What to Wear: Packing for St. Barts
Plenty of hot weather destinations claim to have a boho-luxe vibe. But, especially in the Caribbean, few can match the style of St. Barts. This jewel of an island is known for playing host to moguls and celebrities, like Jay-Z and Beyonce, Harvey Weinstein, Gwyneth Paltrow, and more in colder months. But savvy travelers know that hitting St. Barts in the summertime means massive sales on breezy beachwear and jewelry from some of the world's top designers. So with such a fabulous scene, and famous company, be sure to amp up your beachwear with these key pieces.
Women: Gypsy Luxe
The international jet set is wonderfully low-key when sunbathing or splashing in the waves at Anse de Lorient. Do as Beyonce did on a recent trip and don a stylish, bust-boosting black one-piece. This bandeau style with removable halter-neck strap is both flattering and easy on the wallet ($46.80 by Boden). For a neat solution to messy beach hair, pull back loose strands with a gypsy-inspired knit head wrap ($4.50 at Charlotte Russe). Another option is to go for a fashion-forward wide brim visor, spotted on some more daring fashion editors in the last few months, that also block out UV rays. Many are on sale this time of year, including this Asos.com design ($7.46) with contrast trim and a ladylike bow. For shifting to après-beach, a caftan is practically a requirement. Exuberant print and color will do nicely on short versions, like this Theodora & Callum above-the-knee ikat print caftan in tropical coral ($195). Add a few bracelets—this cotton and silver pair by Mathias Chaize ($46.50 for both) stands out—to complete the breezy look.
At night, island breezes kick up. Matta's scarves are a celeb favorite—spotted on Emily Blunt among others—and the Dupatta version ($106) with fun pom-poms looks especially free-spirited over a simple tank and sweeping maxi skirt. A beach-y cocktail tunic is also a smart choice. If you're headed to one of the isle's fancier restaurants, invest in a more sensational piece like this Calypso St. Barth handmade macramÃ© tunic ($595). If you're set to spend the evening beachside, go for low-wedge sandals in an earthy cognac ($50 at Aldo). Then, stow your extras in a Moyna tie-dye beaded clutch ($152) and slip on festive gold coin earrings ($14.99).
Men: Full Sail Ahead
When hanging with the millionaire set, the best way to look like you belong is with tried and true sailor stripes—Jay-Z often sports the nautical look on St. Barts. To get the look, we've taken to this wide stripe tee in oatmeal and black ($10 at Old Navy). Pad out your suitcase with a couple other options as well. A humorous trompe l'oeil print, like this vintage camera tee ($15.90 at Forever 21), works well, too. Both choices fit with a classic swim short in bright sea blue ($65 at Bonobos). For accessories, start with a Panama hat; this one by Miansai features contrasting nylon cord ($95). Swap your usual work watch for something sporty and timeless, like this black and white Nixon ($150). Nothing spells vacation quite like flip-flops, and Rainbows, a SoCal brand, has long-lasting designs like this gray wide strap, double arch look ($53). Once you wear them in, Rainbows sandals can stand up to some light hikes too, perhaps to reach the gorgeous and secluded Colombier beach, accessible only by boat or a 30-minute trek.
After the sun sets, it's time to get very cleaned up. A linen blend button-up is a reliable bet. Try one in an unexpected color like this deep rose hue ($34.99 at Lands' End) to set off your island tan. For a laidback and rakish vibe, look for drawstring pants with a narrower fit. J Brand has a stylish paperweight option for hot summer nights ($195) that will look sharp when rolled up and worn with a stylish suede sneaker with white sole ($295 at Odin New York). The extras: add a cord men's bracelet ($55) with a fish hook—popular with celebrities and surfers alike and a nice nod to Corossol, a traditional St. Barts fishing village—and slip your Amex into a sleek leather card case ($95 by Rag & Bone).
What to Do
The summer is the low season in St. Barts and prime time to score some great deals. Most of the island's accommodations are posh like the fabulous Isle de France Hotel on beautiful Flamands Bay. The recently renovated hotel boasts a Nature Bissé spa with summer specials on select massages, scrubs, and facials until October 31. There are also room promotions until the end of August, though rates on the low end are still going to set you back 450 Euros per night.
If price is no object, Le Toiny, a VIP classic, is also offering summer rates (in the 500 Euro-and-up range). For divers or ocean lovers, there's also an "Into the Blue" package until Dec. 19 that combines a stay at the hotel with a sailboat excursion to tiny and lush Saba.
If you're planning on sticking closer to the hotel, then the on-site restaurant Le Gaiac, which sources vegetables from its own organic greenhouse, is one of the draws. Go on Tuesday for the fresh grilled catch of the day, or simply for celebrity spotting.
Looking for less of a scene? The quaint and charming Santa Fe restaurant, with French and Creole fare, is a winner. Perched on a hillside in Lurin, the view below of Gouveneur Beach is breathtaking. For more options, Wimco Villas, a company that arranges private villa rental, has a helpful rundown of the dining and cocktail scene on its site.
Photo Credits: Women: Top left, asos.com Ltd; Bottom left, theOutnet.com; Center, Theodora & Callum, LLC; Top right, Charlotte Russe; Bottom right, Boden; Top left, Pretty Mommy; Bottom left, Target Brands, Inc.; Center, Calypso St. Barth; Top right, CUSP.com; Bottom right, the Aldo Group Inc. Men: Top left, Forever 21; Bottom left, Scoop NYC; Top center, Mainsai; Bottom center, Bonobos; Top right, Gap Inc.; Bottom right, Rainbow Sandals; Left, Barneys New York; Bottom left, Gilt Groupe, Inc.; Center, Lands' End; Top right, Nordstrom, Inc.; Bottom right, ODIN New York
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There is no place more fantastic than St. Barths. The only problem is how prohibitively expensive it is.
May I add to the fashion conversation. Ladies...to truly look glamorous on St. Jean beach (I prefer this people watching scene to that of Lorient), you must wear jewelry and sunglasses while swimming. Emerge from the water, without having wet your perfectly coiffed hair, (I think you are actually just supposed to pose in ankle deep water), put on your Hermes wrap, and enjoy expensive champagne at the Nikki Beach bar amongst the who's who of Russian oligarchs and A-list celebrities. Also fun is observing the mid-sixties men wading ashore from their yachts with their mid-twenties arm candy.
Not to be missed as far as places to stay, is the stunning Eden Roc hotel. Also, if you can't find a thing to wear, try Grand Saline nude beach where we are all equal.....well not quite.
P.S. In my attempts to look glamorous on the beach, I ruined several of my favorite fashion jewelry pieces. Presumably, real gold and diamonds can take a salt water beating better.