tropical vacation outfit

A Minimalistic and Chic Tropical Vacation Capsule Wardrobe

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Whether you’re escaping the cold or just looking forward to the beach vacation written in ALL CAPS on your calendar, it’s never too soon to think about what you’re going to wear on your next trip! If you’re after a better way to pack without sacrificing style, then keep reading for a minimalistic and chic tropical vacation capsule wardrobe.

Why Consider a Tropical Vacation Capsule Wardrobe?

I’ll be the first girl to say that part of the fun of going on vacation to a new place is buying new clothes! While I’m not here to suck all the fun out of your spring break or summer travels, let me refresh your mind or introduce a new way to pack, à la the capsule wardrobe.

With fewer clothing items that are versatile and simple, embracing a tropical vacation capsule wardrobe will lighten up your suitcase load dramatically. How? If you plan on mixing and matching and wearing the same items in different ways, you really don’t need to pack a lot.

Not only does this mean you could potentially fit everything in a carry-on, saving space and money, but packing light means you have less to pack, unpack, and even wash too, making your transition back to real life a lot more manageable.

And though I may not follow a travel capsule wardrobe all the time, I can certainly appreciate the benefits of a simple packing list while still nailing that chic, European look.

Tips for Putting Together Your Tropical Vacation Capsule Wardrobe:

  • Stick With a Cohesive Color Palette
    Like any capsule wardrobe you put together, whether it’s for summer, winter, or even business trips, a cohesive color palette is key! It doesn’t have to be all neutral colors if you like to wear bright colors on summer vacation, but you do need a few neutrals to tie it all together.

    I like to aim for around 3-4 colors and though I prefer a mostly neutral color scheme, I do limit dark solid colors like black and instead, embrace whites and beiges. These lighter tones are perfect for the warm weather while still keeping it classy!

    Alternatively, you could have a simple and neutral color palette (white, brown, and black) with one pop of a tropical color, such as pink or yellow.
  • Keep Your Itinerary in Mind
    As you go through this tropical vacation capsule wardrobe, just know that you can make any tweaks as needed. Great capsules are versatile and can be edited to fit your personal taste, body type, or itinerary. If you have a fancy restaurant on your schedule, then throw in a pair of espadrille wedge sandals. If you think you’ll be visiting religious sites, then research the church or museum ahead of time and make sure you have something that covers your knees and shoulders, as sometimes you’re not allowed into certain places without this type of coverage. Taking these specifics into mind while you pack will ensure a smooth packing process and trip.
  • Check Out the Weather Forecast
    Most of the time the only thing you can plan on is the weather being not what you planned on, but doing a last-minute weather check before you leave can clue you in as to whether you need more or fewer layers or any rain gear such as a waterproof jacket or umbrella.

A Minimalistic and Chic Tropical Vacation Capsule Wardrobe

If you like minimalist, chic, and European style, then take a look at the versatile pieces I’d bring to a tropical vacation, as well as how to wear them!

tropical vacation capsule wardrobe

Tops

White tee– A white shirt is always a good choice. It can be dressed up or down; wear it over a swimsuit, knotted with some high-waisted shorts, or tucked into linen pants. For a casual vacation style, opt for a boxy loose fit in a light fabrics instead of something super fitted and thick.

Looking for the perfect non see through picks? I’ve got them for you here!

Striped tee – A striped tee gives all the European, chic, and minimalistic vibes we love! A simple linen or cotton shirt is easy to wear and adds instant style to your look. This print looks great with your accessories too, such as a straw bag and straw hat. Just like the white tee, the perfect striped tee for vacation is a little loose and boxy.

Bodysuit – If you don’t like feeling restricted when you’re hot, then a tank top bodysuit is a great pick for the hot weather. It keeps your arms free from fabric and the bodysuit feature means you won’t have any extra fabric bunching up around your waist either. It looks great on its own or can be layered under a button-down too.

Not a fan of bodysuits? No problem. Swap this out for a tank top instead.

White linen button-down shirt – Linen shirts are a must-have for any tropical vacation! Not only is the material comfortable and fast-drying (perfect for sweaty days), but it’s a great way to channel European style too, as many French girls bring these on their holidays.

Not only could it double as an extra layer or light jacket, but the linen button-down can even work as your nice top for your nicer outfits. A linen button-down with linen pants can also double as your swimsuit coverup, as linen is very fast drying.

However, if you were to pack an additional swimsuit coverup, I’d bring something that has mixing and matching power and could still be made into different outfits, such as a linen-type shirt dress.

Pro packing tip: If it’s your aim to pack light, I’d skip the sarong cover-ups as you can’t really wear them anywhere else besides the pool or beach. The best way to build your capsule wardrobe is to ask yourself if you can wear this item more than once!

Bottoms

Linen pants – For the cooler days or the days when you want a little bit more coverage, linen pants are a great option. They’re loose, breezy, comfortable, neutral enough to match anything, and chic! You can even pair linen pants with sneakers for your travel days or double-duty them as a swimsuit coverup to free up even more space.

Wondering what type of linen pants to get? Think about your personal comfort and itinerary first. An elastic waist with a tie reads more casual and is better for traveling and the beach, while a fitted waist is more elevated and is better for dining and shopping.

Denim shorts – Your tropical wardrobe isn’t complete without some shorts. A pair of light-wash denim shorts that are slightly high-waisted and vintage are chic and just scream “summer”.

Optional: Though some may be focused on bringing as little as possible, you may find that you want to add a few more bottoms to your tropical vacation capsule wardrobe.

One optional piece to consider bringing is white jeans. Not only are they extremely versatile, but they could potentially double as your travel outfit too (just be careful of coffee spills!).

Of course, if your destination is really hot you may not want to wear any type of jeans at all when you get there.

Additionally, if you want to bring a few extra bottom options, I’d recommend linen shorts or a midi skirt or maxi skirt.

If you’re after a chic look, I would personally skip biker shorts – you don’t need a pair of bike shorts if you want a classic aesthetic! Instead, pack linen shorts or denim shorts instead.

Dress

White dress – If you’re only bringing one dress on vacation, the perfect option is a casual dress that can be dressed up or down, preferably white and perhaps even linen. This easy-going white sundress could be the only dress you need!

Optional: If you love wearing dresses more than bottoms and want a few more options, then a tank dress and a shirt dress (budget-friendly option) are great versatile options that can be styled in different ways.

white summer dress

Shoes

White sneakers– White sneakers are stylish, crisp, and great for a day trip or sightseeing. You can wear them to and from the airport as well, getting even more use out of them.

Brown sandals – On a tropical vacation, the majority of the time you’re probably going to want to wear something that lets your toes breathe. That’s where sandals come in! A pair of brown sandals is extremely versatile and can go with anything from your swimsuit to your denim shorts to your white sundress. If you get a classy yet neutral pair of sandals, then you don’t need much else.

Pro tip: Be careful mixing genuine leather shoes and ocean water! If your preferred sandals are leather, then consider packing a pair of beach shoes, even if you’ll only wear them once.

Related: French Sole Alibi Sandals vs Hermès Oran Sandals | I’ve Had Both and These Are My Honest Thoughts on Them

Optional – If you think you’ll be going to a lot of nice dinners and you want to bring an additional pair of shoes, considering packing a pair of espadrilles with you. However, if you’re short on space, I tend to think that something isn’t worth bringing if you’re only going to wear it once. In most dining establishments, a nice dress with nice flat sandals would be totally fine.

Swimsuits, Accessories, & Extras

1 Piece Swimsuit, 2 Piece Swimsuit– Every beach trip needs a swimsuit! As long as you pick a bathing suit that’s generally neutral and simple, whether you choose a one-piece or a two-piece is up to you and your comfort level.

If you go with a two-piece, you can split up the bikini top and wear it as a shirt with your linen pants or denim shorts. If you go with a one-piece you can treat it as a bodysuit and once again, wear it as a shirt with your linen pants or denim shorts!

(And if you have the suitcase room, consider bringing both!)

Straw hat – A straw hat is one of those important, practical things that also happen to be cute. Depending on where you’re going, the sun could be really strong and you’ll thank yourself for having a stylish accessory that protects you from the tropical elements.

Straw bag – If you don’t have a lot of space, there’s no need to bring 3 different bags! At most, you could bring 2, but if you really want to maximize your space, one chic straw bag would be enough. If you find a bag with enough room for a beach towel, then it could double as both a beach bag and a chic arm accessory.

Hoop earrings, Coin necklace– Short on space? Skip the statement jewelry, and instead, bring simple classy pieces that can work for a variety of looks and occasions. Whether you choose gold or silver, these two jewelry pieces will complete your look!

Sunglasses– Just like the straw hat, sunglasses are a practical yet chic accessory, making them a vacation must-have. Oversized sunglasses are chic and though you can never go wrong with classic black, why not try red or white for your beach destination? This brighter color will pop against your fresh tan and brighten up your whole look!

Now you have your chic and minimalist beach outfit essentials; ready to put it all together?

Here’s a compilation of all the outfits you could create using the items in this travel vacation capsule wardrobe!

tropical vacation capsule wardrobe

Chic wardrobe for vacation? Check! Now, learn how to style your espadrille wedges: How To Style Fashionable Espadrilles Wedges Outfits in 6 Different Ways

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Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making mychicobsession.com a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.