What to pack for a summer holiday so you can feel and look your best day to night

What to pack for a summer holiday so you can feel and look your best day to night

I don’t pack light. I pack clever. If you’re anything like me, being on holiday is an opportunity to wear your favourite outfits, dress up and feel a bit fabulous, or simply to have easy to throw on, comfortable and versatile outfit options. 

We shouldn’t have to limit ourselves just because we are on holiday. I want to feel and dress my best and with minimum effort, because I am on holiday!!! The art of packing an effortless and stylish holiday wardrobe is all about clever (and crease free) packing, creative planning and the right suitcase.

Etro Shoot

I remember a work trip to New York in my 20s; I had to buy a new suitcase just to bring back all my purchases. Now, having spent over a decade travelling in the fashion industry, and additionally ‘managing’ the packing of a family of five, I am a little wiser and better prepared. I have learned from my mistakes, and can share my packing advice, which allows you to travel with style and in style, but without the dreaded ‘heavy’ branded suitcase.

Think in outfits

Don’t just pack items, pack outfits. And obviously this should not be a restriction but a freedom to wear what you love. Sadly we can’t take everything, so think about what you will be doing throughout your holiday and create some mix and match outfits that will work for this. If it’s a self-catering holiday with another family, then you will want to feel good and look good at 7am and 7pm (and everything in between!). So some great PJs, a day to night dress and an absolute knockout outfit for your one-off ‘out out’ night, are all musts. If you’re going on a resort family holiday, then think about nonchalant buffet breakfast attire, pool lounging and effortless sunset sass. 

Create a capsule

Outfits are made up of several items, and this is where clever packing and a versatile mix and match wardrobe comes into play. When you’re planning outfits, it helps if you think about pieces, which you can wear with other pieces. You may have heard of the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 idea which suggests you pack 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 dresses/jumpsuits, 3 shoes, 2 swimsuits, 2 cover ups, 2 bags and 1 hat and 1 sunglasses. You can adapt this to suit you and it is a great basis. I also have 10 holiday staples, which work as a great starting point:

  • BLACK DRESS – this should be a chic and simple wear every-wear dress, day or night. I like a jersey maxi, which you can wear over a bikini, out for lunch or after dark. Mix it up with accessories, shoes and outerwear.
  • WHITE DRESS – broderie anglaise, bohemian cheesecloth or chic linen are super options for board walking, beach combing or cocktail cruising. Linen is fab as it is a natural fibre – cool, comfy and eco, but pack with care to avoid over creasing. 
  • COLOURED/PRINT DRESS – depending on where you are going and your style, think skinny straps, capped or ¾ sleeves. Choose an every-wear midi length such as a wrap, button down or tea dress style for max wearability. A shirt-dress is also a very versatile addition – open or buttoned!
Ozark dress Reformation
  • KAFTAN-IGAN– this is my name for my 2019 summer cover up essential – a mix between a kaftan and cardi. When a blazer or denim jacket is too heavy and a cardi too ‘mumsy’! Wear at the airport over jeans and a tee at 5am, over a sundress or an evening slip dress.
  • LOOSE JUMPSUIT – loose, cropped, dressed down and wide legged will flatter most and be best in the summer heat. As with a dress, you don’t have to think about matching this with anything, and is a fab day to night. 
  • WIDE LEGGED TROUSERS – either full length or cropped, these look great with so many summer tops – Bardot style, tees, blouses, smocks and even a bikini top.
  • CAMIS – these are holiday saviours with shorts, wide legged trousers, culottes and skirts – pretty much any bottom half! They’re lightweight to pack and cool and chic to wear. 
  • BREEZY BLOUSES – one up from camis, think silky, printed, gathered waist or button down and wear with everything, from over swimsuits by day or with your evening togs after dark.
  • SKIRT – a midi length offers maximum versatility, and can be worn with camis, blouses, tees and layered for the evening.
  • CITY SHORTS – not too skimpy, not too tight and not too long. The sort of shorts that would make you feel chic in St Tropez and sleek on safari in Africa, fab with camis, tees, bikinis or blouses. 

Next, it’s all about the ‘additions’, which will dress these staples up or down:

  • ACCESSORIES – these can become heavy, so think wisely.  Statement earrings are light and such a fab way to dress up a basic outfit, necklaces (take short and long, minimal and statement), and headbands great in the heat, a bandana to boost your hair or handbag style, a tan belt (to cinch dresses) and a stylish shade making hat a must.
  • SHOES – this is my downfall. A pair of nude, black, metallic sandals (espadrilles, gladiators, Birkenstocks), polished trainers and a wedge/chunky mid heel should cover all bases. 
Reformation Sandals
  • SUNGLASSES – practical of course, but stylish yes, yes, yes. I take a few pairs as your shades can completely change your look and do the style work for you.
  1. BAGS – again another weak point of mine, but go for a cross body bag, simple clutch and beach bag or tote depending on location. Raffia, straw and soft leathers are all very holiday friendly
  2. SWIMWEAR – shape and style is very personal, but I would suggest 3 swimsuits/bikinis so you always have a dry option and take different styles/shapes depending on your mood or activity. One black, one jazzy and one other.

Pack with care

Time is always of the essence, but invest the time before you go and it will save you time on the sunny side! Pack key hanging items on lightweight hangers if you can, linen in dry cleaner bags and use tissue paper in between everything. Fold dresses, trousers and button downs to prevent creases, roll everything else if space is short and invest in packing cubes if you like to keep things organised. 

Packing for the rest of the family? Well that’s a whole new blog! Happy holidays!!!

A Guest Blog from My Stylish Friend, AKA Sophie Jones-Cooper

Sophie is offering special summer rates for her styling services, including 1:1 style consultations (from just £50), group styling parties (from £20 pp), at home wardrobe workouts and online shopping.

Email Sophie at mystylishfriend@gmail.com for more information or to book your styling session. (Special summer rates apply for any sessions booked before July 31st and enjoyed before August 31st).

Sophie Jones-Cooper is a MumBoss, personal stylist and ex-fashion and beauty editor who has worked in the fashion industry for over 10 years for magazines including HELLO!, Cosmopolitan and Time Out. She is also mummy to Leo aged 6 and twins Amelie and Archie aged 3. She is now offering her styling skills to women in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds as My Stylish Friend, helping mums and mums-to-be feel confident and look stylish throughout pregnancy and motherhood. She offers one-on-one personal styling consultations, personal shopping sessions both in stores and online via Pinterest, wardrobe workouts/de cluttering and fun and affordable group styling parties as well as hosting style events, workshops and talks.

You can follow her style on Instagram, connect on Facebook, find out more on her website –

If you’d love to hear from Sophie on different fashion related topics then leave a comment below and we’ll see what we can arrange!


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