Earlier this week, I booked super cheap flights for Mr Man and I to go to Portugal for a week in June. I’m so excited – we’ve both had a pretty tough, hard going, constantly-chasing-our-tails kind of year, and we fully deserve a break in the sun. (I just hope our old friend Ash doesn’t throw a spanner in the works).
Thanks to the credit crunch, which is still looming over us like the dark clouds found too often in Britain’s summer, we’re doing this whole holiday on a budget. We’re lucky enough to have family friends who are letting us stay in their incredibly chic, contemporary yet homely, apartment, which has the choice of five pools, two gorgeous nearby beaches and a few fantastic restaurants where the fish is divine and the chicken piri piri is deliciously hot. (Hopefully just like the weather). Place to stay, done. Cheap flights, check. Tiny, two-door run-around for hire? We’ll take it, although no scrimping on the AC. Self-catered dinners every other night? Yes please!
The budget even applies to my holiday wardrobe. I shouldn’t really be buying anything new, but hell, I got some stuff anyway. (Again, I just hope Ash doesn’t come along and prove it all to be a total waste of money). As we all know, a holiday wardrobe should be a capsule wardrobe – a few key pieces that compliment one another and easily translate from day to night. However, as women, we can often find this difficult to adhere to.
First things first, I simply had to run out and buy a new bikini. Regular readers will know that I can’t just pop to Primark for a cheerful cheapy or I’d be flashing my bosoms everywhere: I’m the type of girl who needs some support and structure. I visited La Senza in the hope they’d have something to suit, and I happily discovered a great 50s inspired halter bikini top. Being a bargain hunter, I chose it in black so that I didn’t have to buy the bottoms. Everyone has black bikini bottoms somewhere in the depths of their summer wardrobe, right? New bikini for twenty quid – bargain! (Well, for me anyway).
Swimwear from L-R: Heatons 50s Style Bikini (PR Shots), Myla Sandy Bikini (PR Shots), Agent Provocateur Amyleee Bikini, George at Asda Body Sculpting Swimsuit (PR Shots)
Swimwear from L-R: Jby Jasper Conran for Debenhams (Pr Shots), Agent Provocateur Tatum Bikini, Myla Mindy Swimsuit (PR Shots), H&M SS10 campaign
Of course, a sensational sunhat is a must (as well as Clinique sunscreen, which isn’t cheap, but it is the Christina sunscreen law) and you can find floppy straw hats on the high street for peanuts. This should make up for the designer sunglasses I can’t do without: high street sunnies just don’t cut it, I’m afraid. Louis Vuitton is doing a very old-school-glam pair, Glitter Honey, but the golden colour instead of predictable black instantly updates them for now. Consider them an investment piece. Sadly, I have to stick to my last season Fendi.
Images from L-F: Straw sunhat by TU at Sainsburys (PR Shots), Clinique SPF Protection Stick, Louis Vuitton Glitter Honey sunglasses
Dresses are instrumental when packing for a trip. The sundress I’ve picked out below is from Diane von Furstenberg and does not comply with nuisance budget, I just love her vibe. So I’m using it as inspiration to find something equally as tropical and summery on the high street. Great for the beach, great for a day trip, great for a mini cruise, great for dinner!
Dress by Diane von Furstenberg
image: courtesy of Cruise at PR Shots
I always take multiple dresses on holiday, and nothing looks more exotic (and on trend) than a maxi dress. Monsoon has a maxi to suit everyone (in fact, Monsoon could be a one-stop-shop for a summer wardrobe if sticking to the high street) and my favourite maxis are Monica and Bolivia. Both work for a more formal day event, but are cool and effortlessly stylish for evening.
Monsoon maxi dresses from L-R: Bolivia, Monica
courtesy of PR Shots
Oh, and while I was in Monsoon, I found the most fabulous pewter sequin top which, teamed with a great pair of heels and some smoky kohl, will easily take my utility shorts from day to night. (For day, simply wear them over an asymmetric swimsuit to avoid an overly stuffed suitcase).
images L-R: Monsoon Suri sequin vest, Dorothy Perkins khaki utility shorts (PR Shots)
So far I have a new bikini (don’t worry girls, I’ll take another two with me for variety), a floppy hat, a brightly printed sundress, designer shades, a maxi dress, a sequin evening top and a versatile pair of utility shorts. Sounds capsule to me! I had better throw in some old stuff – a kaftan dress, a denim mini and some camisoles.
So, with such a short supply of separates for the week, I have to be creative. The key to changing my look while working said capsule holiday wardrobe? Accessories, darling!
Accessories are compact, easy to transport, and provide instant transformation.
Let’s begin with the most obvious accessory of all, the handbag. For relaxed days, an oversize tote will do the job brilliantly. Girls need something chic to lug around our sunnies, sunblock, towel, book, iPhone, glossy mags, bottle of water, hair clips and alice bands (for après-swim hair), and, if your boyfriend is anything like mine, his stuff too. For evening, carry an elegant clutch. My most favourite clutch right now is the wooden mosaic clutch from Great Plains. Could it be more fabulous? Could it? Nope, didn’t think so. It is vacation perfect! (You do actually need only one clutch, but if you have space in your luggage, feel free to throw in another – they’re so tiny anyway no-one will even notice it’s there. Until you show it off that is!)
The second most obvious accessory, but in my opinion, the most important one, is footwear. Shoes are so important to us in everyday life (where would we be without them? The podiatrist’s, that’s where) and perhaps even more so for when considering our choices for a holiday. I personally choose Havaianas for days at the beach or for taking a walk because they look good but horror of horrors, they are comfy too. Flat but interesting sandals are perfect for days by the pool or boating, and I usually take wedges or wooden platforms for evenings. Ok, ok, take those gold strappy sandals too, you never know, you might need them.
Lastly, the smallest of accessories, but just as influential in creating an outfit, the jewels! (What? Belts, you say? Oh, I don’t care much for belts while on holiday. Who needs a visual reminder of the consequence of consuming sangria on a daily basis?) Back to jewellery- you don’t have to loosen jewellery. Chunky, exotic and tribal pieces create a dazzling effect when worn at dusk against glowing skin (which, obviously, is shimmering beautifully thanks to Benefit’s Maybe Baby body lotion) and for day, simple pieces with gold and turquoise create a more subtle, but an equally striking look.
images L-R: Multistrand necklace Butterfly by Matthew Williamson for Debenhams (PR Shots), Charm bracelet by Matalan (PR Shots), Necklace by Accessorize (PR Shots), Turquoise fish necklace by Accessorize (PR Shots)
So, my capsule wardrobe of interchangeable pieces and transformation accessories is ready to go!
But I am not!
All this preparation for holidays is exhausting, and this is only wardrobe prep! There travel itineraries to arrange and documents to complete and passports to find! Beauty prep is important and must be done to a very specific timescale. Hardcore workouts should begin six weeks in advance. Body scrubbing and buffing and moisturising should have started four weeks in advance. The week before departure there’s waxing to be done, and a facial to be had. Four days, and the fake tanning ritual should commence, slowly and precisely to achieve a subtle and natural pre-holiday glow. Two days left? Get that mani/pedi appointment, pronto!
images L-R: Nars bronzer in Laguna (Modus Dowal Walker), Nails Inc in Maple Street (Modus Publicity)
By the time we actually head off on our much anticipated holiday, it’s just as well – I don’t know about you, but I’m bloody exhausted!