x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Packing light will give your holiday room to breathe

When packing for a holiday, ask yourself a few questions: where am I going and will I need it? Does it serve a solid purpose? Does it fit? Can it be worn through the daytime and the evening?

When packing for a holiday, ask yourself a few questions: where am I going and will I need it? Does it serve a solid purpose? Does it fit? Can it be worn through the daytime and the evening?
When packing for a holiday, ask yourself a few questions: where am I going and will I need it? Does it serve a solid purpose? Does it fit? Can it be worn through the daytime and the evening?

I have been avoiding tackling the "packing situation" like a child avoids broccoli. We are bombarded with advice on how to pack for trips at this time of year and, let's face, it isn't easy. Most of us who have spent the last few seasons streamlining our wardrobe towards a more unforgiving climate have almost but forgotten what we once wore in a more unpredictable climate.

We get stuck in a style rut in Abu Dhabi; sure, it's more out of necessity than anything else due to the extremities, but it's a rut nonetheless. Yet while we often feel overwhelmed about what to pack and what not to, when it comes to experimenting with style all it takes is a little jolt to kick us back into shape. Straying from our comfort zone is when we gain knowledge, so use this time to re-evaluate how you dress. Deciding what to pack while staring aimlessly into a heap of clothes is stressful. Coats dangling perilously from hangers, jumpers scrunched in a ball at the back of a wardrobe, T-shirts mixed in with summer dresses - where do we start?

Well, without stating the obvious, ask yourself a few questions: where am I going and will I need it? Does it serve a solid purpose? Does it fit? Can it be worn through the daytime and the evening? More than a few "nos" means it has to go. Your first step should be getting rid of things; then there will be less to organise. Holding on to those few extra items that might be useful is where the tumbleweed starts to gain motion.

After this, learn how to compartmentalise; instead of buying some wheels for your wardrobe (like some do), lay everything out and begin to separate what you have into groupings. Eliminate what you don't love from each pile, and then you can move on to putting actual outfits together. Even if you avoid colour for most of the year, step out of your comfort zone for your holiday wardrobe. Experiment with pattern and bold print, but make sure to keep things loose and stick to mostly cotton so that items can double up; for example, a dress can be worn as a beach cover and to an evening dinner with a pair of heels. We often forget completely about a beach coverup (probably all our angst has gone into the bikini situation) when really it should be one of our most important buys. After all, you will be wearing it for most of the day from the beach to long lazy evenings, so this should be one item you don't scrimp on.

Jonathon Saunders does some fantastic statement coverups, as does Isabel Marant and Diane von Furstenburg. A good quality, soft white blouse will probably be what you refer to most, and some of the best finds can actually be found on holiday in and around the local markets, depending on where you go. Again, go for the softest of cottons and try to go for a length mid-thigh so you can put it over a swimsuit.

When it comes to the physical act of packing, much needed space can be saved by rolling belts and scarves up, as they will be able to fit into the tight spaces left in the suitcase. Organise tights, socks, and any cotton T-shirts by balling them up and keeping in a separate bag, (I use a laundry bag) which will also save space and avoid the dreaded mass tangle. Make sure to protect delicate clothes or anything silk with garment bags, as I have seen many a wardrobe ruined this way.

And remember, it's a true testament to a woman's style if she can pack light, if she can swan in gracefully with one neat suitcase, leaving the rest of them to stumble around with eight sets of wheels. Plus, it's always important to make space for the new.

ktrotter@thenational.ae