Recycle Week

Recycle Week

This week (24-30 September) is Recycle Week so I’m encouraging people to help lower the amount of clothes that end up in landfill each year by recycling or donating their unwanted clothing. According to Wrap it is estimated that £140 million worth of clothes end up in landfill each year. Oxfam estimates that 9,513 garments are thrown into landfill every five minutes. These are really shocking statistics that can easily be reduced by recycling or donating your unwanted clothing.

Retailers and Recycling Initiatives

Marks & Spencer launched an initiative with Oxfam in 2012 called Schwopping to encourage people to recycle their unwanted clothes. You can bring along any unwanted clothes (not just those that are from M&S) and put them into one of their “Shwop Drop” bins in exchange for Sparks points. M&S then donate the clothes to Oxfam, who resell the garments online, in their stores or in international markets. Alternatively, you can go to an Oxfam store where you’ll receive a £5 M&S voucher if there’s an M&S item in your donation. Since the initiative was launched, 7.8 million garments have been “schwopped”, which is worth an estimated £5.5 million to the charity. If initiatives such as these are adopted by more retailers, it will significantly reduce the amount of clothes sent to landfill each year. See their website for more details and participating M&S stores.

Other stores that now run similar schemes include:

H&M (all brands of clothing in any condition welcome).

&Other Stories (all brands of clothing welcome).

Levis (all brands of clothing welcome).

John Lewis & Partners is currently trialling a scheme which will enable them to buy back clothes from customers through an app in exchange for an e-giftcard to use online.

You can also donate unwanted clothing to:

T K Max in partnership with Cancer Research UK

Zara (currently only available at selected stores). If you live in Spain they will also collect clothes from you if you have made an online purchase.

Donating to Charity

As well as regular high street charity shops, there are a few charities that specifically accept donations of work appropriate clothing which they then offer to unemployed people, to help them dress to impress at interviews. They also provide styling advice and interview tips which is a great way of helping people that may have been out of work for a long time.

Smart Works (Branches in London, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh)

Dress for Success (London)

Suited for Success (Birmingham)

Designer resale sites

If you have designer clothing that you don’t wear anymore, there are many designer clothing resale sites where they can find a new home. Vestiare Collective based in France is the most popular one for use worldwide. There’s also Hardly Every Worn It and Cudoni based in London.

Recycling worn clothing

Damaged clothes and shoes that are beyond repair can be recycled along with other household textiles and made into new textiles, such as household insulation or mattress filling. Check with your local council to see if they collect clothing for recycling, or look out for clothing recycle banks in supermarket car parks. Refer to the website www.recycle.com to find out what you can recycle and where.

Love Not Landfill is a new campaign set up to encourage young people in London to dispose of old clothing responsibly. They have distributed textile banks across London where you can drop off unwanted clothes.

Love Not Landfill
Image: Love Not Landfill

 

Remember: no textiles need to be thrown away – even your old bras, socks and pants can be recycled!

 

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The power of a pretty shoe

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If I find a pair of shoes that I like I’m very loyal to them – perhaps too much – I once hung on to a pair of tan flats that I loved for so long, even when they had a crack in the sole and it was a sad day when I had to throw them out. I also have a pair of black brogues whose cost per wear is probably less than a penny by now. I’m not immune to the lure of a new pretty shoe however. I wonder if anyone has done a study on shoe psychology?! It’s the area of the wardrobe that’s easier to buy for as your shoe size doesn’t usually fluctuate as your clothes size can – a good thing in theory but can result in impulse purchases in practice. I bought a pair of pink satin ballet style slippers in Barcelona once (over six years ago) and I’ve never worn them outside as I’m frightened of spoiling them. I wore them once at a dinner party at home and the rest of the time they’re tucked away in their shoes bags. Practical they are not but pretty they most definitely are. I also have a pair of gold T-bar dancing shoes that I bought for a 1920s party (from a dancewear shop – I’m not sure these ones are even meant to be worn outside as they have a really soft leather sole). I never wear them now but I look at them often, like an artwork!

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

I’m still on a quest to own a pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz – the shoe of dreams that must be the most famous pair ever designed and surely begins many ladies love of a pretty shoe. I saw one of the originals at a film costume exhibition at the V&A several years ago (four pairs were made for the original movie). It was quite an exciting moment! One of the original pairs was stolen from a museum in 2005 (it wasn’t me, I promise) and were finally returned just a couple of weeks ago. I remember Harrods selling some Limited edition ruby slippers in 2009, I think it was – they had a ruby slipper pop-up boudoir to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. I hot-footed it over there on an afternoon off when I was working at Buckingham Palace – alas they had sold out pretty quickly. So the quest continues for my own pair of these pretty and powerful shoes!  “Close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, there’s no place like home”. 👠

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Here are some of my favourite statement shoes – not so practical but oh so pretty – if you feel like having a Marilyn/Dorothy moment this weekend! My top pick on a budget would be the Marks & Sparks silver sparkly slingbacks ✨ sure to be a favourite come party season and great if you want to combine comfort with glamour!

L-R from top left:

Annabelle blue velvet, L.K. Bennett; Fern wine velvet; L.K. Bennett; Red satin courts, Carvela Kurt Geiger; Breanna blue jewelled, Dune London; block heeled silver slingback, M&S; Jenna wine heels, Lisa Kay Shoes; Supernova velvet & gold lip, Rupert Sanderson; Stardust Brocade, Rupert Sanderson; Crystal embellished blush suede, Prada; Romy 100 gold glitter, Jimmy Choo.

 

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Summer Holiday – Caribbean Capsule Wardrobe

Summer holiday packing

This post is inspiration for an Instagram follower who is going on holiday to a Caribbean island this summer. If you’re heading off on a summer holiday this month you’ve probably spent some time planning your holiday wardrobe. Packing for a summer trip should be really easy, in theory – summer clothes are much more lightweight than winter ones, so you shouldn’t have to wrestle with a suitcase that is bursting at the seams. But just because the clothing is lightweight that doesn’t mean you should take more! You may feel like adding that one final pair of shoes/shorts/top “just in case”, but it’s really important not to get too carried away; there’s nothing more pointless than travelling with surplus clothing that doesn’t get worn. A bit of pre-holiday planning and styling will ensure that your luggage is kept to a minimum and that you only take things that will actually get used. I try to keep shoes and bags to a minimum and only take neutral colours that will match every outfit. For clothing separates, try to have some sort of colour theme going so that everything can mix and match easily. Or, if you have heavily patterned/multi-coloured separates, make sure you have the right basics to match with them, e.g. black or white tops.

The way you pack will also make you feel more organised on arrival so that you can quickly locate the things you want and head straight to the beach! Keeping the small things organised really makes a difference so that they are not lost amongst larger things in your case. Phone chargers, plug adaptors etc can be kept together in a zip-lock bag – easy to view and find. I always pack underwear in zip laundry bags to keep it together and organised. Mine are from Cath Kidston, and I also have a couple of flat zip canvas bags that came with freebie toiletries on a flight once that I use for packing underwear. Cath Kidston doesn’t have any in their current range and the only similar thing I can find available now are these bags by Ted Baker. I wish more retailers made something like this – how does everyone else pack their underwear?! I can’t imagine packing it loose after packing like this for so long.

If you are travelling with multiple suitcases it is often worth considering having your luggage sent ahead. You may think this is a luxury service but the costs are lower than you may think – often lower than the airline charges for extra baggage. You won’t have the hassle of having to transport your cases from home to the airport, or of waiting for the suitcase at your destination airport, so it’s worth considering if you’re travelling in a large group or for an extended period of time. Sendmybag.com is a popular one that will transport your luggage from door to door and operates within 100 different countries.

Here are my recommendations for a Caribbean capsule wardrobe alongside tips for packing.

Summer hat

Hats are the trickiest thing to pack, so unless you want to carry/wear it en route, it’s best to get a hat that is foldable. The panama hat company sell foldable panama hats and tubes in which to transport the hat to make packing even easier. Remember this is just meant for short periods of time – folding any hat for long periods, or storing the hat in this way, will damage the shape of the hat. Floppy hats, like this one from Marks & Spencer, are also easier to fold and pack.

 

 

Beach bag

I really like the personalised basket bags by Raefeather. I find that when my initials are on something it ties me to it even more! You can also choose the stripe colour. The canvas shopper style would be the easiest style to pack, but I also really like the long leather handle basket, if you have a little more room in your suitcase. For a bag like this that doesn’t fold, you could fill it with smaller items to make the most of the space. Accessorize also have a great budget packable straw tote.

Bags

Streamlining your accessories is the best way to avoid suitcase overload as these are the bulkiest items in a summer wardrobe. For the day time, this round raffia cross body bag from Zara is a great summery staple. This woven embroidered seashell clutch from & Other Stories is a fun bag for summer eves – a neutral base with multicolour embroidery, so it would match many different outfits. Or for a fun addition to the Caribbean capsule wardrobe, how about this watermelon clutch by Sensi Studio.

Shoes

I’m quite ruthless when it comes to packing shoes. The reality is you will probably be wearing your flip flops most of the time, so there isn’t much point in transporting your entire shoe collection around the world with you. A tan sandal for day and a metallic sandal for eve would be the minimum I would pack. I have some tan sandals similar to  the ones pictured here but with a slight embellishment from Dune last year and they’re really comfortable. Anything too strappy I don’t like for daytime as they end up rubbing and causing blisters if you walk a lot. A heeled espadrille is also good, if you want a dressier look.

Clothing

I think you’ll be guaranteed sunshine in the tropical climate of the Caribbean. Mosquitoes are a pain in places like this, so some long and loose clothing is advisable, especially in the evening and if you’re travelling during the rainy season when humidity is high.

I really like off-the-shoulder dresses for climates like this – they look good for day or evening and I like the way you can adjust the sleeves – wear off the shoulder Bardot style, off the arms, bandeau style, on the shoulder for a little cap sleeve coverage, or even one shoulder up, one down for an asymmetric ruffle!

Travelling to the Caribbean is a great excuse to embrace colourful tropical prints – here are some of my favourite tropical inspired pieces available now:

Tropical print maxi dress, Dorothy Perkins.

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Tropical leaf maxi dress, Biba.

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Tropical maxi playsuit, New Look.

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Red bandeau maxi dress, New Look.

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Dusky blue floral trousers, H&M.

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And some tropical print bikinis from H&M:

 

Jewellery

Costume jewellery is a great way to jazz up your holiday wardrobe – I wouldn’t risk travelling with too much expensive jewellery – it’s just one more thing to worry about losing! Some statement earrings will dress up any of these maxi dresses for a summer evening outfit.

Shell earrings, Mango.

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Beaded fringe disc earrings, Accessorise.

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Raffia hoop earrings, Top Shop.

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Shell hoop earrings, Top Shop.

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Happy holidays!

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Designer Clothing Charity Resale

For ladies who love to shop, making room to store all your clothes can sometimes present problems. ‘Detoxing’ your wardrobe is something I recommend doing at least once a year, so that you realise what garments you actually wear and what garments are sitting stagnant, never seeing the light of day. In this post I’m bringing you the fruits of one wardrobe detox – offering for sale some pre-owned designer clothes on behalf of a lady who is having a big wardrobe clear-out! 75% of all proceeds will be going to charity so your purchase will be benefitting good causes as well as your wardrobe! All pieces are in excellent condition, 2 to 4 years old, and range from size 6 to 16. Designers to be featured include: Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Valentino and Erdem.

N.B.  remaining pieces and lots of further garments can be viewed and purchased  here via Vestiare Collective.

All these Dolce & Gabbana pieces are as new with tags still attached.  The sizing for D&G is quite generous and these pieces have a loose fit, so I would say most of them would fit one size up too.

Dolce & Gabbana gold/green brocade dress coat – SOLD

Designer: Dolce & Gabbana. Description: green/gold jacquard dress coat. Jewelled decorative buttons. ¾ length sleeves. Matching dress available. Style: occasion/evening dress Size: IT 42 (UK 10 / US 6) quite a loose, 60s style cocoon fit – would fit a size 12 too. Date: Purchased in 2016. Condition: as new – never worn, tags still attached. Measurements: length: 95cm (from back of neck to hem); bust: 52cm (measured from underarm-underarm when flat). Material: 48% Acrylic / 35% Acetate / 17% Lurex; Lining: 100% silk. Origin: Made in Italy. Retail price: approx. £3,000.

Dolce & Gabbana gold/green brocade shift dress

 

 

Designer: Dolce & Gabbana. Description: green/gold jacquard sleeveless shift dress. Matching coat available. Style: occasion/evening dress. Size: IT 48 (UK 16 / US 12). Date: Purchased in 2016, as new – never worn, tags attached. Measurements: Length (from back of neck to hem): 87cm; bust: 49cm (measured from underarm-underarm when flat). Material: Dress: 48% Acrylic / 35% Acetate / 17% Lurex; Lining: 94% Silk / 6% elastane. Origin: Made in Italy. Retail price: approx. £2,000

Dolce & Gabbana Poppy/Daisy print dress coat – SOLD

 

 

Designer: Dolce & Gabbana. Description: daisy and poppy print coat (matching dress available). Round neck, long sleeves, embroidered brocade design, concealed front fastening. Spring 2016 range. Style: day/occasion Size: IT 40 (UK 8 / US 4) quite large though – more suited to a size 10/12. Date: Purchased in 2016, as new – never worn, tags attached. Measurements: length: 84cm (from seam, back of neck to hem); bust: 51cm (measured from underarm-underarm when flat). Material: 65% cotton / 26% silk / 9% viscose; lining: 94% silk / 6% elastane. Origin: Made in Italy. Retail price: approx. £2,000.

Dolce & Gabbana Poppy/Daisy print shift dress – SOLD

poppy_dress

 

Designer: Dolce & Gabbana. Description: Sleeveless poppy and daisy print brocade cotton/silk shift dress. Spring 2016 range. (matching coat available). Style: day/occasion. Size: IT 48 (UK 16 / US 12). Date: Purchased in 2016, as new – never worn, tags attached. Measurements: length: 91cm (from seam, back of neck to hem); bust: 51cm (measured from underarm-underarm when flat). Material: 65% cotton / 26% silk / 9% viscose; lining: 94% silk / 6% elastane. Origin: Made in Italy. Retail price: approx. £1500.

Dolce & Gabbana multi-coloured patterned dress coat – SOLD

 

Designer: Dolce & Gabbana. Description: multi-coloured patterned dress coat. (matching dress available). From the Spring 2016 range. Style: day/occasion. Size: IT 40 (UK 8 / US 4) Fits more closely to a UK 10/12. Date: Purchased in 2016, as new – never worn, tags attached. Measurements: length: 89 cm (from seam, back of neck to hem); bust: 52 cm (measured from underarm-underarm when flat). Material: 64% viscose / 36% cotton; lining: 96 % silk / 4% cotton. Origin: Made in Italy. Retail price: approx. £2000.

Dolce & Gabbana multi-coloured patterned shift dress – SOLD

 

Designer: Dolce & Gabbana. Description: multi-coloured patterned shift dress. (matching coat available). From the Spring 2016 range. Style: day/occasion. Size: IT 48 (UK 16 / US 12). Date: Purchased in 2016, as new – never worn, tags attached. Measurements: length: 89 cm (from back of neck to hem); bust: 52 cm (measured from underarm-underarm when flat). Material: 64% viscose / 36% cotton; lining: 96 % silk / 4% cotton. Origin: Made in Italy. Retail price: approx. £1500.

lots more pieces here at Vestiare Collective!

 

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What to wear – Glyndebourne

With Glyndebourne Opera well underway I thought I’d bring you a selection of my favourite black-tie summer dresses. The annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera takes place from May to August in the grounds of Glyndebourne House, East Sussex. The founder of the Festival, John Christie, started the tradition of wearing evening dress during the Festival as he felt it was one way that the audience could show their respect for the performers. Black-tie dress is customary still. You can get away with a short dress for black tie these days but I prefer long, so that’s what I’ve selected here. As it is an outdoor event it is advisable to go for a block-heeled sandal or a dressy flat rather than spiky stilettos. There is no way of reliably predicting the English weather from May to August, so I would definitely bring some kind of cover-up. A pashmina wrap or cropped dressy jacket are the best options to keep warm and stylish.

For the dress, I like the idea of picking something that fits in with the outdoor setting – spring/summer florals, pale colours and lightweight chiffons, for example, rather than heavy velvets. You want to sashay around the grounds, and blend in with nature like a pre-Raphaelite beauty! And something with a loose skirt, preferable un-creasable, that makes it easy to picnic in style.

Here are some of my top picks available now:

Cassidy maxi dress, Alice & Olivia A pretty billowy ruffled silk-georgette maxi dress with a crochet-knit waistband and lace-trimmed hem from the Pre-fall 18 collection. Inspired by the country setting and costumes in the Academy Award-winning film Atonement.

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Cold shoulder gown, Dundas. An ethereal sunny yellow gown fit for a Grecian Goddess!

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Bouquets of painterly blooms adorn this stunning Malcolm open-back floral-print cloqué gown by Emilia Wickstead. Perfect for posing amongst the peonies!

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Another gorgeous colour for summer in this Alexis V-neck crepe maxi dress by Marni. A simple style with an edge of drama in the wide belt and skirt ruffles.

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La Fleur crepe maxi dress, Free People.

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I love this Whimsical Gown in rose quartz by Needle & Thread. Featuring a pretty ditsy floral pattern, and made of layers of tulle. A really romantic dress perfect for a night at the English opera.

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Floral embroidered mesh maxi dress, Self-Portrait .  A pretty long-sleeved floral mesh bodice with pleated maxi dress in a soft shade of blue.

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Mint green maxi dress with asymmetric shoulder, Ted Baker.

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Phase Eight, Anastacia embroidered dress.

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Adrianna Papell, long beaded dress in rose gold.

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Floral print chiffon maxi dress, Self-Portrait

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I love the fresh aqua hue of this Lace-trimmed Swiss-dot tulle gown by Costarellos. Topped with a leaf lace pattern – perfect for black tie summer soirees.

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The Little White Dress

If there’s one dress that screams summer it’s the little white dress. Simple, stylish and it looks great with a suntan. I love designs with a bit of broderie anglaise trim or frill to add a feminine touch, or button detail for contrast. Wearing white is great in summer as it reflects the heat rather than absorbing it so will keep you cool. The downside of wearing white is obviously that it is more prone to visible marks – so it will probably need washing more than other clothing. Wash as soon as you notice any marks – once they settle it will be harder to bring it back to its original pristine condition (particularly make up, sweat or sun lotion). Most of these dresses are cotton so will withstand a higher temp wash which is best for stain removal (check the care labels though – if there are delicate lace trims or linings hand-washing or dry-cleaning may be necessary).  Adding whitening or brightening agents to the wash will help to maintain the brightness too. And if you leave to dry hanging outside then the whites will benefit from the sun’s natural bleaching rays. Here are some of my top picks available now for every budget. There are some great budget little white dresses available that look just as good if not better than some of the designer options!

Designer:

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Sarafina lace-paneled embroidered cotton-voile midi dress, £650, Talitha

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Corsail lace-insert cotton dress, £975, Zimmerman
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Sofie broderie-anglaise cotton dress, £460, Sea

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Embroidered cotton silk dress, £696, Burberry

 

Mid-range:

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Y.A.S High Neck Lace Midi Dress With Asymetric Hem, £120, ASOS.

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Belted pleated pointelle-trimmed cotton midi dress, £195, Michael Kors

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Aileen Zinnia Dress, £168, All Saints

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Ivory Broderie Anglaise Dress, £89 (reduced from £129) Mint Velvet

 

Budget:

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Embroidered midi dress, £39.99, Zara

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Ruffled lined dress, £49.99, Mango

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Broderie midi dress, £65, Oasis

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Embroidered dress, £69.99, H&M

 

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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.

Emma_Smoke_Floral

 

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