How to pack your suitcase for a short break: in fashion-speak and everyday language

Having a packing dilemma? Here’s how to make the best of your packing and maximise the space in your suitcase, explained in fashion terms (you know, the ones you read in magazines but sometimes struggle to grasp) and in everyday language. To demonstrate, I’ve used an über-practical standard hard shell case that’s suitable for use as hand luggage on the plane.

Packing basic layers for a short break

I’ve got my armery and crazy tights ready…

Know your base layers

Fashionista lingo: Pack interchangeable light pieces that work well as a capsule wardrobe, ideally based on a simple colour palette.

What it means: Take leggings, as they’re lightweight and easy to throw on underneath an outfit to add warmth; not only this, but they hardly take up any room in a case (ditto patterned tights). All your pieces should ideally involve only a few different colours, so that everything can be swapped around and restyled. A recent layer that I’ve found doubly useful is armery by Mary Portas; this clever little product works like a pair of tights for your arms, keeping them looking slim, but also giving you a smart layer to work underneath dresses, tops and shirts.

Ditch the cocktail dresses if you have no intention of partying like it’s the 20s

Fashionista lingo: You might want to look like a jetsetting celeb in Roberto Cavalli, but if your holiday is more cappuccinos and crepes than champagne and caviar then you’ll have to leave the satin number behind.

What it means: Often it’s tempting to add smarter clothing, just in case you happen to come across an appropriate bar, or you get treated to a meal at a very posh restaurant. Well, if you know you’ll be walking for hours on end and then collapsing in a heap in the nearest pub, you might as well admit defeat and forget about the sequins or the really expensive blazer – nobody’s fooled, love. Instead, dress for the break you know you’ll have, not the one you always aspired to go on but will never quite get round to booking.

Suitcase Packing Jewellery

Vivienne Westwood is a girl’s best friend.

Scarves and jewellery are your new best friend

Fashionista lingo: It’s time to accessorize in order to get longevity from your outfits. By adding statement jewellery or a cool scarf, you can transform a practical ensemble into an evening one.

What it means: I pack my trusty Vivienne Westwood platinum orb necklace, plus a few pieces of cheap costume jewellery that I can wear to death; I then add my very blatantly fake Alexander McQueen skull scarf, which goes with everything. It can be used as a wrap or a sarong if necessary, and I could even transform it into a top with a few clever folds and a belt. All these items take up the minimum amount of space but can transform what I’m wearing.

Wear your heaviest and bulkiest clothes on the plane

Fashionista lingo: Dig out your COS coat and Topshop Baxter skinnies for wearing en route, so you take the weight and bulk out of your packing.

What it means: Go for jeans (they’ll come in handy when the plane’s air con comes on, believe me), big coats and elaborate wrap cardigans, if they’re your thing. Any layers you remove can be rolled up and used as makeshift extra pillows, or some kind of defensive barrier should you have the misfortune to be sat next to a screaming child. However, if you really want to don a pair of chunky boots for the flight, just remember that you’ll have to take them off at security and then put them on again in a rush about ten seconds later. In your suitcase, opt for lightweight trainers like Converse or Vans, which have good grip for exploring the city and can withstand a bit of a battering.

Suitcase Packing Scarf

Scarf for winter becomes sarong for summer.

Practical doesn’t have to mean unfashionable

Fashionista lingo: You’re in holiday mode with new climates to adapt to, but this doesn’t mean you need to have a style bypass.

What it means: Even Topshop does ski gear these days, so there’s no excuse not to have thermals that really deliver if you’re heading to a cold climate. Equally, when the sun comes out, try to resist turning into the archetypal Brit on the beach in socks with sandals and a knotted handkerchief over your sweaty brow. Instead, pack cargo shorts, maxi skirts that can be belted and worn as mini-dresses and lightweight shirts or camisoles. Oh, and don’t forget your scarf-as-a-sarong trick.

Get ready to roll

Fashionista lingo: You know how they fold all the clothes really neatly in Gap? Well, you’re going to have to break with convention in your case if you want to avoid unsightly creases on your clothing.

What it means: Your packing method for clothes should be rolling them in a ball. It’s not rocket science; this will cut creases to a minimum and will make the most of the space you have to play with. When you then place everything in the case, it’s also worth putting the items you’ll need first on the outer layers or at the top – that means pyjamas if you’re arriving too late at night to explore the sights! You can then dance around in them whilst playing with the TV in your room and trying to find an amusing foreign soap opera to watch with your room service.

Suitcase Packing Leads

Ok, so I never could afford anything from MiuMiu, but I found the jewellery bag in a charity shop. Still counts, right?

Use jewellery bags or shoe bags to keep all your chargers and leads together

Fashionista lingo: Don’t throw away those handy fabric bags that kept your designer heels or jewels under wraps; instead, save them for storing the chargers to all of your top-of-the-range tech devices.

What it means: This way your much-needed leads and plugs are in a safe place and the wires can’t get tangled easily – fasten them with a cable tie or elastic band for extra organisation. Also, make sure you have two plug converters if you know you’ll need to charge multiple gadgets over a short period of time; they don’t take up much room and are far cheaper to buy before you travel.

So, aside from actually packing your case for you (which I draw the line at), hopefully I’ve given you a helping hand when it comes to getting ready for that much anticipated short break.

Disclaimer: The suitcase used in this post was kindly provided by Tesco Bank Travel Insurance. As ever, all views are my own.

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