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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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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Pack like a Pro

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© Punch Limited, 1895

 

“I get ideas about what’s essential when packing my suitcase.”

– Diane von Furstenberg.

The Lady’s Maid is a seasoned pro when it comes to packing – she has been known to pack 10 suitcases in the time it takes for her Ladyship to have breakfast, whilst also being afflicted with jet lag and recovering from the after effects of a mild electric shock in Bangkok. But if the thought of packing sends you into a cold sweat, worry not: follow the Lady’s Maid’s practical packing advice below to ease pre-travel stress and ensure that your clothes are kept in tip-top condition in transit and on arrival at your destination.

  • Don’t overpack. You might be going on holiday, going away for the weekend, or on a business trip – you’re not moving home, so be selective when packing clothing for trips. Think about what you’re going to be doing on the trip and what the weather will be like and pack accordingly. Plan outfits in advance – bring a selection of clothing out of your wardrobe and think about what will work together for the trip. Separates that can be mixed and matched are a good idea in order to maximise outfit opportunities. Avoid too many brightly coloured or patterned “statement” pieces that will be harder to wear multiple times.
  • If you are packing delicate, beaded or crease-prone garments, use acid-free tissue paper (available from Hangerworld) to protect the fabric and minimise the risk of creasing. Pack heavier items at the bottom of the case (shoes, bags) and lighter clothing items at the top.

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  • Try to fold garments along natural seam lines as much as possible to minimise creasing. Avoid vertical folds as these do not fall out as naturally.
  • Pack trousers by folding the trouser leg half in the case and half out and then continue to pack clothing before folding the outer part of the trouser in once the case is full. This will prevent you from having to fold the trouser leg on itself which would create a crease.
  • Lingerie/laundry bags are a good way of keeping underwear together in the suitcase.

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  • Dustbags for shoes and bags are also worth using to protect the contents and the surrounding clothes. More expensive shoes usually come with a dust bag but you can buy them separately like this one from Cath Kidston or you could even make your own.

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  • If you travel regularly, it is well worth keeping a travel toiletry bag separate from your main home toiletries so that you don’t have the extra bother of having to constantly pack these every time you travel. Pack liquids in zip-lock bags before placing in toiletry bags for added security – if there is any leakage your clothing will be protected. Travel hanging toiletry bags with transparent pockets for makeup are also great for travel as you can hang them straight up and easily locate their contents.

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  • Try to streamline your skincare and beauty routine when on holiday as toiletries will really weigh down your suitcase. Most chemists and skincare brands offer a large range of mini toiletries these days, or you can decant your favourite products into empty plastic bottles – Muji has a good range of mini pumpable, sprayable and squeezable empty bottles.

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  • Portable steamers are great for quickly eliminating any creasing in your clothing when travelling – they’re really easy to use on dresses and blouses and will save you the effort of having to get out the ironing board or fork out a fortune for hotel laundry services.

 

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  • Even The Lady’s Maid has been caught out with a hefty fee for an overweight suitcase. Check the weight of your bag before leaving for the airport with a hand held weighing scale – find out the weight limits of your airline to ensure that you won’t be lumbered with an excess baggage fee when you get to the airport.

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See Styling a Holiday Wardrobe for more tips on packing the perfect suitcase.

Bon Voyage!

 

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