Stephanie Berkeley is ni4kids Style Editor-at-Large. She is a clothes-obsessed Marketing Manager of W5 @Odyssey, former editor of Northern Woman & proud mother to Charlie (age 11) and Tara (age 8)
It is just possible that I think about clothes too much. But there is, I believe, one day in the year when it pays to be slightly obsessive about clothes, and that is the day (or the week in my case – no pun intended) before you go on holiday. For me a good holiday starts with a well-packed suitcase.
We’re heading off to sunnier climes soon (not difficult given the dire weather we’ve been experiencing of late) with the Bradens and after a few years of mixed weather in France we’re off to sunny Spain – Olé! This year I am holidaying with the Queen of cool laidback holidaywear. Helen manages to make a Panama hat look super stylish and denim jeans and white tee effortlessly chic. So no pressure then…
In my pre-holiday panic I have come to the conclusion that it is almost impossible to find any useful information on the subject of what to pack, how to pack and when to pack simply because most so-called style experts are either a bit snooty about it or much too cool to be of any help! So many of us struggle on, year-after-year, panic-buying cheap sarongs in Duty-Free and spending two weeks in the same comfy but slightly sagging cotton jersey dress we wore last year, and the year before that...
But I, my friends, am an anorak – and proud of it. So I have started an excel spreadsheet of holiday gear for all the family. Some people's life's work is a novel; mine is a packing checklist. I'll leave it to you to think laterally and adapt to suit…
1) Work in “outfits”
Think about what you'll actually be doing on holiday and who you are holidaying with. If it's a beach holiday, pull out your swimsuits/bikinis and then work out three or four outfits that you can wear over them during the day. Stick to a few colours so that you can mix it up.
2) Take your nicest things
You know those "good" outfits you’ve been saving? Take them. Don't slip into the mindframe of only packing tatty old vests and shorts. Just because it’s a relaxing holiday doesn't mean you have to look like a scruff although you don’t have to go TOWIE and have a different outfit for every day - Totes Ridics!
3) Start a travel drawer
After years of running around the house gathering together passports, euro purse, travel adaptors, Fodors guidebooks and maps from different cupboards, it dawned on me to keep all these things in one place. This saves about half an hour and makes you less likely to forget anything.
4) Three(ish) pairs of shoes, two cover-ups
Wear your Converse for the plane and pack one nice pair of flat sandals and one pair of wedges. Invest in a pair of good quality flip flops – the Havaianas Slim Crystal Glamour Flip Flops are so thin they don’t really count! Take two light layers that can be worn together: a cashmere cardigan and a blazer, for instance. Then, if, like us, you are flying in the middle of the night, or again, like us, you experience unseasonably bad weather abroad, you can layer up!
5) Wear your favourite jeans on the plane
This is not the time to channel Victoria Beckham in a black silk mini dress. You'll be cold and grumpy and desperate to buy a bad cardigan from a second-rate high street Duty-Free shop in no time! Jeans are super for a short flight: the pockets are handy, and they are the right temperature for planes. You always think you will wear your jeans while you are on holiday, but you never do. One pair will work for the journey there and the journey back. Don’t pack a second pair - you won't wear them.
6) Pile first, then pack
Don't put things straight in the suitcase. When you've got your pile on the bed, be ruthless, go through it and if in doubt, take it out!
7) Wear a waterproof watch
Leave your good watch at home. You will only leave it on the beach and that's really annoying. Jewellery in the form of overly fancy earrings or a big, shiny bangle will add kick to your style quota but almost nothing to the weight of your luggage!
8) A party dress
Never, ever go anywhere without one really nice dress and the right underwear to wear with it. You never know what might come up?
As for your luggage - too much, even on the super-deluxe scale, is a bad thing. It doesn't suggest that you are super rich or super stylish, it just says you’re indecisive and not particularly confident in your holiday-styling ability. If you really want your luggage to say you are stylish, then avoid brightly coloured suitcases and opt for a minimally branded or unbranded leather holdall. It suggests that you are well-travelled and effortlessly chic.
Before I forget, for anyone staying about Belfast at the start of July why not pop along to Dr. Dublin's solo exhibition, sponsored by Toni & Guy and supported by Birdcage on Monday July 2, 6-9pm next door to Lily’s on the Lisburn Road!
Adiós amigas - until August…