I’ve just got back from Paris Fashion Week and realised that I’ve subconsciously dressed as if I was going to a Gallic-themed fancy dress party. Which is fine with me. Read on to hear why theme dressing offers the ideal solution to every packing problem.
Dolce Vita-ready nipped in dresses in Florence, multicoloured tassel sandals in Tulum, English Patient inspired silk blouses and khakis for an African safari—the level of my sartorial predictability is almost comical. And yet. When you’re packing for a trip, it helps to have a general theme in mind to create an interchangeable capsule while you’re away. For Paris, for example, I relied heavily on checks, stripes, polka dots, monochrome, gold jewellery, well-cut blazers, black skinny jeans, stilettos and red lipstick. I’ll always pack crew neck cashmere sweaters, patent shoes and ladylike bags just so I can look like an extra from Belle du Jour. The thing is, as cliché as it sounds, these pieces all slot in with each other, look effortless and chic and make rushed morning dressing, or quick evening changes fuss-free.
When you’re abroad either for work or play, the last thing you want to do is have a wardrobe breakdown. In my teens and early twenties I suffered from desperate wardrobe anxiety. Before any event (and when I say event, I mean going to the local pub on a Friday) after two hours of trying on every single thing I owned, I’d collapse in tears because I couldn’t find anything to wear. Pretty much every occasion was marred by the ‘nothing to wear’ stress—I just didn’t ever seem to be able to get it right.
While it’s been a long time since I’ve descended down that spiral, packing definitely brings out the worst in me. So that’s why I find it helps to have some kind of vision in mind—be it a film inspiration or tips taken from your favourite street star. It’s far easier to pack for a look than confront your whole wardrobe and wonder how the hell you’ll fit in everything you might need for every plausible occasion.
Classics Are King
France—and Paris specifically offers no end of on and off-screen inspiration. This season instead of clamouring for new Vetements (fabulous for some of my girlfriends, but I don’t even wear trainers), I invested in timeless pieces with a twist which offer plenty of wardrobe mileage long beyond fashion week. Take this Paul & Joe shirt—a classic white cotton style given a feminine upgrade with sleeve detailing which feels modern when paired with a vinyl mini skirt. Or the fine navy knit from King & Tuckfield below—the simple wrap neck mades it stand apart from the knit crowd, but it’s still a forever buy.
Steps To Versatility
When it comes to channeling timeless style, accessories are key for things contemporary. Brands like Acne (the white shades and belt below are both by the Swedish label) are always a great bet and clean white is always a palette cleanser to help stop things coming off too costume-y.
Coming back to packing, palette is also important if you want to keep things interchangeable. The four outfits featured would all look equally strong mixed up—the navy sweater with the vinyl skirt for example, or the white shirt with the gingham trousers and the red heels. Black, white, navy and red may not be reinventing the wheel, but you can always rely on them and guarantee you won’t spin into an outfit panic. Another tip is the choice of pattern or texture on the bottom and block colour on top—while clashing prints can be fun, it’s not as versatile.
Believe it or not, I’m actually a very light packer—until you’re flying business with a driver waiting for you at every airport, it’s far chicer not to resemble a cart horse. The trips I did as a stylist’s assistant in my early twenties turned me off overpacking for life and that’s yet another reason why theme dressing works for me—you don’t have to cart the kitchen sink. So whether it’s a Grecian jaunt (cheese cloth off the shoulder dress and a Santorini blue and white colour code) or a trip to Big Sur (Navajo prints and perfect Levi’s cut offs), keep on-theme and packing will be as easy and stress-free no matter what your final destination.