Friday, March 24, 2017

What to pack for a holiday while staying true to yourself

Before my trip I was chatting with some friends who remarked to me that I looked good when I travelled. I did a double take - they too looked great on holidays. Of course, then it came out that they only took photos in select outfits and the rest was some kind of watered down comfort-over-style wardrobe. And I won't judge them for it; I've done that plenty of times myself before I had that packing for travel sensibly and stylishly thing down pat.

My personal philosophy on holiday dressing is "Wear what you always would wear". I've learned that on previous trips and now swear by it. Even my last Europe trip I pulled a crazy brain and bought a pair of chinos for the trip and hated wearing them the whole time, for all they were practical. ICK! I would've been better off in stockings and a wool skirt for the exact same activities. So now, I simply pack my 'home wardrobe' with a few sensible tweaks. After all, shouldn't holidays be the opposite of a downplayed you? I want to look and feel nice every day on my trip. I want to look nice in every single photo. In fact, I want to be a little more outrageous because whoever will see you literally doesn't know you, so go for it! (BUT PLEASE BE CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE FOR HEAVENS SAKE).  I also find on holiday that I actually had MORE time to put into my appearance but less clothing choices to make of a morning so that balanced out nicely! 

Each time I travel I get better at the suitcase thing. My last Europe trip I only packed two things I didn't wear (a summer top and skirt because it wasn't quite hot enough - a mix of optimism and having encountered the same city years before in a heat wave which it definitely wasn't that time). And for South Africa I wore everything I packed in various combinations, more than once - apart from two dresses that were cocktail level and I didn't end up needing as we didn't do quite as many dressy events as initially thought. It was the ultimate mix and match, practical and pretty, suitcase. I came up with wearable, stylish combinations that still looked and felt so like me.  So, let me run you through my process for packing these days... This applies to trips overseas for a few weeks, just tailor accordingly. 

Step 1: Check out the weather

Kind of important, right? I was monitoring the weather on my phone app and knew that Cape Town has weather very close to that of Sydney, Australia, so I knew my summer wardrobe was going to be highly appropriate to pack. But, as always, I take something a little warmer/cooler whenever I travel as you never know when you'll get a sudden random heat wave or chillier days. And boy was I glad I did as we got a few days of unexpected cold rain in Johannesburg!

Step 2: Where and time

Ok, length of time, where you're going and what you'll be doing dictates what to pack. Accept this fact and you will pack a better bag.

I was off to South Africa so I knew fashionwise I'm fine, as long as I don't take any showy jewels or items as that can make you a target for theft. If you aren't certain of what's appropriate for where you are travelling, I recommend research. Check your countries' travel advice for your destination, research blogs and forums, and ask people who have travelled there before. Once you know what you're dealing with you can spin your own style to the locale.

I knew I would be away three weeks, and have access to laundry as I would be staying in homes rather than hotels for most of the trip. This also helps to pack. For instance, I always make a trip to a laundromat when I'm in Europe for a few weeks so I know I can refresh and recycle pieces while I'm away, or use sunlight soap to wash tops in the sink of the hotel and hang on the heated towel rack. Factor this in too as you can pack less and re-wear things.

Next, I sat down and worked out what I would be doing on this trip before I packed anything.

- a formal wedding on a vineyard property
- a few cocktail/dinners/luncheons/generally formal kind of events
- four days at a safari park
- touristing/exploring of Cape Town
- casual social outings

So we can see then from this I need:
A formal gown and accessories appropriate to a summer afternoon, several formal/cocktail dresses, some cool, sunsafe outfits and practical shoes, and casual frocks or skirts for relaxing.

Step 3: Pick a colour scheme. 

This is important.
I bolded that. That's how important it is. Last Europe trip you will see I packed red, black and white items. (If you're interested in my wardrobe for any trip I've been on, you can always looks at #wildteapartytravels on Instagram).

As you can see this palette was for that trip really quite wearable for the beginning of summer *coughcough* in Stockholm and London. When it comes to packing a cohesive easy to get dressed no temper tantrums kind of suitcase, choose colours that are common to your wardrobe and work with it. 

For South Africa I knew I'd essentially be taking my regular summer clothes, so I just had to select pieces that mixed and matched well. I decided that I have a lot of red, blue and green in my summer wardrobe,  so they'd be the basis of my day-to-day wardrobe.

I decided for more casual/touristy days I would wear some of my favourite frocks and easy skirts... Hence I went for trusted choices, pieces you see me wear again and again anyway - think Bernie Dexter dresses, reliable retro cotton frocks and fabulous vintage style skirts and simple tees. I don't pack much vintage when I travel as I would be devastated to lose it, so for that reason I mostly travel with reproduction, in case you're wondering! For days when I had to be a bit more polished for seeing family and friends and gatherings, I changed up my pieces a bit with different accessories.

I had many formal events to attend this trip: family dinners, cocktail party, a wedding, a brunch, etc. I ended up packing four dressy options, and my wedding outfit - this took up more of my suitcase than my day wear in the end! I put my beloved 40s dress in my hand luggage though in case it got lost!

Now as for the rest of my styling... I like to take a few simple accessories like earrings, and scarves to mix and match. In the case of this holiday because I wanted to avoid wearing my usual fancy gems, I stuck to lots of fun plastic earrings. And of course a few hair flowers. For formal events I took costume jewels which sparkle just as bright ;)

For shoes I packed quite a few pairs. I know, you think I'm mental, but shoes are key to comfort on holidays and I have learned this the hard way, so I took some tan sandals and red strappy sandals for day wear. For safari and long walking days I packed my converse which after several overseas holidays and general wear and tear sadly had to go in the bin at the end of it (and fair enough, they did well to stand over 5 years abuse!). And then my shoes for formal events - so another three pairs of heels. Is that a lot of shoes? Sure. Do I regret it? Not a chance. I had my bases covered and all got used.  

Step 5: The extras

Items I always pack without fail:

A robe - I always pack a light one unless I know I will be staying somewhere freezing. In reality I find European hotels overheated so this is all I need. I throw it on over pjs at the end of the day for a nightcap in the room, while I'm hanging about in the room before breakfast, or straight out of the shower.
Silk slips - for lounging, for warmth, as a frock you wear to breakfast. I love them.
Hats - I packed two for South Africa. I am a vampire. Get off my skin, sun.

At this point it's now just the usual sundries - toiletries, appropriate amounts of underwear and overwear you might need (for me some cropped cardigans), swim wear and sarong, and pjs.

And voila, a well thought out bag. Let me know if you have alternative ways of packing, I'd love to hear your hints and tips for packing!

Keep an eye out for my next post too - it's all about my experiences in South Africa!

Love WTP x


Porcelina said...

Sage advice! You do indeed look like 'you', and very chic compared to chinos! I would add one thing - do a post-trip analysis and make a note of what you missed and what you didn't wear! I write a blog post each year after my holiday about how successful my holiday packing was and then refer to it next time. This last year I feel I cracked it especially well! X

Nicole said...

This is such a great post! I completely relate to what you said about wanting to look your best (or even a bit extravagant) while traveling. :)

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