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The Knack

The Essential Guide To Holiday Packing

Turn living out of your luggage into an aspirational lifestyle choice with just a few smart purchases

In a perfect world, we’d all travel with our own personal valet. While we’d glide from destination to destination, encumbered by nothing more than a chic leather folio in which we’d store only our most vital documents, he’d struggle along in our wake with a trunk containing all of our worldly possessions.

Sadly, it’s not the 18th century anymore, and we are not embarking on the Grand Tour.

Back in the real world – a world of luggage allowances, security checks and rabid competition for the overhead lockers – only the fabulously rich and famous are excused the responsibility of transporting their own luggage. Our travel wardrobes must therefore be limited to what we can comfortably carry.

A tightly curated approach to the contents of your suitcase is no bad thing, however, and can teach you a few lessons about disciplined wardrobe planning that are applicable to style and dressing in general. Bearing that in mind, we’ve devised what is – in our opinion – the perfect starter kit for the frequent traveller. It’s not so flimsy that it will leave you feeling underdressed, nor so hefty that it will overburden you.

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all travel wardrobe, of course, and while this suitcase will take you to most places, you might need a few additional extras in certain circumstances. Plus, we haven’t included personal tech, either, on the assumption that you’ll have a separate bag for all of that stuff. Better instead to think of this, then, as the core of your travel wardrobe, to which you can add suits, pyjamas, beltsties or whatever else you might want or need. And it all starts, as do many good wardrobes, with a navy blazer.

01. The blazer

A great deal has been written over the years – much of it by us, admittedly – on the benefits of having a good, reliable navy blazer in your wardrobe. We won’t repeat them all here, suffice it to say that it is one of the most flattering and versatile pieces of clothing that a man can own, bridging the gap between formal and casual with ease. Not only that, but it comes into its own when travelling. Why? For the simple reason that, while you might find the five or six pockets included on a blazer surplus to requirement in everyday life, you’ll be glad of them when you’re halfway through airport security and in need of somewhere to stow your passport, walletwatch and sunglasses. For ease of packing, we’d recommend an unstructured and partially lined blazer. If your travels take you to warmer climes, opt for a lightweight, breathable material such as seersucker. Next, you’re going to need a few shirts.

Try these

  • Caruso Navy Butterfly Slim-Fit Unstructured Cotton and Silk-Blend Blazer

  • Ermenegildo Zegna Navy Cotton-Seersucker Blazer

02. Shirts

Pack a couple of Oxford shirts, one in pale blue and one in white. A natural partner to chinos and a navy blazer, these shirts have the benefit of work just as well as part of as an off-duty summer outfit with shorts and sneakers, too. All you need is roll up the sleeves and undo one extra button. Keep a striped grandad-collar shirt on hand for an even more laid-back option, and a short-sleeved shirt for when the weather gets hot. You might be tempted here to inject a little colour in the form of a print shirt. That’s entirely up to you, but if your goal is to create a holiday wardrobe in which everything works with in harmony with everything else, you might be better sticking with navy blue.

Try these

  • AMI Button-Down Collar Striped Cotton Oxford Shirt

  • Club Monaco Button-Down Collar Cotton Oxford Shirt

03. Shoes

Shoes is one area in which you have to show particular restraint, as they can very quickly engulf your entire suitcase if you’re not careful. They’re big, they don’t pack down easily and they can’t be folded or rolled. You will be wearing a pair at all times when travelling, of course, and you can save room in your suitcase by opting for the bulkiest pair, but this is still likely to be the area in which you should plan most carefully. Start with a pair of smart white sneakers – we still can’t find any better than Common Projects. A pair of deck shoes or driving shoes provides a suitably louche alternative for smart-casual occasions, and for warmer weather you should forego the rubber flip flops and pack a pair of leather sandals instead (the ones illustrated here are by Dries Van Noten). Remember when packing to stuff your shoes with socks, underwear or rolled-up belts. Not only does this save space, but it also helps to maintain the shape of your shoes.

Try these

  • Common Projects BBall Leather Sneakers

  • Álvaro Alex Suede Sandals

04. Trousers and shorts

There aren’t too many occasions you’ll encounter while travelling that aren’t covered by a pair of smart dark jeans or a pair of neutral-shade chinos. Pack them both and you’re pretty much sorted for whatever might come your way. You’ll need shorts, too, assuming that you’re headed somewhere hot, and we’d recommend packing a pair (or two) of chino shorts in navy blue or beige that are tailored to finish just above the knee. If you’re struggling to find the shorts that are right for you, there’s plenty more information here.

Try these

  • Officine Generale New Fisherman Cotton-Twill Chinos

  • Todd Snyder Hudson Slim-Fit Cotton-Twill Chino Shorts

05. Basics

Simple things, but not to be forgotten. In the interest of saving space in your suitcase, three T-shirts, five pairs of boxers and five pairs of socks is just about the limit of what you want to take away with you. If you’re travelling for any longer than five days – even if it’s only for a week – you might want to consider doing laundry while you’re away. Getting your clothes dry-cleaned just before you leave might seem counterintuitive, but it’s worth it for the feeling of returning home with a suitcase full of clean clothes. Rather than having to wash all of your clothes as soon as you get back, you can just unpack the freshly laundered contents of your suitcase directly into your wardrobe. Imagine that.

Try these

  • Maison Margiela Three-Pack Cotton-Jersey T-Shirts

  • Calvin Klein Underwear Three-Pack Stretch-Cotton Boxer Briefs

06. Finishing touches

This is where you reap the benefits of packing lightly. Along with your all-important dopp kit, you’re now free to fill up the remaining gaps in your suitcase with… well, whatever you see fit. A cashmere blanket might seem like an unnecessary luxury, but it’ll make red-eye flights so much less of an ordeal, and can even double up as a chunky scarf. We’ve also included a camera. The one illustrated here is a Leica Sofort, which runs on instant film and is perfect for capturing spontaneous moments. Beyond that, it’s really up to you. What would you pack?

Try these

  • Filson Leather-Trimmed Cotton-Canvas Wash Bag

  • Armand Diradourian Cashmere Travel Blanket