“I’m a fashion writer and these are the 7 pieces I always pack for a staycation”

Written by Naomi May

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Make the most of the final long summer weekend by learning how to pack smart, not light.

The thing with packing for an extended weekend staycation is that it’s about practising high patience. Patience, when packing, is key. But so too is the knowledge of how to streamline a wardrobe and pack smart, rather than light.

Once the buzz and excitement has worn off like a faded tan that you’re finally going somewhere – anywhere! – after last summer’s jilted traffic light system, it’s time to get serious about packing a capsule wardrobe for your trip so you have more room for the important stuff (see: wine and snacks).

I have a rule with packing for bank holiday staycations: I am allowed to pack six items and six items only, and this sextet of pieces must be friendly with one another – enough so that they can be worn together and mixed and matched. It’s a fine art, but one that I have spent years getting wrong, learning from and, over time, perfecting. 

So in case you’re dashing off to Devon to soak up some sun or scuttling off to the seaside for some salt, vinegar and sand-sprinkled chips, I promise you: these six summer-ready basics are all your August bank holiday wardrobe needs. You can thank me later.

Oversized shirt

Easy-breezy oversized shirts are a bank holiday no-brainer.

The virtues of the humble slouchy cotton shirt have been extolled at large by this point. These are the forever staples that line the inner sanctums of almost every wardrobe, only to be whipped out on the odd occasion. May we present to you the very reason that yours should be promoted out of the dusty confines of your wardrobe. It’s the chamaeleonic staple this bank holiday weekend is in dire need of, thanks to its endless versatility and wearability. 

Bandeau top

Bandeau necklines are a summertime style staple.

In case you’re scratching your head wondering what you’ll throw your slouchy shirt over the top of – the sartorial cherry on top of the cake, if you like – look no further than the 90s boob tube, which – thanks to endorsements from Carrie et al – is well and truly at the fashion fore once again. For an easy bank holiday stroll, wear yours – the style set favours striped or plain black – with straight-legged jeans and the aforementioned slouchy shirt. Should the sun put its hat on, throw it on with cycling shorts and – you guessed it – that all-important slouchy shirt. The most underrated, but hardest-working, bank holiday staple of all. 

Cycling shorts

Cycling shorts aren’t just great for the gym, they’re true summer style stars.

If you’re reserving your cycling shorts purely for lunges and HIIT at the gym, you’re missing the biggest stylistic trick of all. These are summer-ready staples and the style set’s worst-kept secret. Perfect for travelling to your bank holiday staycation – if you’re spending several hours ensconced in the confines of a small car, cycling shorts ought to be indefinitely glued to your legs. These are staples that can be worn as nonchalantly with the aforementioned boob tube and shirts as they can for rambles along the beach. Bank holiday, here we come.

Straight-leg jeans

Straight-legged jeans make sense in every season, but especially over bank holiday.

No matter how thin your denim arsenal might be, the chances are that you’ll have a straight-legged pair of drainpipe, dad-inspired jeans. And if you do, it’s time to whip them out of retirement and into the forefront of your wardrobe. Even if you can’t raid a man’s wardrobe to find yourself a pair, ensure that you invest in some ahead of the bank holiday purely to take the stress out of bank holiday dressing.  

Cotton midi dress

A cotton midi dress requires minimal styling, but promises maximum impact.

While hardly a style secret, cotton midi dresses not only promise to allow the skin to breathe in the bank holiday sunshine (cross your fingers), but they also transition seamlessly from beach-to-bar, making them perfect for an extended weekend. Simply wear yours with trainers and there’s a minimal-effort outfit that will twirl you through the day while making maximum impact. 

Chunky trainers

A chunky pair of trainers transitions seamlessly from daywear to eveningwear.

Chunky trainers, while hardly a sartorial myth, are the only footwear needed for a bank holiday getaway. To juxtapose the femininity of a cotton midi dress, or to accelerate the sportiness of wearing cycling shorts with a slouchy shirt, there’s no better accoutrement to an outfit than a chunky pair of trainers. Simply add socks and enjoy your extended weekend at leisure.  

Basket bag

A basket bag is the perfect bank holiday accoutrement.

A basket bag is the cottagecore-inspired tote that will happily see you into the bank holiday weekend and through the rest of the summer in serious style. Capacious enough to fit your daily essentials – hand sanitiser, lipstick et al – but also streamlined enough to look pretty and pared-back, this is a bag for life that you’ll never grow tired of. 

Images: courtesy of Getty

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