packing, Top Tips

Top Tips for Travel

Packing for a holiday can be stressful. How nice would it be to transport your world and your wardrobe with the click of a finger to your sunny destination – eliminating the need to make any decisions about what to pack?! If you find it tricky to know what to wear each day, then forward planning for a holiday will certainly be a challenge and your suitcase is likely to be bursting at the seams. It definitely takes experience to streamline the perfect holiday wardrobe so that you’re not lugging your whole wardrobe around with you whenever you travel, and experience of travel and packing is something in which I have multiple-suitcase experience! Here are a few tips for travelling that will help ease the luggage load so that next time you travel you can pack like a pro!

  • Pack based on the length of your trip – resist the temptation to force your entire summer wardrobe into your suitcase just for a two-week holiday. Select clothing based on potential outfits you could wear – don’t pack any separates that you haven’t already planned how you would wear – if they haven’t got the perfect partner at home they’re not going to find it on holiday!
  • Try and pick pieces from a complementary colour palette so that you can mix and match separates as much as possible, creating maximum outfit options from minimum garments.
  • Keep neutral with the accessories – tan/metallic/beige/white will go with most summer outfits. Resist packing crazy colours unless they complement the rest of your clothing.

 

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Straw Bag, Zara

 

 

  • The weight allowance for hand luggage is the same as the hold luggage on most airlines, so if you really want to pack that extra pair of shoes then invest in a great cabin bag for luggage overflow! The Cosmolite Spinner cabin bag by Samsonite is super light at 1.7kg and has a 36 litre capacity.

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  • Zipped travel laundry bags like these ones from Ted Baker are really good for keeping small things together (e.g. underwear, swimwear) and separated from the rest of your suitcase contents. It makes it easier to find things when you don’t have stray undies jumbled up inside your case. I really find they make a lot of difference to how organised I feel when packing. Similarly, if you have a lot of chargers or plug adapters, pack these in a transparent zip-lock bag to keep them together within the case.

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  • I’m rubbish at judging distances and weights, so I really have no idea whether my suitcase weighs 20 kilos or 30 kilos! I’ve been hit with an excess-baggage charge at the airport that was more than the cost of the flight itself – once that has happened, you never want it to happen again! I always weigh my case at home, just to be sure. This handy digital scale is available at Sainsbury’s. Different airlines vary with their charges and some will charge an excess fee per kilo of extra weight.

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  • No-one wants to do ironing on holiday, but even with my top packing tips, it’s likely that some of your floaty summer frocks will be a bit creased on arrival. A portable steamer is great for eliminating creases quickly and effortlessly. I know you’re probably thinking that the last thing you want to do on holiday is anything resembling laundry, but it’s easier than drying your hair, I promise! Steaming will also kill bacteria, eliminate odours and freshen up your clothing, delaying the need for regular washing. I have one by Philips which weighs 0.72kg, so it won’t add to the weight of your case too much, and it’s worth it if you have a lot of crease-prone holiday clothes and don’t want to pay for the hotel laundry service. A good budget alternative is ProBreeze which is very compact and travel friendly (0.65kg) and comes with a handy travel pouch for storage.
  • Toiletries can really add to the weight of your suitcase. I never pack full-size toiletries of anything except sun lotion; I streamline the rest of my products. There are so many miniature versions available for most beauty/bath products these days so it’s much better to pack these to lighten your washbag. I really like transparent hanging washbags for travel: Victoria Green has a great new one available now from Marks & Spencer. They’ve clearly done their research into what people want from a washbag and the importance of organisation when travelling. I like the ease of being able to hang up the bag so that I can easily view the contents and not have to unpack everything inside – it makes it much easier if you travel frequently or are hopping from one destination to another. (When you’ve visited 13 different countries and 22 cities in the space of three months like I have, then unpacking your toiletry bag is no longer on the agenda!). The bag is constructed with a 3-in-1 system which allows you to use it as a hanging organiser, but you can also detach the larger bag at the bottom and the transparent middle pocket so that you can personalise your beauty packing for each trip – great for both shorter trips and more extended vacations.

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style, Style Secrets

What to wear – Cartier Queen’s Cup Polo

The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final, held in Windsor Great Park, is a key event in the English social season, attracting the world’s greatest polo players and a VIP guest list to match.

In terms of dress code, ladies should be thinking smart/casual summer day wear. For the Royal Box and Clubhouse a summery day dress/tea dress, skirt or tailored trousers would be appropriate. Smart/casual is hugely open to interpretation – you don’t want to appear too formal or too casual. I always find that accessories are a key component with this dress code – the right shoes, bag and jewellery will really make a difference, and a great pair of sunglasses won’t hurt either. Wedges or a block-heeled sandal or fancy flat would be the best footwear choice. (See Summer shoes for some ideas.) A cream blazer is a great wardrobe staple for smart summery events – it will work with floral dresses or summer trousers and instantly adds the smart to smart/casual.

A floral tea dress is your saviour for smart summer day events like this – easy to wear, smart but not too formal. Here are a few of my favourites available now:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Channel Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman in this summer polka dot number:

 

You can’t go wrong with a little white dress for the summer season – this dress by Y.A.S was recommended to me by an Instagram follower – a great smart and summery wardrobe staple.

Or go for a floaty frilly number teamed with a blazer:

If you’re dressing to be seen amongst the VIP crowd, go for something a bit more special like this floral stretch-silk georgette midi dress with contrasting waistband by Red Valentino:

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Wide leg trousers in summery colours and prints are also a great option – stylish and chic – wear with just a top if the weather allows, or keep a sleek and chic blazer on standby if the sun goes into hiding:

 

Plage Blouse, £276.50, Temperley London

Wide leg trousers, £675, Emilia Wickstead

 

 

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style, Style Secrets, The Lady's Maid's Looks

What to wear – Royal Ascot

With a week to go until Royal Ascot gets underway, I thought I’d take a closer look at the dress codes for Royal Ascot. Many of my followers on Instagram are attending and have been planning their outfits well in advance, but there are still a few last-minute ladies looking for outfits this week! Hat hire is a great option if you’ve left it too late to get a bespoke hat made or if you want a quality hat at a lower cost that you’re only going to wear once. Many of the milliners in my hat directory have hat hire options, or you could consult your nearest hat shop – the advantage of these is that you have the pick of hats from lots of great milliners all in one place. In London, X Terrace/The Old Brompton Gallery have a Royal Ascot/Summer wedding pop up shop. The Cotswold Hat Club is a new hat hire company with some pieces from top milliners, including Emily London, Sarah Cant, Bundle Maclaren and Martha Lynn Millinery. They also offer a membership for unlimited hat hire for 12 months for a one-off fee, which is a great idea for summer-season social butterflies.

Ascot has actually relaxed its style rules in recent years to include trouser suits and jumpsuits within the royal enclosure. They are aware that fashion evolves and are keen to embrace current trends. But there are still strict rules in terms of straps on dresses and substantial headpieces. Some people may not like such rules, but I’m happy for them to stay as long as possible. It’s entirely possible to find a fun and stylish outfit within these rules so there’s no need to resort to night club apparel! Dress and tradition are part of the fun of Royal Ascot. And as I say with any event – dressing appropriately is a sign of respect to your host and in this case the history and tradition that make Royal Ascot so special. Formal daywear is not something that is regularly worn by most people these days, so I think this is why some people sometimes find it hard to know what to wear – dressing up doesn’t mean wearing a party dress – the outfit should be appropriate for daylight hours not cocktail hour.

On consulting the Royal Ascot website, you will see the dress codes that should be followed for each enclosure. The strictest dress code is for the Royal Enclosure, which is relaxed a little for the other enclosures; e.g. strappy dresses and fascinators (if you must) are permitted elsewhere.

Royal Enclosure

The dress code for the Royal Enclosure is basically “formal daywear”, which is defined as:

  • Skirt/dress to be knee-length or longer.
  • Straps on dresses should be at least 1 inch.
  • Trouser suits are allowed, but they should be of matching colour and material.
  • Jumpsuits are allowed. They should be full-length to the ankle, with sleeves matching the regulations for dresses.
  • Hats should be worn. Head pieces are acceptable as long as the base is 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.

What NOT to wear:

  • Dresses of the strapless, spaghetti strap, halter-neck, or off-the-shoulder variety (including bardot style dresses).
  • Fascinators.

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For the royal enclosure I would recommend tailored long sleeve dresses or skirt/jacket ensembles. For a really stylish elegant look, I prefer matchy-matchy ensembles, so stick to two colours. Black and white is such a classy colour combination for Royal Ascot. I think it’s good to get the balance right with the black/white ratio and patterns/details so that you come across more My Fair Lady rather than Cruella de Vil! I love this ivory wide brimmed hat with black sequin lace by Nerida Fraiman – a real statement number. Ascot is a great place to wear wide brimmed hats – the sort of hat you can’t wear seated unless you want everyone behind you to hate you! This hat is definitely one for wafting around the royal enclosure in style. I’ve matched it with a white cotton weave jacket with lace trim and asymmetric hem by Roland Mouret, and matching pencil skirt. Clutch by Aspinal of London, classic black suede courts from Boden and black/gold floral studs from Accessorize. A really chic, timeless and sophisticated look.

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All white is another classic choice and a great summery look for Royal Ascot. It’s not a colour that you can wear at weddings without raising eyebrows! So Ascot is the perfect time to work those pristine stylish whites. Just be sure to protect your personal space at the Pimms bar – one drink spillage and it’s ruined. This beautiful lace dress is by Claire Mischevani. I’ve matched it with a rose & net sideswipe hat from Juliette Botterill, nude accessories from L.K. Bennett and pearl drop earrings by A. B. Davis. A perfect royal enclosure outfit fit for a Duchess.

Queen Anne Enclosure

  • Not as formal as the Royal Enclosure, but a hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.
  • Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted.
  • Trouser suits and jumpsuits must be full-length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Shorts are not permitted.

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Another colour that’s a bit taboo to wear at weddings is red, so Royal Ascot is a great opportunity to go for bright colours and stand out from the crowd. This stunning silk rose headpiece by Rachel Trevor Morgan is a great match for the red/black floral dress from Hobbs, accessorized with clutch from Hobbs, courts from L.K. Bennett and stud earrings from Anne Sisteron.

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If you’re more of a floaty-flirty lady when it comes to dresses, something like this summery green frock from Keepsake the Label would be ideal – sharpened up with my favourite emerald green volute headpiece by Camilla Rose Millinery. This summer frock could be worn at many other summer soirees too – evening as well as day time (bag: Zara; heels: Gianvito Rossi; earrings: Monet Jewellery).

Village Enclosure

  • Less formal than the Queen Anne Enclosure, but a hat, headpiece or fascinator should still be worn at all times.
  • Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted.
  • Trouser suits and jumpsuits must be full-length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above.
  • Midriffs must be covered.
  • Shorts are not permitted.

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I love summery boater-style hats – they will give your outfit the formal edge required but aren’t as dressy as the more flamboyant statement hats, so are perfect for the outdoor setting of the Village enclosure. This one is the Amherst straw boater with hand sculpted ice blue Lady Amherst feather by Louise Georgette Millinery. As the Village Enclosure is a largely outdoor area, a wedge shoe or block heel is advisable over a spiky stiletto. These sandals are by Oasis and the courts are Rupert Sanderson. Dresses by Goat Fashion and Alice & Olivia and clutch by Emmy London.

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Another great floral frock from Hobbs that’s great for all sorts of summer events, including the races. Pictured here with an elegant shell pink feathered headpiece by Rachel Black Millinery, bag by Zara and Faber Novella block shoes. Headpieces like this are a great choice if you want something discreet and are in a crowded area. Infinitely better than fascinators.

Windsor Enclosure

  • No formal dress code is required but racegoers are encouraged to dress for the occasion, so it is recommended that ladies wear smart attire with a hat or fascinator.
  • Fancy dress, novelty and branded/promotional clothing are not allowed.

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Again, a boater-style hat like this one from Eugenia Kim is an option for this less dressy enclosure. Or you could wear a discreet button headpiece like this one below from Vixen Millinery. Jumpsuit by Whistles, yellow dress by Top Shop; bags by Zara; shoes by Office and Dune.

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For more daily race-ready outfits head over to my Instagram page: @theladysmaid where I’ll be styling more last-minute looks before Royal Ascot next week.

 

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