Vacation Edit: Beach Capsule Wardrobe

Many people have often, or at least once, found themselves sitting on top of their suitcase, trying to squish in every last possible item of clothing, prior to going on vacation. And even when that’s all said and done, you find yourself wondering if one final shirt can fit.

Packing lightly is a struggle for many, especially those who always want to have different outfit possibilities on hand in case a certain situation or occasion arises. Whether you’re someone who loves to organize a suitcase with perfectly folded rows of clothing or someone who just tosses it all in there and hopes your bag doesn’t explode, packing is still a tedious task.

One way to minimize the stress and clutter of packing for a trip or a vacation is by creating a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of essential, versatile items that can be mixed and matched and accessorized with just about anything.

Choosing a couple staple pieces that are both functional and fashionable can create a good foundation for your capsule wardrobe. Perhaps the easiest vacation for a capsule is a beach vacation — you’ll only be wearing clothes half the time anyway, so it makes it easier to pack light.

First, here are a couple tips on how to perfect your capsule:

  1. Only pack items you LOVE — packing something you don’t really love means you might not end up wearing it. An item that you don’t end up wearing just takes up space and leaves less room for any souvenirs or new clothes you want to take home.
  2. Pick a color scheme — the easiest and most practical color to pack for a beach vacation is white. Adding blues, yellows and even bright pinks to outfits via accessories and shoes brings a little life to an outfit that may otherwise seem simple.
  3. Pack an appropriate amount of clothes in relation to how long you’ll be living out of your suitcase. Bringing only two shirts and two pairs of shorts is unrealistic for a seven day trip, but bringing too many outfit options leaves some items unworn.  

Now, it’s time to create a capsule.

As previously mentioned, beach vacations are great for capsule wardrobes. Bathing suits are small and easy to pack; they leave more space in a suitcase for bigger items like beach towels and toiletries.

For a week-long beach trip, seven bathing suits seems like a little much. The reality is that you probably won’t even go to the beach everyday, depending on the weather and other activities and attractions in the area.

Rather than wearing a different suit every day of vacation, choose two or three to mix and match tops and bottoms with. Two bikinis can become four days of different suit combinations and bringing one one-piece adds a cute, classy twist. One-piece bathing suits have been making a comeback and are perfect for overcast days when you’re not too focused on getting an even tan.

When it comes to beach cover-ups, a cardigan or a button-down shirt is the way to go. Both can be worn with a shirt — or dress — or with a bathing suit.

When you aren’t spending time in your bathing suit on your beach vacation, you’re probably shopping or eating out. Unfortunately, most stores and restaurants have a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy, otherwise everyone at the beach would probably walk around in their suits and trunks all day and into the night. 

Bringing two pairs of shorts, one skirt and one dress allows you to dress up or dress down when you aren’t spending time in the sand.

Sophomore Alexis Slowinski says that rolling her clothes instead of folding them allows for more space in a suitcase when it’s getting stuffed, but packing less is a better solution.

“For packing lighter, just pack solid and neutral colors so you can mix and match items instead of packing full outfits for every day,” she says.

Packing three or four tops to alternate throughout the trip is the way to go, as they’re the one item of clothing that’s likely to get dirty faster. Each top can be paired with a different pair of shorts or skirt for endless cute combinations.

One thing a lot of people struggle with is packing the right amount of shoes. For a beach vacation, you really only need two to three pairs. Your beach flip flops can double as your everyday sandals, but they don’t have to. Having a pair of flops for the beach and a somewhat fancier pair for time spent away from the water can be both refreshing for your feet and your wardrobe. If you’re someone who loves to wear heels every chance they get, a pair of wedges or platform sandals are a good addition to bring along for the trip, especially for going out to nicer restaurants.

Many people will workout on a regular basis prior to a vacation, in order to feel like the best version of themself on the beach. Thinking about bringing workout clothes with you on your trip? Be real with yourself ahead of time. Are you actually going to want to workout on vacation? If yes, then bring workout gear. If not, leave it all at home — sneakers take up a LOT of space in a suitcase that could be otherwise occupied.

The last step in creating a perfect capsule wardrobe for your beach vacay is accessories. On the beach, a simple necklace and stud earrings are often the only accessories people will wear, if anything. Wide brimmed hats and baseball caps are favorites for any beachgoer who plans on spending the whole day in the sun and they’re highly suggested when it comes to protecting your face from harmful UV rays.

Don’t be afraid to pack heavy on the accessories — if there’s one thing to have a lot of in your capsule, it’s accessories. They’re generally small, take up little space and make simple outfits filled with neutrals and basic colors come to life. Bottom line is: accessories are a huge part of creating a successful, stylish capsule wardrobe.

Make sure to stick to one beach bag for hauling your items to and from the shore and one purse for outings, as bags take up a lot of space. One bag can be perfect for an entire trip if it is functional and fits your style!

Happy packing and don’t forget your sunscreen!

What are you taking on your beach vacation? Tweet us at @VALLEYmag and show us your beach vacay style!


Sweet Summer Styles: Top Fashion Trends of the Summer

Sunscreens: What Gives the Best Protection?

Yellow: The Color of the Season