There are not many things that can compare to the excitement of booking a holiday, especially when going away to the sun.
I grew up on the coast of the Black Sea so popping down to the beach every day was something completely trivial. I had one swimming suit, couple t-shirts and shorts and had no idea how wonderfully simple and uncomplicated my life was. I even kept things just as simple when I spent the spring break in California during my senior year – all my belongings fitted perfectly into my school bag.
But then came my first ‘proper’ sun holiday when I was in my early 20s and I’m not even sure where it went so wrong! I vividly remember 2 massive suitcases that I couldn’t even lift and a shocking charge for the overweight luggage. To add insult to injury, I ended up wearing 1/5 of all the things I brought with me! I don’t know what possessed me to buy all that stuff in the first place, but I was adamant I desperately needed every single item in that suitcase. I think every woman can relate to the phenomenon of over-packing and if you never made the mistake of bringing too much on a holiday – I take my hat off to you!
Planning your holiday wardrobe can create unnecessary pressure and spoil the pleasure of anticipation. You might be surprised but the issue that is at the core of over-packing lies in not planning properly.
For the last 8 years there was only a handful of times when I would check in my luggage (and I’ve taken more trips than I can remember!). On most occasions I travel with the carry-on suitcase. I’ve boiled it down to exactly what I need and don’t bring any ‘just in case’ rubbish. That was all true until March 2016 when I went to Dubai. I only started packing the morning of the departure day! Work has been hectic and I simply didn’t have time to prep in advance. So what did I do? Yep, I brought everything but a kitchen sink again. Massive suitcase that I was throwing things into in a panic. Did I wear all of that stuff? Like hell I did!
So the biggest lesson I learned – don’t pack at the last minute!! I don’t mean physically putting things into the suitcase at the last minute. There are essentials like make-up that don’t get packed until the morning and that’s perfectly fine.I am talking about leaving it till the last moment to decide what you bring. Plan well in advance if you don’t want to over-pack! As pressure and stress don’t allow you to clearly analyze what you need, you will head down the rabbit hole of bringing way too much ‘just in case’ stuff before you know it. While still forgetting some things!
So if you are to do it right, how should you approach planning your holiday wardrobe?
First of all, lets talk about clothes.
How much is enough?
Let’s take a week long holiday as an example. You need clothes for 7 days. More likely than not – day time and evening time attire. Making it 14 outfits in total. Does that mean you have to bring 14 sets of clothes? Most certainly not.
For a 7 day holiday I would recommend bringing 4 dresses, 3 bottoms and 5 tops. It gives you more than enough options but still follows a minimalist approach of not dragging too much with you.
How many looks does it give us? If you bring the right items, you’ll get 15 outfits out of separates and 4 dresses will bring your total options to 19. More than enough, isn’t it? There are even couple ‘just in case’ options (for those who get palpitations if there isn’t a spare look or two to turn to). To reduce the amount of space the clothes take up, I usually give preference to very light non-bulky fabrics.
While dresses are pretty straightforward (have as much fun with cuts and colours as you want – you won’t be doing any layering), you’ll need to put a bit more thought behind the tops and bottoms.
Ultimately you want all of these to mix and match effortlessly. I usually bring 3 casual tops and 2 slightly dressier ones, 1 dressy bottom, 1 semi-casual and 1 casual. What you want is flexibility to dress your looks up and down depending on what you’re doing during the day/night. I’m giving you these numbers as MY example. Your activities might be completely different and will call for different ratios. You might be holidaying with small children so evening meals will be a casual set-up in a laid-back family restaurant where no one dresses up. Or you might be going away to let your hair down and party every night while spending the days by the pool without much need for anything but a bikini. Find the right ratio for yourself! I’m giving you the concept, not the prescription for exact items. 🙂
I do the same with dresses – 2 casual dresses, 1 dressy and 1 that can be dressed up or down depending on whether I’m wearing it during day or night time. Don’t limit yourself to just dresses. Playsuits are a great alternative to short dresses and jumpsuits work just as well as maxi dresses. So go for styles that work for YOU.
12 items of clothes.
Let’s move on to shoes.
Shoes can take up an awful lot of space so consider what you bring. 3 pairs is a good amount to give you options – flipflops for the beach/pool, flat sandals for out and about during the day and heels for dressing up in the evening. I usually go for quite dressy flipflops so they can be worn during the day and not just by the pool.
If I was to recommend 2 colours that go with everything – it’s gold and tan. There is literally nothing they wouldn’t work with. Another great option is anything in nude/soft blush.
What type of heels to choose is entirely up to you. I prefer a block heel on holidays as opposed to stilettos as they are more comfortable and a bit sturdier. But it depends on where you are going and how dressy you want the final look to be.
What about bags?
Accessories will help you to add final touches to your outfits. Bring a beach bag with you and pack a clutch or a small cross-body that can double up as a clutch for evening. Again, for the clutch/cross-body – go for a colour that will match all of your outfits and look appropriate for both day and night time. The temptation might be high to bring bags to match outfits, but don’t give in.
Bikinis and cover-ups
And of course no sun holiday wardrobe is complete without the swimming attire. A little bit of thought goes a long way here as well.
If you are perfectly comfortable parading around in a bikini/swimming suit without cover-up, well done! For the rest of us who prefer to latch on to a bit more fabric when heading down to the bar, beach cover-ups are a must to bring!
To look well-put-together I’d recommend considering the colour palette for your swimming attire and the cover-ups. Get the sarong/kimono/caftan in a colour/s that will compliment your bikinis. Cream/white tend to go with everything while printed pieces can work beautifully with block-coloured swimwear. That way you’ll look effortlessly stylish even by the pool!
How many bikinis/swimming suits do you need?
It’s quite personal. I bring 3. Not even for vanity purposes, but purely for practical reasons. I hate the feel of wet swimwear so would never go near a damp bikini. I have friends/clients who’d only bring one (kudos to you ladies for nailing the minimalist approach!) and have some who’d bring 7 if they were going away for a week. Find a happy medium for YOU without going excessive.
That’s it! Hope you’ll find these recommendations helpful and will be getting ready for the upcoming holidays with a clear focus. The whole purpose of taking the time and effort to plan your holiday wardrobe in advance is to make the holiday experience hassle-free. You want to have just enough without weighing yourself down with massive suitcases and wasting precious time packing/unpacking a mountain of clothes.
You will never look back on your holidays and think ‘That was such a great experience because I had two suitcases of clothes!’. You’re there to make memories with the loved ones so make the most of it!
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