It's fashionable to dig out favourite (designer) holiday pieces, rather than wearing flashy new ones.
Holiday wardrobes for the recession chic
Just a week to go before my holiday and for once I am determined not to overpack or overspend in the run-up to it. So far, I've resisted shopping in the summer sales, which seem to consist entirely of hippie couture fashion "bargains". (Er, I don't think so. Isn't it strange how billowing maxis suddenly look dated?) Paparazzi snaps of folks holidaying in the Hamptons are starting to filter in (can't wait to see what Michelle Obama wears!), and why am I not surprised there is an absence of uber glamorous, crazy animal print kaftans, clunking ethnic jewellery and gladiator sandals?
Judging by the beach and boardwalk-as-catwalk celebrity pictures at the Siren Music Festival at Coney Island or Sarah Jessica Parker and Tamara Mellon partying in Nantucket, a neat and preppy trend is emerging. At Siren, the stripy nautical Breton top - ideally worn and weathered - was the item du jour. It's equally fashionable (and rather upper crust) to dig out favourite (designer) holiday pieces rather than wearing flashy new ones, regardless of how old they are.
This is all great news because my summer trip will begin with a friend's wedding in the French artisan village of St Paul-de-Vence and wind up in Edinburgh for the festival. Believe me - you can't pull off the Talitha Getty-in-Morocco look in Scotland. So what am I packing? In the spirit of an aspiring recessionista, I've bought five brilliant multitasking items that will work with existing wardrobe favourites such as my fake lizard skin slouchy handbag by Next, which could easily pass for a python Zagliani and doubles as a travel pillow.
I am going to be really daring on this trip and not even take a jacket. I found an amazing alpaca grey cardigan coat at Zadig & Voltaire's flagship store in Saint-Germain during the Paris haute couture. It is the perfect anecdote to air conditioning and the sometimes chilly French wind, Le Mistral. It's also very Chanel, or at least will look it when I pair it with the one item of real Chanel I own, a fabulous chain belt.
Last week I bought a David Szeto pre-collection pale grey jersey dress in London. (Every holiday needs a new dress.) I was so impressed with the day appeal of this American designer's pre-fall evening styles (dismissing that age-old fashion equation evening into day will go) that I couldn't resist. The remaining items all fit into my shiny Next handbag. My new tortoiseshell Benjamin Eyewear sunglasses are very Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote (don't laugh; this woman is the icon for the new fashion season) and are incredibly comfortable.
And speaking of comfort, the Spanish shoe label Chie Mihara does brilliant high heels you can actually walk in - something essential for holidays. Last month, I bought a pair of three-inch heeled rubber sole clogs that go with everything and I've not stopped wearing them since. Unlike delicate Pradas or Louboutins, these also won't get caught in cobblestones. Last but not least, I pack lipstick and perfume. I always thought Anna Wintour types stuck rigidly to one brand of lipstick or perfume but apparently they update seasonally according to the fashionable shade or scent.
At the recent couture shows, all the breathless fashionistas wore a flash of dark purple on their lips. This was Nars's Fast Ride. Ladies, if you buy nothing else, this is a holiday must-have. In Paris, I also noted the air had changed from sweetly floral (Creed and Antonia's Flowers were still faintly detectable) to aromatic with the distinctly Arabian notes of patchouli, saffron and sandalwood. I was tempted to go for one of this summer's new launches such as Chopard's oriental-smelling Cascade, Halston's patchouli-infused Woman, or the trendsetting Arabian Wood from Tom Ford's Private Blend range. But then I thought, instead of a copy, why not go for the original?
So I'm heading off to Marina Mall to track down a traditional Arabic perfume, something sweet and woody such as Esraa Oil by Rasasi: a scent with the power to bring back happy memories long after my holiday is over.