Vacations have the power to turn us into new people. And not just in the philosophical sense, but when it comes to style, too. In the season two finale of Succession, even staunch minimalist Shiv Roy exchanged her neutral trousers and turtlenecks for a Delft-blue bathing suit and a superyacht-size straw hat. And Rihanna, never one to hold back sartorially, recently captivated Instagram with slow-mo videos of herself on vacation, complete with eye-catching pieces from Asai and Bottega Veneta.
Resort once connoted safe, staid clothing for private getaways. Now it’s synonymous with a fashion statement, and is a cottage industry in itself. Bergdorf Goodman has created its own dedicated shopping space, called #getaway, for the purpose. Golden Edit, a site devoted to the concept that, as cofounder Florencia Cavallo puts it, “Summer is a state of mind,” stocks vacationwear from lines like My Beachy Side and Verandah. This trend is, in part, a response to the way our definition of leisure is changing. Mini breaks get tacked onto business trips (leading to the gross coinage bleisure); destination weddings become peacocking opportunities; and on Instagram, you’re playing to a feed of hundreds or thousands. Now “the fashion is just as incredible as what we’re seeing for main [collections],” says Roopal Patel, the fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue and no stranger to destination dressing. For a jaunt to Cuba this past spring, she picked a canary-hued Johanna Ortiz dress, knowing that it would pop against the island’s bright colors.
The holiest grails of resort dressing might be the souvenir pieces: Think caftans from Le Sirenuse Positano, the in-house line of the haute hotel; or finds from Laboratorio, the It boutique on the isle of Capri. Items like these were once a calling card for a certain kind of jet-setter; now the deskbound can shop them online. When designer Taylor Simmons was a kid, vacationing with her family in Antigua, the highlight of her stay was a visit to the beloved local emporium Coco Shop. After the original store was shuttered in 2017, Simmons relaunched it this year as a direct-to-consumer brand that brings its print-centric, retro aesthetic to those off the island.
Luckily, this new wave of resort fashion doesn’t necessarily require a boarding pass. “The lines between what were once designated vacay clothes and the rest of our closet are narrowing and crisscrossing,” says Linda Fargo, senior vice president of Bergdorf Goodman. “Switching up the context feels refreshing and light-handed. Sometimes we need to feel breezy, even if we’re just meeting a friend for coffee.” Think of it as the fashion equivalent of a much-needed staycation.
This article appears in the January 2020 issue of ELLE.
Véronique Hyland Véronique Hyland is ELLE’s fashion features director.