The Art Of Packing
Going on holiday can be a bit of a double-edged sword sometimes. Of course it’s nice to get away from all the hustle and bustle, concrete and crowds, morning wake-ups and Monday blues. But with the opportunity to get away from it all also comes the stress of having to pack to get away from it all. And we all know what a nightmare that can be.
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a one week summer holiday capsule wardrobe for those of you who are heading off to sandier shores while you still can. Like most other capsule wardrobes, the pieces included are simple, classic and versatile (with the occasional twist) and will see you through any situation, be it relaxing in the sun or doing shots at the bar…
But first things first, a few general guidelines to follow. As always, make sure that your clothes fit you properly. Nothing ruins a good outfit quicker than an ill-fitting garment, whether it be a blazer or pair of shorts.
Secondly, nail your luggage bag. You want something sturdy and reliable that you know can take a beating from being lugged around overseas. In most cases, we’d advise a leather holdall (wheels optional) as you’ll be able to fit everything you need into it with ease and its simple design makes travelling simple – no surprise pockets and zips to forget where you put your passport.
Thirdly, remember that you’ll be travelling in clothes too. People so often forget this and don’t realise it’s an opportunity to wear some of the items you intend to wear on holiday, creating room for more in your bag.
Consider something along the lines of a pair of dark indigo jeans/navy chinos, a grey t-shirt/polo, brown loafers and a lightweight jacket, such as a beige cotton Harrington (if your style edges toward casual) or cotton-linen blend sports coat (if you like to dress more refined).
So, without any more delay, let’s breakdown the pieces we recommend you pack:
A Pair Of Neutral Swimming Shorts
That can double up as a pair of shorts when at the beach bar.
Look for versions similar to those produced by Orlebar Brown (think their iconic ‘Bulldog’ mid-length style), which feature a tailored cut, side adjusters for the perfect fit and clean lines. They should end a couple of inches above the knee to ensure ultimate versatility.
There’s no need for any fancy patterns here as we’re aiming for a pair that can be mixed and matched with the other items in your bag. Prioritise shades of blue, grey and brown.
Pockets would also be useful, to carry your wallet/card holder and mobile.
- Asos Swim Shorts With Contrast Waistband And Hems In Short Length
- Asos Swim Shorts In Mid Length
- Asos Swim Shorts In Mid Length
- Orlebar Brown Bulldog Mid-length Swim Shorts
- Orlebar Brown Bulldog Mid-length Swim Shorts
- Sunspel Mid-length Swim Shorts
A Pair Of Lightweight Grey Chinos
These will be your go-to trousers in the evening.
Grey goes with every colour under the sun and chinos can be dressed up or down with ease, especially if you opt for a slim- or straight-fitting pair.
Roll them up above the ankle if things start getting a bit sticky. However, if you prioritise lightweight cotton or linen fabrics then you should maintain your cool.
- Asos Tapered Chinos
- Asos Slim Chinos
- Diesel Chinos Chi-reg Straight Fit
- He By Mango Slim-fit 5 Pocket Cotton Trousers
- Topman Light Grey Vintage Slim Chinos
- Farah Vintage Drake Chinos In Grey
Navy & Khaki Shorts
These are going to end up becoming the work horse of your holiday wardrobe, so it’s worth investing in quality, durable materials here.
They should feature the same fit as your swim shorts and be as clean and minimal as possible, so no cargo pockets or pull strings please.
Navy and khaki/beige are arguably two of the most versatile colours available to men and shorts in these hues can be paired with every other top included on this list, including anchoring any statement options.
- He By Mango Rolled-up Hem Cotton Bermuda Shorts
- J.crew Stanton Cotton-twill Shorts
- Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts
- Uniqlo Men Chino Shorts
- Topman Blue Chino Turn Up Shorts
- Ted Baker Bagend Chino Short
A Handful Of Polo Shirts/T-Shirts
These are the work horses of your torso. Both should be cut slim but not skinny, ending just below your waist, and the sleeves should finish at mid-bicep level.
Pick hues that you know won’t clash with the legwear you’re taking. Neutrals such as blue, grey, brown, white and black are always safe options, but if you want to inject some colour (you’re on holiday after all), consider those that complement or contrast well against your grey, khaki and blue base tones, such as shades of red, yellow, pink and green.
- Sunspel Riviera Cotton-mesh Polo Shirt
- Reiss Wilson Patch Pocket Polo Shirt
- He By Mango Cotton Pique Polo Shirt
- Uniqlo Men Supima Cotton V Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt
- J.crew Cotton-jersey Crew Neck T-shirt
- Reiss Bless Crew Neck T-shirt
A Pair Of Espadrilles
A grown-up and more refined alternative to flip-flops, you’ll be wearing these a lot.
Neutral pairs in blue, white, beige or brown will not only work with every other item on this list, they’ll also slot seamlessly into your warm-weather wardrobe when you get back home.
They needn’t cost the Earth – brands such as Dune, ALDO, Topman, River Island and ASOS all produce low cost versions that will safely see you through your holiday and the rest of summer.
Prioritise those with breathable canvas uppers and a traditional jute rope sole to ensure comfort in the heat.
- Selected Homme Espadrilles
- Topman Navy Pinstripe Canvas Espadrilles
- River Island Grey Mesh Slip On Plimsolls
- Dune Frampton Canvas Grey
- Dune Fence Cotton Espadrilles Navy
- Welland Espadrilles
A Chambray Shirt
Chambray is a lightweight and breathable alternative to denim. A short- or long-sleeved shirt in the material is perfect to take with you to the beach when your skin needs a break from the sun, or for wearing later on in the evening when there’s a bit of a breeze.
This shirt is also extremely versatile, hides stains well (great for nights out) and doesn’t highlight sweat. What more could you want?
Dress it up with your chinos, loafers and, if applicable, sports coat for an evening meal, or combine with your shorts and espadrilles/boat shoes for a day spent sightseeing.
- Reiss Rhodes Slim-fit Chambray Shirt
- He By Mango Slim-fit Chambray Shirt
- Topman Slim-fit Chambray Shirt
- J.crew Slim-fit Chambray Shirt
- A.p.c. Lightweight Chambray Shirt
- Jigsaw Chambray Placket Slim Shirt
A Pair Of Boat Shoes
A true summer footwear silhouette, boat shoes are extremely comfortable and will adapt to any holiday scenario – taking you effortlessly from the beach, to the restaurant, to the club and the long walk back to the hotel, all without breaking a sweat.
Navy, grey or brown leather/suede versions are best in this scenario.
- Topman Navy Leather Boat Shoes
- Sperry Boat Shoes
- Jack & Jones Suede Boat Shoes
- He By Mango Suede Boat Shoes
- Lacoste Sumac Boat Shoes
- Quoddy Leather Boat Shoes
A Statement Short-Sleeved Shirt
This can either be in a bright colour or bold pattern. Tropical/Hawaiian prints are huge right now, but florals work just as well and are a perennial spring/summer trend.
In terms of fit, there are two main areas you need to focus on: the sleeves and shoulders. The shirt should fit well across your shoulders without being too tight around your chest or through the sides. As for the sleeves, they should finish around mid-bicep and allow a single finger between the fabric and your arm.
Just remember that you should only be wearing one statement piece at a time when your outfits are so stripped back, so look to anchor this shirt with your neutral shorts, indigo jeans or grey chinos.
- Neighborhood Printed Short-sleeved Cotton Shirt
- Reiss Concorde Diamond Print Shirt
- J.crew Printed Chambray Shirt
- J.crew Button-down Collar Cotton Short-sleeve Shirt
- Jigsaw Fine Poplin 50s Short Sleeve Shirt
- River Island Turquoise Grandad Shirt
Navy Linen Short-Sleeved Shirt
An item every man should have in their spring/summer wardrobe. Linen is so light that you’ll forget you’re even wearing it, meaning this shirt will transition from a long day at the beach to a night out, no sweat (literally).
Not only that, navy helps prevent the see-through aspect of the fabric, works with every other hue under the sun and can look sharp and formal in the evenings too.
Again, you want it in a similar fit to your statement version.
- Billy Reid Linen-chambray Short-sleeve Shirt
- Asos Shirt In Short Sleeve With Linen Mix
- John Lewis Fine Stripe Short Sleeve Linen Shirt
- John Lewis & Co. Linen Short Sleeve Shirt
- Boss Marco_1 Navy Short Sleeve Slim Fit Linen Shirt
- M&s Collection Linen Blend Short Sleeve Shirt
Whether you opt for bright colours or striking patterns, the same rules apply here as they did for the statement shirt.
Keep the rest of your outfit restrained if the pattern is bold or adventurous and anchor them with neutral pieces if you opt for a bright colour such as pink, green or yellow.
- He By Mango Grosgrain Trim Printed Bermuda Shorts
- Asos Chino Shorts With Print
- Solid Shorts With Anchor Embroidery
- Reiss Wicker Tailored Chino Shorts
- He By Mango Rolled-up Hem Bermuda Shorts
- Acne Studios Bermuda Cotton-twill Shorts
A Long-Sleeved Breton Striped Top
Yes, you will need something with long sleeves while on holiday.
Whether the weather is not quite living up to expectations or you’re simply sitting on the balcony in the breeze of the early morning, this top will be worn more times than you think.
It’s also a great item to travel home in as transitioning back to the cold and dreary UK climate is no mean feat.
- Gant Rugger Jumper With Breton Stripe
- Topman Navy And Off White Slubby Stripe Jersey Longsleeve T-shirt
- Reiss Island Stripe Long Sleeve Top
- Oliver Spencer Striped Cotton-pique Henley T-shirt
- He By Mango Striped Henley T-shirt
- River Island Ecru Stripe Long Sleeve T-shirt
Another Item Of Your Choice
This depends entirely on your situation, and only you’ll know what extra piece to take. After all, not all holidays are the same and neither is your personal style.
If you’re flying somewhere that you know will be all about beaches, beaches and more beaches, pack another pair of swimming shorts in an interesting colour or pattern, and maybe even a couple of vests.
If you know it’s going be more about eating out in the evening and experiencing new cultures, another long-sleeved shirt could be included, or even a tie.
If you’re heading to a place where high society roams, it might be an idea to include a navy sports coat or pair of white trousers for formal occasions. Again, only you’ll know the answer to this.
A belt is an essential accessory home or abroad, and our recommendation would be a plaited/woven version in tan or brown leather. A nice balance of smart and casual, the plaited detailing adds a touch of texture and character to any look and the brown will pair nicely with the shoes you’re taking.
Of course, if you’re heading somewhere hot, sunglasses are another necessity, while other considerations might be a canvas strap watch or hat to shield your face/head from the sun. Either way, all of these accessories can be worn as part of your travelling outfit, ensuring there is more room in your bag.
- Asos Plaited Belt
- Andersons Brown 3.5cm Woven-leather Belt
- He By Mango Braided Leather Belt
- Ray-ban Round Sunglasses
- Blue Harbour Luxury Panama Hat
- Daniel Wellington Nottingham Gold Canvas Strap Watch
General Packing/Travelling Tips
Rolling Your Clothes
Backpackers swear by this packing method. Simply lay the item face down, fold it in half length ways, tuck in any excess and then roll from the bottom up tightly. Place the garment inside your bag and repeat until done.
You’ll be surprised at how little your clothes crease this way:
The Bundle Method
The bundle method of packing involves carefully wrapping your clothes around a central core object, thus avoiding the folds that result in creases.
It takes skill to pull it off successfully and you need luggage that opens up and lays flat to do this, such as a traditional carry-on suitcase.
It’s a difficult method to describe in text, so take a look at the video below for a thorough explanation:
As you can see, what you end up with is a ‘bundle’ of clothes that looks like a pillow. You can pick it up in one piece, it’s compactly packed and doesn’t waste space in your luggage. Definitely a technique worth mastering.
Steam Out The Creases
Find that your collection of shirts or linen sports coat didn’t travel quite as well as you had hoped? You can get rid (or at least reduce) creases at your destination by hanging items in the bathroom while you take a hot shower – the steam created by the shower makes the creases drop right out. Ideal when you don’t have an iron to hand.
That said, you do have to persevere with this method. Once clothing is slightly damp from the steam, give it a couple of sharp shakes and pull into shape.
Preparing to go on holiday is stressful enough, without having to consider packing for every eventuality. The capsule wardrobe above is able to deal with any scenario that might crop up, from sightseeing and sunbathing to eating out or a night on the tiles.
But as always, we want to hear from you – is there anything you’d change on this list? Are there any tricks and tips you’d like to share with us when it comes to packing and travelling? Any horror stories you’d like to reveal?
Let us know in the comments section…