Holiday Essentials: How to minimise your packing


Two weeks from now I’m going to Porto, Portugal’s second city that’s best known for its strong, sweet gluggable stuff and of course cork, before it became a must-have interior. I wouldn’t say I’m a Port drinker, I don’t think anyone is under the age of 65 and I’m completely inundated with cork decor, the perks of owning a homewares store, so why Porto? 

object style porto blog

Well from my research, the cobbled streets and tiled walls of Lisbon’s little sister seem relatively undiscovered by tourists. I’ve had to go back a fair few pages on Google to source well-written, interesting travel reviews of Portugal’s second city, that celebrate its vibrant art and design scene. I’m so excited to see the bold architecture of Rem Koolhaas's lopsided Casa da Música and visit Alvaro Siza's famous Piscinas das Marés, a duo of seawater swimming pools cut into the rocks of the coast. I have list as long as my arm for mixed-use spaces that flaunt indie cinemas, Petiscos (Portuguese tapas) , cheap booze and a soft spot for 80’s synth. On a more traditional note, Porto is neighboured by lots of tiny fishing villages so I’m looking forward to some authentic sea-to-plate cuisine. We’ve planned little day trips to colourful Averio, the Venice of Portugal apparently and home to the oldest lighthouse in Europe. Then there’s Miramar, a small seaside town with an Instagramable idyllic 17th century chapel ‘Capela do Senhora Pedra’ , strikingly situated on a rocky, wave-beaten headland jutting out from the beach.

Can you see why I’m bordering on spontaneous combustion with excitement?! Porto, has everything we are looking for in a holiday, a cultured city with optional beach! However it’s also the type of destination to get totally carried away with your packing and risk overloading your suitcase with just-in-case pieces you’ll not end up wearing and return home with with their original labels still attached. 

Below I’ve listed a few ideas for night and daywear that I’ll be sticking to when organising my summer suitcase. I’ve also included a few suggestions about accessories and footwear as well as storage tips and tricks for crease free packing, hurrah! My post below probably relates best to a city/beach combo break but hopefully some of my ideas might come in useful for more exotic destinations too. Any comments, questions or if you have any travel tips you’d like to share, do feel free to pop you thoughts in the box at the bottom of the feature :-)

Enjoy ! 

Rachael x

Holiday Wardrobe 

I know it sounds silly but before you pack anything into your case, check the temperature of the place your going! Don’t just presume it’s going to be absolutely boiling, especially at nighttime. Also temperatures can vary day to day and there is quite a significant difference between 18 degrees and 25 degrees. 



I invest in a new, over-size white linen shirt almost every summer. I chose this one from a vintage store in Portland, as I liked how it was styled with the rolled up sleeves as it gave it more structure. I liked that it has buttons meaning I can wear it done up with shorts, open over swimwear and also layer over an all-in-one or use as a throw-on at nighttime. I also think white linen shirts look great crumpled, especially over bikinis, creating lovely relaxed look. 

Different sleeve-length tees are a vital part our my holiday attire. Opt for a 100% cotton if possible as natural fabrics are more breathable and won’t make you as sweaty. The sun and I have never been great friends and knowing I’ll usually start my holiday with a lovely red glow, I like to wear a 3/4 length tee underneath playsuits, with shorts or capri pants to protect my shoulders, arms and back. Secondly, dress depending on your activity. If you’re visiting a gallery or museum, eating in a restaurant or browsing at a flee market, look at the locals around you, I can guarantee they won’t be exposing every spec of skin possible just because the temperature in the early-twenties. 


Is there anything worse then holiday blisters? They're even worse than normal blisters because your feet are so swollen from the heat! Invest in a pair of real leather sandals and wear them in BEFORE you go on holiday. Opt for a pair with a thick sole too, being able to feel sharp cobbles underneath your feet after 5 hours of walking isn’t exactly enjoyable. I’ll be taking my 4 year old double strap Birkenstocks. We travelled to a fair few countries together, they're my house slippers, gardening shoes and basically have stayed on my feet April to October every year since I purchased them. Great buy! 


I’ve recently updated by beach bag as one of the straps broke due to my constant over-loading of food shopping, lesson learnt! I’ve chosen this black, roomy oversize shoulder bag from COS (SS 16). Always opt for a dark colour as it’ll be accompanying you to beach where there are all sorts of sticky, stainable substances lurking about. Also by taking a bigger than average beach bag, you can use it to carry all your airport purchases too! 

 Necklace -  Blokk Design . Hamman Towel -  Bloomingville ,  both available at Object Style. 

 Necklace - Blokk Design. Hamman Towel - Bloomingville,  both available at Object Style. 

I’d also recommend taking an additional day time bag as beach bags tend to have open tops and therefore aren’t very secure. I’m taking an old faithful, my usual daytime grey leather rucksack from COS (AW 14). Again it’s secure, roomy and I know exactly where every pocket and compartment is as I use it every day. This makes it super easy to store essentials like suncream, money, my iPhone and travel guide and not be faffing around looking for them. 



Ensure there’s at least one pop of colour in your summer suitcase, if you’re blessed with a sun-kissed glow now’s the time to make the most of it! My ‘sun-kissed’ glow will be achieved from careful gradual layering of self tan and I’ll be showing it off in a backless fuchsia pink Other Stories (SS15) dress paired with pale grey soft leather strap sandals from COS (SS16) and some ridiculous chandelier earrings, that I only wear on holiday ! 


I’ve finally had to say good-bye to my favourite little black dress, it’s stood the test of time these last 4 years but it’s finally no longer fit for wear. So I’ve invested in a semi-short, halter neck black dress from COS (SS16). Now normally, given my ample bust I wouldn't have chosen this style but the loose fit ruffle collar and feminine ribbon tie combined with the casual cotton fabric keep it looking classy! I’m hoping to wear it with some flat cream leather rope sandals also from COS (SS16) to maintain an understated and undone look. 


Pack at least one dressed down outfit to wear in the evening. Ask yourself, if you were eating out on Tuesday in Manchester, would you really wear that dress and those heels? Why should it be any different abroad? I always feel more comfortable underdressed than overdressed so I’ll be taking a few more casual options. I’m opting for some tailored chambray shorts and white linen ruffle collar/cuff blouse, both from COS


As I mentioned in my previous post about building a season-less wardrobe, opt for a pair of neutral coloured shoes so they go with more outfits. If you’re taking heels, take some sturdy block heels that won’t send you wobbling over cobbles. If you are wanting to include a secondary pair of nighttime shoes, invest in a pair of plain REAL leather or suede sandals. Don’t skimp on the quality of the material, they’ll only rip your feet to shreds!


I’ve decided on two handbags to take with me to Porto. The first is a cream micro clutch featuring a pretty palm leaf print that I brought whilst on my honeymoon in Palm Springs, my husband knows it as the ‘tropical one’! It fits nothing more than some cash and a lipstick and that’s one of my reasons it’s coming, it’s so weeny it can’t hold my iPhone! Secondly the fun club-tropicana print works well to dress up plainer outfits. Next I’ve decided on a boxy, burgundy leather satchel with a removal shoulder strap I picked up in the sale at COS at Easter. Burgundy is such a versatile colour, complimenting navy, cream, black and grey all very nicely. 

Packing Tips 

COS dust bags 

From this post you’ll have probably guessed I shop at COS ALOT! And I have more of those little grey dust bags than I do underwear! However, they are brilliant for helping to organise your packing. I use them to store my shoes so the soles don’t mark my clothes, to store lighter coloured clothing to prevent staining, to separate my clean and worn underwear and my hair tools. The mini versions you receive when you purchase jewellery are great for storing, you guessed it, jewellery ! 

Tissue Paper 

Ever noticed when you buy clothing from a decent store, the sales assistant usually wraps it in tissue for you and it rarely needs ironing before you wear it? The same process works when you apply this folding + tissue method at home. Bulk buy yourself some light coloured, acid free tissue paper and use to neatly pack your freshly ironed wares. For example if you’re packing a blouse:

  1. Lay the blouse flat (front facing down) with all buttons done up.
  2. Fold the tissue paper so it fits the dimension of the back of the blouse.
  3. Carefully fold the sleeves horizontally and inwards along the seams so they lay flat on the black of the blouse.
  4. Fold the excess fabric along the sides inwards so the tissue paper is now concealed along the edges.
  5. Fold in half lengthways and turn over.
  6. Wrap tightly in tissue paper, tucking in any edges into the gaps within the folds. 

7. If this sounds like to much like a too much of a chore, it shouldn’t be if you're minimising your packing, buy a travel iron and an adapter plug! 

Finally, I find using a starch spray when ironing really helps to keep ceases out for longer. 


Avoid buying miniatures of everything, they’re such a cop out and so expensive for half the amount of product you’d usually get when buying the regular size. Instead, use what you already have at home and double wrap any already open toiletries in sandwich bags to prevent them exploding in your cosmetic bag.

And finally ... a few words of holiday wisdom to complete your pro-packing! 

object style summer braids
  1. Hair Grips - buy multi-packs because they're so easy to loose! Your hair takes quite a beating when exposed to so much sunlight so leave it to dry naturally and experiment with messy, undone-dos and summer braids created wth basic her grips. 
  2. Hammam towel - they're bigger than standard beach towels but ultra light so don’t take up nearly as much room in your suitcase. Another plus is they absorb water really well and dry in no time at all!
  3. Coconut Oil -  If you are going to buy new holiday toiletries go for multi-use products like coco-nut oil, it’s amazing at taking off your make-up (even waterproof mascara), it teams up as an excellent aftersun treatment and is great for repairing sun-frazzled hair ends. I have first hand experience of this having had a full head bleach for ten years!
  4. Swimwear - I always take one bikini and one swimming costume but make sure they have similar straps/fastenings as not to end up with a striped tan similar to that of a raccoons tail!
  5. Yorkshire Tea - let’s face it European tea just doesn’t taste the same! If I could go as far as bringing my own milk I would do this too! 


What I'm Wearing This Summer


Like many women, my summer wardrobe is my winter wardrobe minus tights and boots, no ? This stems from the unwritten rule I’ve been (trying) to live by these last few years after acquiring adult responsibilities like utility bills and road tax by which I tend to buy less but spend a bit more. 

5-7 years ago, I preferred choice over quality, favouring a multitude of throwaway vest tops and directional style clothing that I’d be bored of 3 weeks after purchasing. Looking back, I think I was just experimenting a kind of process of elimination strategy to find a style that suited me, though it was costly and wasteful. 

I’m much more mindful and considerate when buying clothing for myself. In some ways I've zapped the fun out of shopping spontaneously, rarely do I venture into a store and buy what the 5ft 10, slender mannequin is wearing. Though this has done mini wonders for my wallet !

My summer wardrobe is probably made up of 70% staples consisting of good quality, light-weight jersey, cotton and linen pieces in muted colours grey, white, blush, nude, black and more recently navy. With the exception of a classic stripe, I very rarely wear print. 

When buying what I like to call, ‘super basics’ I consider how a piece will fit with the rest of the clothing in my wardrobe, the same way a visual merchandiser would do when creating a story in a retail space. I try and picture at least 3 different outfits using the piece that are all versatile for different occasions. 

If I’m looking for an outfit for a particular event, like a wedding or special birthday, I turn to Pinterest or work my way back-through a stack of my favourite magazines, where I may have come across an interview with a designer. Oh Comely, Kinfolk and Cereal are all excellent publications for showcasing emerging brands. Finally, if I still can’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll trawl through Etsy listings for vintage items that fit my search description. Ideally, I try to purchase vintage clothing a size or two bigger than my usual clothing size to allow for alterations. It’s always better to have excess fabric to work with than not. 

And - most importantly - the fit. I’ve come to learn through trial and mostly error that fit is so, so important. Now, given I don’t have the physical statistics of catwalk model and my job isn’t to be clothes horse, the clothing I choose to wear needs to work with my shape. On the plus side, I’m an average height of 5ft 6, I have good set of square, sculptured shoulders, small waist and a decent leg length, all areas I like to enhance. My not so favoured parts, muscular calves, thicker thighs, sizeable bust and rounded lower stomach are areas I prefer to conceal. 

Working with my ‘best bits’ and investing in good quality fabrics, means I’m building a season-less wardrobe, that is efficient, functioning and rarely leaves me in a situation of being stuck for what to wear. Every single piece in my wardrobe makes me feel good, comfortable and confident and will continue to do so for years to come. 

Below are a few personal tips and tricks I've picked up over the years, should you be looking for some inspiration for your summer style. Any questions or comments, pop them in the comment box below or drop me an email at creative@objectstyle.co.uk

My Summer Looks 

Look 1. Navy Chore Jacket. Toast

I love this navy chore jacket for its soft, unstructured look. The relaxed style of this workwear jacket means it is great for layering, as long as the pieces underneath are slim fitting. I like to contrast different blues with my light-wash denim pinafore dress also from Toast or my best fitting indigo denim, tapered MOM jeans from Topshop. The slouchy shoulders work really well with a small collared shirt usually in off-white or a slim fitting breton tee, that sits just below my collar bone (rule number 1 for minimising bigger busts).

Look 2. Knitted Camis, H&M/Topshop.

I’m always on the look-out for pieces that appear more expensive than what they are the shopping on the high street. H&M Premium and Topshop Boutique are worth paying that little bit extra for when it comes to buying wardrobe staples for the better quality fabrics. I tend to opt for knitted cami’s with a slight V neck and in the next size up so that appear looser around my bust, ensuring they look elegant and not too revealing. This also gives me the option of wearing a fine-fabric t-shirt underneath if I want to create a more layered, casual look. I like to wear little tops like this with high-cut trousers or skirt, in crepe or linen and often with a paper-bag waist. My favourite are a mauve linen pair from Hungarian brand, Aeron. Pairing these two garments together gives me an hourglass shape and elongates my legs without having to go through the pain of heels! 

Look 3. Culottes, COS.

Perhaps the most veritable item in my wardrobe! I’m very fussy about the length of midi-trousers ensuring they fall just below the protruding muscle of my calves and show off the slender point of my ankles. In fact when I think about it, the majority of the straighter fit trousers in my wardrobe are purposely turned up to finish an inch above my ankle, so the fabric appears fuller and my ankle slimmer ! Even though these AW15 COS culottes are made from wool, worn without tights and paired with my black ATP Atelier sliders and mustard COS (AW14) cowl neck (daytime) or A line top or simple 100% silk cami (evening time), they are still suitable for warmer weather. 

Look 4. Vintage PALM TREE Print V Neck Jumpsuit. Etsy.

A one-of-a-kind buy I’m saving for my summer holidays and wedding I have later in August. The casual fabric (100% cotton) allows for this jumpsuit to be versatile for day and night wear. I’ll be pairing this with my grey ATP Atelier sliders for strolls along the cobbled streets of Porto and digging out of red + birch wood clumpy COS heels (SS15) for a 70’s inspired look. The double V at the front and back of the garment and wide leg are flattering for my shape. 

Look 5. Nude Silk Shirt Dress, Kelly Love

This dress I didn’t technically buy for myself. My dear husband listened to my continuous subtle hints about this incredible dress I’d spotted on Kelly’s Instagram. I love the luxurious fabric of the 100% silk dress that looks amazing worn with an oversize knitted scarf and all white sneakers in the winter ! This summer I can’t wait to wear it with some off-white rope sandals I’ve got my eye on from COS and will be accessing with a statement, marble-inspired necklace by Blokk Design

Look 6. Grey Shoes. H&M, COS, ATP Atelier

I tend to wear more grey shoes than any other colour because they are such a veritable colour. I own about 3 or 4 pairs of navy trousers and they don’t work with black. I usually opt for grey suede as I like that worn it look it achieves so quickly. Suede is also the comfiest material in the world ! This summer I’ll be mostly wearing these 3 pairs of grey shoes, flats, midis and semi-high heels (I can’t walk in anything that doesn’t have a sturdy block heel plus skinny stilettos do nothing for my calves), they're the perfect solution for holidays too as they take up such little room in your suitcase !