Are you breaking out in a sweat thinking about what to pack for your summer vacation? There’s no need to fret. Summer clothes are so lightweight and versatile, you won’t even need to check a bag, whether you’re spending a weekend at the beach or a week in Paris.
For the weeklong trip, consider your daily activities. Are you going to be traipsing through ruins, dining at four-star restaurants, or visiting churches where bare shoulders aren’t permitted? “I start packing three to four days before my trip, so I have enough time to make sure I’m taking what I need and taking out things that aren’t necessary,” says Nada Vergili, owner and tour operator of Nada’s Italy Tours, who frequently travels overseas from her home in Charlotte, N.C.
Pick wrinkle-free fabrics that pack and launder easily, like cotton jersey. If you don’t already carry an on-the-go stain remover in your purse, slip one in.
Pack for Utility
What I call “fashionable utility pieces” are a must. They’ll freshen up looks you’ll be repeating and also serve the practical purpose of keeping you warm on a chilly night. Two of my favorites are an open-knit sweater with the perfect amount of see-through for easy layering; and a large, colorful scarf that’s convertible as a shawl, a cleverly tied halter or a head wrap. A boyfriend blazer is another must; it puts a smart spin on a casual tee and will also look chic worn over a sleeveless summer dress.
- Four to six tops Include a couple of casual shirts or tees, one tank top and one sequin or beaded top for dress-up nights. That’s a minimum! Since tees and halters barely take up more room than a pair of undies, you can easily toss in a few more.
- Two pairs of pants Trend alert! Think pastel ankle jeans in mint green or buttercup yellow. Add a second pair of pants that can be worn with your fancy top.
- One pair of shorts Opt for a crisp, classic, flat-front version that can be dressed up or down.
- One skirt Accordion pleats are very now; wear with a simple tee for an effortless, flirty look.
- One little summery dress Go for all white, a light print or -- my pick this year -- a candy-colored solid.
- One swimsuit Choose a suit that’s reversible for a two-in-one option.
- Three pair of shoes Flats for walking, dressy heels, and flip-flops.
- Accessories One belt; one cross-body bag; one clutch or small purse; one simple pendant necklace; one statement necklace. “The statement necklace dresses up basic outfits for evening,” says Lisa Colaw, owner of Elan Style, a popular Scottsdale, Ariz., boutique. “Pick a piece that has both silver and gold, and it will go with just about everything.”
Pare down the city packing list for a weekend at the shore. Omit the pants, skirt and two of the tops. Opt for flowing fabrics and lightweight cotton blends.
- One dress Choose either white or floral.
- One tee Opt for paper-thin cotton.
- One tube or tank top Look for a playful, bright hue.
- One pair of denim shorts
- One open-knit sweater
- One large scarf
- Three pairs of shoes
- Two swimsuits Select swimsuits that have mix-and-match tops and bottoms.
- One high-low skirt Short in the front and longer in the back, these skirts serve triple duty as a dress and a beach cover-up with the simple addition of a belt. Find them at Forever 21 (for less than $20), Urban Outfitters, Madewell or your favorite department store.
- One flouncy romper or a strapless maxi dress Both are easy to toss over your bathing suit for a poolside lunch or sunset cocktails, and they’re equally great as standalone pieces. You can browse dozens of styles at the fashion search engine ShopStyle.com.
- Accessories Substitute a linen tote for the cross-body bag; it’s versatile for the beach or marketplace shopping. Keep accessories playful. Turquoise is brilliant against golden skin, and dangly earrings are perfect for bare shoulders. For a relaxed vibe, slip on beaded leather wrist wraps.