I Moved to the Coast—Here’s What to Wear to the British Seaside

I’ve lived by the coast since February 1 last year, and I’m still in the process of working out my best British seaside looks. Although most of my outfits for blustery seafront walks have been focused on layering, with the weather forecast looking up, my hopes for a more fabulous summer wardrobe are too. So what can one wear to the British seaside this summer and not feel cold? And also, how can a staycation wardrobe be just as exciting to prepare as a vacation one? 

First and foremost, it’s about checking your chosen trusted weather app religiously. Basically, don’t even think about hitting the coast without fully scoping out the forecast. Second, dress for the beach experience you’re aiming for. If you want to sunbathe or swim, then make sure you’ve got clothing that’s easy to whip on and off, and don’t forget to pack a jumbo towel or sheet to change behind at the end of the day. If you’re planning on staying late for a little sundowner moment, take knitwear and layers—this is the UK, not Greece, after all. And finally, start from the shoes up: If you’re planning on a long walk or a stroll around a seaside town, keep things sensible. Pebbles and sand are no friend to heels, and you don’t want to be held back from getting stuck at this stage. A big basket bag will tote all the essentials around, and a hat, headscarf or hairband will stop the annoying sea-breeze hair choke from happening every 30 seconds. And don’t you dare forget your SPF! Keep scrolling for some perfect British seaside outfit ideas to spend the summer in.

Style Notes: So you’ve checked the Met weather app a thousand times, and the forecast looks hot, hot, hot. Yes, a little sundress would do nicely, but if you’re looking for a cute alternative, I’d guide you to this season’s collection of shorts co-ords.

This set comes in eight prints and shades. 

So quick and easy to throw on over a swimsuit. 

I would wear this over a high-waisted bikini with a straw bag. 

The colour du jour. 

Style Notes: It’s very possible that your beach plans go from sunbathing and reading to having a brisk “blow the cobwebs away” kind of walk. If that’s how things are looking, then be sensible and pack for the experience you’re getting. A cool jacket, classic jeans and trainers you don’t mind getting a bit dirty will be the formula.

An It jacket to wear on repeat. 

You can’t beat Agolde denim.

Chunky Vejas will do the trick. 

Style Notes: High-summer beach days call for something easy and bohemian to lounge about in that you can quickly whip on and off over your chosen swimwear. Take a cue from Erica Davies with this combination of a retro kaftan and simple sandals.

You’ll get so much wear out of this. 

The comfiest sandals around. Fact. 

Classic. 

Style Notes: The vibe is more French Riviera than Norfolk, but the idea of an all-white look with a basket bag is one that travels the globe well, looking chic wherever it goes.

To wear every day, all summer. 

White denim is a summer staple. 

The perfect walking sandals. 

Style Notes: Your friends have decided to have a beach barbecue at the last minute. What do you do to get out of the house as fast as possible? Throw on a classic striped midi dress, slide into those flip-flops, and make sure you pick up some halloumi en route—that’s what! 

All about those cut-outs. 

Simple yet effective. 

Style Notes: You want the outfit to say “I made an effort” without saying you made an effort. So herein lies the answer: a casual beachy ensemble with a motif or vintage tee tucked into a swishy skirt and topped off with classic white basket sneaks. 

So fun. 

Everyone loves a bit of Reformation. 

These will go with every outfit all year round. 

Next up, 13 classic dresses worth the money.