Case study shows packing light for a holiday is the way to go

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 9:38am

As holiday season gets in full swing, packing that perfect suitcase is key. I have a stylist friend who recently dragged two gigantic cases to Paris Fashion Week. One case for her shoes and the other for clothes.

Yes, she might have looked better than the rest, but the thought of changing outfits between shows or stumbling on the cobblestones in my heeled Jimmy Choos has made me a pragmatist. It's paid off. My last holiday was two glorious weeks in Italy and Croatia and the only suitcase I took was a carry on.

Fabrics matter, so choose things suitable for your destination. 

I rolled my single Longchamp 50cm by 40 cm by 25cm case smugly past friends who I'd joined in Capri - friends who all had giant trunks filled with clothes, shoes and God knows what else - this was a fashion crowd after all.

The wonderful thing about being low maintenance on your holidays means there is less to fuss about when you could be having fun. You don't have to sacrifice style, either. No one wants to be in flip flops and a

T-shirt at a chic restaurant surrounded by folk sniffing at the traveller. There are tips to staying stylish yet lightweight when travelling, meaning that you won't have to forgo the floating evening dress, but won't stress about lugging your entire wardrobe around.

Brands such as American Vintage, COS, See by Chloé and T by Alexander Wang easily take care of the comfortable basics: casual mini dresses with a bit of a ruffle or cut-out, tanks tops and floaty knee skirts. Fabrics matter, so choose things suitable for your destination: lightweight and soft for hot, tropical destinations - and nothing that requires dry cleaning. Remember to tick off wardrobe staples you'll need depending on the nature of the trip; the striped dress or top, the flattering black shorts and denim cut offs are generally good calls for warm climates where there will be some physical activity involved. Don't forget the easy printed strappy top that you can dress up or down.

A pair of fabulous heels cannot go wrong, but bring a versatile colour and style - you don't want to be clomping around your Bali resort in heavily studded punky skyscrapers while wearing a embroidered Temperley beach dress. Some elegant Giuseppe Zanottis or strappy Pierre Hardys might better suffice.

Don't go too fussy. Take a leaf from Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who always got it right when on the road. She mastered the well-cut cap-sleeve shirt (I like the retro-influenced kind that ties at the waist) which is perfect for smart lunches on holiday or thrown over a bikini for some post-beach shopping. I'm not a fan of looking too casual, especially when going to lovely places such as Rome, Capri or Split, so I'd stay away from the Bintang Beer T-shirts and elastic waist pants you bought years ago in Thailand. A stylish bikini is key, of course, but instead of bringing five sets, settle on one bikini and one cool one-piece.

A couple of short and loose shift dresses in bright colours or hip patterns are great for ease. Contemporary French labels such as Sandro, Maje and The Kooples, as well as plenty of high-street stores, have good options. I also love deconstructed dresses in super-soft fabrics that you can let hang loose, or belt up for shape - like those by 3.1 Phillip Lim or Stella McCartney. If paparazzi photos of Kate Moss on holiday have taught us anything, it's that effortless looks so much better than trussed up.

The biggest trick in the book is clever accessorising. It can change the attitude of an outfit - a vivid Dolce & Gabbana headscarf with chunky earrings and metallic cuffs transforms a simple white tank top and indigo Daisy Dukes from boring to stylish. Let's not forget evening glamour - a strapless figure-skimming dress is almost always in my suitcase first. Many of you will be sampling the best of summer nightlife, whether it's Tel Aviv, Shanghai or New York. Don't be afraid of going all out: pack a nice clutch and dresses that aren't laden with bells and whistles - you can always let the accessories provide the bling.

A bright Gucci or Ferragamo number would do the trick, or opt for the design duo in the perpetual throws of a Sicilian summer: Dolce & Gabbana. Everything else - toiletries, hairdryer, make-up - all travel size, please. Trust me on this; you'll thank me later.