Your summer holiday brings you a well earned and much needed break from the norm. It’s a chance to properly unwind, relax and spend quality time with your loved ones. So why do you create so much stress around getting ready to go?
Do you find yourself;
- Throwing all of your summer clothes on the bed and wanting to take it ALL?
- Throwing all of your summer clothes on the bed and not wanting to take ANY of it?
- Packing 7 pairs of shoes so that you have a pair to wear with each outfit?
This blog post explains how to pack light. I know you’ve probably read it all before, many times over and I have too.
But here is the problem…
The advice that I’ve read in countless articles over the years just doesn’t work for me and this is why:
- I love clothes and I need to feel that I look good. This means that I like to be able to wear a different outfit every evening.
- It’s important for me to feel comfortable but stylish in what I wear, especially on holiday when I am not ‘on duty’.
- I can’t double up my kaftan as a stylish dress with heels in the evening as mine gets screwed up in my beach bag, covered in sun-cream and once I’m freshly showered for the evening I want to wear something clean.
If any of this resonates with you and you’d like to be able to pack light but still know that you have lots of outfit options, read on.
Get the basics right
When you have the right items to begin with, packing is a breeze. The reason many people struggle to pack light is that they don’t have the basic ingredients for a good capsule holiday wardrobe.
That’s why you end up packing the kitchen sink.
The theory is that if you take everything you own, (including 7 pairs of shoes) there must be several gorgeous outfits in there right? Unfortunately the reality is that most of it comes home unworn.
The fundamental mistake that many women make when they are shopping for their holidays is that they set out with a ‘matchy matchy’ mindset. They see a pair of shoes that matches the dress so they snap them up – perhaps they were a bargain in the summer sales…
Then the shop assistant ‘helpfully’ shows you the jacket or cardigan that goes with the dress and before you know it you’ve bought an entire outfit without thinking about the practicality of any of the pieces to be worn in any other way.
Approach your shopping with a new mindset
The key to simplifying your holiday wardrobe is to approach your shopping in a more practical way. If you shop using one colour palette, such as sticking to pastels for example, everything will go with everything else. Mixing and matching is really simple when your colours work well together. Don’t feel you have to stick to black and white as coordinating separates.When you stick to one palette you will be able to make braver combinations such as orange or coral with bright blue (as per the pictures below) or pale blue with pastel pink. If you have had a colour analysis session with an Image Consultant, you will know which palette works best for you. If not, start experimenting.
Your footwear doesn’t need to be the same colour as your outfit. I see this issue crop up virtually every time I do a Wardrobe Edit. If you invest in a pair of heels that exactly matches the dress you have, you are unlikely to wear them with other outfits. This means that they don’t get worn often enough so you are wasting money and they are taking up valuable space in your wardrobe as well as your suitcase.
The best option for multi-wear shoes on holiday (and at home for that matter) is metallic sandals. They will go with everything else you have.
I’m favouring flats right now. They are in fashion, easy, comfortable and you won’t look silly trying to walk over cobbled streets in your towering heels. If you can’t be without your heels, I would recommend investing in a metallic pair of those too.
Rather than packing a different top for every pair of trousers and skirt, see what you have that will work with both. Plain tops look amazing with patterned trousers or skirts and patterned tops look great with plain bottom halves. You can even wear prints with prints if you are brave enough – check out my blog “The 5 mistakes people make when wearing print” for the ‘rules’. And remember to stick to one colour palette to make this really simple.
Here are the ingredients for 9 fab holiday outfits. Each top works well with the skirt, the trousers and the shorts. That’s 9 different outfits made from just 6 pieces! You wouldn’t have time to wear 9 outfits in a week unless you are changing twice a day, but you get the idea!
- Patterned vest top
- Striped T-shirt
- Short sleeved blouse in a colour you love
- Short cotton skirt white
- Pale coloured culottes
- Navy shorts
That’s three tops and three bottoms and from this combination you can make 9 outfits. Each top should work with each bottom.
Patterned vest top + white skirt, Striped T-shirt + white skirt, Short sleeved blouse + white skirt
Patterned vest top + Culottes, Striped T-shirt + Culottes, Short sleeved blouse + Cullotes
Patterned vest top + navy shorts, Striped T-shirt + navy short, Short sleeved blouse + navy shorts
Replace these items with whatever works for your colouring, shape and style but mixing and matching is KEY.
Basic ingredients for a one week beach holiday
- 2 x bikinis or swimsuits
- 1 x glam (ish) beach cover-up (kaftan or sarong). Throw on for beach bar visits.
- 2 x old (ish) t-shirts for throwing on over wet swimsuits or to cover up from the sun. Cotton t-shirts are much more comfortable in the heat than a polyester kaftan and if they aren’t brand spanking new you won’t worry about getting sun cream stains all over them.
- 1 x pair of shorts or a short skirt. Wear these for getting to and from the beach & trips to the mini market.
- 1 x sundress. Great for sight-seeing and evenings.
- 1 x pair of trousers. For cooler evenings (or to avoid mosquito bites).
- 1 x skirt. For evenings.
- 3 x tops. To wear in the evenings with trousers and skirts.
- 1 x cardigan or light jacket for cooler evenings. These need to work over every outfit, so a neutral colour is practical.
- 1 x pair of flip flops.
- 1 x neutral coloured or metalic sandal.
- 1 x pair of plimsolls/trainers.
- Costume jewellery (leave your good stuff at home).
1. Travel Outfit
Plimsolls/trainers, skirt or trousers and one of your evening tops.
2. Daytime outfits
Throw on your shorts or daytime skirt over your bikini along with one of your cotton t-shirts and flip flops. Sling your kaftan in your beach bag so you can glam up for a cocktail later should you wish.
For a sight-seeing trip, wear your sundress with plimsolls or flat sandals.
3. Evening Outfit options –Wear in any order!
1. Skirt with top #1
2. Skirt with top #2
3. Skirt with top #3
4. Trousers with top #1
5. Trousers with top #2
6. Trousers with top #3
Take your lightweight jacket or cardigan for when the sun goes down.
Wherever you are going this summer, I hope that you manage to relax, unwind and enjoy yourself.
Do you have any packing tips to share? Leave me a comment.
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Very useful tips as I always end up taking too much clothes on holiday.
I hope it serves you well when you next pack a suitcase Carol!
Great advice and a very useful checklist (basic ingredients for a one week beach holiday) to print out and refer to Helen! I always end up taking too many shoes – amongst them a pair of comfy backless, open toe wedge sandals I’ve had approx 3 years that I invariably end up wearing most evenings!
Shoes are the trickiest part Valerie, that’s why choosing shoes that go with everything are such a good investment. Metallics or a neutral colour are always winners!
Hi Helen, we recently went away for a few days and myself and my two daughters used your tips when it came to packing. They’ve always been in the matchy matchy mindset but this time, they managed to pack sensibly and still look good! Thank you for your fantastic tips. I always enjoy reading your blogs.
That’s so good to hear Sadhna. It is very satisfying to come home having worn everything you took isn’t it!
Great post Helen. I used the list (slightly modified) for my recent holiday in France and it was great. For once I didnt bring back a load of unworn (but still need washed) clothes!
That’s great Hazel! Well done. x
Makes for interesting reading. As a seasoned traveller, this is pretty much what I do. If a top does not go with two bottoms then it does not go with me. I am not one of those that has to have the matching shoes and bag so shoes are not a problem for me. Neutrals all the way.
When packing for a recent trip, I tried the method that was doing the rounds a while back where you roll pretty much everything together. it didn’t work for me. It seemed to take up more space in my bag than it would have done if I had rolled things separately. My first night away, I was staying with a friend in London so I ended up repacking and rolling everything separately! Somehow it did not feel as heavy but that may have been my imagination!
I saw that post about rolling everything up together but havent tried it so its useful to hear how it went for you. Thanks for sharing. I have been converted to rolling rather than folding though. It does seem to make more room and clothes are less creased.x
Great post Helen and totally agree. I used to take the kitchen sink with me, but NO MORE! In fact, I now only take hand baggage!!! I’ve got it down to that!
I do this by rolling my clothes. I learned this from my mother many years ago. Sorry if this didn’t work for you but for me rolling is the way to get everything neatly in the bag. It also lessens creasing (although I tend to go for materials that don’t crease these days if possible). Definitely roll ladies!! You’ll be on a roll then !!! (tee tee!)
I have to say I am starting to roll now Margaret and it DOES work! Thanks for leaving a comment. x
Great post – Helen! I’ve learnt over the years that less is more with clothes on holiday. My biggest challenge is editing my husband’s proposed packing pile so he doesn’t end up taking the kitchen sink!!
An eight day hiking holiday carrying a back pack was the best way to really learn how to condense what you take!!
I absolutely agree with you about some of the advice given about doubling up clothes for day and evening – it only works if I start wearing it as an evening outfit, then move to day but that limits the opportunities.
Perfect timing as I’m off to Portugal in 3 weeks for my wedding – plus some holiday time before and after of course. The main thing I’m worried about packing is my wedding dress – I’ve been told that the airline should be able to take it and hang it somewhere but I don’t know how accurate that is. Anyway, it’ll happen and this packing guide is a massive help!