If you’re sitting in front of an empty bag wondering what on Earth to wear on your trip to Tulum, this article has got you covered. Beach destinations are always challenging because they involve sand, water, and heat. Those three elements call for an entirely different wardrobe — especially if you live in a cold city to begin with. Even if you do live in a city with hot weather year-round, there’s a high chance you’re not normally concerned with how fast your clothes dry up or whether they’ll take dirt gracefully. See? I told you. 🙂
What to Wear in Tulum
What you’ll find below are my recommendations as far as what to wear on your next trip to Tulum and how to style each piece to have the most comfortable, exciting, and (why not!) fashion-forward stay possible.
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Shorts & Other Bottoms
Shorts are a no-brainer for hot climates, but I do have a few suggestions around the types of shorts that you’ll want to bring with you. To begin with, avoid thick denim because it just adds to the heat you’ll experience anywhere in the Caribbean. Go for thinner fabrics and looser fits. Something about 100°F just makes clothes feel stickier, and pants that are too tight just make the entire thing worse. These “mom shorts” by Urban Outfitters are retro, comfortable, and flexible at the same time.
Color-wise, I suggest sticking to blacks, browns, greens, and denim. White shorts are some of the most unpractical items to pack for a trip to… anywhere really. I am not just saying this because an entire bottle of Mezcal broke inside our bag and my husband’s white bermudas got horribly stained. I am not even saying this happened. But if you think there’s a chance it did, and there’s a chance it could happen to you too, avoid all-whites.
Now, if you’re more of a skirt type of person, the loose fit advice remains. Go for wrap-around skirts that can be easily turned into cover-ups. Versatility is incredibly important when you pack for beach trips. Because you’ll (hopefully!) be jumping from restaurants to streets to shorelines all day, you’ll find that flexible garments are priceless.
Swimming Suits and Cover-Ups
Swimwear is where you’ll know exactly what suits you best. As long as it is made with light Lycra, highlights the best parts of your body, and doesn’t cause awkward tan lines, go for the style you like best. I do have one suggestion that will make your suit a bit more versatile for all those events we just talked about: bring at least one piece that can double as a shirt. This is probably the weirdest recommendation you’ve read, but I found that the one swimming suit I could wear with high shorts or a high-waist skirt was, by far, the one I wore the most. It dried up quickly, looked tropical, and still allowed me to catch some sun — this garment just got the work done.
Blouses, Dresses, and Tunics
This leads me to tunics. Those laid-back, light mini dresses that you could spend days wearing. Take this advice from someone who lives and works in 100°F weather over 200 days/year: beach-to-city is what you want to aim for. Forget day-to-night, the type of garment you need is something that will dry up fast enough to let you catch that reservation within an hour. Don’t assume that you’ll have time to change clothes before you hit the next stop on your trip, and please don’t add that kind of pressure to your itinerary. Instead, try to find pieces that can transform with a few changes here and there.
This simple tunic by Revolve is a great choice.
Lastly, and this advice goes for every single thing you pack: avoid clothing that needs to be ironed aka wouldn’t look great while entirely wrinkled. Just do it.
Accessories for Tulum
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.
Get a bandana. It will deal with horrible hair days so that you don’t have to. Even if you have the best hair in the world, humidity and dirt have immediate consequences. The so-called beach hair is nice for a day or two, but there’s only so much of that crazy volume that you can stand without feeling uncomfortable for the entire trip. So get a headband, bandana, or scrunchy to put it away whenever you want to.
Again, how quick will it dry? I wore two natural fiber hats: one straw Panama hat with a black band, and an all-black floppy sun hat that someone sold me at Chichén Itzá. Sales pitch? You could fold it in any way you wanted and it wouldn’t lose its shape at all. It worked for me and my bag.
Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be: bring one pair of sunglasses that works well with everything. If not, 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.
If you’ve never felt the need to find an incredible weekender bag, this is your sign. These are the types of totes or duffles that simply carry it all: clothes, shoes, passports, food. Getting a neutral one makes it much easier to pair with everything else you own. Beige, black, and military green are all great options.
Herschel Supply Co. Market Tote Bag
Ideal Shoes for Tulum (and any other beach trip, really)
Generally speaking, there are only two types of shoes during a beach trip: dirty and clean. That’s all there is. Clean shoes include the sneakers you travel with (to and from) and one pair of heels in case there is somewhere that fancy you need to go to. I found that the best type of heels to bring (if you really, really need to — like I do) are high wedges made with natural fibers. They dry up quickly, look well even with a little sand all over, and generally have great support to walk around the beach. And while we’re at it, here’s another piece of advice from someone who had to walk dozens of streets in DC and then look polished in the office: go for the flip-flops and pack those heels in your handbag.
Splendid Dara Wedges from Revolve
Let’s talk about dirty shoes for a minute. Those are the ones you take to battle with you. They’re the type of shoes you need to be mentally prepared to ruin, because that’ll probably be the case. Flat, open sandals and flip-flops are great choices.
Beauty & Makeup While in Mexico
Here’s something I could probably talk about for days. Your best makeup choice during a beach trip is called H2O. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. More than you would in a couple of days. I have found that drinking cold water is the only way to keep your skin truly hydrated in the middle of all that heat. 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. You’ll thank me later.
Any other tips of your own?
Feel free to share any other tips or questions in the comments section below.