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Packing for Paradise

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A Two Chic beaded tunic and Aranaz bag in the Park Hyatt, Maldives

The sand is soft and white, the turquoise waters are endless… The entire world falls away as you melt into the island rhythm, swaying to the beat of palm trees and rushing waves… You sigh happily. How can you not? You’re in paradise.

Growing up in the Philippines where stunning beaches are just a blink away, it’s no wonder how much I love resort wear. I have an entire closet dedicated to beach things and mind you, full of different looks, because I believe not all beaches are created equally. There is a section reserved for preppy, nautical style escapes, meant for boat trips and sleepy mediterranean ports drinking crisp white wine, all very Hamptons-esque. Blue and white, pops of red, stripes and knots, touches of tan leather, white linen and soft chambray. Then there’s the scuba section. Black streamlined bikinis, sporty lightweight pullovers, denim cut-offs, polo shirts and sleek cover-ups. I also have a glam pile of beach wear. Things I would most probably wear in Boracay, on a night out drinking with girlfriends, flashier Pucci type prints and gold buckles. And lastly, my absolute favorite, a whole section I carefully curate adding new pieces each year like a cherished collection – these are the things I bring to paradise.

packing for paradise steph

Top from Right to Left: In the Maldives wearing my own design and green coral earrings by Aziza Collection; A cotton Regatta tunic and a brand less unsquashable hat on Ranger Island in Tubbataha; Silk cover-up from Seek The Uniq in Amanpulo. Bottom from Right to Left: Antik Batik beaded silk caftan and embroidered moroccan straw and leather bag from a bazaar; Beaded caftan from Two Chic – both in Amanpulo; In the Maldives wearing a paisley print bikini from Rustans – I have completely forgotten the brand; dress from EverNew and wood and leather gold bag by Aranaz


It is all about the tropical escape. That magical kaftan, so flowy and luxurious, once put on has the capacity to cleanse your mind and reprogram your body clock to island time. The forgiving bikini with the perfect matching coverup that proves you may be living like Crusoe but far from being a castaway. Bejeweled sandals fit for a princess, earrings that dangle and sparkle in the moonlight, the embellished clutch to hold all your secrets… Salty, sea breeze hair, stinging sun kissed skin, a languid humidity that turns everything beautiful…

Here are some of my favorite looks:

The Coral Life –  I love the idea of pairing coral and turquoise together. I’ve always had difficulty with red, finding neutrals to anchor it down without going for the very asian feel of red and gold, or red and black which tends to remind me of Santa Claus. I love the combination of the soft grey and peach in this Seek The Uniq cover-up and how it balances the red. Add these turquoise-seafoam hued accessories bring a beautiful touch of brightness and contrast. Earrings from Stella and Dot, cuff by Joyce Makitalo and sandals by Mystique.

packing for paradise 3


Bird of Paradise – Imagine yourself walking through the evening foliage, lit dramatically from below as you make your way through a darkened pathway for cocktail hour. Inspired by the stunning, bright colors of exotic tropical birds this Mara Hoffman creation dressed down with these flat Renegade Folk leather sandals is the perfect outfit for a romantic night out under the stars. I love the deep, rich hue of these lapis lazuli earrings that anchor the vibrant coral orange. This Aranaz clutch will chicly hold all your essentials including a bit of bug spray to make sure the only thing touching your skin are the ardent lips of your lover!

Packing for paradise 1———

Native Princess – This Rajo Laurel Palawan Collection dress reminds me of a muumuu that Tahitian princesses would wear but with a little more elegance and flair. Keep your hair tousled and free flowing and adorn yourself royally with a tribal-esque statement necklace like this one by Ken Samudio. Brighten the look up with this colorful embellished clutch by the same designer and keep your toesies regal in these Mystique jeweled black flats fit for a queen.

Packing for paradise 2——–

Bold Basics – Since resort wear can come in all styles and colors it’s great to have a few staples on hand that can easily go with anything. A good neutral wedge like this pair from Stuart Weitzman can add towering height when in something long and flowy or some polish in denim cut-offs and a soft blouse. Trade your usual hoop earrings for something like these hammered gold discs by Me and Ro, I have a pair that is almost exactly the same. Not too large in size, they make the perfect companion to piled on layered necklaces. Bring one good statement bead necklace like this one from Stella and Dot, coral is always a good option by the beach. Choosing the perfect beach bag is a skill. I used to go for neutral raffia with some simple tan accessories so that it would go with anything, but this Aranaz creation is in the total opposite direction. That gorgeous embroidered flamingo design is so colorful and fanciful I can’t imagine how it could NOT go with anything.

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Co-Gypsetter Vicki has her own personal style which she describes as casual feminine. While we both share a love for soft cover-ups she tends to embrace an edgier look more than I do, incorporating sleek, sexy black pieces into her beachwear. She also prefers synthetic materials for her beach bags because she likes to keep the sand away and her things dry.

packing for paradise vicki

Leaving you guys with a few snapshots of my favorite island escape companion, someone who I wouldn’t mind being stuck with forever on a deserted island – my hubby Jonathan who just took me on a beautiful baby moon escape to Amanpulo. And of course my gypsy souls sister Vicki who I’ve shared one too many cocktails with on the seashore – once baby is out, will definitely be having more! Happy summer everyone!

Love and Light, Stephanie

PS – check out my Gypsetters Guide to the Maldives!

packing for paradise companions

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The Author

Writer. Traveller. Wino. Foodie. Bohemian at heart. "You can not travel the path until you have become the path itself." - Buddha


We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.

We are The Gypsetters.

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