How to Pack for Cape Cod (Like a Local).

how to pack for Cape Cod

I have wanted to write a post about packing for Cape Cod for awhile as I feel like there is a lot of bad information out there. I see a lot of people visiting Cape Cod; packing really dressy outfits, high heels, and so on and so forth. OR at the other end of the spectrum, people get so preppy (when in fact, people who live on the Cape aren’t very preppy at all! You might see a little Lilly, a little VV, but overall, Cape Cod style is pretty laid back and not very preppy.)

I get it – if you are a blogger/influencer and visiting Cape Cod to create content, do your thing! Have fun, make it editorial, etc etc. But for the rest of us: Cape Cod is actually SUPER casual. For the everyday person visiting Cape Cod (aka me visiting my parents), you don’t need much. No one is really wearing seersucker or bows, it’s more of a t-shirt and cut-offs kind of place. It’s stylish, but in a casual and laid back sort of way. When I go home to Cape Cod, I leave all my designer stuff at home, I live in denim + tees + cotton coverups, and sometimes I don’t even pack makeup as I know I’m just going to be hanging out… beach during the day, BBQing at night… the best part about visiting (or going home to) Cape Cod is how low key it is!

Without further ado, here’s what you should pack if you are visiting Cape Cod.

Something warm.

I find that this is the thing people are most often to forget. Your hot in the city and you can’t even think about wearing a sweater! But it cools off at night in a big way and you’ll be so happy you packed something warm. Honestly you could get away with a simple sweatshirt or hoodie, but a nice sweater will also work.

I personally live in my Barefoot Dreams Cardigan – it’s so so soft and cozy! As an added bonus, it doesn’t wrinkle in your suitcase which is of course an advantage. My other favorite is this cozy Vince cardigan. LOVE. It’s long and lean and basically a socially-acceptable bathrobe.

A classic striped tee

(Preferably a size or two too big so that it’s nice and slouchy.) There’s nothing better than a big cozy breton stripe tee. I have this classic tee from Saint James in a large (I’m usually a small or medium) and love it in a larger size. It’s super comfy and classic but since it’s bigger it’s relaxed and casual. So cute tucked into cutoffs or white jeans.

White Jeans

These are always classic and great as it cools down at night!!! My favs are from 7 for all mankind but Vineyard Vines also makes a great pair.

A panama hat

Okay please don’t be that blogger that shows up decked to the nines with 100 hats on the Cape. The locals will look at you like an alien. But if you must bring a hat, a classic panama hat is perfection and helpful in preventing sun damage.

Lots of t-shirts

Cape Cod is land of jeans and tees. Keep it classic, keep it simple. My fav are these from Madewell and these from x Karla.

Cotton Coverups and Caftans

A dramatic (long) caftan will be totally out of place here. But a cute short caftan or coverup will do you well, taking you from the beach to lunch back to the beach and then to drinks afterwards. It’s all about easy, effortless style. I personally love ANYTHING from Mirth Caftans, something like this or this from J.Crew, or a long beachy shirt like this (which is equally cute knotted with shorts).

Birkenstocks

You want a pair of casual sandals that are great for walking, but are still cute. For that reason, I’m obsessed with my gold birks. I take them everywhere but they’re particularly at home on Cape Cod!

Rubber Flip Flops

My mom pointed this out – and this is a fail on both my sister + my part: we only packed our birks! If you go to the beach and go swimming, your shoes are going to get wet – you need flip flops! No need to complicate this; we like Havaianas.

Pretty Slides

For going out at night, when you don’t want to wear your birks, reach for fun slides. These Steve Madden slides are perfection.

A great pair of cutoffs.

Cutoffs are essential. Honestly, cut-offs and a tee could be your only outfit for all occasions (except maybe a fancy dinner) and you’d be fine. I live in my Rag & Bone boy shorts but also love this pair from GRLFRND (a new fav for denim!!)

A good pair of (inexpensive) sunglasses

If you do Cape Cod right you will be at beaches and dive bars and on boats and in the ocean. Don’t bring the Celine or the Gucci. I personally LOVE these Polaroid sunglasses. They look like Celine but are way less expensive; my mom even got a pair too! They’ve become my go-to but I make sure I always pack them when I travel; you just don’t want to bring the fancy shades out when you have any chance of losing or ruining them.

A great beach bag

My favs are from Pamela Munson (this!) or Poolside (this!).

Lots of lots of sunscreen

A given. This is my current favorite sunscreen. It isn’t organic or natural but it is effective and won’t make me break out or get a rash so I love it.

Leave in Conditioner

This is another thing my mom and I were talking about. The Cape is (sorry) generally conducive to frizz and bad hair. Leave in conditioner is a must. We love this one from Fekkai. It sprays on – just comb it through after your shower and you will feel so much better – soft, frizz free hair.

Lip Balm with SPF

I always forget my lips when I put on sunscreen… ack. I got this one from Aesop (with SPF 30) and I love it.

A Natural Looking Mascara

You really don’t need much makeup on the Cape but I still always wear mascara, at least at night. Glossier Lash Slick is my fave (read my review of it here) because it doesn’t flake off and it’s really natural looking.

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Comments

  1. I wish I lived close by so I could escape to Cape Cod too! A casual, stress-free weekend is something I really need right about now!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Elle says 8.16.18

    Loved this post Grace! I grew up going to the cape every summer (from connecticut) and we loved it just because of how laid back it really is. We would always choose the Cape over the Hamptons (don’t get me wrong, love it there too) because of how chill it is! xo elle

  3. Melissa says 8.16.18

    Love this post — and also that pic of you above!

    Since you’ve been traveling so much this summer, how do you take your skincare with you? I have some longer trips coming up, and I’d love to know your travel essentials!

    • grace at the stripe says 8.16.18

      Hi Melissa, For shorter trips/when I am not checking I actually use it as an opportunity to try all those little samples I get sent in gift with purchases, etc. I save them in a (rather large haha) box and bring a few new ones every trip. It’s fun and something I really look forward to!

      For longer trips I bring the whole shebang (like with Asia, here! https://thestripe.com/2018/07/how-i-packed-for-asia/)

  4. This was so great! I agree that a lot of people overdress for “preppy” locations–just be yourself, relax, and have fun! Also, your parents’ dog is adorable! 🙂

  5. briana says 8.16.18

    I love, love, love that you did a realistic packing list. Although I sometimes have the tendency to be a little extra, Cape Cod definitely seems like the type of place where I’d strictly wear slouchy tees and sweaters with cut-offs. Love that chill vibe!

    briana | youngsophisticate.com

    • grace at the stripe says 8.17.18

      yes! i love being extra but when i’m home on the cape it’s as casual as possible!

  6. Laura says 8.16.18

    Love this post! Your list is almost exactly what I throw in a duffle to visit my parents on the Cape. I always find casual layers are key with the fickle ocean weather.

  7. Dana says 8.16.18

    This is actually a really great post! When I go out to the Hamptons, I typically only pack one “nice” outfit, and everything else is super casual. When I’m out there, I’m really just looking to relax!

    The Champagne Edit

  8. Laura says 8.16.18

    Hi, we are going to Cape Cod for the first time in October to visit family that recently moved there. Any must sees or packing tips for this season?

  9. Alyssa says 8.17.18

    I posted a Cape Cod packing list a while ago, and I 100% agree! It’s so much more relaxed than super preppy outfits and heels and all that… mine is here 🙂 http://www.feathersandstripes.com/packing-list-week-cape/

  10. Kristen Anderson says 8.17.18

    Love this post! My grandparents live in E Harwich and I’ve spent so many summers (and off-season weekends) there it’s a second home. I don’t like to judge but I almost feel bad for the throngs of girls on Main St in Chatham dressed to the nines in Lilly and their Jacks. I want to pull them aside and implore to them – you’re trying too hard! This isn’t necessary!

  11. Cape Cod sounds like a dream! I love this packing guide! All for the slouchy comfies!

    I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!
    Michael
    https://www.mileinmyglasses.com

  12. Such a great post, Grace! Stripes and white jeans are musts!
    xoxo, Jenna
    Bostonchicparty.com

  13. lauren says 8.21.18

    Heading to this area for the first time in October. Wondering if I should still take white jeans in October?? Thanks for this list – so helpful!

    • grace at the stripe says 8.21.18

      I think that’s up to you! I would but I know some people are more traditional and like to follow the old rules!

  14. Melissa says 8.24.18

    Love that this is so much more realistic! It’ll work for other coastal areas of New England also, like Maine! Cutoffs, shades, a cute suit, and a sweatshirt is all you need!

  15. Wilfredo Cogar says 8.29.18

    Love this post. I’d love to know your travel essentials!