With the season of city escapes and mini beach breaks well and truly upon us, you’d be right to rejoice.
But if your excitement at the thought of a long weekend somewhere sunny is tempered by the dread of trying to cram three days’ and nights’ worth of awesome outfits into a sub-10kg case, we don’t blame you.
Adhering to the stingy cabin-baggage size requirements needn’t be a hassle, however. The key is to curate a core selection of ‘building block’ pieces (plus jewellery), that you can alternate and restyle as you go.
Apart from the basics (underwear, toiletries and the like), an essential 12-piece edit is all you need for a stylish getaway, giving you enough leeway for unpredictable weather, a variety of dress codes and frequent changes of mood - and you’ll still have room to bring a few souvenirs back.
Meet your summer hand-luggage heroes...
1. THE MAXI DRESS
This is going to be one of your evening outfits, but don’t go for anything too glitzy or embellished, or you won’t be able to re-wear it by day or on the beach. Bold florals that you can enhance with jewellery and heels work well, as does crochet or broderie anglaise.
2. THE BREEZY FROCK
Same goes for your mini dress - choose a loose strappy or shirt dress in a block colour that you can style up with accessories, or down with a beach bag and hat. And here’s a top tip if you’re worried about cotton wrinkling easily: roll your garments instead of folding them.
3. THE STRAPPY TOP
A loose cami or off-the-shoulder top paired with shorts will help you keep cool while sightseeing in the heat of the day (just make sure you slather on the SPF) but will also form part of an after-dark ensemble tucked into a mini or midi skirt.
4. THE BOHO BLOUSE
A billowing blouse can be really versatile, but make sure it’s a tie-front gypsy or peasant top, rather than a stuffy button-down. A long tunic will work over a mini skirt or denim shorts for cocktails and doubles as a beach cover-up too.
5. THE SHORT-SHORTS
Whether preppy chinos or frayed denim, shorts are a must for city strolling - just make sure they match both your top-half separates. If you think you’ll need long trousers too, wear joggers or jeans on the flight out, so they don’t take up too much space in your case.
6. THE STATEMENT SKIRT
For your third night-time outfit, take a short, bright skirt to pair with one of your tops (and a jacket if need be). A high-waisted A-line style is flattering for all figures and works with heels or flats.
7. THE COOL COVER-UP
Wear your bulkiest jacket (denim, for instance) on the flight over, leaving room for a kimono or cropped blazer in your bag. It will come in handy when the temperature drops at night or when visiting temples or churches where you need to cover up.
8. THE ALL-PURPOSE SCARF
A large square scarf (at least a metre wide is best) is a real vacation saviour. Whether silk, cotton or synthetic, use it as a sarong for the beach, a sun-shading head scarf, a shawl for your shoulders or to drape around your neck if it gets chilly.
9. THE FOOLPROOF FLATS
Pool sliders may be totally on trend this season, but a pair of more delicate strappy flats have better multitasking potential. Be sure to wear them in at home first though - there’s nothing like a throbbing blister to ruin a day of flea market bargain-hunting.
10. THE SEXY WEDGES
With room for just one pair of high heels, you’ve got to choose carefully. Patent courts may be classic, but summery wedges are way more comfy and won’t look over the top in a hipster-filled downtown tapas bar.
11. THE ITSY-BITSY BIKINI
If sunbathing is on the cards, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and pick just one piece of swimwear. A bikini is the most practical choice: it takes up less space than a cossie, plus you can ball up the two halves and stuff them in your shoes as an extra space-saver.
12. THE HOT WEATHER HAT
A straw hat in black or beige is essential for keeping cool and sunburn-free, whether you’re lounging by the pool or roaming around town. Fold a floppy wide-brimmed hat loosely to stuff in your bag, or take a taut straw trilby on the plane with you.