Backpack to ballroom: Flexible Packing Tips

So Findettes, leading on from Amanda’s fashion dilemma last week, we’re back talking about holiday packing.  Many guide books will try to tell you that all you need for a trip which takes in more than one country is a pair of cargo pants which zip off into shorts and a black t-shirt.  This, unless you’re built like Angelina Jolie and you enjoy being called ‘that bird who looks like, whatsername, Lara Croft’, is not true.

However. If you’ve just booked the holiday of a lifetime, be it a cruise, a jaunt through Asia, a road trip across the USA or a round-the-world trip, you’re probably not exactly rolling in cash.  So how do you pack a capsule wardrobe on a budget? Well, it’s all about multi-functional separates, day-to-night items and accessories.

ASOS peplum printed jacket and shorts

Taking a matching top and skirt, or jacket and shorts – wear the printed items together for a more formal look and separately with plain tops and bottoms for sight-seeing.
If, like Amanda, your trip calls for both black tie and backpacker, save on space and funds by accessorising. A great way to do this is with ribbon – a couple of lengths of coloured ribbon gives you 2 extra belts for any dresses you take, and they can also be tied around the top of a skirt for a retro-glam look.  Experimenting with texture, like velvet ribbon, adds a luxe edge for less.  

Say you’d packed two maxis like the ones we featured last week, with the black jersey number simply tie the halterneck cords into a bow at the bust where it’s ruched and thread a wide, coloured ribbon through, et voila! A totally new dress.  When a dress comes with a self patterned belt, don’t be afraid to use said belt on another item of clothing. Swapping floral belts from two flowery dresses, for example, works really well.  Finally, if you’ve packed ribbons and you happen to have a pair of espadrilles, re-thread your shoes for a ballerina.

Rebecca’s Tip: Look for heavier ribbons that will hold their shape if you’re expecting them to double as straps and go for patterns or stripes for instant riviera chic. Try VW Rouleaux for a great selection also available online.

Experiment with cardigans and shrugs – get it right and you can totally make the dress a different piece. This lace bolero from MANGO would transform a strapless top or dress: match your colours and they’ll look like one item, contrast them and you can easily change your look.  

Remember Rebecca’s cosy?  It’s another hard working staple that’s perfect for dressing up or down when travelling.  Another great travelling companion is an over-sized scarf – although it doesn’t look it in the picture, this American Vintage scarf is suuuuuuuuuper long and wide… and in a silk blend it can be used as a pashmina, scarf, draped as a sarong or tied into a big floppy bow for a dressier look. 

Scarf – American Vintage at Liberty

Finally, and at risk of sounding like my Grandma, it’s amazing what a good quality slip can do. A nude slip, with a lace front, is great for smoothing lines and wearing underneath wrap dresses and tops for added glamour.  

Slip by Yummie Tummie on ASOS and blue lace slip, Topshop

The ASOS slip above, though pricey, comes with detachable straps and would work under pretty much any dress, and lends itself especially well to wrap-over dresses, as well as making a previously ‘beach-only’ kaftan opaque enough to wear as a top or dress.  The blue Topshop slip would be great worn with a flippy little skirt and a cardigan over the top of it.

So readers, do you have any fool-proof travel items? Something that you took away with you and wore to death? We’d love to hear about it!

Gemma C-S xxx

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8 thoughts on “Backpack to ballroom: Flexible Packing Tips

  1. Anyone remember the American Apparel wear-it-35-different-ways dress? Has to be a backpack essential? I bought it for one of my besties when she went travelling for 18 months!

    I like to think of it as the backpack equivalent of a Two Birds bridesmaid dress! 🙂

    They have a number of other convertible items such as their is-it-a-sash-is-it-a-turban? stretchy scarf thingy which I take everywhere.

  2. Big love for a scarf of any sort plus as a short hair need a hairdyer lady a smaller scarf to wear on my hair. I have some great Accessorise wide material head bands. Depending on what I’m wearing depends on which I choose. Plus keeps hair good.
    Great post for a grey wet April day.

  3. Aren’t you all clever? I usually take half as many skirts as I will be there days and 2 tops to go with each! I will try and track down those dresses on American Apparel (you don’t know what they’re called do you?). I heard it’s THE most scary shop to go to though!

    I bought both the ASOS dresses – the maxi was dreadful on me (NOT intended for the short and dumpy!) and I have the chiffony one to get a second opinion on as it’s quite short and reveals my pudgy knees (oh for Rebecca’s figure)! The bird/butterfly dress in Hennes was alas, nowhere to be seen: perhaps it FLEW off the shelves! Boom, boom! But it’s given me a lot of food for thought and I’m looking at different things and trying to climb out of my clothing rut.

  4. It’s called Le Sac Amanda – watch the video you can do so many things with it!

    They also do a body-con style one ( which can be styled different ways and having had a look through their website, there is a lot in the way of convertible stuff on there. Cheaper in the US tho, you could pick some up when you arrive…

  5. Outing myself as a very non-fashionable being, my traveling must have, will always and has always been a good pair of flipflops! Jesus creaper if there your thing, or soemthing with a bit of gorgeous detailing, perfect for schelpping about and if they are glam enough double straight to evening attire for bars (not cruise ship worthy I imagine tho) I’m tall with canoes for feet and flipflops always make me feel less like a gigantic footed beast!
    I fancy tryign these beauts
    but think my clown sized feet will make them look horrid!

  6. Essentials for me are my havaianas in gold which go with everything are so comfy and still look new after about 2 years and a scarf which doubles as a wrap on the plane and a sarong, (am eyeing up a DVF one!)

    Love the idea of the ribbons and will be hunting down that american apparel dress!
    Rachie xo
    PS: Great minds – my post today is about my honeymoon wardrobe

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