There’s never been a better time to create your own holiday capsule wardrobe. Knowing what clothes to pack for trips abroad is stressful enough without worrying about cabin bag restrictions and the price of checked-in luggage. Sticking to an essential edit narrow your packing down 10 summer staples to see you through any sunny getaway.
The key to a good holiday capsule wardrobe is versatility, so invest in multifunctional clothing that can easily transition from day to night. For instance, a black swimsuit is an essential for beachy holidays but can also double as an evening top; while a light, open jacket will work as a chic cover-up by the pool, a light jacket on those chillier evenings and can even be styled with a belt to become an on-trend wrap dress.
Even better, we’ve done all the hard work for you by selecting the key pieces you need in your holiday capsule wardrobe. Simply pick one item from each category and you’ll be set for summer 2023 – and many years to come, as these classic designs will never date.
1. The day-to-night dress
A day-to-night dress is a true holiday staple. Floaty midaxi styles are the most versatile; crafted from airy fabrics like cotton and jersey, they work as beach cover-ups during the day but are easily elevated come evening with a belt and statement jewellery. We particularly love how M&S' halterneck dress looks underpinned with a white T-shirt – the added coverage is just what you need to stay protected from the sun when you’re sight-seeing.
2. The classic Breton Tee
A t-shirt is a fashion staple that deserves a place in your suitcase this summer – and a space in your wardrobe every season, in GH’s opinion. Even better, a Breton version will elevate linen trousers for evening looks or add a chic touch to denim shorts during the day. But if you want something a little different to the classic navy or blue stripe, this season Cos has a bright green version available.
3. The wide-leg trousers
Whether you choose a tailored fit or looser jogger style, wide-leg trousers are always a great option for holidays – plus, a drawstring design makes for a comfy but chic airport look. Although you may think trousers are the last thing you want to wear in the heat, lightweight options cut from chambray, linen or jersey will keep you cool all day.
4. The Midaxi skirt
A true summer staple, the midaxi skirt can be easily elevated from casual daywear to a more evening-appropriate look – simply by switching out a T-shirt for a delicate camisole and adding a swipe of lipstick. You can choose whether you want to make a statement with summery prints or stick to more versatile, neutral colour palettes. Our go-to is the roomy tiered skirt (especially Boden's, with its elasticated waist) which is both effortlessly chic and ultra comfy.
5. The flattering swimsuit
Despite probably having a drawer full of swimwear at home, you only need one good swimsuit for your holidays. Invest in timeless patterns such as paisley and Breton stripes or, alternatively, black for a bit of understated elegance. We love how halterneck styles and asymmetric straps add polish to poolside looks and make a swimsuit stylish enough to wear as a top (simply layer a midaxi skirt and light jacket over the top) in the evening.
6. The comfy sandals
Uncomfortable shoes on holiday are a big no no – nobody wants blisters or aching arches to ruin sight-seeing trips and evening strolls along the promenade. So, choose a flat sandal with some support and cushioning (for extra height, go for anything with a flatform). And if you’re looking for a more dressy option, opt for a minimal strappy design; they always look chic and will go with everything in your suitcase.
7. The straw bag
A straw tote isn’t just for the beach. These lightweight bags are perfect for all kinds of holiday occasions where you want to add a boho touch – and we love how they look with pretty summer dresses. This season, the high street is full of oversized styles with luxe accents such as bamboo handles, leather trims and fringing. If you’re worried about security with these open top designs, go for M&S' as it has an added interior pocket for your valuables
8. The chic sunhat
A chic sunhat is a must when you’re travelling to warmer climes. A wide-brimmed boater or fedora will keep your face protected from the sun's rays and add a touch of glam to the simplest of outfits – this season’s styles feature cut-outs, decorative bows and crochet.
9. The throw-on shirt
From tunics to boxy button-downs, a throw-on shirt is ideal for layering over a bikini in the day and wearing with trousers in the evening – it even doubles as a lightweight jacket to style over summer dresses. When it comes to cut anything oversized goes, but stick to lightweight fabrics such as linen and cotton to make sure yours is cool and airy.
10. The light jacket
It’s always a good idea to take a light jacket on your holidays – we all know how evenings can get a little chilly when you’re eating al fresco. If you’re looking for something more versatile than a denim jacket or a cardigan, try a robe. Usually worn as a beach cover-up, you can also throw this style over evening dresses, and use it to elevate a simple camisole and trousers combo. Plus, we love how a longer-line version can be cinched with a leather waist belt to create a cool wrap dress.
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