Caribbean Vacation Capsule Wardrobe for Women Over 40

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caribbean vacation capsule wardrobe for women over 40 by wardrobe oxygen

I recently went on a long weekend getaway to Curaçao and was inspired to create a capsule wardrobe for women over 40 who are going on a Caribbean vacation. Whether it's Aruba or Antigua, The Bahamas or Bonaire, if you're heading to warmer waters and staying at a resort or large hotel, I think this Caribbean vacation capsule wardrobe may be a helpful resource.

Why Do Women over 40 Need Their Own Vacation Capsule Wardrobes?

The last time I visited the Caribbean, it was a cruise for my sister's 30th birthday. And well, we're now both in our 40's and not only was that a different type of vacation (cruises have their own style and wardrobe needs), we were in a different place in life. And 33-year-old Alison doesn't dress how 49-year-old Alison dresses.

While my job is literally telling people how to dress and create capsule wardrobes for vacations, I wasn't sure how a woman over 40 dresses for a resort vacation in the Caribbean. I mean, anyone can wear anything they desire and I support them. Wear what makes you happy. What makes me happy is knowing a general idea of the style of those who live where I am visiting, what cultural or religious aspects may affect what I wear where, and how to “fit in” and be treated with the respect I deserve. And then I put my own spin on it.

So, researching what to wear to a resort in Curaçao as a woman or essentially any Caribbean island resort, I found very little that fit my life, my age, or my style. Several were just affiliate grabs suggesting random beach vacation things with a “BUY NOW” button. Those that truly were capsule wardrobes featured little bikinis, backless sundresses, and wearing a sarong in 50 different ways. Lovely, but not appropriate for my age, size, shape, or comfort.

For those who are just meeting me, hello, my name is Alison and I am a full-time blogger and style consultant. I am 49, 5'3″, wear a 12/14/16, and have a large bust and soft curves. I enjoy being active, meeting people, and being social, but I really love vacations for the ability to disconnect and relax. I was going on a girls' getaway with my sister, not with my husband or family.

String bikinis and pretending my sarong is a cocktail dress? Been there, done that, no desire to go back there. I am a grown-ass woman who is comfortable in her body but finds the most comfort when she is wearing clothes that help her feel supported and stylish.

If this sounds like you and you're heading to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, or another Caribbean island resort for the first time (or the first time as a grown-ass woman), you may benefit from this capsule wardrobe based on my Curaçao girls' getaway.

Caribbean Vacation Capsule Wardrobe for Women Over 40

For my vacation, I stayed at the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort, an all-inclusive optional resort near Willemstead. It has 385 rooms and suites, two pools and a private beach, a handful of restaurants and bars, and while it has a family pool and kids' club, it is primarily designed for adult guests. However, without a dance club or casino, it's not really a party resort. We arrived Thursday afternoon and left Monday afternoon.

I believe in re-wearing looks on the same vacation, and I believe in either using the resort laundry or washing pieces in the hotel sink and letting them dry out on the balcony or in the bathroom to be ready the next day. While I link to everything I recommend in this capsule wardrobe, I believe it easily can be recreated with what you already own, pieces from other brands, or even pieces you may sew yourself.

caribbean vacation capsule wardrobe for women over 40 by wardrobe oxygen

Shop the Capsule Wardrobe:

Beach and Pool: navy one-piece swimsuit | orange bikini top (bra sized) | orange bikini bottom | striped rashguard (link to plus sizes) | pink linen tunic shirt (link to plus sizes; link to a size-inclusive one I also like) | orange mesh tote | straw hat | polarized aviator sunglasses | white water shoes | printed bandana

Resort, Dinner, and Excursions: black refined tank | teal workout top | chambray shorts | navy quick dry shorts (shorter version) | white linen pants | active skort dress | ventilated baseball cap | white water-friendly sandals | sneakers | black belt bag | cream crossbody optional bag | gold hoops (3 sizes available) | printed dress | black dress

25 Sample Outfits for this Caribbean Vacation Capsule Wardrobe

With nine pieces of clothing and two swimsuits, I created 25 different looks to get you through most situations during your Caribbean vacation. You may wish to add a few items to dress up looks or have more fitness outfits, but these 25 outfits should get your creative sartorial juices flowing and give you an idea of what sort of clothes may be best to pack for such a getaway.

Tap any of the thumbnails below to see the look larger. Use the arrows or swipe left to scroll through the looks and click anywhere outside the slideshow or tap the “X” to close and return to this screen.

Capsule Wardrobe Modifications

As I mentioned at the top, not everyone has the same style, taste, interests, or comfort level as I do and this will affect what you pack for your vacation. A few suggested modifications that may create a more appropriate capsule for some:

I don't like showing my arms.

Do know when you visit the Caribbean you likely will feel more comfortable in your skin than you do back home. You know no one except who you traveled with, and you will be at resorts and hotels with guests from a range of countries across the globe. And you will find folks from countries other than America are way more comfortable showing skin if they are in larger bodies.

But you should wear what makes you feel comfortable and ensures you have the best time possible. Look for fabrics like voile, linen, and gauze to get the coverage you desire without overheating. Shrugs are back in, and you can find many of a lightweight weave that will cover shoulders and arms without a lot of weight. And just because I showed tanks doesn't mean you need to wear tanks; a sleeve will not cause you to get heat exhaustion.

The resort I'm going to is kinda fancy.

Switch out the chambray shorts for linen or stretch poplin with a proper waistband. Replace the active dress with a tennis dress or a day dress of cotton or linen. Add a pair of metallic sandals for evening. Pack another dress and/or a jumpsuit; look for fabrics that catch both the light and the breeze. Switch out the mesh bag for a leather-trimmed straw or canvas tote. And consider a chiffon or gauze caftan that won't take up a lot of space but will make you look like a glamazon as you stride past the pool.

I am planning a lot of active excursions.

Ziplines, ATVs, sea kayaks, tennis, hikes, and golf may be on the itinerary, and that sounds like a blast! Switch out the chambray shorts for an athletic bottom (bike shorts, a skort, athletic shorts) and the refined tank for something sweat-wicking and/or with UPF. If it's golf or tennis you love, replace the active dress with one more appropriate to your sport.

I am planning to dance until dawn.

Get rid of the active dress and use that suitcase space for a fun jumpsuit or dress with some sparkle. Add a pair of metallic sandals you can stand in all night. Pack the hoops, but also pack a pair of colorful or light-catching statement earrings. Replace the refined tank with a silk camisole or sparkly top and the drawstring linen pants with a pair that has a proper waistband and a full leg. Take a silk scarf and use it as a head covering or a belt for your trousers. Consider switching the crossbody with a bag that is a bit more sparkly but still has a strap so you can wear it while getting down on the dancefloor.

I don't wear skirts or dresses.

No problem! Replace the two longer dresses with drapey wide-leg trousers and whatever kind of top you're comfortable with. A relaxed linen button-front shirt, a silk blouse, a crepe cowl-neck shell, a top of the same fabric as the pants. Replace the active dress with another easy to throw on look that can also work for active adventures (another pair of stretchy shorts and a moisture-wicking top).

The beaches at my resort are soft, not rocky.

Drop the water shoes and use that space for something else. Consider a pair of traditional flip flops that are easy to slip on and off as you walk from hotel to sand. These can double as slippers for your room.

I don't wear that kind of swimsuit.

Maybe you prefer more coverage, or you desire something more gender neutral. You plan on swimming laps or cliff diving or something more strenuous. Or maybe you are a grown-ass woman who feels utterly fabulous in a string bikini. Bring the suits right for you, but bring two so one can dry as you wear the second.

I still recommend something to put over the suit that will make you feel comfortable going from beach to cafe, from your room to the pool and then to the lobby. And it's best if that piece can do double duty as streetwear.

I need bigger handbags for my necessities.

Then bring bigger bags. I found at a resort I didn't even need a purse most times, just my phone and room key. But everyone's needs are different. I recommend one day bag that can handle being splashed, one evening bag that reads dressy (a dressy fabric, smaller), and some sort of tote for carting your essentials to the beach and pool and if you do any shopping.

I don't like these colors.

This vacation capsule wardrobe is navy with pops of pink and orange because I personally own and took some of these items and I found they mixed and matched well and were colors that felt vacation-y and festive. But you could do a whole capsule of neutrals, a whole capsule of black, switch out the navy for black or olive or some other color that is found in a range of apparel, and pick any pop colors that make you happy.

I prefer to wear prints.

The swimsuits can be prints. The dresses can be prints. The swim coverup can be a print. The bags can be printed. The hats can also be printed. However, I do feel to keep your packing light, a capsule wardrobe needs some solids so they are more versatile and can dress up and down more easily.

Turning this Capsule Wardrobe into Vacation Reality

I hope these modifications show you that you don't have to take this or any capsule wardrobe literally. Use this as a guide, not gospel, and play around with what you already own to see if you can create similar versatility. Capsule wardrobes don't have to be boring or restrictive, and quality capsule wardrobes are full of relatively timeless pieces that will work for this season and many more to come.

Have a wonderful getaway, you deserve it! And be sure to stay hydrated and wear (and reapply and reapply again) that sunscreen! Let me know if you ended up using any aspect of this capsule wardrobe; I'd love to also hear of any modifications you made or items you are glad you took with you for such vacations!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. After reading this post last week, I ordered the button down tunic top from Land’s End and the J.Crew black dress. They arrived today, and I love them both! The fabric of the dress is amazing. Can’t wait to wear these on vacation next month. Thanks for such a great (and timely, for me) post – I’m going to revisit to see if there’s anything else I want to order!

  2. Thanks for all the modification suggestions – I can tell a lot of work went into this!

    Personally I like the colour scheme – pink & orange together always reminds me of a sunset! and as a (somewhat) side note, it makes me happy to see that you’re back to using ‘grown-ass’ women again – hopefully, by using it, you’ll attract the sorts of people to this blog who don’t mind you using it (if that makes sense?)

  3. Alison, your capsule wardrobes always fill me with joy! They’re so fun and practical. I already own the Chico’s tank, Lands End rashguard, Athleta tank, and a long-sleeved pink tunic button-down. I guess I’ve been influenced! I just need to plan a trip now!

  4. I love this vacation capsule! Seems as if I often see capsules that don’t reflect my typical warm weather vacation activities.
    We love to hike, swim, and explore, and yet also like nice restaurants, and cultural sites.
    I especially love to see the shoes repeated often. Packing shoes is my downfall!
    I don’t have any trips on my calendar, but will definitely refer back to this.
    Thank you!

  5. I am going on a cruise in two weeks and I bought the active dress and the JCrew black dress you suggested! Both are such good bargains. I have a ten or twelve year old Eileen Fisher long black tank dress that I always bring on vacation and I wear all the time in the summer and I am sick of it–I hope the JCrew dress will be a nice update.

  6. This is so useful! I’m going to Turkey for a week in the summer, aiming to only take one suitcase between three of us as Easyjet charge per case. This 49 year old GAW now has a plan and is off to shop her wardrobe!

  7. I was so intrigued by your Curacao getaway review that I now have my own sisters considering it. And now I can show them how to pack (they are notorious overpackers) no matter what our tropical destination ends up being. I found that I already have almost everything in your capsule. The active skort dress is the exception, but I do have skorts that I can substitute with a tee or tank. I’ve been wearing Lands End tank suits and rashguards for years and swear by them. Thanks for the outfit ideas!

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