Hello! Welcome! We are preparing for our summer trip to Tybee Island, so today I want to share what I am packing for the trip. So get ready, here is my beach vacation capsule wardrobe.
Our summer vacation is two weeks, so it could be quite a bit of packing, but we have laundry at the house, so that makes my casual vacation packing a lot easier – and lighter. Even without the possibility of laundry my strategy for packing relies heavily on knowing about the location, activities involved and a color palette.
How to Pack for a Beach Vacation
About the Location
It’s important to know where you will be spending time on your beach vacation. Is it a super relaxed beach town like Tybee Island or is it a fashionable beach town, like Miami? There is a difference. The time you spend away from the beach (say, shopping or dining) in Miami is going to be a bit more dressy than the shorts and t-shirt vibe of Tybee.
About the Activities
Beach vacations often include a lot more than just going to the beach. There’s maybe hiking, bike riding, shopping, sightseeing, and dining out. You want to be prepared for all that you might do, so think about the activities and what they require in terms of clothing, accessories and shoes. Knowing your location helps a lot to determine what type of dining attire you will consider. And what kind of shoes you should bring for sightseeing.
Our beach vacation includes mostly beach and pool time, with a little bit of shopping and sightseeing, plus one night out at a restaurant where the dress code goes beyond “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”. One more consideration for me is how much time we will spend in Savannah (not much) and what we will do there (shopping and sightseeing). With those considerations made, I can start planning my wardrobe.
Kelly is heading out on a 2 week beach vacation to Tybee Island here in Georgia
She's showing us how to build a beach capsule wardrobe for an extended trip
Kelly has broken down her wardrobe into 8 buckets, all shoppable via text- and image-widgets
I like to start planning my wardrobe with the bottoms. My plan is to mix and match tops with bottoms so I want it all to work together. For capsule wardrobes, mixing and matching is key to rewearing pieces in new combinations as the vacation goes along. So choose a color palette that works with what you have.
This summer I seem to have a lot of white, blue hues and dark mustard yellow. So, that will be my underlying color palette. Different shades of these hues can all work together. Establishing a neutral bottoms base means that for my tops, I can add in fun prints that coordinate or contrast with my bottoms. Five bottoms should be enough because there will be a number of beach and pool days.
To keep things interesting and give myself options, I have a combination of pants, shorts and a skirt. I tend to wear a lot of linen shorts, both on vacation and at home, and I love J.Crew’s Seaside Linen-Blend Shorts. The Seaside line also has wide leg pants, so I will definitely bring those along – a white pair and a navy pair. A fun and flirty full skirt feels like vacation, so this linen skirt makes the cut. Then I will bring along a pair of structured shorts, like these Foundry Chinos from J.Crew. This selection gives me a good base to start building my capsule wardrobe.
For my selection of tops, I am keeping it very simple and classic with a few T-shirts of varying colors (navy, white and yellow). I will toss in a couple of tank tops. Should I feel a little more than T-shirt casual, two linen or cotton button ups will be perfect. Each top will coordinate with any one of the grey, white or navy bottoms. Seven tops should do the trick. A couple more tops than bottoms is ok, this gives me the latitude to change up an outfit without feeling like my wardrobe is on repeat.
I will also have room for one or two casual dresses. I prefer T-shirt or tank top dresses in cotton or linen for a beach vacation. I like to pack casual dresses that can double as a swimsuit cover up. This strategy is especially helpful if packing space is limited and if you might stop for dinner straight from the beach. Choose a cover up or casual dress that can go from beach to bar with ease and style.
Let’s move on to swimwear. Swimsuits are easy to pack and they take up so little space. Since I plan to spend most of this vacation poolside and on the beach, I usually plan to bring three or four swimsuits. For many years, my go-to brand for swimwear has been J.Crew. I am familiar with the cut and fit of their suits and the sizing for one-piece suits has been consistent year over year.
J.Crew’s ruched suits are the easiest fit for petites in regular sizing – especially if you’re going with a one-piece. The ruching allows for adjustments to the midsection if you happen to be short. I also just really like the modest and vintage look of this style; I feel it’s flattering for all body types and age groups. Each year I add a new color or printed suit to my collection. This is where I veer from my capsule color palette. But because I have a neutral capsule wardrobe, anything I bring along will go with my swimsuits.
I usually swap out my everyday purse for a woven tote when we go to Tybee. It will go with every combination I can come within my capsule wardrobe. Plus a tote gives me enough space to tote around my sweater and bottle of water, along with my essentials.
For the beach, I have a large woven bag big enough to hold a couple of towels, magazines, sunscreens, and my water bottle. A canvas bag is another great option for the beach. Then I usually bring two pairs of sunglasses with me to Tybee, just to have options.
I know it’s not going to be heavy sweater or jacket weather, even if it rains. So I like to bring a light cardigan or a denim shirt, just to have something with sleeves to cover my arms if I need it. Oatmeal or cream-colored cardigans go well with my capsule wardrobe, as does denim blue.
I like to keep the shoe selection for a beach vacation really simple. Flat slides are easy to pack because they are very compact. For a more closed shoe, I could bring my huarache sandals. I like to have Birkenstocks for walking around in Savannah. I have had the unfortunate experience of getting blisters from shoes that never give me any trouble just because of the heat + sweat friction. That’s a rough unexpected situation while on vacation.
I have leather flip-flops for the beach. Then I will bring a brown pair of slide sandals because they will go with my color palette. Don’t forget about the evening out at a nice restaurant…so for that I have slide sandals with a block heel, which are the bulkiest shoes I will bring and even they are pretty minimal.
My night-out outfit is not something that I will mix and match with the rest of the beach vacation capsule, so that outfit is a stand-alone. A dressier dress, my simple block heel slides, and a clutch handbag are a simple, yet pulled-together outfits. A small soft clutch is a very packable item that is easy to slip in your suitcase. And for a dress that you plan to wear once or twice during your vacation, choosing something that is forgivable in terms of wrinkles, or packing space is important. Think a light knit dress; or flowy, crinkly fabric, like this Vince Dress would be another good option.
is our 40s+ fashion & food contributor. She posts a Daily Look on Tuesdays, writes about Fashion on Thursdays, joins Beth for Fridays with Oscar and shares a new recipe Sunday evenings.
She’s 47, 5’0, and a petite 0/XS.
Kelly also has a food blog called Djalali Cooks, which you can find by clicking the world icon below.