So, you can’t wait to land in Cartagena and sip a luscious mojito while peeking at the ocean from an ancient stone bastion. (Wait, you didn’t know that was possible? It is!). You’re daydreaming about peaceful strolls down narrow streets full of boutiques and unknown flavors. The island life. A dreamy boutique hotel. I get it. But there’s something we’ll need to fix first: your suitcase. What should you pack for your next trip to Cartagena? This article has got you covered.
What to Wear in Cartagena
What you’ll find below are my recommendations as far as what to wear on your next trip to Cartagena and how to style each piece to have the most comfortable, exciting, and (why not!) fashion-forward stay possible. Because of its tropical climate, Cartagena is similar to other Caribbean cities like Tulum, so you may also want to check out this outfit guide for the Riviera Maya.
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Shorts & Other Bottoms
Like I’ve suggested before, avoid thick denim because it just adds to the heat you’ll experience anywhere in the Caribbean. Go for thinner fabrics and looser fits. I find that light denim also helps create a fresher look when you visit sunny cities like Cartagena. Because they are closer to white, these types of pants and shorts also make the colored elements around them seem much more vibrant. For this particular trip, I wore light American Eagle shorts with subtle crochet appliques on the sides.
Color-wise, I was slightly more adventurous this time around. I discovered a contemporary folk brand called Santa Marguerite that collaborates with artisans in small villages throughout Central and South America to add a modern twist to traditional weaving techniques and folk patterns. This particular San Vicente top felt like it was made for the city, with the bright teal, orange, and magenta accents. I swear if you took all of Cartagena’s walls and created a color palette, it would look a lot like the folk pattern on that shirt.
Swimming Suits and Cover-Ups
I have always found that hand-woven crochet reflects what is still right about the fashion industry. Not because materials or garments themselves are particularly expensive, but because of the time and dedication invested in each piece. Because they are made by hand, crochet accents are reminiscent of fashion as a craft, which is an idea that I strongly identify with. For Cartagena, I went with a colorful 2-piece bikini by one of my favorite brands: Agua Bendita. You’ve read my thoughts on it before, and how I admire their revival of retro swimwear trends. Gobio, in particular, is a model inspired by a freshwater fish by the same name.
Blouses, Dresses, and Tunics
Let’s talk about blouses for a second. Off-shoulder lace blouses to be more specific. I have developed a strong preference for these pieces over time. They take breeze, water, and sand extremely well and that just qualifies them as the quintessential beachwear staple. In my opinion, the right off-shoulder lace blouse can make you feel colonial and island surroundings a bit more deeply. They just come with an air of romanticism that feels serene, simple, and carefree.
Accessories for Cartagena
But how can you create that whole beach-to-city look without carrying an entire new outfit in your bag? Accessories are the answer. Headpieces like bandanas and jewelry can get you there in 5 minutes. Let’s look at a few ways to do this.
Statement earrings that can get wet
I brought all four earrings in the Nostalgiosity Tulum Collection and enjoyed alternating them during the entire trip. Since they are made of gold-plated bronze, they’ll take a significant amount of humidity and sand without losing shine. You can always take them off while diving into the water and put them back on for some effortless beach glam.
Nothing like a wired headband to control wild beach hair. One of my favorite brands (and yes, it will live on) is American Apparel, and they offer some of the most durable, high-quality hair accessories you will find. While not available at this time, their Twist Scarf is one of the best buys I’ve ever made — and yes, I got one in every color while I could. You saw me wearing the black one on the off-shoulder blouse photo above. The brand is expected to return this summer with an online flagship store.
Bring one pair that works with blacks, one that works with browns, and something that doesn’t really go well with anything but is an outfit in and of itself. A classic pair of Ray Bans will do the trick, but this unique pair of yellow aviators by Mango is a showstopper on its own.
Ideal Shoes for Cartagena (and any other beach trip, really)
Wedges and espadrilles with natural fibers will go a long way in this sandy city. Bring a pair of plastic sandals that can take even more water for beach and pool events. I’ve used and recommend Melissa, a brand that has completely reinvented the idea of a plastic shoe.
Beauty & Makeup While in Cartagena
As I’ve explained before, our best makeup choice during a beach trip is called H2O. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. Aside from that, and only if you want to wear some light makeup, here are my picks.
- A compact eyeshadow palette that works for day and night looks. Tarte’s Tease Tartelette is a great one to bring.
- Two lipsticks: one hydrating, everyday tone and one intense, dark shade
- Your skincare products, including something to exfoliate with, a toner, soap, and a moisturizer. Bring face wipes and carry them with you.
Any other tips of your own?
Feel free to share any other tips or questions in the comments section below.