Evening Resort Wear for a Beach Vacation Dinner

Dear Deborah,

We’re going to a fairly swanky beach resort for our summer vacation. Can you suggest some resort maxi dresses or something else appropriate to wear to dinner with friends? Something dressy but with a tropical or beachy vibe? Thanks, Jan.

Hi Jan,

Lucky you! It sounds like you’re going to have a fabulous time. Getting dressed up for a beautiful dinner after a long day at the beach is one of the most enjoyable parts of any vacation, which is why it’s so important to feel confident that you’ve packed just the right thing.

You seem to have a good idea of what you need! Dressy evening resort wear is simply a step up from casual but not as formal as cocktail or business wear. It’s elegant but relaxed and makes you look and feel like you are on vacation, even if you are not!


animal print maxi

I just got back from Florida, where I wore this chic resort maxi dress that fits the bill.  Have a closer look, and check out these tips for choosing the perfect evening resort wear.

1. Think Elegant, Feminine, and Flowy

Imagine sitting down to romantic dinner on the patio under a giant palm tree, watching the sun slowly set and listening to the ocean waves crashing in. This is not the time to wear a stiff, serious dress. You’re on an exciting getaway, so choose something light, feminine, relaxing, and effortlessly chic.

If it moves when you move, all the better – something that will look beautiful blowing in the ocean breeze is perfect!

shop the look


This airy chiffon animal print dress is a great example of what I mean. It’s loose, flowy, and a little wild! Chiffon is perfect in warm weather, but linen, cotton, and silk are also popular for resort wear.

animal print maxi with cork sandals

This gorgeous dress has a big cat look and feel, but when you look up close, you see the print is actually a little abstract, making it modern.

Sexy sandals and unique bags also elevate evening dinner resort wear, so I’ve paired this dress with these beachy cork heels and a chic cork purse. I love the way they enhance the exotic feel of this outfit.

Speaking of exotic, this brings me to another point about how to style evening resort wear…


Dean Davidson Jewelry Tiger's Eye


2. Add Playful, Flirty Jewelry and Accessories

Leave your conservative stud earrings at home and go for big, dangly, fun, colorful earrings and jewelry.  Bracelets and necklaces with fringe, beading, rattan, hammered metals, and unique stones tell a story.

For example, this bold Tiger’s Eye gemstone pendant from Dean Davidson has an exotic and exciting safari feel. The stunning, chunky chain necklace perfectly complements my edgy animal print dress. I love how it fills up the flattering V-neckline and up levels my maxi to a chic resort wear look.

Since jewelry is a big part of resort wear style, I’ve added matching hammered gold drop earrings, a stunning cuff bracelet, and a beaded gold bracelet. These are all from Dean Davidson’s new Nomad collection, which is so good!


animal print leopard maxi

I’m ready for a beautiful evening of dinner under the stars at a 5-star vacation resort! Here are a few more tips for choosing elegant evening resort wear.



tropical print resort dress

Linen Tropical Print Resort Dress

3. Tropical Prints  Always Look Right

Bold prints are a huge part of resort style, but Animal and safari-style prints are just one way to go.  Palm leaves, tropical flowers, exotic birds, and jungle prints are also natural choices. Keep things classy by having one print as your focal point and leaving everything else neutral.

one shoulder floral dress resort wear

Pink, One Shoulder Resort Dress

4. Have Fun with Color

Tropical temperatures = hot colors. Don’t be afraid to look festive in happy island colors like orange, yellow, hot pink, lime green, or bright parrot blue. You’ll fit right in.  Black is fine, too, especially a print with colorful splashes of color.


Resort Style Floral Jumpsuit

5.  Let loose in a Comfy Jumpsuit

Dresses aren’t the only choice for a dressy dinner at a beach resort. Loungewear style pants like palazzo pants or this breezy floral jumpsuit look relaxed, classy, and comfy.


colorful dressy resort wear

Resort Gown- perfect for more formal resorts and country clubs

Have Fun!

No matter what you choose resort wear should be fun to wear. You’re on vacation, and it’s a great way to express your personality and enjoy some drama. This last dress above is amazing for gals who love to own the room! Enjoy.

shop the look

Dressy Resort Style Summary

Let’s review the elements of dressy resort style:

  • a step up from casual but not formal
  • effortlessly chic, relaxed, comfy
  • light fabrics like cotton, linen, silk
  • elegant dresses, skirts, loose tops, pants (flowy is good)
  • vibrant colors & prints
  • beading, gemstones, hammered metal, summery embellishments
  • lots of big, bold jewelry and accessories!
More Dressy Resort Style Here

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