Women’s Capsule Wardrobe for a Beach Vacation

What to wear on a Beach Vacation

  • You won't need much more than swimwear, sunhat and sunglasses for lazy days in the sun. But also consider…
  • Will you be taking day trips away from the beach – and will these need particular clothing or footwear?
  • Are there any cultural obligations in the area? See our destination pages for more advice on this.
  • Is nightlife centred around smart hotels/restaurants where there is an expectation or an opportunity to dress up? Or is it more chilled out and relaxed?
  • Whilst it may be hot during the day, how much cooler is it in the evenings? If there is mention of a breeze during the day it will feel even cooler at night.
  • Hotel air conditioning can be fierce too, making it feel cold even when it's very hot outside. A sweater is useful to put around you if you feel chilly.
  • Hotel air conditioning can be fierce too, making it feel cold even when it's very hot outside. A pashmina or wrap is useful to put around you if you feel chilly.
  • Never underestimate how costume jewellery can transform an outfit, and remember – bright accessories show off a tan.
  • Pick a simple colour scheme of neutrals plus one or two statement shades. Make sure all your clothes co-ordinate so they can be mixed and matched.
  • Remember you will need an outfit to travel in! Wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes where possible.
  • Download our complete packing list below for all quantities and a checklist of items.
  • Also see our Beach Capsule Wardrobe for Men

What to wear on a Beach Vacation



A loose floaty top looks equally good as a beach cover up or worn with trousers or shorts.

Suggested buy: Crochet Trim Cover-Up by Nordstrom



Essential for lazy days of sun-bathing, and they can also look fabulous with trousers or a skirt for an evening look.

Suggested buy: Speedo Shirred Tank One-Piece by Amazon



Can be worn in so many ways – as a beach cover-up for sun or modesty, they work well as a skirt or will cover your shoulders at religious sites, or loop it round as a scarf to dress up a simple top.

Suggested Buy: Sarongs & Scarves on Amazon



Essential for sun protection in hot weather and it can make a great fashion statement too. Remember you may need to pack it in your case, so choose a style that will fold or roll up.

Suggested buy: Packable Sun Hat on Amazon



These also can make a great statement. Check they have the right protection.

Suggested buy: Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer by Amazon



Good sunscreen is essential in hotter climes, and don't get caught out on cloudy days either – you can still get burnt. Remember that water will reflect the sun's rays too. Choose a product with a high SPF (protects from UVB rays) and also look for the star or PA rating which indicates protection from UVA.

Suggested buy: SPF 30 PA+++ Water Resistant Sunscreen by Murad


T-Shirts or Vests

Pack simple tops in your favourite colours that will match your trousers, shorts and skirt. Natural fabrics are best for hot weather – think linen, cotton, silk, and our favourite bamboo.

Suggested buy: Texere Hypoallergenic Bamboo Fiber Tee by Amazon


Casual Tops

A shirt (long or short-sleeved) in your favourite colour would tie in well here, and could be worn buttoned up or open over a t-shirt.

Suggested buy: Chambray Shirt by Joules


Evening Tops

Pick a luxurious top for evening wear that goes well with your skirt and casual trousers. Add sandals or heels and you're good to go!

Suggested buy: Lush Roll Tab Sleeve Woven Shirt by Nordstrom


Smart Cardigan or Jacket

A smart cardigan or light jacket will dress up your outfit for evening, and it adds that extra something round your shoulders if the air-con gets too breezy. Choose a colour to match or complement your tops and dress.

Suggested buy: Kate Spade 'Somerset' Cardigan by Nordstrom


Shorts or Cropped Trousers

Choose a fairly smart pair – these can then be worn for days out with a simple top and sandals, and add your smart cardigan and pashmina for the evenings.

Suggested buy : NYDJ 'Ariel' Stretch Crop Jeans by Nordstrom


Casual Trousers or Jeans

A flattering pair of dark jeans works well, but depending on the climate you may want to swap these for a floaty pair of lightweight trousers. Dress them up for evenings with pretty sandals and a nice top.

Suggested buy: NYDJ Straight Leg Denim by Amazon


Skirt or Tailored Shorts

Flexible for day time or evenings. Loose styles in natural fabrics are good in the heat – and linen particularly packs very well.

Suggested buy: Eileen Fisher Linen Drawstring Skirt by Nordstrom



Choose something light and versatile that you can wear sightseeing, but also dress up to dine out in the evenings by adding accessories. These Karina dresses are very flattering and they pack brilliantly – no ironing ever needed!

Suggested buy: Audrey Dress by Karina Dresses



Some statement jewellery can really set off an outfit and takes up very little room in your case. Costume jewellery works just fine, and it's often better to leave your valuables at home.

Suggested buy: Multi Row Statement Necklace by Nordstrom



A ‘must take' item for any vacation as they are just so versatile: cover your shoulders at religious sites; add an instant touch of style to any outfit; put round you if there's a chill (or air-con) and keep cosy on the plane.

Suggested buy: Large Soft 100% Twill Pashmina by Amazon


Sandals or Flip Flops

A pair of sparkly flip flops or sandals are fun and look great with everything. Do check that they are not too heavy or they could cause blisters.

We love: Play II Sandals by Hotter


Walking Shoes or Comfy Flats

If you plan to go exploring you'll need some active shoes. Closed-toe are best on dusty roads, and if you're heading off the beaten track (cliff top or rocky paths, for example) do make sure you have something sturdy and supportive that are suited to the terrain.

These are comfy: Gravity Sneakers by Hotter


Clutch Bag

Choose a simple clutch bag for evenings – the Baglett is light and easy to carry with just the right amount of room for your essentials. The strap can be detached and worn as a belt, too.

Suggested buy: The Baglett by Amazon


Beach Bag

You'll need a large canvas bag with plenty of room for all your daytime essentials. This Bill Brown bag is stylish and roomy, but folds flat when not in use so it packs easily.

Buy from us: Beach Bag