Glynis Traill-Nash, THE AUSTRALIAN
Australians understand better than most how to do a summer holiday. Whether you’re jetting off to a luxury resort to swan by the pool or simply driving up or down your nearest coast, no one embraces a water-based holiday quite as robustly as us. But packing for this most relaxed of holidays often can induce peak stress levels.
Consider the lists on this page your starting point when tackling the packing. But leave it to the experts to offer up some bonus tips to carry with you.
First point of packing: it’s a holiday. Don’t pack anything that requires high or ongoing maintenance once you’ve arrived. You don’t want to spend every morning or night at the ironing board making sure your silk dress is perfectly pressed or your shirt is crisp.
“When packing, the No 1 thing to keep in mind is that a holiday is about leisure and enjoying yourself,” Sean Venturi, co-founder of Sydney men’s wear label Venroy, tells Life. “Make sure you’re packing things that require as little effort as possible to put on.”
Venroy features linen heavily in its collections, which Venturi says fits this brief perfectly. “The first thing with linen is that you don’t have to iron it, it looks best when crinkled. A linen shirt is a staple — everyone should have one.” Such is the versatility of a linen shirt, he adds, that it can be worn buttoned or open, and at the beach as well as at dinner.
And although a white linen shirt easily gets grubby, Venturi has a great tip for keeping it clean — and saving on hotel washing services. “I’ve found the best way to wash linen when on holiday is to shower in the linen shirt, get a little bit of soap under arms, very gently rinse it off, walk to the deck and hang it over back of a chair in the sun, and it’s dry in 10 minutes — and you get the perfect crinkled look when dried in sun.”
Venturi adds that you should have a pair of shorts, a couple of tees, a pair of casual pants and two pairs of boardies in your repertoire — and the boardies should do double duty.
“Make sure any boardies that you have are versatile enough to wear at the beach or pool, then good enough to wear to a restaurant or bar. You want them to be quick-dry so that 15 minutes or half an hour later you can sit on a cushion chair in the bar.”
Along with Venroy’s swim shorts (venroy.com.au), other great options are from Orlebar Brown, Faherty, Vilebrequin and Saturdays Surf (all at mrporter.com).
Women also should pack two swimsuits so that there is never an issue with wet bathers. Plus, if you’re at the beach every day, you may want a little variety. Whether you prefer a bikini or one-piece is entirely a personal choice, and there are plenty of options in both to choose from, whether fashion-forward from Zimmermann, Marysia, Flagpole Swim or Lisa Marie Fernandez, or classics from Dolce & Gabbana, Melissa Odabash (all at matchesfashion.com), or a broad cross-section of all of these, including those with bold prints, from Jets (jets.com.au).
A cover-up is also important, something lightweight and breezy, and this season bohemian and peasant styles as well as the good old caftan are particularly prominent and work well beachside. The length is up to you — some women like long-sleeved tops over bikinis, others prefer sheer maxi dresses or caftans. A quick perusal of the Vacation Studio at matchesfashion. com will give you some great ideas, from labels including Daft, Isabel Marant Etoile, Easton Pearson, Lemlem, Camilla, Figue, and Muzungu Sisters.
Nicky Zimmermann, designer for Australia’s most celebrated resort wear label Zimmermann, is no stranger to the beach holiday and is preparing for a quick escape to Bora Bora ahead of the label’s next show in New York in February (which will be more chilly than chilled). She concedes the “less is more” mantra is lost on her (“I always use it as a bit of an excuse to check out how samples work, which is generally why my bag is really heavy”), but she does have a few favourites.
“Essential for me is always a beautiful cotton voile dress, just because they’re great over swimsuits and can be something you can wear out to dinner,” Zimmermann says. “At least one white embroidered dress is a given, really. I’m not a leg person and I like wearing odd proportions, so I like something around midcalf or just above the ankle.” You’ll find options in Zimmermann’s Alchemy range (zimmermannwear. com) or from Juliet Dunn (matchesfashion.com).
Zimmermann says she “can’t live without some kind of tan, flat strappy sandal”, which goes with everything, but also packs basic plimsolls, particularly Bensimon (shopbop.com), which can be worn in the water if the beach is rocky or has a lot of coral. “Bensimons are brilliant, I get a new pair each season,” she says. “They’re such a good price. And I wear them with a cotton sundress, which is a really good way to make (the dress) look less precious and more modern.”
Hats and sunscreen are necessities, even if the former is a “pain in the arse” to pack, but Zimmermann has some tips for this. “I’ve got one that I swim in, a really old panama, and I can roll it and steam it with an iron when I get there,” she says.
“Also, if I’m going to squish a hat into my bag because I cannot be bothered to hand-carry it, I stuff the head part of it with soft clothing and then I pack the brim flat and pack clothes around it. It comes out not too bad, but I always steam it. Just use the highest steam on any straw and they love it, it makes them brand-new.”
Bulky beach towels are a no-no for packing light, and a hotel towel can be the easier option. But both Venturi and Zimmermann say a cotton Turkish towel is a great packing choice, as they are lighter and dry quickly after use.
“I also have amazing batik sarongs,” Zimmermann says. “They double up for me as neck scarves, I use them as skirts with white shirts when I’m away, and I like to lay on them as well. I use them for all sorts of things.”
Any beach-ready grooming should be done before heading off. “I usually have to drop a bomb to get myself in holiday mode,” jokes Zimmermann. “I definitely will get a spray tan, then will pack a good mousse to top it up when it starts coming off. I always get a good pedicure and manicure before leaving; I don’t want to do that stuff on holiday, I just want to read a book and hang out with the kids.”
As Venturi says, “The more you focus on getting yourself in a state that’s ready to relax and wind down, that’s the key to it. It’s about mentally being there, and that starts with the packing. If you wake up in a beautiful hotel room and open your suitcase and it’s a mission to get ready — all of a sudden it’s like work. You just want to chuck on a linen shirt and boardies and head down to breakfast.”