into the water quickly so you can catch the next wave.

Unbuttoned Short-Sleeve with Chino Shorts

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While a little more complex, the layers in this outfit go a long way in crafting a stylish outfit.

Chino shorts, leather strappy sandals, and a tucked in tank top form the base outfit. An unbuttoned, short-sleeve t-shirt finishes the top, and the bucket hat adds the pop of trendy style that gets other guys wishing they knew how to dress like you.

Chinos, Sandals, and Short-Sleeve Button-Down

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This outfit is perfect for drinks at the new hotel bar or seeing what your beach town has to offer in terms of fine dining. 

The leather sandals have a European look that’s actually quite formal, and the leather matches his belt, which you always want to do. Light cotton chinos and a tucked-in short-sleeve button-down with an artsy pattern finish this outfit in style.

Seersucker Shorts and Linen Short-Sleeve

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Seersucker is another great fabric for beach trips, and gives a nautical vibe to any outfit. 

Here, seersucker shorts are paired with a simple, white short-sleeve shirt for a breezy, comfortable outfit.

Boardshorts, Long-Sleeve Button-Down, and Espadrilles

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Boardshorts are a great opportunity to express your funky wild side, as shown here in this cool outfit.

Pair boardshorts with a linen long-sleeve shirt, a fun pair of espadrilles, and finish it with quality shades, a necklace, and a few bracelets to lock in the details.

Boardshorts and Tank Top

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Despite being super simple, you can still express your style well through just a tank top and boardshorts. Here, that’s accomplished through his choice of necklaces.

Linen Shorts and Short-Sleeve Button-Down

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This outfit is ideal for warm Summer nights at casual bars, getting food to go, and a relaxing stroll on the beach. 

Linen shorts with a drawstring waist are paired with a short-sleeve button-down where the top few buttons are left undone. It’s simple, comfortable, and screams beach relaxation.

Boardshorts, White Tee, and Hat

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This outfit is great for a run, beach workout, heading to the waves, or just running errands. 

Coordinated colors on the hat and boardshorts give this outfit a little more style, and a clean white tee makes this outfit look neat and tidy even though it’s appropriate for a workout.

Light Chinos and Long-Sleeve Button-Down

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If you’ve got plans to hit up some fine dining and the club afterwards, this is your outfit. It’s breezy, comfortable, and you can add in your personal sense of style through a wide variety of jewelry options.

Chinos, Sandals, and Unbuttoned Short-Sleeve

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This is a great outfit for exploring your local beach town or city when the weather is less hot. 

The layers created by the shoulder bag, short-sleeve shirt, and tank top create instant style, and the light chinos and slides are hard to beat in terms of comfort.

Chinos, Button-Down, Blazer, and Loafers

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Many beach cities and towns come equipped with fine dining and maybe even Michelin starred restaurants, and if you want to dress the part, here’s a great place to start.

White pants are great for the beach since there’s rarely mud to scuff them up, and they get easily dressed up with a quality pair of leather loafers, a white button-down, and a patterned blazer.

2 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Dressing for the Beach

1. Not Preparing for the Weather

Depending on what beach you’re going to, many can have volatile weather that will go from sunny and clear skies to a full-on thunderstorm in minutes. Because of this, it’s best to always quickly check the weather before you head out, and dress appropriately for the weather. 

All clear skies and sun? Grab your boardshorts, t-shirt, and sandals if it’s warm enough.

Thunderstorms on the horizon? Wear a few layers and bring along a hat that you can put on and protect yourself from the elements in case the weather turns sour. 

2. Not Wearing Sunscreen

Although this isn’t a style tip, you need to put on sunscreen while getting ready for the beach. Not only will this keep you looking younger, longer, but it will prevent you from ruining a good outfit with skin that’s as red as a tomato and painful to the slightest touch.

Hit the Beach

Now you’ve got all the tools and knowledge necessary to put together a quality beach outfit, whether it’s just for swimming or checking out the fine dining in appropriate beach fashion. 

The beach can throw a lot of things our way when it comes to weather, but it’s nothing you can’t handle if you’ve got the right outfit, footwear, accessories, and sunscreen. 

If you know a guy who keeps sweating through his heavy cotton clothes because he doesn’t know the first thing about dressing for the beach, share this article with him! He’ll thank you when he’s cool as a cucumber and effortlessly stylish.

FAQs

What should you wear to the beach in 60 degree weather?

It’s best to wear pants and a few light top layers so you can stay comfortable no matter how breezy or sunny it is.

What shoes should you wear to the beach?

In general, you should wear shoes that can easily be slipped on and off and don’t require socks.

What should you wear to the beach if you’re overweight?

Wear dark colors and come prepared with a light and airy cover-up. It’s also best to stick with horizontal stripes, if you’re wearing a bathing suit that has stripes.

What should you wear for photos on the beach at sunset?

Wear soft, pastel colors that will best compliment the colors of the sunset, like light pink, cream, soft blues, and white.

What should you wear to a bonfire on the beach?

Wear a few light layers on top that you can cycle through if you get too hot or cold, and either cotton chino shorts or lightweight, airy pants.