The secret to effortless holiday style? A well-packed suitcase. Forget last-minute panics and overstuffed bags – a properly thought-through packing list means you’ll always have the right pieces to hand and make the most of your summer-box buys.
I’m no stranger to a packing guide – in fact, I did one last year. However, the art of constructing a foolproof holiday capsule is one I am continually tweaking to get spot-on. This summer, I am excited to be adding a few new-found tips to my list, and to make them as easy to follow as possible, we’ve shot plenty of visuals to match. I’ve also been inspired by the packing questions sent in by readers on my Instagram poll. From which shoes to take away, to the best evening cover-up, I hope I’ve answered everything.
But this guide isn’t just about packing the right pieces in the right way, it’s also a road map of how to really enjoy the packing process. This might be the first holiday you’ve had in a while, so take your time and relish those summer pieces. After all, getting ready can be just as fun as the main event.
GET A RAIL
The best way to build a well-functioning capsule is to see it all together. Buy a small, foldable rail from the high street that can be used to hang holiday pieces on, then packed away and stored when not in use.
START WITH A HERO
Reach for the item you are looking forward to wearing the most. This could be a cherished summer-box piece or a sales find – anything that gets you in the holiday mood. Hang this on the rail first as it will set the tone for your entire holiday aesthetic.
CONSTRUCT A PALETTE
Once your hero is in place, build the rest of your capsule around it. Pick out colours and prints and add in pieces to complement them. Sticking to a palette means everything in your suitcase will work together.
When life is busy, it’s tempting to pack in a hurry. However, putting together an edit ahead of time means you can go back to it and make adjustments until it’s just right. Taking a calm, considered approach makes for a more enjoyable process and successful outcome.
THINK ABOUT FABRICS
On a sunny holiday, packing the right fabrics is key. Choose natural, lightweight and breathable materials that will keep you cool and collected, such as cotton, linen and silk. Avoid synthetics that can get sweaty in the heat.
Packing in outfits rather than pieces means you’ll have a head start on getting ready while you’re away, and guarantees you’ll wear everything you take. Build looks before you commit them to the suitcase, not forgetting shoes and accessories.
This is the fun part. Stage a mini fashion show and try on everything in your capsule, checking it fits well, hangs properly and looks as expected. Not only does this ensure you really love what you’re taking away with you, it’s a great opportunity to fall back in love with summer pieces.
DRESS UP/DRESS DOWN
One of the most-asked packing questions I received was: How do I avoid overpacking? My trick is to reach for versatile styles that can be worn multiple ways throughout your holiday. For example, this Zimmermann dress works with tan flats for the day, then gold sandals for evening.
TAKE TIME OVER SWIMWEAR
Swimwear is your everyday outfit on hot holidays, so it pays to give it as much attention as the rest of your wardrobe. Lay out every style on the bed, group them into bikinis and one-pieces then select your favourites, making sure they’re in tone with what’s on your rail.
MAKE A LOOK
Once you’ve made an edit of swimsuits, put them into beach-ready outfits, thinking about shoes, beach bags and cover-ups. This summer, I’ll be wearing an airy linen shirt over swimwear.
CHECK THE EDIT
Variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to swimwear. Add your edit to the rail and check you’re not doubling up on styles that look very similar. Having a good range of cuts and colours means your beach look will always be fresh – plus, it will mix up the tan lines!
ROLL, DON’T FOLD
The most space-efficient way to pack swimwear is to roll it. Don’t be afraid to go for a super-tight roll – that’s the beauty of high-stretch fabric.
USE PACKING SQUARES
Packing squares are my secret weapon for keeping my suitcase organised. Stack swimwear rolls into a square, using a second for lingerie. When you come to unpack at your destination, take each square out and simply slip it into a drawer.
STICK TO THE RULE OF THREE
How not to overpack shoes was another hot topic among readers, and my rule is this: for a week’s holiday, three pairs is plenty. For additional weeks, add two more pairs. You’ll want a splash-proof beach style (either a Birkenstock or a luxe rubber slide), a dressy sandal for the evening and then an ‘everything else’ shoe in black or tan.
Eschew heels in the heat and opt for a statement flat that gives evening outfits the wow factor. A metallic finish will work with everything in your suitcase, or try an embellished style or a scattering of sparkle.
REMEMBER DUST BAGS
Once you’ve selected your shoes, stuff them with tissue paper to retain their shape and place each pair into a protective dust bag. Lay them on the bottom of your case, or slot them into gaps between clothes.
BE SMART WITH LINGERIE
Underwear is often an overlooked category when packing, but it’s essential to get the foundations right. Build up a selection of soft, breathable pieces in tones that work underneath sheer fabrics and pale colours.
INVEST IN A JEWELLERY CASE
Keep precious pieces safe and organised by storing them in a luxe leather jewellery case. When you reach your holiday spot, keep it on the dressing table so you can accessorise easily when getting dressed.
HAVE A HAIR KIT
Sunshine and sea salt can take its toll on hair, so pack a nourishing mask or oil to apply before dinner. Decant favourite products into travel bottles if you’re taking hand luggage only. A summery hair accessory adds a special touch to beachy waves. I’ll be packing our exclusive Marzoline linen hairband and scrunchie set.
INVEST IN LUXE LUGGAGE
A roomy, lightweight suitcase that handles well will make travelling a lot easier. I love Antler’s durable, thoughtfully designed styles which look chic and last for years. One of the best summer investments you can make.
PACK PIECES ON HANGERS
Hotel rooms and villas never have enough clothes hangers, so save yourself a headache on arrival and pack pieces on slimline, space-saving styles. This method also makes unpacking quicker as items can be taken out of your case and instantly hung up.
MASTER HAND LUGGAGE
Carry your basket bag in transit so that it doesn’t get squashed in your case. Fill it with in-flight essentials and a mini capsule of staples (sunglasses, cap, SPF) that can be reached for as soon as you hit the sunshine. A spare swimsuit and underwear set is useful in case luggage goes missing.
PLAN YOUR TRAVEL OUTFIT
Once your bag is packed, you’re ready to go. The final step is a chic and comfortable outfit to travel in. A jumpsuit is a smart choice as it’s a ready-made look. Layer a linen blazer over the top and add the Birkenstocks from your packing list. My final touches are a cashmere shawl for the plane and a hands-free crossbody bag.
Sign Up To
THE ICONS UPDATE
"We show you what never goes out of fashion"