Clothes to Wear in the Tropics

Pack sundresses for a tropical trip.

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You've ordered tickets, marked the calendar and called everyone to brag about your tropical vacation. But, now you have to figure out what to pack. What's a girl to do when she can't take half her closet on vacation? Plan ahead and prepare to mix-and-match to keep your bags light and your outfits cute.

All-in-one Outfits

Make sundresses your best friend in the tropics. During the day, dress it down with cute sneakers and an oversized day bag, or spruce it up for an evening dinner by wearing strappy heels and bold jewelry. One-piece rompers and flowing maxi dresses also transition from poolside to club wear without taking up too much space in your luggage. Plan to pack at least two swimsuits, so you always have a fresh, dry option for impromptu water activities.

Classic Coordinates

Pick one neutral color as a basis for your two-piece outfits. If you'll stay outdoors most of the day during your tropical adventure, choose white or khaki pants, shorts and skirts. If you're relaxing in air conditioning during an indoor conference and exploring the tropical area in the evening, choose elegant black or brown. Then coordinate colorful tops, purses, jewelry, hats and shoes with the neutral clothing. You want to enjoy your trip, not worry about coordinating outfits at the last minute.

Fabric and Clothing Choices

Keep cool with light-weight, moisture-wicking fabrics such as linen and cotton. Leave denim, flannel, silk and polyester at home. Although you'll wear shorts, skirts and swimsuits often, pack some sun-blocking linen pants for land excursion outings, especially if you're sunburned from too much beach time at the start of the trip. Include at least one neutral-colored cashmere cardigan for unexpected cool evenings.

Colors and Patterns

While you don't have to wear gaudy, pink-flamingo patterned clothing in the tropics, these styles often dominate the gift shops at resorts and tourist destinations. If you want to blend with the locals, but not commit a fashion faux pas, choose clothing with retro fish motifs, patterns resembling ocean waves and oversize floral prints. Be funky and bold, not outdated and cliche.

Helpful Accessories

Finish your warm-weather outfit with accessories that multitask. Rhinestone-embellished sunglasses not only give you that movie-star look, they also protect your eyes from damaging UV rays and sunlight reflecting off the ocean. Also plan to pack a floppy straw hat to reduce sun exposure on your face and waterproof rubber sandals to keep your feet safe from sharp rocks during a walk on the beach.

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