I'm a South Florida Native, and These Are the 15 Styles You Need to Pack for a Weekend in Miami

My go-to looks are so easy to copy and start at $13.

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Weekend Getaway to Miami Tout

Travel + Leisure / Tyler Roeland

Miami has transformed from a Spring Break capital into an “it city” like New York or Los Angeles — a city people not only want to visit, but that people want to move to. As a South Florida native who got my start as a travel and food writer in Miami some 12 years ago, the city I knew then is hardly recognizable now. 

Restaurants like New York transplants COTE and Carbone have upped Miami’s culinary game and put it on par with the country’s top dining scenes. (Not to mention the city now has its first-ever Michelin-starred restaurants.) And the Design District, studded with boutiques like Zimmermann, Maison Margiela, and every haute name you’d imagine (Harry Winston, Dior, Céline), has given Miami a serious fashion edge. A former sea of skintight, neon attire has been replaced with boho sundresses, colorful coverups, and sleek comfortable sandals.

On a recent trip back for South Beach Wine & Food Festival in late-February, I was packing for a mix of events, yacht parties, beach days, and dinners — and I needed it all to fit in my carry-on. Since my days often slip into night, and I’m running from one meal or event to the next, I packed a mix of versatile pieces that could easily shift for the occasion — and not leave me drenched in sweat since the direct sunlight can be brutal. 

From vintage-style sunnies that are only $13 and a tropical Farm Rio cover-up to comfortable-but-stylish Birkenstock sandals, I’ve pulled together a list of the 15 must-have beach looks I packed (and lookalikes much more affordable than some of the designer styles) for a recent weekend getaway to Miami. Warning: you’ll want to wear them on repeat all year.

Dec 11th, Lane Nieset

Travel + Leisure / Lane Nieset

Flattering Swimsuit

CUPSHE Women's Bikini Set


When it comes to swimwear, I often gravitate toward tops like a bandeau or halter that I can wear from the pool to a beach bar or restaurant with a skirt or jean shorts. This corset bikini from Lisa Marie Fernandez has been my go-to for the Caribbean and cities like Miami, where I wore it during a pool day at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach. The boned halterneck offers enough support, so no need to worry about it shifting if you dive off the dock into the bay, and with a pair of linen pants or sarong-like skirt, you can wear it to lunch or for cocktails at the hotel’s Lido Bayside Grill

Amazon’s best-selling Cupshe High-waisted Bikini Set is a much more affordable version of this look and still offers the same type of support. The tie-front and high-waist details make for a flattering look, and the adjustable, bra-like straps mean it’ll fit perfectly to your body and you won’t have to worry about them sliding down.

To buy: amazon.com, $34 (originally $50)

Farm Rio Kimono Cover-up

Toucans Scarf Lenzing Ecovero Viscose Kimono

Farm Rio

I can’t think of a brand better suited for Miami than Brazil-based Farm Rio, whose vibrant, patterned pieces are stylish yet super comfortable. If you’re investing in one piece for a trip, a kimono should be it. I wore mine to the beach, to the pool at Soho Beach House, and while lounging in my hotel room at coastal-chic Life House, South of Fifth. What I love about this type of kimono is how versatile it is. You can wear it as a cover-up or turn it into a top for the evening by pairing it with high-waisted jeans or a wrap skirt. 

Miami is humid, but that coastal breeze can still add a chill factor at night, and this kimono can easily double as a light jacket. Switch out the braided belt for a camel-colored leather one with brass hardware and it transforms into a more elevated look for dinner on a terrace at a spot like Nikkei-inspired Itamae in the Design District. Another option that still has beachy vibes but is slightly more affordable is this longer, linen look from Free People, with its coastal-colored stripes that remind me of something you’d find in hippie-chic Mykonos.

To buy: farmrio.com, $225

Birkenstock Slides

Arizona Essentials


Allow me to introduce the perfect pool and beach shoes. Last fall, I came across these Bottega Veneta rubber carpet slides and was immediately sold. The lime green rubber slip-ons add a tropical pop of color to an ensemble and are more versatile than I expected — I wore them with swimsuits and paired them with skirts and dresses when shopping in the Design District. 

But once I saw the similarly cloud-like, affordable Birkenstock version that mimics those designer slides, I finally boarded the Birkenstock bandwagon. Slightly more casual and muted in color, these are great for running around town with jean shorts or a romper, and they’re super lightweight and waterproof, meaning they’re easy to pack and clean, if you wear them in the sand on the beach. The treaded rubber sole means you won’t slip by the pool, and the molded rubber feels like it was fit to your feet. One shopper said “they are very comfortable and lightweight” and called them the “perfect summer pool shoes.”

To buy: zappos.com, $50

Straw Basket Tote

JAYAVENTURA Straw Basket Tote Bag


Often when I’m in Miami, I’ll skip using a traditional purse and wear a straw tote instead, since it fits everything I need for a day at the beach, plus a change of clothes for drinks or dinner later in the evening. This basket bag from Loewe is handwoven by artisan women in Colombia, and its long, tan leather straps make it comfortable to throw over your shoulder. 

If you’re not huge on logos or want something at a lower price point, this Jayaventura basket tote bag is a great option. What I like about this version is the durable, faux-leather double strap (it can be handheld or used as a shoulder bag) and front pocket. While the pocket is more for decoration, since it can’t hold anything, it dresses up the handwoven, 100-percent straw tote so it looks more sophisticated than a simple picnic basket bag.

To buy: amazon.com, $40 with on-site coupon (originally $50)

Colorful Belted Romper

Macaw Party Belted Romper


On my trip, I practically lived in this ruffled, colorful Farm Rio romper. Great for an afternoon at the contemporary and modern art Pérez Art Museum Miami, on Biscayne Bay, for lunch at one of my favorites in Little Haiti, Walrus Rodeo (be sure to try the carrot tartare), or out for dinner Downtown at NIU Kitchen or at natural wine bar Margot, this fuchsia-colored cotton romper earned me the most compliments of the trip.

Free People’s version at Nordstrom is just as fun too, with its citrus and floral print, back-baring halter neckline, and cutaway shoulders. On the more casual side, you could easily dress these rompers up with a boyfriend blazer or boxy leather jacket and ankle boots or wedges. Either would also look great with a wide-brim black hat with gold or silver hardware, adding a bohemian edge.  

To buy: nordstrom.com, farmrio.com, $200

Round Retro Tortoiseshell Sunglasses

Trendy Round Retro Sunglasses


I’ve had a pair of round, tortoiseshell sunglasses from Karen Walker similar to these for years. No matter how many other styles I try, I keep coming back to this one. I find that shades with metal get too hot at the beach, whereas these sit comfortably and never cause any indents on my nose. The oversized orbs add a retro flair, which feels right at home in a city like Miami, which was the playground of the Rat Pack royalty back in the 1950s.

You can find the look for less at Amazon ($13) in this pair, where the vintage, 1920s style has everything from silver accents to shatter-resistant, UV-protection frames. If you’re going for a boho beach look (which usually drives my Miami wardrobe), these sunnies will have you feeling like you’re at a music festival yet are still stylish enough for selfies with street art in Wynwood or lunch on the terrace of Macchialina, one of Miami Beach’s best-kept secrets when it comes to Italian food.

To buy: amazon.com, $13

Little Black Maxi Dress

Prinbara Womens Side Cutout Long Bodycon Dress


Miami veers on the more formal side in the evening, and on my trip, I wanted to try a few new restaurants in town worth dressing up for. You can’t go wrong with classic black, and while I’m a fan of the “little black dress,” I prefer a maxi version for fine dining. My friend and I had a reservation at super sultry COTE Miami in the Design District, so I brought a dress similar to this Maje rope cutout dress that I paired with strappy, pointed-toe, silver-accented heels and a clutch.

A near lookalike for less is this Amazon’s highly rated sleeveless bodycon slit dress with its twist cinching the fabric in the center and cutouts on either side. The padded shoulders nod to the look rocking the recent runways, and the cut is flattering for many body types. As one shopper raved, “This dress fits great, is super forgiving, and can take you a lot of places.

To buy: amazon.com, $31 with on-site coupon (originally $57)

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen


Though I always have lip balm in my purse (lately it’s been this one from Fresh) my other non-negotiable is sunscreen — especially in Miami. I packed the mini version of the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen, which is SPF 40 and protects against UVA, UVB, and IRA rays, and helps filter blue light from phone or computer screens. I try to go as natural as possible, and even wore a homemade, organic sunscreen from Greece for some time, but Supergoop! has a list of 1,600-plus ingredients you won’t find in their products, so you know it’s pretty clean (plus it’s vegan, if that makes a difference for you).

I use it as a makeup primer or moisturizer, since it’s packed with antioxidant-rich ingredients. I’m not a fan of the classic sunscreen smell or oily texture, and this product looks natural and absorbs quickly, so you don’t feel like you’re wearing an extra layer on your face or body.

To buy: amazon.com, $38

Striped Jumpsuit

Stripe Tie Waist Crop Linen Blend Wide Leg Jumpsuit


My days in Miami always fly by, and often I don’t have time to get back to the hotel to change before dinner — especially during events like Art Basel and South Beach Wine & Food Festival, when the traffic can be at a standstill. A jumpsuit, like this one from Mango, easily transitions from day to night, and looks casual enough for shopping or having lunch with friends, but the structured style still appears put together and can be dressed up with a chunky gold chain and statement earrings for events.

I also love the colorful striped Madewell version; its knot detail adds a slight cinch like a belt at the waist, so the look isn’t too boxy. The cotton blend stands up to Miami’s humidity, so no need to worry about the fabric sticking to your body. During the day, I accessorized this look with a boyfriend-style denim jacket and espadrille sandals, while at night, I threw on chunky heels (ideal for running around town if Uber is taking too long!), a leather bomber jacket, and gold bangles.

To buy: nordstrom.com, $138

High-Waisted Shorts

Blooming Garden Belted High Waist Cotton Shorts


Miami is one of the few places resort wear is acceptable year-round, and one staple that can take you through the day and into a more casual evening is a pair of tailored linen shorts. These floral-printed belted shorts from Australian brand Zimmermann are neutral enough that the pattern won’t get old. Switch out the raffia belt for something in leather and slip on a pair of espadrille wedges and the look goes from beach-chic to more elevated evening attire for a restaurant like newish seafood brasserie Joliet on Miami Beach.

I’d call this an investment piece, since they’re something you’ll see me in season after season (and multiple years in a row). For something more wallet-friendly, these tropical garden, high-waisted cotton shorts from Farm Rio are just as worthy of a place in your wardrobe. Pair with a white crop top or off-the-shoulder blouse and strappy, camel-colored sandals and you’re ready for lunch on the patio at one of my favorite spots in the city, Mandolin Aegean Bistro.

To buy: nordstrom.com, farmrio.com $135

Packable Straw Visor Hat

Packable Braided Straw Visor


Another item you’ll find in my basket tote? This packable, braided straw visor. Perfect to shield your face from Miami’s harsh sun, this is the easiest, most stylish solution when traveling. As much as I love the look of wide-brim hats, they’re mostly reserved for the pool or beach and easily crush or lose their shape. 

This option is durable, lies flat when rolled, and can be styled with day dresses without making you look like a cruise ship tourist. As someone who tries to save on space as much as possible and not feel weighed down with multiple accessories or bags on a plane, this is the perfect spring or summer hat. I wore it most days while shopping and dining in neighborhoods like Wynwood, which are off the beach but don’t ease up on that Miami heat.

To buy: madewell.com, $33

Statement Marble Pearl Clutch

Acrylic Evening Clutch Bag


The best accessory can often be the simplest one — a purse. Or better yet, a sculptural statement clutch like Cult Gaia’s beaded, acrylic faux tortoiseshell box. The razor-thin clutch is framed by pearl-like baubles in different sizes, making it feel just as much an extension of your outfit as an oversized necklace or bracelet would. This is the kind of artistic beauty you’ll want to proudly display on the table or bar where you’re sitting. And while it’s not quite large enough to hold all phones, you can still fit other essentials like your hotel room key, credit cards, and lipstick.

Don’t think you need to wait for a fancy dinner to bring this piece out, either — it can easily double as a fun (sand- and stain-resistant!) daytime accessory at a beach club like Joia beach or buzzy restaurant like Sexy Fish. The almost-identical version at Amazon is just $40 and even comes with a detachable chain, so you can wear it as a purse while shopping or strolling through galleries in the Design District.

To buy: amazon.com, $40

Espadrille Platform Sandals

Jaklin Sandal


Evenings in Miami may call for heels, but during the day comfort is key. So many strappy leather sandals are hard to break in, and I’m limping with blisters on the first day, but not with these “Palmera” slides that are designed using a traditional technique that’s been popular in Spain since the 1920s. Taking a cue from the Mediterranean, their frayed, beige canvas gives them a boho look, and the slight heel with rubber grip is made for city strolling. This is, after all, the brand that collaborated with Yves Saint Laurent to create the first espadrille with a wedge.

Enter the platform version from Steve Madden that not only evoke the same Mediterranean flair but also give you an extra inch of height from the sand and dusty walkways (not to mention, stay securely on your feet with their ankle strap). These can easily transition from day to night, if you’re having a more casual evening, and the raffia goes with practically everything. I’m short, and they still looked great with a jumpsuit for lunch at natural wine pizza joint La Natural in Little River. 

To buy: zappos.com, $74

White Draped Asymmetrical Dress

ANRABESS Women’s Summer Casual Loose Sleeveless Dress


In Miami, you never know where a day — or night — will take you. During South Beach Food & Wine Festival, I ended up at dinners helmed by celeb chefs like Francis Mallmann at Los Fuegos and tequila-themed yacht parties. Finding a look that can be adapted for either event isn’t easy, but that’s why Jacquemus has become Miami’s unofficial designer favorite. This white, draped asymmetrical minidress is textured and tailored, looking as if it were designed specifically for your body. The unexpected open sides and back is sexy without being too revealing, especially if you’re not comfortable with showing too much skin.

But truly, you can’t go wrong with a longer style, and this asymmetrical dress at Amazon is only $40. The flared skirt makes this dress look equal parts sophisticated (great for a more formal restaurant, like Carbone) and easygoing, so you won’t feel overdressed if you’re wearing it to lunch at Cecconi’s in between laying at the pool at Soho Beach House.

To buy: amazon.com, $40 (originally $60)

Steve Madden Studded Leather Sandals

Sunnie Sandal


Valentino’s Rockstuds revived the studded look from the ’90s, and this trend has trickled into nearly every corner of the fashion market. I’m not big on bling, but I like the subtle pop of shine from studded sandals, like these glam Steve Madden gladiators — which have just gone on sale at Zappos. Designed in a vegan leather, the square-toed sandal has the slightest heel and enough support from the double-belted straps so your feet won’t slide out.

These will add edge to the simplest of looks. Linen pants? Definitely. White overalls? Yes, please! Even with a bathing suit at the pool, these will make the look pop and serve in the same way as an accessory like a bracelet would. Even if I start with another pair of footwear, I usually have these in my bag just in case I need to give my outfit a bit more spice later in the day.

To buy: zappos.com, $63 (originally $90)

Aug 5th, Lane Nieset

Travel + Leisure / Lane Nieset

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