Do’s and Don’ts for Aging Gracefully at the Beach

With the Fourth of July upon us, and summer finally in full swing, I thought this is the perfect moment to review a few simple ground rules for age appropriate beach attire. After fortyish, regardless of how much we may, or may not work out, the hard truth is one simply cannot pull off the skimpier looks of summers past. The old skin just doesn’t have the smooth elastic quality we took for granted in our youth. Though I fully admire how European women still don bikinis into their 60’s, they possess something we Americans don’t have, the ability to unequivocally own it. But hold on there, I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet. I love the beach and not merely as a spectator. I’m swimming, walking and basically seeing and being seen by many people in, lets face it, the equivalent to underwear. So how does a women of a certain age maintain dignity, beach cred and dare I say chic at the beach? Read on for the Prima Darling do’s and don’ts beach edition.

Don’t bring too much fashion to the beach, too much pattern, color and accessories scream older woman overcompensating for lack of youth with expensive accoutrements. Sorry I didn’t say this was going to be easy.

Do keep it simple as in the top photo with a voluminous top over a high waisted bottom. Colors are neutral and jewelry is minimal.

Do experiment with a turban for the beach. This is one instance where age actually enhances ones ability to look natural in a turban. It’s also a chic way to hide bad hair.

Don’t go crazy with animal prints at the beach; you’re only inviting associations with cougars, unless this is your objective, in which case go for it, what better place than the beach. But for God’s sake leave your handbag and heels at home.

Do find a loose, gauzy cotton boho dress, and wear it as a beach cover up. I love it in white for the hottest days. Do ignore the pump in this photo that is a definite don’t.

Do employ an oversized white shirt as a beach cover up. Wrap a sarong on the bottom for a chic alfresco lunch look.

Don’t wear fabrics that can’t get wet to the beach. Best to stick with cottons and linens.

Do go big and voluminous, it’s having a moment now, see my post on Keiko Seya.

Do go long, get drama and coverage, but keep it simple as in this white column.

Don’t wear too much jewelry; though I love this baroque necklace, it’s too much bling for the beach.

Do go for bathing suits in clean classic shapes with coverage in the right places. Dark solids are more slimming than prints and light colors. A big straw hat brings the right understated element of chic while protecting the face, shoulders and even the décolletage, which if you’re like me, has suffered enough sun damage already.

Do wear your one-piece bathing suit as a body suit with easy, high waisted pants. Just make sure it’s dry first.

Don’t wear a suit that doesn’t have enough coverage down there. But do attempt this good-looking topknot with a bandana around it.

Do use an oversized sweater in cotton, linen or even lightweight cashmere for a beach cover-up when it’s chilly. A white or light color track pant with a slide makes a great après beach drinks or sunset sail look.

Do check out your back view in the mirror at home before hitting the beach, ignorance is not bliss.

Do enjoy the magic and beauty of spending time near the sea!

  • Love this post and it’s probably very accurate but as a woman of 48… I say wear what makes you feel good.

    • Hi Kathy, You’re right, if you own it and it makes you feel good that supplants any rules ! Happy fourth!