It is at this time of year when the change in weather coupled with shorter days and a lack of sun means I start fantasising about getting away from it all and hitting the road.
Whilst doing some early-bird research for Christmas presents, I found the lovely Herb Lester series of guidebooks. I highly recommend you seek them out. Each is tightly focused, and clearly highlights what makes each destination distinctive. I plan on starting with his guide to London and look forward to discovering something new in a city I feel I know so well.
No matter wherever I go there are five items I always include in my travel bag, for your other essentials use my free packing list:
- A silk scarf - is my ultimate travel must-have. From skinny to extra-large, I use them not only add colour but they can give an extra, elegant, layer of warmth without adding bulk. They protect from the vicissitudes of the season and clever styling means they have the potential to transform any outfit. If I really want to make a statement, I’ll wear an extra-large silk scarf as sarong-style skirt over leggings. The silk is of exceptional quality and makes all my scarves feather-light so I tend to bundle a few different sizes into a simple zip bag before adding them into case (always making sure I have a skinny scarf attached to the strap of my handbag).
- The Ava Tunic Dress – I designed this dress with travel in mind, as I needed something versatile to dress up or dress down, making it right for day or evening wear. It might look simple and – of course – it is a classic, chic design but can I draw your attention to the fact that because it is reversible it offers a choice between a deep v-neckline or a more demure, higher cut, depending on which way around you wear it. The neckline features loops through which a scarf or jewellery can be styled, ensuring accessories stay in place and it can be worn belted or loose, depending on the effect you’re after. Furthermore, made from washable modal, a natural breathable fabric, it won’t crease and so is ideal to travel in, or to change into as soon as you unpack.
- There has been an emphatic return to lingerie as outerwear this season, which has made me very happy. I adore a good camisole top and would encourage you to take a look at Lucy Jones Lingerie for inspiration. A silk cami is a great multi-tasker and looksgreat teamed with evening trousers or skirts, or tucked into jeans when you are going for brunch or dinner with friends. Oh yes and you can sleep in them too!
- When space is limited, both beauty and comfort must be taken into account. If I know my weekend plans include an evening event which calls for a little glamour, I will add my Tube Top to the packing list. It really does go with everything: depending on the occasion I may take the sheer Black Silk Organza, which is undeniably sensual; the bold floral design of the Mixed Floral will add an interesting element of art and colour to whatever else I’m wearing, or the Black Silk Twill which embodies classic glamour. Simply put, I know that if I’m wearing a Tube Top I can get away with basic neutrals underneath as the top will make all the statement I need.
- Finally, I get great pleasure from having a stylish bag or case which can double up as a mobile wardrobe during my time away. My next trip will be by car so I have chosen to take this retro-styled suit-case, which is actually made from cardboard. When it’s not packed for a weekend away, it doubles as a receptacle for all the loose papers and magazines which otherwise clutter up my desk as they wait be filed.These suitcases have been a tour de force for over 80 years and are still produced in the Czech Republic. They are very solid and I love the attention to detail: corners and edges are bent out of the same piece of cardboard, the side pieces are riveted on; the corners as well as the edges are reinforced with steel sheet; the wooden slats on the outside, and in the larger suitcase inner wooden frames, provide reassuring stability. They come in a choice of sizes and colours and are very reasonably priced.
Download my very handy checklist for holiday packing.
All thanks, as ever, to the super-talented Ian Wallman for these beautiful images.