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 do 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! So though 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.

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 to less to pack, unpack, and even wash too.

And though I may not follow a travel capsule wardrobe all the time (part of my job is showcasing new outfits), I can certainly appreciate the benefits of a simple packing list while still nailing that chic, European look.

Tips when putting together your tropical vacation capsule wardrobe:

  • 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 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. 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 tropical color, such as pink or yellow.
  • Keep in mind your itinerary
    If you have a fancy restaurant on your schedule, then throw in a pair of 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.
  • Check out the weather forecast
    It’s true that 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 less 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, worn over a swimsuit, or knotted with some high-waisted shorts. For casual vacation style, opt for a boxy loose fit instead of something super fitted.

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

Bodysuit– 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.

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 outfit. A linen button-down with linen pants can also double as your swimsuit coverup, as linen is very fast drying. But if you were to pack an additional swimsuit coverup, I’d bring something that could still be made into different outfits, such as a kimono or linen-type shirt dress.

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!

Related: A Classic Capsule Wardrobe for Summer

Bottoms

Linen pants– For the cooler days or the days where 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.

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 I’m focused on bringing as little as possible, you may find that you want to add a few more things to your tropical vacation capsule wardrobe.

One optional thing you could bring is white jeans. These are cute and could double as your travel outfit, but if your destination is really hot you may not want to wear any type of jeans when you get there. Additionally, if you want to bring a few extra 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!

white summer dress

Related: 10+ Minimalistic Summer Outfit Ideas

Shoes

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

Brown flat sandals– A pair of brown sandals are extremely versatile and can go with anything from your swimsuit to your denim shorts to your white sundress. The majority of the time you’re going to want to wear something that lets your toes breathe, and if you get a classy yet neutral pair of sandals, then you don’t need much else.

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

Swimsuits, Accessories, & Extras

Swimsuit– Every beach trip needs a swimsuit! As long as you pick a bathing suit that’s generally neutral and simple, one-piece or 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!

Straw hat– A straw hat is one of those important things that are also 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.

Gold hoops & gold coin necklace– Skip the costume jewelry, and instead, bring simple classy pieces that can work for a variety of looks and occasions. 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 instead of your classic black, why not try white for the beach destination? This brighter color will pop against your fresh tan and brighten up your whole look!

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

tropical vacation capsule wardrobe

Now that you know how to have a chic wardrobe for vacation, you probably want to know about chic swimsuits too. Keep reading!

Up Next: 20+ Chic Modest Swimsuits for Every Type of Coverage You Want

Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.