When we heard that our LA-based contributing editor was planning a family trip to Europe, we begged her to let us peer inside her suitcase. She’s a black belt when it comes to finding the perfect summer dress and balancing fashion with comfort. So here are Carrie’s top tips for building a holiday wardrobe that makes getting dressed effortless, without compromising on style.
My husband and I have been planning this trip to Europe for nearly nine months and the excitement is palpable. It’s also the first time my three children have been abroad! For me, everything starts with packing, which I adore (honestly). I love having a vision of the destinations we’ll be visiting and considering the role my fashion choices will be playing in our adventure. The challenge with this vacation is that we’ve got a range of climates (the forecast for London is much cooler than Italy) and activities. After five days of sightseeing in London, we’ll do the same in Venice (with a stop on a small island off the Venetian coast, for a few days of seaside respite) and Florence. We’ve then got a week in a villa at Castiglion del Bosco, Montalcino, for some much-needed time by the pool. I don’t consider myself to be the most proficient packer. In fact, I have a reputation for bringing way too much. However, what I am is extremely organised – and as you’ll see below, with the right line-up of (mostly) dresses and accessories, I’ll eventually edit down a capsule that will suit everywhere we’re going. Of course, that takes time, so I started the process six weeks out. That way, there’s plenty of time to review and edit.
SET UP A RAIL
It’s a game-changer. I start by hanging everything I want to pack, and the rail inevitably looks like it’s going to burst. Then, day by day, I check the weather, look at the colours and prints, make switches and remove items until it feels right. I use a colour-coding system in my closet at home and on the rail, which makes it much easier to create a cohesive capsule wardrobe.
PACK TO ARRIVE
I’m a huge fan of AWAY luggage. I’m amazed by how much you can actually fit in these lightweight yet durable suitcases. The way I pack is like a puzzle – and makes the unpack seamless. I use cubes for all my folded items. I protect my sun hat by filling the crown with socks so that it’s ready to put straight on. And I always pack my dresses on hangers. That way, on arrival I have them hanging in moments.
BAG YOUR BEAUTY
For this vacation, I’ve invested in these lovely leather boxes and pouches from the LA-based shop, Cuyana, which you can have monogrammed. I love that they’re not only useful, but beautiful to look at too. For the trip I’ll have all my beauty necessities neatly packed away in these, but I won’t limit them to travel. I plan on putting them on my vanity when I get home for storage.
GO FOR FLATS
When you’re walking everywhere, comfort is key. I’ve worn my white Prada sandals and Manolo mules to death over the years, as they go with everything. For a bit more comfort but even more fashion, I gave into these Cecilie Bahnsen beaded sandals. The raffia Birkenstocks bring a classic to a new level of chic, and the rainbow slides will be my go-to at the pool. Finally, I got the Chanel sneakers I’ve been coveting for years and plan on wearing them with everything, from gowns to jeans!
When it comes to bags, I pack a daytime staple, an option for night and then something that makes me smile. On this holiday, there’s also a theme: baskets. My absolute favourite is my Mehry Mu. The pop of red with this classic box shape and a cross strap make it perfect for daytripping. For a little sparkle, I have a green and pink bejewelled number from Koibird from last year. And finally, for fun, I love this Amélie Pichard.
When I travel in summer, I really want fresh glowing skin with a pop of colour. I love a Gucci Westman base – the finish is light and flawless. For eyes, I’ve opted for a palette from ROEN to keep things simple. Lashes get a swipe of Diorshow Maximizer and Nars Climax mascara, and I always pack Maybelline Brow Drama. For lips, I adore Giorgio Armani Matte 402, Laura Mercier French Kiss, and Pat McGrath Love Supreme Lip Balm. Also, I cannot live without my Joanna Czech face roller to depuff.
London is our first stop, and the unpredictable weather has thrown a little curve in my packing. I’ll mostly be wearing this Sara Battaglia suit. With short sleeves and high-waisted pants, it feels like the epitome of chic tailoring right now. I’ll wear it as a complete suit, but I’ll also have fun mixing it up: the jacket works with jeans; the pants look fab with a tucked-in blouse.
MAKE A SPLASH
When it comes to swimwear, I’m a one-piece girl. I know Eres is an investment, but I swear by the cut and fabric. I also love this daisy-printed Verde Limon number. I plan to wear both with my favourite Rosie Assoulin skirt, as well as a long white linen dress and layers of necklaces. I’ll also pack this Zara raffia bag at the bottom of my luggage – it will be the perfect hold-all for my kids’ stuff.
I decided to go for bold and colourful jewellery. Statement earrings from Rebecca de Ravenel, Kenneth Jay Lane and J.Crew are always fun. I recently discovered these wonderful pearl flowers by Enesea, and will also be packing my new pearl drop hoops from Henriette Von Grünberg, which might not leave my ears all summer. I never go anywhere without my Irene Neuwirth hearts, which I’ll layer with my Lulu Frost charm necklace and Laura Fantacci X Dana Levy beads. Finally, I love to stack Roxanne Assoulin’s candy-like bracelets.
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