Can Women Dress Fashionably in the Tropics?

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Photo by Anna Tarazevich | Unsplash
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When you live in a tropical country where the weather is hot and humid all the time, it’s so easy for women to fall into a fashion rut consisting of shorts, flip-flops, and T-shirts or tank tops, and not think they can dress fashionably in the tropics. Between style and comfort, many of us choose the latter – why go through the effort of putting together a fashionable outfit only to get drenched in sweat as soon as we step out the door, right?

Well, if you’re the shorts-and-tank-top kind of girl, go for it – there’s absolutely no judgment here. But if you’re looking to add some variety to your tropical wardrobe, we’re telling you there’s a way to marry style with comfort – no reason to pick just one. Think of it this way: when you’re dressing for hot tropical weather, you generally need only one layer of clothing. How hard can that be?

Because you don’t have to mix and match a coat or jacket with a dress, and then accessorize with tights and a scarf like those who live in temperate climates do, putting together a tropical outfit is practically effortless. All it takes is knowing what fabrics and dress styles work well in hot weather and, if there’s any mixing and matching to be done, which tops and shorts/pants/skirts go well together.

Let’s look at some outfit ideas that will help you to dress fashionably in the tropics:

Tops and Shorts

Photo by Jonathan Borba | Unsplash
Photo by Jonathan Borba | Unsplash

Let’s start with shorts, since they’re a staple in many tropical countries. In countries where there are no restrictive dress standards because of religion or culture, many women practically live in denim shorts all year round. While thicker denims can be warm, you can opt for thin ones and shorter lengths – there’s nothing more comfortable than walking with bare legs in hot weather.

For a chicer finish, pair your shorts with a dressy blouse like this. The eyelet fabric and light color are both perfectly cool for this climate. If I’m wearing a shirt like this in hot weather, I would prefer to roll up the sleeves. But the puff details add a nice touch so keeping the sleeves down would look stylish as well.

Light Fabrics

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No matter how fab your outfit is, you’ll feel uncomfortably hot if the fabric is not right for tropical weather. You need lightweight, breathable clothing if you want to stay cool in the tropics. Cotton is a common choice, but if you’re looking for something a little dressier, try linen or chiffon. The black chiffon blouse pictured above looks so cool and elegant at the same time, don’t you think? I personally love how chiffon feels against the skin – light and airy even with long sleeves, and perfect for looking chic on a hot, humid day.

Loose, Airy Dresses

Photo by MARK ADRIANE | Unsplash

Another thing to consider when dressing for tropical weather is the cut and style of your frock. The mini shown above checks all the boxes for an ideal hot-weather dress: loose and short with an off-the-shoulder neckline. Wearing mini dresses that do not cling to your body allows your skin to breathe. Plus, the Bardot cut is always a trendy silhouette, lets you stay cool by freeing up your neck, and shows off your toned shoulders and collarbone, too.

The footwear is also worth noting here. To keep your feet cool in blazing weather, opt for open-toe mules like these.

Palazzo Pants

Photo by Arun Sharma | Unsplash

If you prefer separates over a dress, and pants over shorts, here’s an idea. Wide-leg or palazzo pants like these are perfect for a summer staple because they’re loose and cool to the skin. I personally love white palazzo pants in linen because they give off such a breezy, summery vibe. While shorts are a natural choice for tropical countries, pants have a practical purpose too since they provide more coverage and sun protection – and as you know, the sun can shine blazingly hot in the tropics. The pants and off-the-shoulder top combo shown above would make a great business-casual or office look, if your work dress code allows it.

Dressy at the Beach

Photo by Vladimir Yelizarov | Unsplash

Whether you live on a tropical island or you’re just vacationing, a visit to the seaside should always be on your list. And if ever a dressy beach party is on the agenda, here’s a look you can try. The halterneck design is such a classic silhouette, the floaty fabric is perfect for the weather, and the high slit adds a cool and sexy touch.

This would even work as a wedding dress for a minimalist beach ceremony. Try a color other than white, though, if you’re attending as a guest.

Barely-There Sandals

Photo by Jonathan Borba | Unsplash

We’ve seen some nice clothes, now let’s look at shoes. Your feet, like any part of your body, need to stay cool too, so opt for open-toe sandals, slides, or mules that are comfy and chic at the same time. The sandals shown above feature a neutral hue and a strappy design that is so trendy and goes well with any outfit.

Photo by Junko Nakase | Unsplash

If you prefer closed-toe shoes, however, a pair of canvas espadrilles would be a good choice for the tropics, too. The jute fabric soles of espadrilles have a casual but tropical feel, and are an excellent option when looking for ways to dress fashionably in the tropics.

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