Life & Culture

Going on vacation? We're on the case


In my perfect life there would be a Packing Fairy. She would possess the exquisite taste of a Tom Ford and the ruthlessness of a Mary Portas. She would tip-toe through the window the night before a holiday and as I slept, she would carefully extract all the pieces I need for a perfectly co-ordinated vacation wardrobe together with all the essential toiletries, hair-care, sun-preps and cosmetics. She would fit everything neatly into my suitcase, leaving me to wake, the next day, calm in the knowledge that all I had to do was close my suitcase.

In lieu of a Packing Fairy, I have been trying for years to perfect the art of holiday packing; to ensure that as many items of clothing match as many other items in order to minimise baggage, yet without ever aspiring to that unattainable fantasy a "holiday capsule wardrobe". You know, the sarong, t-shirt, bikini and pair of espadrille that offers sufficient permutations to see you through everything from a trek in the jungle to a wedding. (Okay, not a wedding, but some of the claims for "capsule wardrobes" are almost as ditsy).

And while those of us without a first-class baggage allowance have aspired to efficiency for decades, the ubiquity of budget airlines means that it has now become a necessity.

When it comes to an evening holiday wardrobe, separates offer maximum versatility. Two great pairs of trousers and three tops can provide six different evening combinations, providing the trousers work with all the tops - and we're talking colour and shape, here; there's no point taking wide-leg trousers and skinny ones if they need totally different shape tops. Add a skirt that goes with all the tops, and, (a) you have nine outfits for six garments, and (b) you are very well-coordinated.

The maxi dress is potentially another holiday hero; worn over a bikini with flat sandals, it will take you to an über-stylish poolside lunch and, glammed up with platform sandals and bold jewellery, it works for dining under the stars.

With beachwear, co-ordination pays dividends. By packing swimwear and cover-ups in one colour family, they should all mix, extending your poolwear permutations exponentially.

In theory, we should need only three pairs of shoes on holiday: a pair for evening, a pair for poolside and a pair of something flat and comfortable for the gym/sightseeing, etc. But when it comes to it, we panic, don't we? So few pairs won't give us the security/versatility we crave. Obviously, the clever way to keep shoes to a minimum is to buy in neutral colours. Obvious, but possibly boring. Sometimes a bright pop of colour can be just as versatile and less predictable.

Ramp up the glamour for minimal case-space with accessories: long cotton scarves to wrap around your neck, bold cuffs, chunky necklaces and dangly earrings (I don't need to tell you not to wear the last two at the same time, do I?).

And if you need some last-minute topping up, we have some versatile pieces for you, plus clever travel products and packing tips.

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