Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018 #1 – dresses as the focus

By |2018-05-15T20:59:44+01:00May 15th, 2018|Categories: Accessories, Style, Travel|Tags: , , , , , , |8 Comments

Right, I’ve started my research and stock of high summer clothes is already looking low in some places so it’s time to crack on with the capsule holiday wardrobe 2018 posts. Quite a few retailers have told me that although sales of ordinary clothing have been depressed by the slow start to spring, holiday clothes have been selling well for a while. It seems that people have found consolation in thinking ahead to their sunny holidays and it makes sense. There’s no better pick-me-up than thinking about guaranteed sunshine when it’s miserable outside.

So, there are lots of different ways of planning capsule holiday wardrobes and of course they are largely determined by the type of holiday you’re going on. Today I’m thinking about my favourite kind of holiday – the hot one. In theory, you should be able to get away with throwing a few t-shirts and a couple of pairs of shorts in a bag (in fact there are four people in my family who do exactly that) but it’s no fun in my book. However if you pack well (and have access to a washing machine at your destination) you can have plenty of variety and still probably manage with cabin baggage.

So today I’m looking at a dress-led capsule. Dresses take up less space than separates and can work as well for daytime as for evening but you need to be clever with accessories. I call this kind of packing ‘vertical packing’ and the key is to make sure you have enough depth for each colour you take. Let me explain.

You see one of the reasons that holiday packing goes wrong is because we tend to think across our lists horizontally. So for example we’ll list “3 pairs of shorts, 5 t-shirts, 4 dresses, 3 bikinis etc,” throw them all into a suitcase and then wonder why we don’t have many outfits that look really good together. The trick is to think vertically as well as horizontally. So, if you’re packing a red dress for example, make sure it has a 24 hour mini capsule of accessories to go with it so that each colour you take works hard for both day and night. You’ll see what I mean as we go on.


I’ve been strict this year and tried to find natural fabrics – or at least natural blends only. It’s taken ages – I was really surprised to see that shops such as Whistles and Jigsaw who have prices that you would associate with natural fabrics are using polyester in most of their collections. I understand that they’re looking for something more fluid than cotton or linen but (profit margins aside) it doesn’t make sense when there are more breathable substitutes that have a similar drape such as viscose or rayon.


A word about sleeves because lots of women tell me they don’t like their arms. I’m going to talk about body confidence more next week when I do a post on swimwear. I do understand because last year I didn’t like my arms much either. After three years of not being able to bear much weight on my damaged shoulder, they were looking hefty. However on holiday I was too hot to care about it and so I decided to wear sleeveless tops anyway. Covering your arms in extreme heat is another way of succumbing to the body tyranny that surrounds us. Even if a woman has skinny arms, the skin is still going to sag as she gets older – it’s universal and no amount of work at the gym will change it. Anna Wintour leads the way here and as part of our ongoing fight against ageism, we need to show people what normal 40-plus bodies look like. If enough people do it, opinions will change and summer will be a happier time for everyone. If you feel very self-conscious, a frill or capped sleeve can be a good compromise and I’ve included some examples.

Right, let’s have a look at some capsules:

Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018 – brights

Red continues to be a big colour this season. Here are four options to choose from – or if you’re a big fan of red like I am, you might just pack them all.

Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018

Red Dresses

Cotton stripe dress – easier to wear than a Bardot dress but a similar look. 100% cotton with pockets too, it’s an easy breezy style.

Floral ruffle dress – the dipped hem is bang on trend and the ruffles cover the tops of the arms. 100% cotton

Red spot dress – all of the trends in one dress: spots, a wrap, ruffles and a midi length. 100% viscose (also available in black or navy with white stars)

Off the shoulder dress – another winner with particularly lovely deep cotton embroidery at the neckline. Knee length and 100% viscose (also available in a blue and white stripe)

Daytime accessories

Red bikini top / bottoms – absolutely perfect if you’re looking for a bikini with a little more coverage but without looking frumpy.

Beach bag – a clash of pink always looks fresh and tropical

Starfish earrings – stud earrings are always the  best if you’re spending a day in the water. These are great value so it won’t be the end of the world if you lose one.

Gold starfish sandals – continuing with the seaside theme, these are much more stylish than your average flip flop. Also available in cream or silver.

Evening accessories

Geometric earrings – British made and light to wear for a great statement

Red ribbon tie sandals – easy to walk in and the suede is soft on hot feet, I’ve already bought these so can recommend them.

Circle straw bag – the straw bag shape of the summer and this one is more reasonable than most.

Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018 – monochrome

Here’s one for lovers of blacks, greys and neutrals, always a sophisticated look that has great standout. I only really wear black when I have a bit of a tan and it feels a bit like having a holiday from myself.

Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018

Monochrome dresses

Embroidered fluted midi – such a beautiful dress, a flattering cut and a washable cotton and silk mix: 72% cotton, 28% silk

Simple linen dress – charcoal grey with seams detailed in white, it skims rather than clings, 100% linen

Jersey Bardot dress – remember the benefits of the Bardot neckline – it covers a less than perfect cleavage revealing only the shoulders and clavicles; 95% viscose, 5% elastane

Belted linen dress – midi length in a soft cream colour and a 50% linen / 50% cotton mix so it shouldn’t crease too badly.

Daytime accessories

Beach bag – very well priced straw bag with lining and inner pocket. Also available in red.

Flattering swimsuit – this has to be the best one-piece I have tried all season (and I’ve tried a lot). The design is so well thought through – from the back that is cut to avoid any pouching of back fat and the deep edging around the thighs that similarly prevents any bulges. I bought it immediately and I don’t really like one-pieces but the engineering was too good to pass by.

Dupe sandals – all over Instagram in either the black, white or tan versions, you’ll have to be quick if you want a pair of these. Why are they so popular? Because they are remarkably similar to a pair by Hermès.

Star studs – continuing with my theme of good value earrings (in case they end up at the bottom of the sea).

Evening accessories

Star necklace – this is the only necklace I took with me on holiday last year and it worked with everything I wore.

Tassell earrings – the statement earring continues its reign. Choose beads over silk in hot, humid weather.

Tan sandals – I have these in white and they have a fabulously padded sole. This is a great site to go to if you’re looking for high quality shoes at a reduced price and there’s an extra 20% off for new customers.

Half moon straw bag – straw clutches have replaced last year’s pompom and mirrored bags as the look of the season. Most are madly expensive but this one isn’t.

Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018 – navy

Yes I know there’s only one dress here but I’ve fallen in love with this particular look. I’ll give you more options in blue below.

Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018

Navy linen dress – I’m going to have to order this and see if it will work on my figure. If you’re straight up and down it will but thanks to my shoulders and hips, I might look like a trucker. I’m just hoping that the dipped sides might help.However it’s the sort of dress that I see someone wearing every holiday and I’m always floored by how simple and chic it looks. 100% linen.

Daytime accessories

Bobble beach bag – this bag is huge (the supermodel trick to looking slimmer) and the good thing is that it won’t scratch like straw does if you carry it whilst wearing a bikini

Striped bikini top and bottoms – as some of you know, I make a point of posting a bikini shot on Instagram when we’re on holiday just to flout the rule that says women over 40 shouldn’t wear them. This is the style that I choose every year because it’s such a great shape (I hope they bring back the wider stripes next year – I ruined both of mine with the rogue sock incident).

Wrap bracelet – metal bracelets get too hot in the sunshine but this one won’t. Also available in grey, black or neutral.

Silver toe loop sandals – these are handmade and leather, a very sexy sandal. Also available in gold.

Evening accessories

Vacances half moon clutch – you’ll bring this out every summer

Graphic earrings – along with the simple architecture of the dress, these are the only statement you need to make

Bright blue clogs – complete the Scandi look with these low heeled clogs which will also look great with jeans at home

More blue dresses

Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018

Button through blue midi – the ruffle sleeves on this will cover the tops of your arms, 100% tencel

Blue jersey midi – such a beautiful, sculptural design (currently 30% off). Viscose mix.

Blue stripe dress: the very definition of summer in a dress, can be worn unbuttoned over jeans too. 100% linen.

Sky blue jersey dress – simple and great for hourglass shapes. Viscose mix.

Great beauty offer

Before I go, I just want to alert you to a great beauty gift with purchase that’s going on at House of Fraser. If you spend over £65 you get their summer beauty edit (worth £105) for £15. Mine arrived yesterday and I love the fact that most of the products are decent travel sizes plus there’s a full size Clarins aftersun and a large Ellie Saab body lotion. So often these things come in paltry 5ml tubes and just end up being clutter in your bathroom. I also like the fact that there’s no box or rubbish cosmetics bag – I always feel guilty for environmental reasons if I don’t re-use them and it drives me mad.

Just in case you’re wondering, I bought Clinique’s Superdefense moisturiser which I always use in summer because of its broad spectrum UVA / UVB antioxidant formula…

Clinique superdefense

… and I also replaced my foundation – I’ve said it many times before, nothing beats this for glow in my view.

Dior Star foundation

A big thank you…

… to everyone who supported the sale on Sunday. All parcels have now been dispatched and so you should receive them in the next couple of days. We sold everything in about half an hour and I am truly grateful for your enthusiasm – I’ve been too busy wrapping and packing to do the final accounting but we will have raised hundreds of pounds for Bloodwise.

And so I will leave you on this sunny day hopefully in a holiday mood – and if you’re not going away, at least you’ll have some ideas for the beautiful summer that’s ahead in the UK. This year I’m sure of it.

Disclosure: Capsule holiday wardrobe 2018 is not a sponsored post

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