This summer, fashion pays homage to the glamorous, jet-setting holiday-maker. The spring/summer 2010 international catwalks featured the sort of travel-friendly clothing that normally inhabits a parallel universe, a world of parrot- and palm-tree prints, wafting kaftans in rainbow animal prints, shiny gold bikinis and strappy gold sandals, shorts, tote bags, Jackie O sunnies and floppy sunhats.
If ever there were a time to create the ultimate capsule wardrobe, this is it. Fluttering featherweight fabrics abound. Competing for "It" status is that classic holiday perennial, the blazer - its main rivals being kaftans and shorts, both previously out of bounds for the fashion-conscious traveller. Miuccia Prada's current collection, featuring swaying palm trees, deck chairs and golden sands, was actually inspired by a beach scene in Japan. Meanwhile the Chloé bag-of-the-season has a parrot print emblazoned on the front. Are designers saying we should be dressing as if we were on holiday even when we aren't? You'd think so, looking around at those simplest of summery staples, the common T-shirt and T-shirt dress. This summer these have been injected with glamour and cut to fall loosely away from the body, rather than hug it skin-tight. All of which makes this season's clothing perfect for UAE fashionistas at home or abroad.
Accessories couldn't be more suited to resort wear. Bold, statement jewellery, the sort that can transform a long tunic and combat shorts into an evening combo, are available everywhere, from Lanvin to Promod. The best news of all is that Jimmy Choo has embraced the flat gladiator sandal, a style worn by Roman invaders with the very purpose of sightseeing in far-off lands.
If this all sounds too good to be true, it is: packing light is virtually impossible because we now find ourselves spoilt for choice.
Where to start? What to include? Read on to discover which are the definitive pieces needed to create a mix and match, multitasking capsule holiday wardrobe that also ticks the right boxes for all the hottest trends of the season.
When you're travelling on a limited wardrobe, everything needs to go interchangeably with everything else, so it's lucky that this summer is all about neutrals and bleached-out pastels (blush pink, buttery biscuit, ivory, flesh, pale grey and beige) punched up with fluorescent blasts of colour (such as fuchsia, yellow, red, cobalt and lilac) and prints. Stick to an even colourway (such as khaki and beige) for the main pieces and add a few light-to-carry, brightly coloured or rainbow-print tops and scarves in digi, tie-dye and animal (tiger, python, ocelot, giraffe or leopard) to keep things varied.
Really important this, for dressing up the simplest basics - especially if you want to look smart enough to secure an upgrade at check-in. Most fashionable is the slim-fitting long blazer in a biscuit or pale pink shade. Push up the sleeves and wear open with a satchel, scarf and shorts. The latest cruisewear collections have all pounced on the leather trend (which promises to be huge this autumn). Be the first to wear suede or millimetre-fine calfskin in biker jackets or waistcoats. Rick Owens, Matthew Williamson, Banana Republic and Gap Edition are the best hunting grounds. Also pack a slim-cut denim shirt (not jacket; this is now passé) to throw over a dress for the evenings.
The maxi dress is "It" in terms of the silhouette of summer. Ticks all trend boxes from festival to prints. Team with flat sandals or wedgies, a scarf and piles of jewellery. But almost as versatile is the one-shoulder cotton jersey printed T-shirt dress, which goes from day to evening effortlessly. Most useful in a vibrant colour that won't show dirt, you can also find it in silk for the evening, requiring a jazzy belt. Look out for the label Ports 1961, designed by Tia Cibani, a favourite with fashion industry types because of its innovative fabrics, which pack light, are versatile and don't crease.
Coloured or white jeans are a classic holiday staple, and smarter than blue denim, so they can act as the perfect bottom half to both long tunics for day and floaty, silky tops for evening, making an outfit that is appropriate for dining at flashy restaurants and hotels. Cropped harem pants are also perfect for round-the-clock glamour, with flats during the day and va-va-voom heels at night. As for shorts, the modern way to wear them is with a longer length jersey tunic top, blazer or asymmetric "coatigan". The rule is: the older you are, the looser/longer shorts should be. Combat-style and three-quarter-lengths are another option. All-in-one playsuits are trendy but only for the young and slim, and they're not versatile enough to make it into the suitcase.
The printed kaftan or tunic is a must-buy and doubles as beach cover-up and evening top-half. Wallis, Monsoon, Antik Batik, Milly and Melissa Obadabash have great styles. Pair it with a slinky top underneath. Zara, H&M and Monsoon have cheaper options. For something more neutral and practical, T-shirts remain a perennial holiday favourite. "I always pack lots of jersey pieces, tanks and tees by T by Alexander Wang, James Perse, J.Crew or Rick Owens," says Holli Rogers, buying director of Net-a-Porter.com. "They are great layering pieces so you can create a variety of looks but they don't take up too much space and they don't crease." Look out for flattering A-line swing shapes and diffusion designer lines.
Flat gladiators are everywhere again this season. Go for a pair with straps, studs, mirrors and tassles, which can inject fashion into a daywear ensemble. Wedges add height, make legs look longer and are easier to walk in for the evening than skinny heels. Whatever you do, don't forget a pedicure. For swimwear, animal print is the key trend this season: think glamour. Diane von Furstenberg, Missoni, Tomas Maier and Next also have colourful one pieces that offer figure-contouring support.
For the beach and beyond, a straw hat is very wearable. "A straw fedora is an absolute must right now," says Rogers. "Not only does it add a touch of cool to any outfit, it's perfect for concealing any holiday hair woes and it protects your face from the sun." Trendy travellers are also loving straw boaters by Albertus Swanepoel (net-a-porter.com). Jewellery will vary your outfit, which means it's a must-pack for holidays. Just one stand-out pair of elaborate gold hoop or dangly earrings, a whopping statement necklace and clunking bangle (or colourful chunky watch by Swatch or ToyWatch) are all you need. If you can't justify a gold/turquoise necklace by Lanvin, check out Frey Wille, Mawi, Philippe Audibert and Accessorize.
A sturdy tote is always a sound investment - make it big enough to use as carry-on luggage but chic enough to take to the city streets or local markets. American brands such as Coach Leatherwear have reversible styles with leather handles that are chic and cheerful. Hands-free, strap-across-the-body bags and satchels - from Louis Vuitton to Proenza Schouler's much copied PS1 bag - are another option, and far safer than a tiny clutch.
For sunglasses, it's a choice between geek and glam: giant oval lenses remain fashionable but are under threat from Cutler and Gross's D-frames, classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers and Aviators and Alexander Wang's debut cats eyes, which really cement the American tourist circa 1950s look. But let's face it, they don't use up much packing room, so why not take them all?
1. Make a list and stick to it. No more than one of anything (besides tops and underwear!) 2. Only pick multitasking pieces. 3. Fasten buttons and zips so nothing catches or tears. 4. Fold along seams before laying flat. 5. Lay shoes at the bottom and sides of your case with rolled-up underwear and anything in jersey (T-shirts, swimming costumes etc) inside. 6. Start with long garments like dresses or trousers and pile shorter separates on top. 7. Wrap tissue paper around silk pieces and roll rather than fold to avoid creasing.
8. Wear heavier things (avoid white) and jewellery to travel. 9. A pashminas or shawl is better on a long-haul flight than a jacket. 10. Keep cleansers and cosmetics to a minimum. Decant in plastic bottles and put in sealable plastic bags as per airport security instructions.