Fashion: Kimonos, kaftans and cover-ups for the beach (and festivals)

As the swim and beach wear floods into stores, Stephanie Smith has advice on what to look for this summer to impress at home and abroad.

Floral kimono £30; Cami £12; Denim shorts £20; Bracelets £8.50. All from Next.
Floral kimono £30; Cami £12; Denim shorts £20; Bracelets £8.50. All from Next.

So many fantastic holiday fashion looks, so little time in which to take those holidays.

And money, of course. It’s all very well planning a fabulous new wardrobe, created specifically for looking hot as you hit the beach, but it all adds up, cost-wise.

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Plus there often isn’t the space in our very real wardrobes, the ones of the wooden variety, to store clothes and accessories that, in all honestly, we may well not wear for at least 45 weeks of the year (and even that is an optimistic estimate of the number of warm days most of us get to see each year – depressing, no?)

Blue short kimono, £20, Matalan.

All of which is why I am delighted and encouraged to see that holiday, beach and pool wear is spreading its wings, becoming a more useful and intrinsic part of our all-year-round wardrobe of basics and speciality wear. This is generally true of most seasonal trends, actually. Spring/summer pieces seem to mingle and blend in with autumn/winter pieces far more readily and effectively than has been the case in the past, what with us having winter whites and moody florals, summer black and spring laces and jacquards, with embellishments of beading, sequins, embroidery, feathers and fringing acceptable at any time of year.

Anyway, there are several ways to go for beachwear this summer, although an artfully bohemian feel is probably the easiest place to start, teaming as it does prints inspired by the four corners of the globe (although especially South America and Africa) with fringing, beading and bold, bright colour.

One piece is all it takes, and this season, that one piece should be a kimono – maybe a short, silky one with a graphic, bold, arty, geometric print, to throw on over denim shorts and white tees, and to recycle later for going out for dinner over a black sundress or strappy top, or to give added sun protection while sight-seeing. See, how versatile. So versatile, in fact, that I’d go for a short one and a longer one, with a more boho feel with beading and fringing (see Topshop), to wear over swimwear at the pool and also to wear as a jacket in the evening both at home and abroad.

I am less convinced about minimalism as a beach trend, and especially white minimalism. June’s Vogue has a major fashion piece featuring lots of expensive white cottons, linens and even tailored wool, in crisp, pared-back shapes, on models lolling about in sand dunes. Filthy and wrecked within minutes, I reckon.

But printed and bright tunic tops, all-in-ones and kimonos are flattering, easy to wear, don’t take up much room, don’t show the dirt so quickly and usually don’t suffer too badly from crumpling. What’s not to like?

Cool sunglasses, ankle-cuffing flats and a big floppy hat, and you’re good to go.

Twitter: @yorkshirefashQ