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How to pack stylish for an international beach getaway

Kristin Larson

We’ve all been there—you’re leaving for an international beach vacation in the next 24 hours and you haven’t packed a thing. Don’t fret. Style expert Bridgette Raes, who gets paid to help women pack, as well as redo their wardrobes, breaks down what to bring.

Mix it up

Sure, Positano and Mykonos sound fabulous—that is, if you can figure out the suitcase thing. No, it’s not wise to bring everything you own and spend a fortune on checked luggage. We all know that’s no fun. “You don’t need to pack a steamer trunk to travel in style. All it takes is a little planning and the ability to coordinate your looks ahead of time. Mixing and matching is crucial when you pack,” says Bridgette Raes, NY-based style expert, and author of Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want.

“Remember very little of what you pack should only be worn once. Keep pieces simple so that they have more mix and match ability and don’t forget accessories either. They can easily take a look from day to evening, or change up an outfit when you wear it more than once. Plus they take up very little space.”

Only the essentials

Sounds easier said than done. Still stumped by the whole packing dilemma? Never fear. We asked Raes to list exactly what a gal needs if she’s traveling to the aforementioned European cities, the Fiji Islands—or just some beach far, far away. So, here’s what you need to look stylish and not bring tons of luggage.

1Two bathing suits

You need one for lounging and sunning, like a stylish bikini, and an active, sporty one such as a tankini or one-piece for water activities like scuba diving or snorkeling. Packing two different types of bathing suits will give you flexibility with how you choose to wear them. Mixing and matching them is always an option too for a fresh look.

stylish bikini
Seen here: Bikini
(Victoria Secret’s, $38)


2Three packable dresses

One in a playful, statement-making print and two basic dresses that can be accessorized to look different and be worn at least two ways. Maybe one in a neutral shade and one in a bright color. All dresses should be made of a wrinkle resistant fabric like matte jersey or a fabric where you can easily hang in the bathroom while showering to release the wrinkles. All three looks should say resort and beachy when accessorized correctly.

statement-making print
Seen here: Maxi dress
( Banana Republic, $120)



3One beach coverup

Packing a men’s white button down as a cover-up works great if you can wear it open comfortably, its long enough and it covers your shoulders. It can be worn a variety of different ways such as tied around the neck like a halter sundress or around the waist like a sarong. Or you can always get an actual beach cover-up with a tropical print and beachy look.

Seen here: Beach cover-up
Seen here: Beach cover-up
(, $15

4Two pairs of shorts and three basic tops

These essentials are great because you can wear them casually. You can also pack one basic, cheap cotton dress and one pair of shorts and just two basic cotton tops. These are great for casual breakfasts, to put on post-beach and before dinner. They’re also good for sight-seeing occasions to keep your comfortable.

Seen here: Shorts
Seen here: Shorts
(Piperlime, $68)

5One pair of dress shoes

Make sure to pack a pair of dressy heels or wedges in either a neutral shade or metallic color. These colors can be worn with everything. Packing a comfortable height of heel or wedge is smart if you know you’re going to be dancing or walking a lot in them.

Seen here: Wedge heels
Seen here: Wedge heels
(, $55-&70)

6Two pairs of sandals

Pack a pair of comfortable sandals that can be worn for sightseeing or walking around in. Pack another pair of sandals that you can wear to the beach and go to breakfast or lunch in. Remember, stylish sandals can be comfortable too!

Seen here: Sandals
Seen here: Sandals
(Dolce Vita, $69)

7Two bags

Pack a comfortable, light tote bag that can be used for beach-going and sight-seeing. Also, make sure to pack a metallic or beaded clutch for dinner and going out at night.

Seen here: Clutch
Seen here: Clutch
(Forever 21, $25)


This includes one packable floppy hat and jewelry—nothing expensive unless you have a safe at the hotel. Pack pieces that can change up your evening looks, such as a long gold or silver necklace, a colorful necklace that works with your dresses, a fun bracelet and several different types of earrings.

Seen here: Floppy hat
Seen here: Floppy hat
(Forever 21, $10.80)

More summer fashion tips

Sizzing makeup for summer nights
Flirty dresses for summer
Chic and flattering swimsuits

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