In between filming shows, American TV star Carson Kressley manages to slip off to fabulous Caribbean islands such as St. Barths, Harbour Island in the Bahamas and Vieques, Puerto Rico. Here's what he recommends packing when traveling to any great beach destination.
For Women: The beach-side look for women in St. Barths is my absolute favorite look. There have been MANY times when I wished I was Heidi Klum or Catherine Deneuve so I could rock one of these uber-glam yet casually elegant, just-stepped-off-the-yacht kind of looks!
First start with great swimwear. I know the trend right now it to mix and match tops and bottoms of different colors or prints, but I still think a solid bikini or one piece looks best. Don't skimp on a suit. The price you pay for a high quality suit means it will have luxury hardware pieces, a fade-resistant fabric and that it will keep its shape for years (even if your shape won’t!). You can get great ones from Everything but Water, J. Crew, Trina Turk, Calypso St. Barths and Ralph Lauren. Now layer on a gorgeous cover-up. It could be a caftan, a sarong or even an Hermès scarf just wrapped around your waist to make a decadent beachy mini!
Fabrics should be bright prints of tropical or retro geometrics on very light fabric that will be cool and move easily. Add a gorgeous embellished sandal (avoid heels of any kind at the beach - its St. Barths, not the Playboy Mansion ladies!) and finish off with stacks of
bangles OR ethnic beaded earrings. A great beach bag (just a woven
straw one from a sidewalk market can look incredibly chic) and fabulous sunglasses are a must (oversized Jackie O's work but I also happen to love anything with a gold metal frame).
For men, it’s a matter of keeping it very simple: the simpler the better actually. Here is my fantasy St. Barths beach look for guys: A long-sleeved linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up in a beachy devil-may-care way. White and navy work well as grounding colors paired with other resort colors such as tangerine, watermelon, pink, lavender and aqua. All these colors look great with a tan and stand up to the hot bright sunlight of the beach.
The long-sleeved linen shirt is a nice cover-up and will take your look from the beach to the bar when paired with shorts or even an ultra-chic pair of swim trunks (not board shorts people!) like Orlebar Brown or Vilbrequin. Look for something in a quick-dry fabric (usually nylon) so you’re not sitting in a soggy suit when you take to the café for lunch or the bar for that caipirihna.
On a side note, if you have a little more around the middle, select a trunk with a fixed waist band with a tie or snap closure. It's far more slimming than the ubiquitous gather elastic waistband. Add some sandals or even a pair of Havianas, a stainless steel or even rubber-strapped diving watch and some Ray-Ban aviators and you are all set. Très chic!
For evening, a pair of linen trousers with a nice belt and a pair of sandals works perfectly with that linen shirt I've been talking about. A blue blazer is better for more dressed-up dinners or a beach-side wedding. Look for one in lightweight worsted wool or hopsack linen. A light and fluffy cashmere cable knit sweater works great with everything, when things get a bit chilly. Navy is a good choice, as it looks good on everyone and goes with everything.
More bang for your buck. I'm so thrifty in this "new" economy!
We should also talk about what NOT to wear...Things that will get you voted off the Island: Hawaiian shirts, jean shorts, and my personal kryptonite, sandals with socks!!!
Take it from Carson, you'll look fab!
Photos courtesy of Hôtel Guanahani & Spa, Saint Barthélemy.