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Holiday packing sorted!

Summer travels looming and nothing to wear? Relax, all you need is a capsule wardrobe.

If holiday packing breaks you out in a sweat because you play fast and loose with your luggage allowance, you’ve blown up your credit card panic buying and, after all that, have absolutely nothing to wear, I hear you! No amount carrot dangling of sun, sand and Aperol gets me through this unique form of torture. My packing’s always last minute and my wardrobe resembles an end of sale rail, usually sans knickers (and, no, I wasn’t going for the Sharon Stone Basic Instinct look). So I am a total convert to the capsule wardrobe – following a quick dash to The Lexicon Bracknell, here are my 10 key items that’ll work harder than a beautician with a spray tan gun.


1/ Beach Bag

Next Multi coloured woven beach bag and canvas pouch beach essentials

BAG IT UP: Next multi coloured woven bag, £29 and personalised pouch, £12

A bag so big, you could fit a small child in it, is a must. No need to squeeze it into your case, either. Take your beach bag on the plane as hand luggage with tickets, money, passport, digital entertainment, book, plus swimwear and sun lotion. Your room is never ready on arrival and once my kids clock the pool, they’re peeling their clothes off like they’re on an 18-30 break. I love a classic basket bag and H&M has one for £39.99 that goes with everything, but this multi-coloured woven beauty from Next, £29, is a funkier alternative. And if you don’t want to cause a commotion in the passport queue, gather all the important stuff in this Next pouch, £12.


2/ Flattering one piece

Navy blue one piece swimsuit with ruffle trim Accessorise front and back view

ALL FOR ONE: Accessorize ruffle swimsuit, £29.

My days in a teeny weeny polka dot bikini are long gone. Beachgoers can breath a sigh of relief. I need a one piece to safely gather everything in and offer a bit support to the hamsters wrestling to escape. Plus a swimsuit doubles up as a top – beach to bar in seconds which means more drinking time. There’s a lot of choice on the high street, check out M&S, Next and Fenwick. But it was this head turner in Accessorize that caught my eye. Navy, ruffles, nice back, quality fabric… all for, £29.


3/ Day to night dress

Capsule Holiday WardrobeMidi dress collage H&M Mint Velvet and Michael Kors

DRESSING DOWN (OR UP): H&M striped midi, £12.99; Mint Velvet @ Fenwick palm print maxi, £89; Michael Kors @ Fenwick cotton tiered dress, £175.

Frock ‘n’ roll on your hols in a dress that’ll take you from cabana to nightclub, with a couple of accessory swaps. Choose a pinafore shape, like this Michael Kors white cotton tiered dress from Fenwick, £175, and layer it with a t-shirt, throw on a jacket or slip on a denim shirt and tie it at the waist. It is an investment, but it’ll work hard for you – just steer clear of the red wine. That said, I love the versatility of the H&M striped midi dress and at a bargainous price of £12.99 it would be rude to leave it on the rail. For a shot of glamour this Mint Velvet maxi is flirting outrageously with my credit card. Psst! It’s in the sale £89 (reduced from £129).


4/ Stylish sandal

Black flat sandals Office and Saltwater Sandals

BACK TO BLACK: Salt Water sandals, £55; Office sandals, £42 both Office Shoes.

Heels on holiday? Don’t bother. A gorge pair of flats that go with everything is all you need. They take up next to no space in your case and you won’t be tottering around like a newborn Bambi while you’re eating out, sight seeing or dancing till dawn. Your feet will thank you for it too. I have been lusting after a pair of Salt Water Sandals, £55, since last year, but after trying them on in Office, it turns out my trotters are just too wide. I took home these Office leather mules in black, £42, instead. They also come in gold if you’re looking for a blingy nude.


5/ Denim shorts

Model in H&M blue denim cut off short white t shirt and net bag blue background

GET SHORTY: H&M denim shorts, £17.99.

I like short shorts… they just don’t like me. My Daisy Duke days may be over (for fear of extreme underbutt) but denim cut offs still feature in my suitcase. If you don’t fancy taking the scissors to an old pair of jeans, the high street has something for all shapes and sizes, but you need to shop around – M&S and Next have a style to suit everyone. For me, it can only be these H&M classics, £17.99. Great colour and cut, but try them on. H&M’s sizing is mind bogglingly bad.


6/ Breton tee

Blu and white striped cotton t shirt Seasalt Cornwall Carclew t shirt

EAR YOUR STRIPES: Seasalt Cornwall striped t shirt, £39.95.

Hand’s up who owns an unhealthy number of striped T shirts? My name is Rachel and I am a Breton addict. But there’s always room for one more, so pop into Seasalt Cornwall – it’s basically a mecca for that ‘we do like to be beside the seaside’ look. But this quality tee is well cut with cute sleeves, although not cheap at £39.95. That said, I know I’ll get a ton of wear out of it. It’s worth noting Seasalt’s Sailor T shirt is £25, comes in lots of colours and is on offer right now: 2 for £40 (sizes 6-26).


7/ Straw hat

Straw hat Summer Daze embroidered fedora Accessorize

SHADY LADY: Accessorize straw fedora, £22.

I love a tan but I can do without the leathery skin. So I’m 100% bottle brown these days with a hat to stop my face looking like a human walnut. Anyone who knows me will confirm I’m quite partial to a slogan so I’m feeling this simple straw ‘summer daze’ fedora from Accessorize, £22. It’s a fine line between fun and naff. But I like it. Try on lots of shapes and sizes to see what works for you. Alternatively go for the packing friendly head scarf… Rhianna, Nicole Richie and Eva Mendes swear by them.


8/ Oversized shirt

Dorothy Perkins light blue denim with two chest pockets roll sleeve and metal stuff buttons

COVER UP: Dorothy Perkins denim shirt, £15 (reduced from £28)

From beach cover up to useful top, I always add a shirt in the packing mix. Unless you want to look a hot mess in 30 degrees, keep it au natural so think cotton or linen. A denim shirt goes with anything and everything, classic white with a tan is hot hot hot or keep a colour or pattern tonal with the rest of your holiday wardrobe. I spotted this pale blue denim shirt in Dorothy Perkins – rolled up sleeves, light blue in colour and on sale at £15. Love it.


9/ Linen (or cotton) trousers

Holiday Capsule Wardrobe linen and cotton cropped trousers

PANTS PEOPLE: Topshop tan paper bag trousers, £25; M&S white cotton culottes, £45; H&M linen tapered trousers £24.99.

Keep your cool in a pair of trews, but linen or cotton only. I have one word for you: chaffing. I’ll just leave that there. Personally, I like to flash a little ankle – as the smallest part of my body I think they’re worth giving them some air time. The Topshop tan paper bag style linen trousers are really nice and currently in the sale at £25. But my heart is with these white cotton culottes from M&S, £45, for sheer versatility. Probably best to wear them when you’re not stuffing your face with spaghetti arrabiata or paella. Finally, I have these H&M linen trousers, £24.99, basic, flattering and wash well. Bit of a mum endorsement but you know it makes sense.


10/ Statement earrings

Pink graphic statement earring and mustard tassels earring Holiday Capsule Wardrobe collage

EAR CANDY: M&S pink graphic earrings, £12.50; Accessorize mustard tassel earrings, £10.

Finally, statement earrings will pimp up any outfit ready for sundowners, supper and late night shenanigans. I’m still very much in love with my tassel earrings, but this season is all about graphic-shaped ear candy. Whatever your preference, there’s a lot of choice. M&S has some crackers (a sentence I never thought I’d write). The jewellery has always been a bit twee for my taste, but SS18 has seen some very cool earrings including these pink beauties, £12.50. Accessorize also surprised me. Although a bit late to the tassel party, its collection of foxy fringing is awesome. Let’s just take moment to appreciate these £10 mustard earrings. Heaven.

The Lexicon Bracknell, The Avenue, Bracknell RG12 1AP

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