Different By Design

How to Pack for a Tropical Vacation Like a Pro

by Rebecca Casamayor


Are you getting ready to jet off to a warm-weather locale for a well-deserved vacation? Whether you’re headed to Miami, the Caribbean, or somewhere farther like the Maldives, you’ll want to know what kinds of vacation outfits to bring.

How many outfits for the beach do you need? No one wants to pack too little or too much and get stuck dragging around a heavy suitcase.

Every vacation should include a variety of different events, such as a beachside lunch, an elegant dinner, and a night out on the town. To be prepared for whatever fun comes your way, bring plenty of light colors, sleeveless blouses, lightweight dresses, and flirty skirts.

Here is a cheat sheet for how to pack versatile beachwear outfits and the eight essential items you’ll need.

1. A Floral Dress

A day-to-night dress is essential for a chic lunch spot or an elegant dinner out. Pair a soft floral-print dress in a pastel color scheme with flat sandals during the day, and go for a strappy shoe in the evening. 

A sleeveless midi can take you from window shopping beachside to a romantic dinner. Just change your shoes, check your lipstick, and grab a wrap in case the tropical breeze turns cool as you watch the moon rise.

If you don’t like wearing dresses for vacations, consider bringing a flowy pair of wide leg pants in case your getaway includes a dress-up night.

2. Versatile Tops

For a five-day trip, you’ll want to pack four different tops for daytime wear. A silky or cotton tank in white or black goes with everything from white pants to printed shorts and flirty skirts. Remember, those tropical nights can get cool. Layering is the key to comfort.

You’ll also want a top that’s a little bit dressier and provides more coverage. A loose-fitting floral print kimono top is the perfect compromise. The unstructured look goes with shorts or jeans, and the lightweight fabric won’t take up much room in your suitcase.

3. White Pants

White pants are a must-have for a tropical getaway. Choose a slim, cropped silhouette to look polished and casual at the same time, or opt for relaxed, casual linen pants. 

White pairs perfectly with any tank or sleeved shirt, including florals, animal prints, geometric designs, or other solid colors. You’ll look cool and clean — and white is always great for showing off that tropical tan.

4. A Pair of Shorts

A pair of tailored shorts provides a nice counterbalance to the loose, flowing items that are seen as more traditional beach outfits. 

Slip on a pair of nicely fitted shorts over your swimsuit to go from the beach to a casual lunch, or pair them with a solid tank or T-shirt to take in the sights.

5. A Cardigan or Wrap

After a day in the warm sun, even a mild tropical breeze can feel chilly. Pack a lightweight cardigan in a neutral color for evening strolls on the beach. And don’t forget that flowy wrap to drape over your shoulders when the night calls for something a little more romantic. 

The right wrap can also be used as a swimsuit cover, a skirt, or a makeshift beach dress. Talk about versatility!

6. Flat Sandals

It wouldn’t be a vacation without plenty of walking. Flip-flops may be great on the beach, but they’re not the most comfortable shoe for long walks, nor are they the most stylish. 

A good pair of flat sandals can take you sightseeing, shopping, out to dinner, and even back home on the plane. Look for sturdy, well-made sandals in a neutral or metallic color for the most versatility.

7. Strappy Sandals

A cute strappy sandal can take almost any daytime vacation outfit into the evening. Whether you want to dance the night away or look stunning in your twirly new dress, a strappy sandal gets the job done. 

Keep in mind that not all destinations have nicely paved sidewalks to walk on. You may want to avoid spikey heels that could sink into sandy soil pathways and opt for a trendy chunky heel instead.

8. Statement Sunglasses

Sunglasses aren’t just an accessory for your resort wear; they are a crucial piece of safety equipment. Tropical sun reflecting off of water can be harmful to the eyes. 

Protect your eyes and look amazing doing it with a pair of statement sunglasses. In fact, you may want to pack two pairs just in case you lose one along the way. If you’re unsure what style of sunglasses looks best on you, aviator sunglasses are a crowd-favorite and flattering for most face shapes.

Looking for even more vacation outfit inspiration? Getaway your way with White House Black Market’s new resort wear collection. Shop apparel, swimwear, and accessories that will take you from beach to street, effortlessly.

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