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Tropical Vacation Capsule Wardrobe

Tropical Vacation Capsule Wardrobe

Are you looking for the perfect tropical vacation capsule wardrobe? No matter whether you are visiting an island in the Caribbean, Mauritius, the Seychelles, the Maldives or going to Tahiti or further afield this guide has the perfect tropical outfit inspiration for you.

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But before we get onto the specific items we put in our troipical travel capsule wardrobe, we first thought it would be a good idea to tell what is a travel capsule wardrobe is, why you should pack one afor your next vacation in the tropics.

What is a Travel Capsule Wardrobe?

To know what a tropical vacation capsule wardrobe is, it is worth outlining what a travel capsule wardrobe actually is!

Generally speaking a travel capsule wardrobe is a method of limiting what you pack for vacation by creating more minimalist packing lists, and thus preventing you from overpacking. I find packing for tropical and beach destinations easier as the clothing items you need are not as bulky as winter items.

A travel capsule wardrobe uses a few key pieces of clothing to make up several mix and match outfits. Basically meaning that every piece of your wardrobe, can be used in multiple outfits to create completely different outfits.

Now depending on the length of your travels or vacation, the time of year you are traveling and the destination will depend on how many items should be included in your capsule wardrobe. However in my opinion the less the better. But be sure to pack enough so you don’t have to do laundry or buy new items at your destination.

Some ways we create out capsule wardrobes are using the following packing methods:

Tropical Vacation Capsule Wardrobe

Woman in bikini and sunglasses in a tropical swimming pool
Tropical Vacation Capsule wardrobe packing list

So now you know what a travel capsule wardrobe is we will look at specific capsule wardrobe examples for tropical destinations.

And if you are traveling for another type of vacation be sure to check out our other capsule wardrobe packing lists for more specific guidance:

So now you know what a beach travel capsule wardrobe is how do you begin to put one together?

How to put together a tropical vacation capsule wardrobe

Man and woman walking away from the camera on a tropical beach
Tropical Vacation Capsule wardrobe packing list

Whenever I am putting together a capsule wardrobe I always start making my wardrobe in the same way using a couple of considerations these are:

Color palettes

Having a clear color palette is essential for creating any successful capsule wardrobe. Without a clear color palette your items will not mix and match correctly and therefore will not create multiple cohesive outfits for a true minimalist closet.

Now obviously monochrome is the easiest capsule wardrobe to make as you are so limited in colors. However this really isn’t appropriate for tropical destinations that are full of beautiful foilage and bright flowers.

For this reason when I put together tropical packing lists I add more bright colors and palm leaf pattens into the mix.

Plan out your outfits in advance

Whenever I am packing my travel capsule wardrobe, I always lay my clothes out and plan my outfit combinations in advance.

This way you know that everything you have goes in your outfits and can be used multiple times. This is why I like the sudoku method as it is the easiest method of laying out outfits.

Check weather and itinerary before travel

Obviously this is a generic tropical capsule wardrobe. However depending where you are going and the time of year you are visiting, you may need to add some waterproof wear into the mix if you are traveling during a monsoon or rainy season.

Also it is worth mentioning that we have seasonal travel lists for specific destinations. To check your destination and time of travel head to the search function on the top of this page and type your destination and month of travel (i.e. Venice August or Italy July). This will give you packing tips for local dress codes and weather in more specific detail


And as this is a tropical vacation packing list, swimwear is obviously going to be an important part of your packing list. I usually take at least 2 pieces of swimwear and 2 covers with me on a week long vacation so I can always have one piece to wear and one that is drying but you may want to add some more.

Just try and select covers and 2 piece swimwear (if you want this style) that can be mixed and matched together for different beach looks.

Tropical Vacation Capsule Wardrobe Essential Items

So now you know the principles of how to put together a tropical vacation capsule wardrobe we will look at some of our favorite pieces to include no matter the destination.

This guide has been split by pieces for easier navigation but if you use the items we lay out in this guide you will have enough outfits that can work for beaches, daytime sightseeing and restaurants and evenings out next to the beach.

Best Pants for your Tropical Travel Capsule Wardrobes

Usually when I start putting together my capsule wardrobes I start with the pants / trousers first. I generally speaking own more tops than bottoms, therefore I like to pick our the pants first as I have more tops to play with.

The essentials on your tropical capsule wardrobe list are:

Dresses / Skirt

Dresses are my number one pick for beaches as not only can a maxi dress double as a beach cover, they can also be used in restaurants at resorts and in evenings when you go out.

Click here to shop Summer dresses.

Linen Trousers / Linen pants

Linen trousers are a great pick for tropical island vacations no matter where you are traveling to. We like to pick linen pants in a neutral color such as cream, beige or white as they work well no matter the color you pick for your capsule wardrobe.

I tend to use these as day to night transition pieces and in nearby towns rahter than on the beach themselves. However if you pick a wide legged linen pant these can work well with a bikini top.


Shorts are a definite must for tropical destinations. Personally I like to avoid denim shorts as I find these more uncomfortable on sand. Instead I like to pack a mix of cotton shorts foron the beach and smarter chino style shorts for beachside restaurants.

Best Tops for tropical island Capsule Wardrobes

So now you know our favorite bottoms for your tropical travel capsule wardrobe we will turn our attention to tops.

And our first pick has to be:

T Shirts

A basic t shirt is a great staple and an essential of any packing list at any time of year. Now depending on the color scheme you are going for will depend on what color you should have. But in my opinion you can never go wrong with a plain white tee.

For tropical islands I tend to stick to short sleeve t shirts but you could also add a tank top too. Just be sure to keep to natural fabrics such as cotton as these are more breathable on hot beaches. I like to add bright colored t shirts and things with palm leaf and leaf patterns to add a tropical flavor.

Click here to shop basic tee shirts.

Blouse / Shirt

A shirt or blouse is a great addition to a tropical capsule wardobe. Again I stick with tops in natural fabrics such as cotton and linen to reduce sweat.

Personally I love a leaf pattern blouse especially an oversized linen shirt version.

Click here to shop printed and patterned blouses.

Best Layers for your tropical island Capsule Wardrobe

Although no one wants bad weather on their tropical island vacation it an happen especially if you are traveling to a tropical island during their rainy season.

My favorite layers for tropical vacations are:

Waterfall Cardigans

A light waterfall cardigan is my favorite top later for tropical destiantions. They aren’t chunky or too hot but are good protection on chilly nights.

You can choose the color based on the palette you have in your wardrobe.

Click here to shop cardigans

Waterproof Jacket

This isn’t an essential for all tropical vacations however if you are traveling in rainy or monsoon season and plan to do some tropical hikes you may want to add a lightweight packaway waterproof jacket with you.


A hoodie is great for airplane outfits when you are heading to beach destinations and can be good for lounging around the pool on cooler days.

Click here to shop hoodies for travel.

Best Swimwear for Tropical Island Vacations


We always pack at least 2 pieces of swimwear for tropical resort vacations one for wearing and one for drying.

I tend to stick with one piece swimsuits but you should pick the stle you feel most comfy in.

On top of swimsuits I also think allbeach packing lists should include:

Beach Cover

Again I usually pack two of these for beach vacations for wearing walking to and from the hotel pool or beach, and for using at beachside bars and restaurants.

I like the kafkan style ones but this is a personal choice.

On top of these you may want to add

  • a rash vest – especially if you plan on snorkeling or doing watersports.

Shoes for Tropical Capsule Wardrobes

I often find that shoes are the easiest item to overpack. However, for tropical vacations I recommend packing:


A sandal is perfect for tropical islands. Depending on how much walking you plan on doing or if you have any hikes planned depends whether you need something with arch support that is good for walking. If you do want a comfortable sandal for walking, we don’t think you can go wrong with Teva. Otherwise you can pick a sandal that is easy to slip on and off.


I never travel without a pair of sneakers and usually incorporate them as part of my airplane outfit. Some of my favorite travel sneaker brands are Hoka and All Birds. But ecco are a good brand if you want a sneaker with some waterproofing.

However my favorite sneakers of the moment are the Addidas Cloud Foam. These are white sneakers which are very versatile as part of a capsule wardrobe but also are very comfortable for walking long distances.

On top of sneakers I also recommend packing:

Flip Flops

These are useful if you are planinng a resort vacation and for using around pools and beaches.


If your tropical vacation has a rocky beach or a beach where there is a risk of lionfish these become more of an essential.

Best Accessories for your Summer Capsule Wardrobe for Travel

The items that are included in this section are definitely nice to haves rather than beach travel wardrobe essentials. However, packing at least one of the below items can really help transform your outfit and make it pop.

Some of our favorite tropical vacation travel accessories include:

A Pashmina

Pashminas are my number one travel essential for women as they are so versatile as a great layering piece and are always part of my perfect tropical capsule wardrobe. They can be used as an extra layer in the cooler weather and of course they are a great day to style an outfit differently for a day to night transition.

Click here to shop pashminas.


Traveling with jewelry can feel a bit like a minefield especially if you are worried about traveling with expensive or precious jewelry.

The type of jewelry you travel with is really a personal choice about what you feel comfortable with. However we think even traveling with some costume jewelry is a good idea to help you make your capsule wardrobe outfits look a bit different.

Beach Bag

An essential for taking books, towels, sunglasses and sunscreen down to the beach with you.

Crossbody Bag

A crossbody bag anti theft type is actually always on my packing lists and is useful if you plan to head off your resort to go into local towns.

Shop crossbody bags here.


An essential to protect your eyes in the tropics.


Hats are an essential for beaches. We like a wide brimmed hat that can protect your face from the sun. But baseball caps are handy to if that is your preference.

Click here to shop Summer hats for travel.

We hope this has helped you put together your own beach vacation Capsule wardrobe! And we would love to hear about what you pack for your beach vacation in the comments