I’ve returned from a truly lovely vacation in Gulf Shores, AL. And let me start off by saying how lucky I am to have been able to do this. My mother-in-law has just retired after a remarkable 37 years of teaching school, and she spent about a year planning this trip. I’m incredibly grateful to have such a generous woman in my life, and to be a part of something so special with my husband’s family.
The lot of us–about 11 people in total–stayed in a bright pink condo. We had our own pool, and we were right on the beach.
This was the view from the balcony outside of my bedroom. I snapped this quickly just to have something to send to my parents (as a way of saying we’d made it there safely). And it’s literally one of the prettiest photos I’ve ever taken.
I confess, I took almost no pictures on this trip, least of all of myself. When I’m doing something exciting, I just don’t think about photographing the experience. That being said, I have plenty to say about beachside style…just not many selfies to share with you.
There’s something about a tropical environment that brings out the vibrancy of fashion. To an extreme. The brightest colors, the biggest prints–the gaudier, the better. All the more so, seemingly, given how close we were to Florida. And generally speaking, I’m really not a fan.
Admittedly, this trip was my first time at a proper beach in almost 10 years. And I realized that there are ways to work tropical style without looking like the visual equivalent of blasting an airhorn in someone’s face.
For example, I like these. They still really pop. They draw the eye in a big way. And they’re still obviously tropical. But no clashing colors, and nothing so busy that it leaves your head spinning. All of the pros without the cons.
Sundresses, coverups, and anything else flowy and comfortable, that’s what you want at the beach. Bonus points if you don’t have to wear a bra.
I mentioned in a previous post that shirts like this–in just about any tropical print you can imagine–have become really popular recently, on both men and women. The picture above is a wilder example. In fact, it’s just on the cusp of being too loud for me. But because the print is on a dark, neutral background, and because most of the leaves are white, it manages to balance out the several other colors.
This is a summery look that you can pull off even if you’re not visiting a seaside town. It’s practically October, though, so if this style appeals to you–it has really grown on me–then wear it now before the autumn vibes fully set in. (You’ve got, like, 20 minutes left).
And let’s not forget the bathing suit outfit combo. With 24 hour access to a pool/the ocean, one wants to be ready for a swim at a moment’s notice. Throwing on a pair of shorts over a nice one-piece is one of my favorite choices.
The sarong is my other favorite. It’s versatile enough to be almost anything. Tie it around your waist for a gorgeous skirt. Tie it around your neck for an instant sundress. They come in any color or pattern you could want.
And you aren’t limited to just strolling the beach in any of these outfits. In a place like Gulf Shores, you could go out to lunch, or even to the grocery store, not wearing much more than your poolside attire.
Don’t forget your sunglasses and big floppy hat, either. Sunscreen is a must, but any extra protection from the sun is vital. Definitely for me, who has the complexion of a Victorian Era vampire.
This photo is my favorite from the whole trip. Sitting on my sarong, I am happily posing after having buried my husband alive in the sand. I’d never done it before, and yes, it is absolutely as fun as it looks.
My very best day was when Greg and I went out and had some quality time, just the two of us. We tried out this local coffee shop called Foam, for starters. A couple of barista friends of mine had told me about it (and I’m very grateful that they did). Excellent coffee and good vibes–I am happily addicted to both, and Foam provided.
It’s worth noting that this was the only day I wore makeup. As dry as sea air can be, and with the added harshness of the sun (and pool water), why put my skin through the trouble? And I’m only talking about the barest minimum here. Pictured above, I am wearing a dash of eyeliner and lipstick, and that’s it. It was my most dressed-up day.
But I obviously wanted to look cute, going out with the cutest man in the world.
We went right back the next morning, of course.
And, let me just say, it’s not exclusively about getting a nice dose of caffeine. Chain coffee places simply don’t have the magic. You don’t get the same level of care and quality with, say, Starbucks, and you definitely don’t get the pleasure of drinking from a super cute mug with matching saucer. What I’m saying is, and I cannot stress this enough, if you like coffee, shop local. The unique little café in your town deserves your business. I love supporting the one where I live, and I had a lot of fun supporting the one in Gulf Shores.
Shoutout to my true love, Round Mountain Coffee.
Continuing our day together, we went to a place called the Sunset Cork Room for dinner. I wanted to make special mention of this restaurant, because I was so pleasantly surprised at how fine it was. There aren’t really any pictures online of the inside (and naturally I didn’t think to take any myself), so please just take my word for it.
Inside, it was dimly lit–in the romantic sort of way–with smooth, jazzy music playing in the background. Had I worn formal attire, I wouldn’t have felt out of place. Better still, it was almost empty when Greg and I got there, so it was all the cozier. With a gourmet menu and an excellent drink selection, we did not go away disappointed. In such a touristy town, I hadn’t expected this level of fine dining, and I feel very lucky that we happened upon it.
As for everything else, nothing was too eventful, overall. It was meant to be a very relaxed vacation, with a lot of lounging and beach-strolling, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be. And hey, sometimes that’s just what you need.
In conclusion, visiting Gulf Shores is worth it. I actually had no idea what a popular vacation spot it is, but I get it now. It’s got everything you could need: great seafood, interesting nightlife, and access to a gorgeous stretch of beach. And honestly? You really just can’t be unhappy that close to the ocean. It’s too vast, too beautiful; it pulls you to it in a primordial sort of way.
I’m going to miss stepping out onto the balcony in the mornings and feeling the sea breeze on my face. But that being said, it’s always a relief to get home. I’m comfortable and grounded once more, and with a lovely new experience under my belt. I look forward to continuing my weekly posts, and hopefully entertaining you all the more, dear readers.
Have a beautiful week.