Perfect packers are few and far between. Most of us are over packers (who else suffers from One More Thing syndrome?) or under packers (who end up panic shopping on holiday). Want to get it right? Ask fashion editor Antonia Kraskowski, who's spent years honing her technique - and is willing to share her secrets...
Style Notes: Antonia Kraskowski
You're going away on a summer break and we're limiting you to hand luggage only. What do you take and how do you style it?
Years of travelling for work and having to pack for a week into a carry on have made me ruthless - you never need as much as you think you will. I tend to stick to the rule of three - three colours and/or three of every item (except underwear; always pack extra pants).
The rule of three plus a clear colour palette means that you should be able to mix and match everything. For my packing palette I tend to stick to monochrome and add one colour or rogue pattern.
The rule of three also extends to swimwear - usually three bikinis - one black for the start when i’m pale and two colourful for later when I’m tanned. Instead of a kaftan I tend to prefer a cotton dress to throw over my swimwear or a loose shirt that I can wear with the denim shorts.
You've worked in fashion for years, what genius tips have you picked up about packing like a pro?
As I’m packing, I make sure that everything is as crease free as possible. And then I roll it - not only does this stop items from creasing further, but it means you can get almost three times as much in your suitcase. If I’m taking a hat, I’ll stuff that with non-creasing items such as underwear then place it at the bottom of the case, packing around it to keep it’s shape. My secret weapon though is a handheld steamer - no stylist is ever without one.
Does your holiday style differ from that in your day-to-day life - or is it a variation on a theme?
In my day-to-day style, I typically stick to a palette of black, grey, white and one pop of colour or pattern and that tends to carry through to my holiday style. Much of what I will wear in London will also end up in my suitcase. For example, I might wear a Leopard Print Dress with a biker jacket, trainers and cross body bag in the city, but on holiday I’ll team the same dress with some simple sandals and a circular raffia bag for when we explore our surroundings.
What do you wear to travel in comfort and style?
It can be hard to get travel outfits right but I love a good jumpsuit as it’s far more comfortable than travelling in jeans. I look for one in a mid-weight cotton with buttons down the front to avoid unnecessary flapping around in the tiny plane loo. I’ll wear trainers or sandals with it and throw a cosy cashmere jumper, warm socks and an oversized scarf in my bag that I can use as a blanket on the plane when the air con gets turned up.
Best swimwear buying tips?
When you’re shopping for swimwear, don’t be afraid to size up or down and try something that you wouldn’t normally go for. My tactic is to order a lot and try it all on from the privacy of my home rather than getting red faced struggling against lycra and dealing with unflattering changing room lighting.
When it comes to dressing your shape, there’s something out there for everyone. If you want to add curves, prints and bold colours will add oomph. If on the other hand you want to downplay a part of your body, distract by drawing the eye to your best assets instead. If you want to make your legs look endless, go for a style cut high on the thighs. If you’re overly blessed up top, an underwired style can make all of the difference to your beach body confidence.
Regrettable fact: shoes are heavy and take up valuable suitcase space. How many pairs (and what type of shoes) do you take on hols?
When I’m going on a beach holiday, I also stick to the rule of three when it comes to shoes! I pack a pair of flip flops for the day, trainers for travelling/exploring plus a pair of pretty flats in black or tan for the evenings.
How do you accessorise your holiday wardrobe?
I try to keep the accessories simple when I’m away. Most of the time I find too much jewellery cloying and end up ditching it by the third day. I’ll take three necklaces in varying lengths that I can layer up or wear individually plus three pairs of earrings - small hoops, larger hoops and some statement earrings such a tassel style. I tend to ditch bracelets and watches but I’ll usually end up adding a few beaded bracelets or something with tassels or pom poms at the last minute.
What are your top 5 holiday style updates from the summer collection?
Black Frayed Denim Shorts - I am on a never-ending quest for the perfect pair of black denim shorts. They must be slightly loose in the fit, washed to faded perfection and most importantly, my bum cheeks must not hang out. These will be the perfect addition to my carefully curated hand-luggage-only packing!
Santorini Bag - nothing says summer quite like a raffia bag. This one is the perfect size for both the plane and the beach. Plus the black colour way will look equally chic in the city as the sand.
Bay Dress - I’ve never been one for kaftans at the beach. For ultimate beach to bar style I prefer to throw on a lightweight cotton dress such as a maxi that looks much more pulled together and will give my skin a chance to recover from the sun.
Eleanor Sandals - Unless you're on a swanky cruise that require black tie every evening, life is too short for heels on holiday. Pack a pair of practical flats like these for both day and night.
Bardot Sunglasses - I never travel without them, and this spectacularly oversized pair will complete every holiday look.
My summer holiday this year...
So far we have two short trips planned to Ibiza and Santorini (both hand luggage only!) but we’re also hoping to head to the beaches of Croatia for a longer break later in the summer.
I never travel without…
Sunglasses, one change of clothes and one bikini in my hand bag in case my luggage goes missing!
Summer beauty essentials…
If you try to separate me from my waterproof mascara or my Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour cream there will be trouble.
What will you be reading on the beach?
Anything that I can get my hands on! My number one pastime by the pool is devouring books - from gripping thrillers to lighthearted chick lit. I’m recommending What Fresh Hell by Lucy Vine and The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine to everyone.
Favourite staycation/further flung holiday?
Favourite staycation - drinking prosecco and riding bicycles with my new husband at Soho Farmhouse for our mini moon. Given two weeks off and endless airmiles, I’d love to revisit Tulum in Mexico. It has incredible sand that doesn’t heat up so you can literally go barefoot all day.
Illustrations by Valeria Rienzi.