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What to Wear on Nantucket

Exploring Nantucket, or any charming coastal spot in New England, calls for a wardrobe that blends classic elegance with seaside comfort. While this island has become a hot vacation destination in recent years, at its heart, Nantucket is about enjoying summer’s simple pleasures and a slow pace of life. Prepare for a perfect trip with a casual-chic wardrobe that allows you to transition from a boat ride to dinner effortlessly. 

What to wear on Nantucket: 

Nantucket is nicknamed the “Grey Lady” due to the marine layer that often envelops the island most mornings. This typically burns off so residents can enjoy a sunny afternoon until temps dip again around sunset. Packing for a summer trip to Nantucket calls for a range of outfit options and dressing in layers so you can be ready for any weather. If you’re planning your own trip to Nantucket or another coastal New England town here are some helpful guidelines on what to pack! 

  1. Wardrobe Staples: Channel your inner coastal grandmother with classic wardrobe essentials like crisp white jeans, breezy linen shirts and cozy cable knit sweaters in hues that mirror the landscape: think calming neutrals or blues that allude to the ocean or hydrangeas are a great place to start. “Nantucket red” is a special faded red collection of garments from Murray’s Toggery offering everything from sweaters to ball caps to pants.
  2. Summer Sweaters: If you’re coming from a hot climate like Texas it might be hard to fathom wearing sweaters in summertime, but trust me you’ll want several on Nantucket! Whether you opt for a lightweight linen or cotton sweater for cooler evenings, or bring along a cashmere wrap for dinner al fresco, you’ll be glad to have that extra layer ensuring you stay stylishly prepared for any coastal breeze. (Swing by Alice Walk on the island to pick up for one of my favorite summer sweaters or wraps!) 
  3. Sundresses: Embrace the relaxed charm of Nantucket with airy sundresses in soft pastels or classic nautical stripes. Perfect for strolling quaint streets or enjoying a sunset by the shore, but keep an eye on the weather – if it’s very windy you’ll want to avoid wearing a very full skirt so you don’t have to worry about it flying up over your head! (A mistake I made wearing this outfit on the boat ride to dinner at the Wauwinet!) 
  4. Swimsuits: Nantucket has many wonderful beaches to explore from sunrise in ‘Sconset to Sunset on Madaket or Steps Beach! If you plan to go in the water you’ll want a bathing suit that stays put, as the surf can be a little rough and tumble. In addition to your typical coverup or pareo, I love wearing a button up shirt or sweater over my swimsuit on the island.
  5. Straw Bags: Complete your ensemble with a straw bag – a quintessential accessory that effortlessly combines practicality with coastal flair. While the ultimate Nantucket accessory is an antique lightship basket (preferably passed down from a member of your family) accessorizing with any chic basket or straw bag will do. J.McLaughlin has tons of beautiful options (and they have a store on island!) or I’ll be sharing a full round-up of my favorites in a blog post this week!

What Not to Wear in Nantucket:

While crafting your coastal wardrobe, I’d recommend steering clear of these Nantucket fashion faux pas:

  1. Black: Wearing black on Nantucket is practically illegal. (Said in jest, but really no one wears black!) Reserve dark colors for urban settings; and instead, opt for lighter hues that harmonize with the island’s natural beauty. If you want to wear a darker color navy is a great option.
  2. Athleisure (unless you’re actually working out): While comfort is key, save your leggings and sports bras for the gym. That said, you should know that preppy style originated on the campuses of Ivy League colleges where students wore sports clothes to class, to practice, and to dinner afterwards. These uniforms included items such as polos, pleated tennis skirts and sweaters which have since become staples of casual American sportswear. 
  3. Stilettos: Nantucket’s cobblestone streets are very uneven, but that’s a part of the charm. Choose stylish flats or classic jack sandals to comfortably explore the island without compromising on elegance, and block heels or espadrilles if you want a little lift! Even fine dining destinations like Toppers at The Wauwinet will likely include walking across a grassy lawn or strolling along the dock if you arrive by boat, and elevated spots like Galley Beach will have your toes in the sand! (If you want to wear a small heel my favorite block heeled sandals can be found here!)
  4. Loud logos: Leave bold branded items at home, though wearing a small logo on your baseball cap is island approved.


Everything I Wore on Nantucket:

Below you’ll find everything I wore on my recent trip to Nantucket, or click here to see all daily looks on the island! 

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