Summer holiday wardrobe packing: tips, dos and don’ts

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A colleague recently regaled the office with her latest holiday packing fail. She owns a dress she regrets buying and has never worn and yet, on a recent mini-break, she added said dress to her carry-on. Figuring if she got the frock into a hostage situation they would somehow develop a love for one another. But, I am sad to report, sartorial Stockholm syndrome did not ensue and said dress returned home, unworn.

Believing our style and taste will magically transform because we have been transported to another place is one of the many reasons people come unstuck when packing for their summer holiday. We pack too many things we don’t need (as distinct from over-packing, see below), too naively, too optimistically and, the number-one fail, too late. But if you’re reading this, there is time to change your bad habits and become the most smug person at the baggage carousel.

A clever approach to packing will set you up for holiday success.Credit:Illustration: Dionne Gain

Start early

My late grandparents were notorious for laying out their cases four weeks ahead of any trip (and arriving at the airport six hours early, but that’s another story). You don’t need to be so extreme in your planning, but devising a packing strategy a few days out from most trips should do. Add more time for skiing or trips to multiple climates, which are trickier. Thinking of a vibe or feeling might help: Normcore? Beachy luxe? City cool? Let your destination guide you.

Over pack, don’t under pack

This is a contentious one, and will depend on variables such as luggage allowance, boot space and climate. Sean Venturi, of Sydney lifestyle brand Venroy, says you can never have enough shirts as they’re easily dressed up or down, or layered. “I always make sure I have enough underwear and socks for each day of the trip including outfits for a stopover shower, if a long-haul flight is involved.” And he always packs swimwear, even when heading to the cold. “There is nothing better than a swim after a long journey, or if you’re heading to the cold – hunting down a sauna is a must.”

If you’re heading to the cold, or on a ship, packing swimwear leaves open the option of a soothing sauna.

If you’re heading to the cold, or on a ship, packing swimwear leaves open the option of a soothing sauna.

Colour palette vs outfit planning

One girlfriend of mine plans her outfits for each day right down to the accessories, and rarely repeats (god bless those with business class luggage allowances). For everyone else, a colour palette may be the most sensible approach. Lana Coppel, owner of Order of Style, is heading to the US with her family on a ski trip and is only packing things that fit a neutral black/tan/beige/white scheme. “Do not forget the power of adding a piece of jewellery – the right necklace or earring can add some sophistication to your ensemble. Even switching out your handbag … can change the look entirely.”

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