Make a splash: Waterpark fashion for sun and fun

An afternoon or two spent at a water park is a great way to stay active while keeping cool, but it can present some sartorial challenges, particularly when it's time to go from wet to dry again. Have no fear: With a little planning and preparation, you can select the essentials to wear and to bring to the water park that will have you cool and comfortable without any excess baggage.

What to wear

  1. Bathing suit and a comfortable cover-up. Everyone who hits the park with you should wear their swimwear under a light cover-up garment that breathes well, prevents too much sun exposure, and allows the suit beneath to dry out a little between plunges. A cover-up made of light cotton or terrycloth is ideal, as is a lightweight athletic fabric that can wick away moisture. Cover-ups can be a cute sundress or light tunic for women, and a T-shirt and shorts for men. Small children can simply wear a long T-shirt over their bathing suits to eliminate fussing with lots of garments. 
  2. Underwear. Whether you decide to opt for a full change of clothes before the ride home or elect to stick with the cover-up, bringing a pair of underwear and a bra, if necessary, will allow you to change before departing the park, and you won't have to sit in a wet bathing suit on the ride home.
  3. Waterproof sunscreen. No matter what, apply waterproof sunscreen at least every two hours and more often if you've been in the water for a long time. Even when the sun is behind clouds, UV rays are present and reflect off of water. Your skin will thank you later. 

What to leave behind

  1. Leather and suede. Keep the nice handbags and shoes at home and opt for canvas totes and plastic flip-flops. Water park splash-back is unpredictable, and you don't want to risk ruining valuables.
  2. Pricey electronics. To capture the memories, bring a waterproof camera or get a waterproof case for your smartphone.

Weather and seasonal considerations

It's unlikely you'll be heading to a water park in any season other than summer, but even when the temperatures are high, a chill can set in after a day in the pool, especially when the sun starts to go down. Bring a long-sleeved layer for everyone who's going; if it gets breezy they will stay comfortable.

Tips for traveling

If you're traveling by air to a water park, it's a good idea to leave bulky items like towels at home, especially if you're paying to check additional luggage. Swimwear and light cover-ups easily fold and don't take up too much room in your bags. If you're traveling by car, bring some zip-close plastic bags to put wet garments in, so you don't toss them into a bag with clean, dry clothing.

Other considerations

A light scarf or pashmina shawl is a great addition to your wardrobe on a water park day. It can act as a wrap or a sarong between dips in the pool and can be wrapped around the shoulders easily if a chill takes over.