With the outfits finally sorted for Royal Ascot week (just about – I’m still awaiting a delayed delivery on Monday… ) I thought I’d do a post on some of the more boring but equally essential wardrobe preparations for Royal Ascot. Some of you have been messaging on Instagram stressing about umbrellas, and I’m a bit stressed about it too! It’s not an accessory I wanted to incorporate into my Ascot outfits. But with a couple of days to go and showers in the forecast I think it’s best to take one – rain and millinery are not good friends. I featured some transparent birdcage umbrellas in my Insta stories yesterday by Fulton – the brand used by HM The Queen who matches the trim of her brolly to her outfit. Not only does the birdcage style enable the public to see her clearly – it also enables her to have a good view of them and the horses of course! They’re so identifiable to HM, so I would be reluctant to carry one myself! The high birdcage style would be good for shielding showstopper hats though.
If you want to be a really fancy Nancy you could get one of these umbrellas from James Smith & Sons. I love that this kind of shop has survived – founded in 1830 and still housed in the original Victorian building. It’s worth a visit to marvel at a little slice of history.
The other main concern is a soggy ground threatening your expensive suede shoes. Make sure you use a suede or leather protector spray on your footwear to protect it from the elements. Liquiproof was recommended to me by an Instagram follower who swears by it.
The weather is warming up and I know many people prefer to go tightless these days, but I will be wearing hosiery – If you’re wearing high heels all day the chances of your feet rubbing and causing blisters are much higher without them – and if you’re attending Ascot more than one day you’ll want to preserve your tootsies! These are my favourite summer tights – 5 denier cooling tights from M&S – they’re the lowest denier so barely there and have a natural sun tanned look to them. If you’re prone to your foot slipping out of your shoe you could get tights with a grip on the sole like these ones.
Rachel Hawkins of The Cotswold Hat Club is a regular at the races and she recommends ibuprofen spray to protect your feet from swelling in your high heeled shoes – the things we do to look stylish ladies!
Gel insoles placed inside the shoe will also offer some comfort by cushioning your foot – The Duchess of Cambridge reportedly uses these ones from Alice Bow. I sometimes use Party Feet – small invisible gel inserts that protect the ball of your foot and are particularly good if you’re wearing sandals.
One of my clutch bags is teeny tiny so I’m taking an equally teeny tiny portable charger for my phone – no cable is needed and it’s about the size of a lipstick.
Some followers have planned summery outfits and are worried about being cold – adding a jacket to floaty dresses will spoil the outline of the dress so I would recommend wearing a vest underneath if you feel cold and brave the bare arms!
I think that’s all the Ascot accessories prep I can think of – I’m off to steam my dresses for next week and pray for sunshine!
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.
“Finsbury” Embroidered Top, Hush
Denim Shorts, Oasis
Navy “Alicia” Trousers, Boden
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.
Gold Flat Sandals, Steve Madden
Nude Laser-cut Espadrilles, Dune London
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.
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.
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.
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.