What You Actually Need to Pack for the Beach

Emily Weiss, Parrot Cay Resort
Emily Weiss, Parrot Cay Resort
Emily Weiss, Parrot Cay Resort
Emily Weiss, Parrot Cay Resort
Emily Weiss, Parrot Cay Resort
Emily Weiss, Parrot Cay Resort

It’s very simple, actually. Whether you’re going for three days or seven days, I am a firm (and admittedly grungy) believer that the only items you need on a beach vacation are the following:

(1) bathing suit

(1) cut-off shorts

(1) top

(1) sandals

(1) sunglasses

(3) pairs of underwear (or, one for each day)

...plus SUNSCREEN (a LOT! Because your friends/family will steal it; you know they will), a toothbrush and toothpaste, baby soap, moisturizer (1 for face, 1 for body), and your passport or ID. Books and technology are add-ons that I’m not counting here.

Depending on who you're traveling with, you may need a razor and shaving cream (to be utilized at night, not in the morning, unless you want salty ocean water lighting your shins on fire), and depending on how fancy this place is, you might need some sort of dressy caftan situation.

But for my post-Fashion Month four-day getaway to Parrot Cay—the insanely, yet understatedly, luxurious Turks and Caicos resort—with Nick and Stevie, I needed nothing fancy (nor did I do very much shaving). Instead, I trussed up my trusty Ksubi shorts (last summer, frantic for the perfect cut-offs, I asked Leandra for advice: “Ksubi makes the best ones, and Shopbop has ‘em”) with a black-and-white woven leather belt from cool-girl French store Iro and decided on a blue and cream baseball tee (men’s Levi’s Vintage, scored at American Rag in LA) as a top. Swimwear consisted of a postage stamp-sized Rosa Cha bikini I picked up in Rio almost a decade ago, covered in crayola-bright bumper cars. Very mature, yes, yes, I know. Now the sandals—let’s talk sandals. Have you ever wanted an ankle bracelet? I have. I saw a really chic girl—slightly hippie in that “I meditate” way—in Williamsburg last summer who had a strand of silver…bells? Bells….around her left ankle. Where did you get that?? “India.” Great. The closest thing I’ve ever found are these sandals from a brand called Ancient Greek Sandals, which I found at Joseph in Paris, of all places. They’re like jewelry for your feet.

And in the beauty department, you really don’t need much. You don’t. Are you really going to do a mask? A peel? No, you’re not. You’re going to snooze poolside after two pina coladas, and your main concern for the entire trip will be whether or not you’re going to get burned. So, sunscreen! I reach for La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 40 without fail, year after year, trip after trip. It has the consistency of a normal body lotion, and it doesn’t stink. On this particular trip, my cosmetic splurge was NARS’ infamous Body Glow: a deliriously tropical-smelling bronzing oil. I packed it in not one but two Ziploc sandwich bags for fear that the glass bottle would explode in my Tumi, but the TSA gods spared me, and thus it came to pass that I sashayed around feeling like a Tahitian mermaid for the long weekend. What more could one ask for? Oh, a sweater. You actually really do need a sweater for a beach vacation—but that's the boring part.

—Emily Weiss

Photographed at Como Shambhala Parrot Cay in March 2013. Accommodations provided by Parrot Cay.