How to pack the ultimate holiday wardrobe

How to pack the ultimate holiday wardrobe

Tamsin Blanchard unlocks the secrets of a perfectly packed suitcase with everything you need for a stylish holiday, from the beach to the mountains.

I once arrived in São Paulo in the middle of August with not much more than a couple of sun dresses, a pair of fuchsia pink palazzo pants (I know, I thought I was the Girl from Ipanema), a bikini and a pair of sandals. I was there for Brazilian Fashion Week (yes, the glamour!) and even though I had planned in a week’s holiday in Rio and the romantic coastal paradise of Paraty at the end of the shows, I had taken pride in packing light. What would I need clothes for when the Brazilians wear little more than dental floss?

The wisdom of packing options

We left London on the hottest day of a very hot summer (remember those?) so I don’t think I even had a cardigan for the journey to the airport. And we arrived on the coldest day of an unseasonably cold São Paulo winter.
How had I not even considered the reverse seasons of the southern hemisphere? Needless to say, I put on the entire contents of my suitcase and spent the first two days shopping - jumpers, tights, wooly hat, another suitcase. So lesson one: Always check the weather before you travel.

The art of packing

If I was rich, I would do what the rich do and pay for someone to pack for me, and then have it sent on ahead. But I’m not, so I just have to make do with packing. And more lists.

  • How many nights are you away for?
  • Are you planning to go anywhere smart?
  • Is it a city break or a relaxed beach and hammocks holiday?
  • Or a bit of both?

For seven nights somewhere hot…

For a week’s break spent between beach and city you will need a couple of bikinis, a swimsuit, a kaftan of some description, a floppy sun hat, some espadrilles (they are everywhere this summer and add a touch of easy bohemian glamour to any look), and a colourful wrap for an evening breeze.
You will also need a lightweight dress, (so much easier than separates) something cool but glamorous enough for an evening out.
Go for long or short, depending on your mood, but choose something light and frothy - floral prints, lace, or silk (but not all at once).
Take a favourite cocktail bag, and a pair of strappy sandals (or stick to the espadrilles).
And a jacket - something softly tailored, or kimono-style - that you can throw over your shoulders when the sun goes down. You don’t need too many smart clothes - this is a holiday after all - but it’s nice to have the option to dress up a little.

Fabrics are important

Seersucker is your holiday BFF, and fits with the laid back ’70s vibe.
There are also some great new synthetic mixes that – as if by magic – don’t crease (or are crumpled to start with so you don’t have to worry about wrinkles). And the best holiday wardrobes are the ones that multi-task.
This brings us back to the beach kaftan. Beach dresses have become a bit of a thing, and I love them. They are the perfect combination of relaxed and casual, (loose and comfortable to wear) a touch hippy dippy (think fringing, embroidery, pom poms and elements of macrame) and just plain glamorous.
The best beach dresses for this summer have a frill or two, a long floaty wrap skirt, or a flouncy sleeve. Too good, in other words, for simply wearing on the beach.
By the end of your holiday, you’ll be so relaxed you’ll be wearing your beach dress into town – and how fabulous you will look and feel.

A happy ending

As for my trip to Brazil, I am happy to report that by the time I flew to Rio, the sun had come out. I certainly needed more than a thong and my pair of Havaianas, but shopping locally meant that I could splash out on a few young designers I met on the way. By the end of the trip I really felt like a true Carioca. I just arrived home with a couple of suitcases more than I left with.

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