What to Wear to a Pool Party | Pop-In Goes Poolside

The easy answer to summer’s impending question is not much at all, but it’s what you do with that little bit that sets the season’s best dressed apart from the rest.

This month’s Pop-In@Nordstrom is all about the deck—the tiled, floatie-strewn, beach-towel-covered poolside deck, that is.

In our dream world, the poolside is a place that mixes Old Hollywood regency with present-day realness and global style. At our poolside lounge, Marilyn Monroe and FKA twigs are BFFs. At the poolside, the sun is always shining, the watermelon is always freshly sliced and the DJ is just about to drop our favorite cut—which is a mash-up of vintage girl group doo-wop and Fresh Prince-era feel-good pop. And in this fantasy, everyone is rocking just the right look.

For the skinny on how to wear the best one-piece bathing suits, killer bikinis and more in 2015 poolside style, dive right in.

The Bikini: Soft ways to be bold

Sport chic? Yeah, we’ve got that. This not-so-innocent pastel set by XíRENA (left) is like some kind of team uniform for a lady squad of badass croquet players. And this high-waist Malia Mills number (right)—made especially for us and this month’s Pop-In? Now that’s the stuff of ’50s girl gangs—except that if you look closer you’ll see the killer pink and brown print is as much a spacey tie-dye as it is a tough-girl cheetah pattern.

Bottom line: Vintage, like lots of other trends, is cool when it’s slightly skewed.


The One-Piece: Sexy is a balancing act

Maillots came back in a big way in recent summers, and this one by the L.A.-based sisters known as Kore Swim (left), is a sort of twofer. Looks like a bikini—er, looks like a one-piece. Figure on the comfort and practicality of a halter-style tank suit, and then figure in the extra skin factor of those haute cutouts. In a similar way, there’s something so right about how the deep-V plunge of this Malia Mills neckline (right) counters the suit’s low-cut, boyish leg.

Bottom line: Less is sometimes more, sure, but don’t disregard the allure of modesty and good taste.


The Cover-Up: You sure you don’t mean “Surf’s up”?

A nice big, flowy tunic cover-up? Oh, we’re still into those, you bet. (And this month’s Pop-In features a few beauties from Liya Kebede’s Lemlem.) But there’s a new way to play the après-swim hour, and it’s all about that bold, colorful racing striped Alexander Wang-meets-Topshop sportif thing—as evidenced by Kore Swim (left) and XíRENA (right).

Bottom line: The poolside cardigan is a play on scuba gear. Get in it.


The Pattern: Seeing stars with stripes

Not every pattern has a season, but stripes definitely do and you’re smack dab in it. Summer all but requires stripes, in fact. Nothing feels quite as off-duty-starlet-in-the-Hamptons as seersucker or as cabana-boy brilliant as college colors in alternating lines of clean, clean white. So take these preppy looks—all by Solid & Striped—anywhere, especially anywhere even vaguely nautical.

Bottom line: Not nautical by nature? The look—if not the skills—is fun to fake.


The Dude: A real good-humor man

Equal parts Baywatch and Cary Grant, our male role model is an action hero whose favorite “action” is flipping hand-formed grass-fed beef burgers and seasonal veggie skewers. A man should wear his leisure life on his sleeve—or on his M. Carter cap (left) or Orlebar Brown photo-print trunks (right).

Bottom line: Be ready to rock. Be more ready to relax.


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—Laura Cassidy