Packing For Cape Cod: What To Wear In Summer Or Fall

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Girl in a yellow jacket and blue linen pants sitting on steps in front of a windmill on Cape Cod.

Visiting Cape Cod during summer vacation (in July and August) means plenty of warm temperatures, hot sun and outdoor activities. You’ll want to pack specific items for a warm weather get-a-way along with a pair of flip flops, a beach bag, bathing suit and wide brimmed hat or baseball cap for a fun filled beach day. 

In shoulder season (June and September to late October), once the harvest season approaches, cooler weather arrives, and you’ll want to adjust your packing for cooler temperatures in the mid 60s-70s. A light sweater, or blazer makes a great layering piece for cool weather. 

Whether you are venturing to the Cape on a day trip or on a longer Cape Cod Getaway, this post will help you pack your cape cod outfits with ease! The most important thing to remember when packing for Cape Cod, is to pack for comfort, weather and your specific activities. If you do this, you can’t go wrong!

What is Cape Cod Style?

Cape Cod style embodies the relaxed vibe of coastal living. When dressing for Cape Cod, comfort and ease take precedence over formality. Wardrobe choices lean towards timeless pieces that never go out of style. Avoiding overly trendy or flashy items. Think simple and classic- light colors, lightweight summer fabrics with a more natural style is popular on the Cape.  

This style emphasizes comfortable clothing that allows for easy movement, whether it’s for a stroll on the beach or a day exploring the town. Despite its casual nature, Cape Cod style exudes an effortless elegance, with outfits that are put together in a way that looks polished without appearing overly styled or fussy.

While many tourists associate Cape Cod style with a preppy aesthetic, locals tend to favor a more understated and relaxed look, avoiding overly polished or formal attire. You’ll see clothing staples like comfortable walking shoes, shorts, light sweaters, tank tops, baseball caps, beach bags, and light jackets. Nautical colors like navy, white and neutrals are common. A boat shoe, leather loafer, or simple sandals easily compliment your Cape Cod style. Some of my favorite brands for this type of style is J. Crew, Boden, Rove Australia, Spell and Athleta for sporty activities. 

If you love color (like I do), don’t let the nautical neutrals steer you away from being you! Wear whatever color scheme makes you feel good. There really is no Cape wide dress code, so pack with comfort in mind, no matter what that means to you!

Packing Tips

Make sure to pack for your planned activities during your Cape Cod vacation. Planning a beach day? Do not forget the flip flops, beach hat and bathing suits. Bike rides are best done in a pair of sneakers and shorts or leggings as loose pants can get stuck in the gears. If you plan to be on the water or whale watch, bring a lightweight wind and rain resistant jacket as the temperatures are cooler on the water. No matter where you venture to, it’s always a good idea to bring sun screen, bug spray, a reusable water bottle and a travel bag that easily collapses when not in use. 

Cape Cod Summer Packing List

When you start thinking about what to wear in Cape Cod in the summer, keep the weather in mind. Cape Cod’s summer weather typically boasts warm days with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s, with cool evening breezes. A summary crop top, tee shirts, lightweight pants and sun protection like a baseball hat are all great ideas for your summer in the Cape Packing List. 

Tops

Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton or linen to stay cool in the summer heat. You can wear classic styles like striped tees or button-up shirts for a timeless Cape Cod look. Be sure to pack a mix of sleeveless tanks for beach days and long sleeve shirts for cooler evenings. You can’t go wrong with colors like navy, white, and soft pastels.

  • Striped Tee: A staple for a Cape Cod summer wardrobe, perfect with a pair of shorts or a skirt.
  • Button-Up Shirt: Versatile and polished, ideal for layering over a tank or wearing alone.
  • Sleeveless Tank: Essential for hot days by the beach – choose breathable fabrics in light colors.
  • Long-Sleeve Shirt: Lightweight and breezy for cooler evenings.
  • Light Jacket: A good idea for cooler evenings. 

Bottoms

When it comes to bottoms, prioritize comfort and versatility. Pack a mix of shorts and lightweight pants or skirts that you can easily pair with any top. Classic denim shorts are perfect for casual outings, while linen pants or skirts offer a more polished look for evening dinners or sightseeing. Stick to neutral colors like khaki, navy, or denim blue.

  • Denim Shorts: Casual and timeless – ideal for beach days or exploring the town.
  • Linen Pants: Lightweight and breathable, suitable for cooler evenings or dressier occasions. I love these from Athleta.
  • Cotton Skirt: Effortlessly chic – pair with a tucked-in tee or blouse for a feminine look.

Shoes

Make sure your shoes are comfortable for walking on uneven terrain and sandy beaches. Boat shoes or sandals with sturdy soles are excellent choices for exploring Cape Cod’s coastal trails and quaint villages. Don’t forget to pack a pair of flip-flops for beach days and comfortable sneakers for more active adventures.

  • Comfy sneakers: Perfect for trails or walking around town.
  • Sandals: Opt for styles with adjustable straps and cushioned footbeds for all-day comfort.
  • Flip-Flops: Essential for sandy beaches and casual outings – choose waterproof options for durability.

Dresses

Pack a few dresses in light, airy fabrics that can take you from a day at the beach to a sunset dinner. Flowy maxi dresses or sundresses in breathable cotton or linen fabrics are perfect for staying cool while exuding effortless summer style.

  • Maxi Dress: Effortlessly chic and versatile, perfect for beachside dinners or sunset cocktails.
  • Sundress: Light and airy; choose styles with adjustable straps or elastic waistbands for a customizable fit.

Accessories

Complete your Cape Cod summer look with functional accessories. A wide-brimmed hat will give you sun protection while adding a touch of style to your outfit. Don’t forget to pack sunglasses to shield your eyes from the bright coastal sun. 

  • Wide-brimmed Hat: Stylish and practical – choose breathable materials like straw or cotton.
  • Swimsuit coverup: Many tourists wear their coverup as a dress, so you can easily transition from a casual lunch to an afternoon at the beach.
  • Sunglasses: Essential for eye protection – select styles with UV protection.
  • Tote bag: Perfect for storing towels, books, your wallet, and anything else you’ll need at the beach.

Cape Cod Fall Packing List

As autumn arrives on Cape Cod, the weather begins to cool down, bringing crisp mornings and mild days with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to low 70s. Fall on the Cape is the perfect time for outdoor activities like hiking, apple picking, and scenic drives. When packing for your fall getaway, focus on layering and incorporating cozy pieces and lightweight long sleeves to keep you warm and stylish during the changing seasons. Keep reading to discover what to wear in Cape Cod in the fall!

Tops

Prioritize layering pieces that can easily be mixed and matched to accommodate fluctuating temperatures. Opt for long-sleeve tops in soft fabrics like cotton or lightweight knitwear. You can’t go wrong with packing clothes in fall colors like rust, olive, and mustard, and consider incorporating cozy textures like cable knit or brushed flannel. Patterns like plaids or classic stripes evoke a cozy New England vibe.

  • Plaid Flannel Shirt: A quintessential fall staple, perfect for layering over tees or under jackets.
  • Cozy Sweater: Ideal for cool mornings and evenings; choose styles with a relaxed fit for comfort.
  • Long-Sleeve Tee Shirt: Versatile and practical, perfect for pairing with a pair of jeans for a casual look.

Bottoms

Pack a mix of jeans, leggings, and skirts that can be easily paired with your tops and layered with outerwear. Classic denim jeans are perfect for casual outings, while leggings offer warmth and flexibility for hiking and other outdoor activities. You can also incorporate skirts in fall-friendly fabrics like corduroy or wool, which you can dress up or down depending on the occasion.

  • Jeans: Versatile and flattering, ideal for pairing with boots or sneakers for a casual look.
  • Corduroy Skirt: Classic and cozy, perfect for adding a touch of texture to your fall wardrobe.
  • Leggings: Perfect for hiking and biking!

Shoes

Just like in the summer, you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes in Cape Cod. Ankle boots or waterproof sneakers are excellent choices for exploring Cape Cod’s scenic landscapes and charming towns. Look for styles with rubber soles and water-resistant materials to keep your feet dry and comfortable in unpredictable fall weather.

  • Ankle Boots: Stylish and versatile, perfect for pairing with jeans or dresses for a chic fall look.
  • Waterproof Sneakers: Practical and comfortable, ideal for outdoor adventures in changing weather conditions.
  • Loafers: Classic and timeless!
Girl in a red skirt walking under a pink rose arch.

Outerwear

When preparing for fall on Cape Cod, you’ll want to pack outerwear that provides warmth and protection against cooler temperatures and potential rain showers. Layering is key, so choose versatile pieces that you can easily pair with your outfits while exploring the coastal scenery.

  • Lightweight Jacket: Choose a lightweight jacket in a water-resistant fabric like nylon or polyester. Consider styles with a hood for added protection against unexpected rain showers.
  • Lightweight Sweater: Sweater do a great job of complimenting dressy outfits. You can style a sweater over a summer dress to re-purpose it for cooler temperatures. 
  • Denim Jacket: A timeless wardrobe staple – perfect for adding a casual and effortlessly chic layer to your fall outfits. 
  • Trench Coat: For more formal dinners or cooler evenings, a trench coat adds a touch of sophistication to your fall wardrobe. Look for styles in classic colors like khaki or navy, and opt for water-resistant materials to stay dry in light rain.
  • Fleece Pullover: Cozy and practical, a fleece pullover is perfect for staying warm and comfortable during outdoor activities like hiking or apple picking. 

Accessories

Complete your fall Cape Cod packing list with chic accessories. A lightweight scarf or wrap adds warmth and style to your outfit while complementing the autumn color palette. Don’t forget to pack a versatile hat for added warmth and protection against brisk fall winds, and accessorize with statement jewelry or a stylish tote bag to elevate your look.

  • Scarf: Soft and cozy, perfect for layering over sweaters or jackets for added warmth.
  • Wool Fedora: Get a wide brim for maximum sun protection.
  • Gold Jewelry: Not only is this a classic look, but gold pairs perfectly with an autumn color palette and cozy sweaters.

***

Cape Cod is the perfect destination for a fun summer retreat or a relaxing fall getaway. No matter when you visit, I’m sure you’ll leaving wanting to come back for more! I hope this packing guide helps you pack with ease. Remember, there is no right or wrong style. Dress for the weather and your activities and you can’t go wrong. Enjoy your time on the cape!

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Sam wearing backpack and hat walking through town.

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