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Staples for your suitcase: Must-pack fashions for your summer vacation

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

What you need to look your best

Packing for vacation can be tricky. You want to look hot (of course!) and wear a different outfit every day. You also want to be prepared for anything, but you don’t want to pack your entire wardrobe. You’ll find that including these staples makes the rest of your packing much easier, and you’ll be ready for anything that comes your way.

woman on vacation in sarong

The type of clothes you pack depends a lot on where you're going, but these items can help you pack for most of your summer trips.

Sundress

Sundresses are great because they're comfy, and they fit nearly any situation. By simply changing your accessories, you can dress them up or down, making them just right for a shopping trip or a night on the town. Pack at least one or two fabulous sundresses in your bag.

Check out 10 Sexy summer dresses for less >>

Start with the bottoms

The same pieces that are your favorite fashion staples at home should be your staples for vacation. Think one great pencil skirt, those jeans that always look awesome and a pair of khaki shorts or pants. Make sure every pair of pants you pack will go with at least two or three different shirts you pack, so you can wear them all more than once.

Top it off

It's hard enough to predict the weather in your own backyard, so don't be surprised if the weather on your trip isn't exactly what you plan on. Be prepared for any temperature possibility by packing tops that can be layered — this way you can add or remove as needed. Pack tank tops, fitted tees, cardigans and vests. These can be paired with your staple pants in several ways and can be mixed and matched to make different outfits.

Try to keep your tops in one or two color families for easy mixing and matching, and add a few bright pieces for pops of color. Stay with mostly solid colors, since logos and bright patterns will be noticeable if you wear them more than once.

Say hello to a sarong

Sarongs are great for warm weather vacations, and they're so versatile you can find a way to wear one almost every day! Wear it to and from the beach or pool as a cover-up, pair it with a tank for daytime fashion, and wrap it like a dress with a pair of strappy sandals to hit the town at night.

Find Summer sand and swim essentials >>

Shoes

It's easy to overdo it on the shoes, but try not to, because shoes take up a lot of space and add a ton of weight to your bag. Bring one pair of casual flats and a pair of strappy sandals for nighttime fun. If you think you'll wear them, throw in a pair of athletic shoes, and maybe some flip flips for the pool. Don’t pack a pair of shoes unless you can wear them with at least two to three of the outfits you have packed.

Find Our fave shoes for the summer >>

Go for the bling

Since you're going basic with your pants and tops, your jewelry and accessories are where you get to have a lot of fun. They don't take a lot of room to pack, so you can add several necklaces, bracelets and scarves to your bag to add your own touch of style to any outfit.

Leave the expensive items at home — if you lose something while away from home, you probably won't get it back, and tourists are big targets for theft no matter where you go.

Sun protection

You know those big sun hats you see at the stores every summer? You love them, but don't have the guts to try and pull it off, right? This is your chance, lady! Get in touch with your inner diva and rock out one of those big floppy hats if you're at the beach or anyplace sunny.

Add a pair or two of your best diva sunglasses and you'll be ready to look hot while keeping cool in the sun.

Packing Tip

When packing, select stretchy clothes and cotton blends. They pack better and are less likely to wrinkle.

More packing tips from SheKnows

10 Summer vacation packing essentials
Stress-free vacation packing
7 Practical packing tips

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