Guest Post: How to Dress for a Tropical Holiday Abroad

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Last week, I returned from a short trip to Sri Lanka, which was glorious. Armed with helpful tips from Lauren and lots of wanderlust-inspo from her photos, we relaxed on beaches, swam in the most turquoise of oceans, explored a jungle, cooled off in plunge pools, and generally had an amazing, blissful time.

Which got me thinking: what do you wear on tropical holidays abroad? Holiday wardrobes can be tricky to get right. At the risk of overpacking, I like to have options (don’t we all?). But at the same time, I like having versatile pieces that I’ll actually wear and feel comfortable in.

So! I think I’ve found the magic combination. This is, by no means, the only items I’d take with me, but they’re pieces that I definitely wore to death on my trip, and pieces that I found truly useful:

1. Espadrilles – easy to slip on and off, a pair of espadrilles are my footwear of choice when travelling abroad. Perfect for rocky beaches and exploring small towns on foot, my Tory Burch espadrilles were like my best friend in Sri Lanka (plus, they were super sparkly!).
2. Neutral sandals – these look best with a tan, and work with shorts, skirts, dresses, trousers … basically everything. Perfect for the beach and a slightly dressier option that my lazy habit of slipping into a comfy pair of Havaianas when I’m on holiday.
3. Breton striped tee – this goes with everything. And I mean, everything. Classic, and very versatile.
4. Black off-the-shoulder top – I wore this little number to death when I was in Sri Lanka. Cool, breezy, and perfect for slipping over the top of my black maxi dress in the evenings when I wanted a bit more coverage, you can pull it down to reveal some shoulder (ooh la la!) or wear it as a normal blouse. It also looks great with khaki shorts. I don’t know what I would have done without it!
5. Black maxi dress – you’ll wear this all the time. I promise. Keeps the mosquitos away at night, and is elegant enough to slip on and throw a scarf around your shoulders for dinner if you’re feeling lazy (which is how I normally feel when I’m on holiday). Also good for if you’re visiting temples/churches and there’s a dress code to be respected.
6. Lightweight scarf in a neutral (or bright!) colour – this is great for keeping the sun off your shoulders on boat trips and for keeping the chill off when the temperatures drop in the evening. Your lightweight scarf will save you (and it doubles up as an extra blanket on the plane too – bonus!).
7. Khaki shorts – a great colour because you won’t have to worry about getting them dirty, but they’re just ever-so-slightly dressier than denim cut-offs. I bought mine at Zara, but you can get them practically anywhere.
8. Distressed denim shorts – for the perfect chilled-out, laid-back look. This with a Breton striped tee is my ideal vacation outfit.
9. A giant floppy hat – doesn’t matter what colour it is, as long as it’s giant and floppy, it’s perfect. They can be crumpled up and packed away easily, and they’ll stop your ears from burning to a crisp … which is exactly what happened to me in Thailand. It was sad. But I didn’t notice too much because I was too busy snorkelling with tropical fish, so, yeah.
10. Giant sunglasses – my favourite pair of Michael Kors sunglasses got washed away when a giant wave smacked me in the face on Shinogawa Beach in Sri Lanka. Luckily, a local had spotted them and rescued them for me. I wonder if he was the same guy who left his number in my sun lounger, despite the fact that I was there with my husband … hmm …
11. A pretty sundress – for special dinners, and just when you want to feel, you know, pretty.
12. A peasant blouse – yeah, they’re clichéd. But they’re also comfortable, fun, and cute to wear when you’re on holiday. And again, you can layer it over the black maxi, or pair it with denim or khaki shorts.
13. Tencel trousers (not pictured) – this is a light, breathable fabric that won’t stick to your legs in hot and humid climates like a pair of skinnies will. I bought the best pair from Gap before we went to Sri Lanka, and I ended up wearing them when we were on our boat trip, and for walks through the jungle-y grounds of our resort. They were so comfy, I ended up wearing them on the plane ride home too! Also good if you’re going on safari.

So, those are the thirteen items I wore the most when I was on my trip. That off-the-shoulder top was a saviour! (And, secret: you can totally go braless with it on SUPER lazy days! Shh …)
What are your must-haves when you’re packing for a tropical holiday? I’d love to know.
Thanks so much to Lauren for hosting me on her beautiful, envy-inducing blog! xo

Thanks so much to Jaimje for this amazing post! I always overpack when I go away, and then somehow still manage to complain that I have no clothes (I don’t understand it either!). You can find Jaime over at Angloyankophile where she talks all things London living, read all about her trip to Sri Lanka, and so much more. It’s one of my favourite lifestyle blogs and I always rush straight over when I see she’s posted something new. My favourite post of hers of late is her review of the Fountain Restaurant at Fortnum and Mason’s – it looks like an incredible restaurant and her photos are wonderful!

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  • Amazing post! Thanks Mrs A. I completely agree about the need for comfort and practicality when you're in a tropical location…but if you can combine this with style too as you seem to manage so perfectly then all the better! I live in Breton stripe

  • …tees (whoops!) in Doha and love a maxi dress. They're just so breeeezy! X

  • Thank you, Polly! I have, like, 10 of the same Breton stripe tee. How is this possible?!? Different cuts, different sleeve lengths, different colors …!!! x

  • You've got great restraint, one sun dress? For me it's more like ten!! And three pairs of heels…

    Lots of love,


    SilverSpoon London

  • Haha, I've seen your packing, Angie (though your wardrobe holiday is nothing short of FAB)! 😉 This is the "core" collection … I embellish a little here and there 😉

  • Maxi dress and breton dress and wardrobe staples! I justify all my breton stripes since I live in Brittany though hahah xxx

  • Oh yeah I don't pack lightly – I'm just incapable of doing it! xx