Ah summer holiday time. Those of you who follow my Instagram account know that we had a very busy but very lovely few days in France last week. I’ll tell you all about it when I’ve had time to go through the photos but today let’s think about summer and what we might wear now that the days are softening and trips away are in sight. With different kinds of holidays in mind I’m looking at what John Lewis have in store (and online), hardworking pieces that can be worn on the beach, at a market and also dressed up for the evening. They’ve just launched a dedicated holiday shop and further down I’ll show you what I chose to borrow to wear in France but first I’m going to run through some other pieces that have popped up online so let’s go, summer holiday outfit ideas – ageless style.
Part of the joy of travelling is people watching and it’s always particularly interesting to see how French (and Italian) women are styling their outfits. Whilst I was happily dressed in my favourite summer brights, I couldn’t help admiring the contrasting option of their low key palettes – lots of navy, black and tan mixed and matched together. And a tonal capsule like that can make summer travel very easy, especially if you’re touring around like us and so living out of a small suitcase as you go.
Summer holiday outfit ideas – ageless style
Some of the things I like wearing most in the evening on holiday are actually pieces that come from beach collections. I like the breezy, wafty fabrics and they never look too try-hard. So you’ll see here that I’ve included some that I feel cover the full span of holiday moments, from beach with flip flops to bar with heels. Let me talk you through them – and yes there are two hats because if you can find packable ones they make such a difference to your outfits… the art of accessorising.
Packing capsule – Summer holiday outfit ideas – ageless style
Let’s talk through the different items:
L-R, top to bottom
- Striped crochet hat: timeless but on trend too and easy to stuff in your suitcase. A great way to make a simple outfit look stylish.
- Zip towelling beach dress: I love this, it would make beach changing so much easier but it’s a sporty little number that you could use at swimming pools in the UK too. Also available in white.
- Vintage style tee: this has all of the authentic retro looks without the chewing gum tinge that old white tees have. Wear it in the UK with jeans or a skirt and on holiday with shorts or over your bikini. Size down, it comes up big
- Wafty maxi dress: you’ll see me wearing one of these in a minute, JL have produced a great collection and I think they’re missing a trick calling them beach dresses – I felt fine exploring the inland city of Dijon in one. You can find other patterns and lengths here.
- Supportive halter bikini: So many of you grumble when I show halter bikinis, saying they’re not made for those with bigger breasts – well this one is and there are block colour versions here too.
- Navy & white kaftan: an easy throw on in a fabric that is breathable but won’t crease in your beach bag
- Sawn off denim shorts: lots of you wanted the Boden ones that I featured a couple of weeks ago but there are still stock delays so in the meantime these have the same flattering cut.
- Beach towel: a few different patterns and great value plus there’s currently 30% off
- Whipstitch trilby: you could wear this through the airport without feeling a wally, much more chic than the oversized sunhats in my view
- Palazzo pants: again these are labelled beach trousers but they’re floaty, soft and comfortable thanks to the shirred waist. You could dress them down with flat sandals and up with heels, also available in a patterned version here
- Sandals with interchangeable straps: two pairs of sandals for the price of one because you can switch the leather thong strap over for a pretty patterned fabric scarf version. They also have a leg-lengthening V cut rather than straight across straps, a styling trick that’s always worth looking out for unless you have elegant giraffe legs.
Summer holiday outfit ideas – ageless style
Pack an eye-catching pair of trousers that you can dress up or dress down
So, a pared down and simple palette like that is a great way to pack but as you know, I’ll always opt for colour. Let me show you what I borrowed from John Lewis for our French trip… and I managed to travel with just carry-on luggage for six days which is a first. I always make sure I have a pair of patterned trousers with me when I go away – somehow, block coloured trousers just always feel too office-y. Some of the reviews on these say they come up big so I requested a size 10 sample. They weren’t big on me – and that could have been down to the many days of cheese and wine but a 10 was tight. Even with the elasticated panel at the back I’m seriously breathing in here, in fact I’d be tempted to go for a 14 just so that there was no bulge with a fitted tee. I suspect that the people who’ve reviewed them as big just aren’t used to this season’s wide, drapey feel because I didn’t find them overly long either, I have a 1 inch heel on here and they’re fine. They’re made from a soft, cool viscose so lovely to wear on a warm day, I really liked them.
The racer style tee in ecru is one that I’ve had for a while but they’ve released it in white this year so I’ve linked it for you, it has a nice fit on the back and arms.
A maxi dress that works for beach, brocante or bar
This is one of the ‘beach dresses’ that I mentioned and I really think they’re underselling them because they’re just lovely to wear. It’s made from a breezy, mid-weight viscose with none of the transparency that you’d expect from something designed for the beach. The sleeves are capped for anyone who likes to cover the tops of their arms and the V is flatteringly wide but not low, so it doesn’t expose too much cleavage.
The waist is drawstring so you can wear it as tight or as loose as you want to and as you can see here, the tiering in the skirt means it flares gently as you walk with lovely swishy movement. I’m wearing a medium and it’s a great fit, I didn’t want to take it off – trust me, when you get to the ‘lots of wine and cheese’ part of your summer it’s the only thing you’ll want to wear! Doesn’t Dijon have some stunning backdrops by the way? There’s one around every corner but I’ll tell you all about that next week.
The sweet little bag I’m carrying is one I’ve fallen absolutely in love with. You’ll see next week that although it was on loan I couldn’t resist using it most evenings because it worked with everything. It’s from HVISK, a cool brand that’s new to JL and the thing I like about it is that it’s not pretending to be leather, instead it has an eco rubber finish which makes it feel very contemporary. Squashy bags like this are very much this season’s trend and this has a magnetic fastening, an internal pocket and there’s a long strap too so you can wear it as a crossbody. It’s a an easy way to update your look without spending a lot and it’s also available in this finish in black and in other textures in pink metallic, soft green, khaki or cream – you can find them all here.
A cool linen dress that will take you anywhere
Moving on and some of you will know this spot – we spent our last afternoon in Annecy where the Alps sweep down to the milky blue lake. They provided the perfect backdrop for this lemon linen dress which is another reasonably priced cracker from John Lewis. It has a simple squared off neckline and straps that give a halter effect but it isn’t backless so it would be fine to wear in an office or for a relaxed wedding. And of course it makes the perfect holiday dress too, it was a hot afternoon but the linen kept me feeling cool. It also comes in black, I’m wearing a 12 and it’s true to size.
I often find simple shift dresses make me feel a bit shapeless but the way that this is cut and the split hem give it movement. If you’re wondering about the daisies at my neck by the way they aren’t part of the dress, they’re just the trim of a halterneck bra – I forgot to pack a strapless one.
The dress worked well with both trainers and flat sandals but here I’m wearing it with heels from JL. You’ve seen me wearing my old orange ones for the last five years but I’ve had to accept that they’re falling apart now. Orange for me is the ultimate colour for summer accessories that add a touch of zest to everything you wear. I was particularly delighted when I saw this pair because they have my favourite heel shape, it has a slim side profile but it’s wide so it’s sturdy enough for walking without teetering.
A well cut t-shirt
And I’m going to finish with this picture from today and a chic Parisian brand that you may not have realised John Lewis are stocking – Soeur. If you don’t know it, Soeur is a bit like the lovechild of Sézane and Cos or maybe Toast. The Harry trousers are legendary and until now, hard to get hold of in the UK. You can see the full Soeur collection here.
The cotton/linen blend t-shirt I’m wearing with its iconic Soeur graphic is starting to sell out already. I love its cut, it manages to be laidback and casual without having a dropped shoulder which is something that’s hard to find in t-shirts. They can either look very prim or just too slouchy but this raglan cut with the short capped sleeve is perfect.
Of course it nods to my beloved 70s so the clogs are out too and as you can see we popped out for a lunch break – that’s the problem when we’re working over in Newcastle, there are too many distractions on our doorstep.
If you’re shopping at John Lewis this weekend there are lots of offers including £20 off a spend over £200 and £50 off spends over £500 (until 31st May, MyJohnLewis members only). You can see the complete offers hub here. And don’t forget that they’re working with Satcol, the UK’s largest textile sorter so if you take any unwanted clothes into the store, they’ll make sure that they either go to a charity shop, a secondary market in need such as a charity appeal or that they’re shredded and repurposed into things like pet bedding or carpet underlay. Plus if you take in five items or more they’ll give you a £5 voucher to spend on purchases over £20. The scheme is called Fashion Cycle and you can read all about it here.
And with that I’ll leave you to your bank holiday weekend. Thank you for all of your lovely birthday wishes last week, I’ve been catching up with work and I haven’t had a chance to reply to your comments yet but I did enjoy reading them as they came in when we were in France – they gave me lots to think about. If you enjoyed the post it’s worth going back and having a look through what other people here had to say about ageing well. Anyway, I’ll be back next week, until then may the sun shine on us all as we enjoy our last long weekend for a while. Happy Friday everyone.
Disclosure: ‘Summer holiday outfit ideas – ageless style’ was commissioned by John Lewis but as always I had full control over the content, outfits and photographs
Bank Holiday Discounts
Mint Velvet – 20% off here
Arket – 3 for 2 on basics here
Nobody’s Child – 15% off everything with code SUN15 here
Hope – midseason 40% off sale here
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