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

Fashion Dilemmas: Amanda’s honeymoon cruise

Yesterday while we were all dreaming of colour bright pool-sides and retro road trips across the pond, reader Amanda commented the following:

I’m just planning our honeymoon in May/June 2013…

We’re going to go on a cruise ship from the UK to New York to start off with.  I’ve just booked it and was terrified at the commitment and money.  Now I’m a gibbering wreck having seen that I apparently I will need to wear evening dress on 3 nights, cocktail dress on 2 nights and the other 2 I can be “elegant casual” (which means for men that they don’t have to wear a tie)

I have precisely nothing in my wardrobe that would meet these criteria.  Smart for me is a t-shirt and skirt.  They say with some emphasis that t-shirts are not allowed after 6pm.  And how do you pack one bag with that sort of wardrobe and hiking gear for California?  I mean this metaphorically as I don’t think there is an answer – but if anyone has one I will be pathetically grateful.

Well Amanda – we think there IS an answer, and we don’t expect you to be pathetically grateful, just send us in a report of the highlights of your trip, ok?

Rebecca and I just love putting outfit inspiration together, so readers, please send your dilemmas in to FF – who knows, it could become a regular occurrence!

The maxi dress: An affordable black tie/evening option

It is an absolute sartorial gift that the maxi dress shows no sign of going out of fashion as yet.  Instantly formal due to their length, there is a cut to suit everyone.  The dresses below all have enough ‘wow factor’ to be worn with heels (and the beauty of a maxi is you only need to take one pair of heels on holiday and wear them with more than one long dress because you don’t really see them) and layered during the day.  The lightweight maxi is also a great choice if you’re travelling in countries where you need to cover your legs, if you’re visiting temples, churches and mosques for example.

1. Green printed maxi dress from MANGO – switch the belt for a different look and use the printed belt with one of the plain dresses you’re taking, or even as a headband!

2. Black gathered maxi from ASOS – Wear with a brooch at the bust and long dangly earrings – it won’t crease and no one will know that it’s jersey! Great for wearing during the day underneath a denim jacket or even a knotted shirt (my tip for Amanda? Steal your husband-to-be’s for the latter)

3. Bias cut Maxi from Ghost – This Ghost maxi is definitely an investment piece, but its timeless cut ensures it will never go out of fashion. I mentioned this yesterday but it’s worth saying again – at the moment Ghost are dyeing a range of maxis in 16 different colours.  So there should be something to suit everyone, including Rebecca who’s allergic to black!

Midi dresses: For the cocktail and elegant casual nights

1. Butterfly print asymmetric hem dress, Warehouse – This butterfly printed midi-dress (below right) is feminine yet still has a rock star edge to it.  I think it would look great with wedge sandals in a metallic shade but you could dress it down by wearing a cardigan over it, or a fitted jersey top with a sleeve underneath it.

Butterfly print dress – H&M // Butterfly print asymmetric hem dress – Warehouse

Cocktail and day dresses:

1. Butterfly print dress (above left), H&M – A bargainous number to pad out your wardrobe options… wear with a slip to add more substance to the fabric.

2. Blue Mesh Skirt dress, COS – I am in serious danger of buying this blue number.  Serious danger.  It is incredibly chic, and would be perfect as evening and cocktail wear, yet pair it with opaque black tights and a cropped black blazer and you’ve got a smart/casual outfit with serious catwalk-led credentials.

3. Lilac Jersey Dress, COS – This lilac jersey dress is basically an oversized T-shirt- but it’s the perfect item to dress up or down.  The viscose in the jersey means it won’t cling too much, and with a ribbon belt, high heels and statement jewellery, I’d say you’d have ‘elegant casual’ nailed.

4. Mint drop waist dress, COS – I have a silk dress of a similar cut and colour, and I’ve had it 10 years… I dress it up with heels or have been known to wear it on holiday with flats and a jumper over the top.

5. Gold sequin cuff long sleeved black Dress (see below), ASOS dress – This ASOS dress can be worn as an on deck ‘cover-up’ over your swimsuit, and then worn over a slip with high heels as a cocktail dress.

To give you an idea of exactly how versatile it is, here’s a Day-to-Night respresentation Rebecca made earlier showing how you can style it to take you from sight seeing to cocktail sipping…

Dress – ASOS
Day: Sunglasses – Rayban // Bag – Accessorize // Sandals – Accessorize
Night: Clutch – Accessorize // Earrings – Accessorize // Heels – Zara

Rebecca’s tips:

  • Go neutral with your daytime accessories to find something that works with every outfit in your case. This raffia and tan leather bag dresses down a glam dress for day and won’t look out of place in a National Park over a hoodie. Similarly, take one pair of double duty flip flops that will see you from pool to sightseeing to bar. Think tan, black or metallic, whatever the majority of your wardrobe is.
  • Same goes for evening attire – find a small metallic, black or neutral clutch to work with everything and choose nude shoes – lighter for summer and they’ll work with dark colours, brights and neutrals meaning only one pair of heels required! Did I mention they lengthen your legs? 😉

Woah – I could go on but think I should stop now before I am too tempted to reach for my credit card.  I haven’t really gotten around to skirts and tops for capsule wardrobes either – next week perhaps?

So readers, do you have any suggestions for Amanda? Do leave us a comment with the link if you do!

Gemma C-S xx

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