‘Pack for the weather you’ll be getting’
Kate Finnigan’s no-nonsense guide to a British holiday wardrobe
Thanks to years of intensive summering in Ireland, I know the key is to pack for the weather you’ll be getting, not the weather you want.
My parents now live in Donegal on the north-west coast of Ireland, on a route known as the Wild Atlantic Way. This is poetic shorthand for every kind of weather every 15 minutes: cartoonish slants of rain, racing clouds, gales and, more often than you might expect, blue sky and sunshine. It rarely gets above 27C, though, so I know that throwing in sheer floaty dresses is a waste of time and space.
I’m not an over-packer, but I’m not a minimalist either. The thought of being caught out in weather-inappropriate clothing makes me anxious. In my opinion, the most stylish person at any outdoor event is not the person with the coolest outfit but the person who remains warm and dry in a sudden downpour.
So, worst-case scenario first: rainwear. The Scandinavians do it best — Norwegian Rain’s Raincho (£686, norwegianrain.com) is cashmere-lined. I also have one of the unisex Tretorn Wings jackets (thigh-length, PVC-free polyurethane; £80; outsidersstore.com). Brilliant in rain, it can get sweaty, so don’t wear it on a climb.
On the opposite side of the weather spectrum: sun. I like to be equipped to grab any tanning opportunity. At the slightest suggestion of a ray of Donegal sunshine, I’ll put on denim shorts. The Board Fold shorts from Raey, the in-house brand at Matchesfashion.com, are a good, longer length (£125, matchesfashion.com).
If you’re not a shorts type, pack white or ecru jeans because they’ll work with everything, though beige chinos or cargo pants might be easier to keep clean. I have a two-year-old pair by Acne Studios, but Rag & Bone has a similar style called Angela Field (£290; net-a-porter.com). Wear with an oversized shirt in denim, cotton or linen — always useful to have as an extra layer over a tank. This summer I keep turning to a navy linen pyjama shirt by Rossell (on sale at £99, rossellengland.com), which has a good boxy shape and softens with every wash.
You’re going to want a knit to throw over everything. I favour British labels such as & Daughter and Navy Grey and have recently discovered Charl Knitwear, a label founded by a former Burberry knitwear designer and inspired by Norfolk fishermen. The nautical striped Chibbles (£225, charlknitwear.co.uk) is my bag and works with shorts, jeans and chinos.
I’d happily wear the shirt and chinos to dinner in a local restaurant, but I might also fold in a breezy dress in linen or cotton. I feel dreamy about the romantic Mulberry dress from Kindred of Ireland (£280, kindredofireland.com), which uses locally sourced linen. They’re made to order so expect to wait up to four weeks. Can’t wait? The Elizabeth linen dress by British brand NRBY has a similar feel (£125, nrbyclothing.com)
Footwear? Sandals, of course. Joseph’s Fussbett ankle strap sandal in black has been my shoe of the summer so far, but I clearly am not alone because it’s now pretty much sold out in black. The brown colourway is still available (on sale at £201, joseph-fashion.com) or try Jigsaw’s Ivy leather footbed slider (£99, jigsaw-online.com). I also like Ancient Greek Sandals’ comfort sole sandals, which are good for a day of touring (from £100, ancient-greek-sandals.com.) Travel in trainers to save space. I like Veja’s V-10 in white (£115, matchesfashion.com).
I keep coming back to white because, well, I like white, but also because my number one rule is don’t pack the rainbow. While it can be tempting to think summer equals colour — and there’s that great British holiday tendency to go for bright fisherman yellow jackets and fun patterned wellies — I keep to a limited palette. It means everything you pack will work together, so when the wood-burning stove won’t light you’ll be able to wear all your clothes at once and still look like you’re a fancy kind of person — obviously the number one consideration to carry with you on your staycation.
‘I now limit myself to one holdall’
Teo van den Broeke on how to curate a city-smart travel wardrobe
“Do they actually call you ‘Two Suitcases Teo?!’” my sister squawked across the table during dinner in Soho. The year was 2017, I had been away at the menswear shows, I was exhausted, and I was regaling her with luggage-related horror stories from my month-long trip.
The worst of said tales involved me pushing two 26kg suitcases some 3km from my hotel in Florence to the train station in 39C heat because I couldn’t get a taxi. Not only did I discover on sweat-drenched arrival that my train to Milan — the last of the day — had been cancelled, but my hotel no longer had any space. “I am never packing that much crap ever again,” I grumbled.
For years, when travelling to Europe for fashion weeks, I attempted to take pretty much everything in my wardrobe on every trip. The seasonal show merry-go-round was such a judgmental ride to be on I felt assured knowing that if I wanted to sport a hot pink Marni sweater vest with some silk Armani shorts and a pair of furry Birkenstocks, then, well, I could.
However, after my 2017 overpacking debacle I realised something had to give, and I forced myself to adopt a new, lighter, brighter mode of packing. I’m a metropolitan being at heart so my trips this summer will most likely be taken to this country’s cities rather than to a windswept beach. Think long lunches at Bath’s celebrated Olive Tree restaurant and long drams of single malt whisky in the cosy-cum-chi-chi bars of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
My current approach is one I learnt from a former colleague, a well-seasoned traveller who for any trip — for however long — would always pack the same roster of pieces: three white shirts, three pairs of blue drawstring suit trousers, one blue crew neck sweater, one blue blazer, one pair of white sneakers, one pair of brown lace-ups, underwear as required and a coat if he was going somewhere cold.
And although I’ve not mastered the art of minimal packing with quite the same measured gusto, I have made great leaps and bounds since my Florentine mishap. I now limit myself to one holdall or small suitcase per trip — whether at home or abroad — and I only pack a maximum of three versions of every item: no more than three T-shirts (Maison Margiela does a smart pack of three tees in shades of ivory, bone and white, £265, farfetch.com) and, say, no more than three shirts (you can’t go wrong with a threesome of Uniqlo’s slim-fit Oxford button-downs, £24.95, uniqlo.com) and no more than three shoes — a pair of driving shoes from Tod’s (£360, tods.com), some white tennis shoes from Grenson (£210, matchesfashion.com) and a pair of desert boots from Clark’s (£115, clarks.co.uk).
If I’m going away for longer than three days I allow myself to take more than three pairs of underwear, for obvious reasons, and when it comes to a coat, a bonded cotton trench from Mackintosh (£995, mrporter.com) can be layered up or down depending on the temperature and will always look unimpeachably elegant.
I’ve also learnt that clothing from Homme Plissé by Issey Miyake is a minimal packer’s dream. Impossible to crease, machine washable, ridiculously light, a suit from the brand is as comfortable to slumber in on a sleeper train to Scotland as it is smart enough to attend a meeting.
My final top tip for packing light is to roll your clothes rather than fold them. Rolling not only minimises wasted air in your suitcase but also, by some miracle of physics (there’s a reason I work in fashion), it also prevents clothes from creasing as much as they do when they’re folded.
Oh, and never travel to Florence in late June, it’s like swimming through lava, however little you manage to pack. Bath is much easier to work with.
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