What is Resort Casual Wear?

by Molly Jacobson on August 9, 2012

If you’re from colder climates, beware: you will see a lot of skin when you get to Maui. It’s hot, and we dress for the weather.

That’s why you can get away with what my grandmother would have called simply scandalous attire at many Maui restaurants. Bikini top and shorts, or even just a cover-up? Fine. Flip flops — or what we call “slippahs” — are just fine in many casual places, even for dinner.

Even upscale restaurants have more casual attitudes about dinner dress than elsewhere. No jackets are required on Maui — not even at the places where waiters wear black ties with their white shirts and creased black pants. Instead, these restaurants simply ask you to dress in “dressy resort” or even, in many cases, “casual resort.”

So what’s that mean, anyway? Here are some tips for dressing up for dinner on Maui.

Just How Casual Is Resort Casual?

If you live here and are used to wearing your yoga pants to the grocery store, you might find resort casual pretty dressy. If you’re used to a suit and tie, or dress and pumps, you’ll likely find it downright informal.

Basically, resort casual clothing is a step above shorts and a t-shirt, and a step down from business wear. Think lunch-at-the-country-club-with-grandma.

Or, if you, like me, did not have grandmothers who belonged to country clubs, think going to grandma’s house for a big family dinner. Nothing too fancy, nothing too glitzy, and — most important — everything clean and pressed and presentable.

For Men

You’ll never go wrong with a polo shirt, khaki pants, and loafers. Any collared shirt (including Aloha shirts) will do, although big logo apparel is generally not seen on Maui at dinner. Linen pants can also work, as can slacks — but you might want to save those for dressier dinners ;-)

Jeans can work if they’re an expensive/trendy brand. Sandals (not flip flops) are possible, but they should be leather. A closed toe shoe might be better. Jackets are neither necessary nor comfortable in most restaurants, but you can wear one if you choose.

For Women

This is more difficult, of course: women never have it easy when it comes to clothing. I ask you: why can’t we have a standard form of dress, like the men’s suit, from which we can dress up or down?

You can certainly wear slacks or sometimes even capris made of any nice fabric — including denim, if it’s high end and gorgeous. But generally, women on Maui are more comfortable in summery dresses or skirts when they head out for dinner at a “resort casual” restaurant. Blouses and collared shirts are good choices; crew-neck and tank top t-shirts are dodgy, but a pretty top isn’t. Sandals are always safe, even the pretty slippahs with big flowers between the toes. I like to bring a pashmina or silk with me so I can wrap up if I get cold. (Keep in mind that 70 degrees can feel “cold” to me at this point.)

Just think: would my mother like to see me dressed like this? If yes, you’re surely just fine. Unless your mother is a member of a conservative religious sect, I suppose.

And Just How Dressy Is Resort Dressy?

Resort Dressy is a step up from casual, but a couple steps down from formal wear. There are very few occasions for which we don tuxedos and ballgowns, so no need to bring your very very best.

Note: if you are getting married and are wearing a gown, you can eat at any restaurant and feel perfectly dressed. We are used to seeing “Just Mauied” folks at restaurants of all kinds, and no one will blink.

For Men

A collared shirt, slacks, and a closed-toe shoe is perfect. Make sure your socks match your shoes. ;-) Jacket is optional and not required anywhere.

For Women

You can get a little glitzy on Maui — we don’t mind. In general, a beautiful dress or top and skirt that coordinate nicely will make you feel right at home. Your shoes can be a little prettier and a little dressier, and you can wear your most lovely jewelry. Don’t forget a little jacket or wrap, in case you get a chill in the Maui evening breeze. And if you’re really in the mood for romance, consider indulging in a professional special occasion hairstyle (I book with the talented ladies at Salon 253).

For many, many more tips on eating on Maui — including over 120 honest, independent reviews of Maui restaurants from food-obsessed moi, check out our guide Top Maui Restaurants.

About Molly Jacobson

Molly Jacobson contributes 226 post in this blog.

Editor of the second best-selling guidebook to MauiTop Maui Restaurants, Molly has called Maui home since 2005.

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