Staff Picks

Desert Island Picks

The vacation essentials we can’t do without – for when we’re marooned in a tropical paradise

In the latest instalment of our Staff Picks, inspired by that BBC Radio 4 stalwart of the airwaves Desert Island Discs, we imagine ourselves stranded on a spit of sand somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Cut off from the outside world with only the gently lapping waves, the plaintive foghorn blasts of distant cargo ships and the occasional, friendly sea turtle to keep us company, we pose ourselves a tricky question: if we could have one thing from MR PORTER right now, what would it be?

Of course, it hardly bears mentioning that the desert island in this situation is entirely metaphorical. Just as the guests of Desert Island Discs never bring up the question of how they’re going to play the records they’ve selected – “Is there access to some kind of power outlet on this island? Do I have speakers, or will I have to hook up my turntable to a pair of conch shells instead?” – we’re not going to trouble ourselves with the harsh realities of being cast away at sea.

The question we’re really asking here is this: if you could take only one thing with you to a tropical island, what would it be? The staff didn’t disappoint with their choices, which were just as impractical and luxurious as you’d expect. You can hardly blame them. It’s not like MR PORTER sells satellite phones and solar stills. Not yet, at any rate.

If I had to survive on a desert island with one pair of shoes, it would have to be my trusted Birkenstocks. So easy and practical for daytime and evening, and you don’t have to worry about sand in your shoes when you (finally) get home.

There’s something about being on holiday (and, I imagine, a desert island) that invites you to be a little more daring with what you wear. Maybe it’s the fact that you feel a million miles from normality. Maybe it’s the heat. Whatever it is, I’ll be wearing leopard print when I hit the beach.

Linen shirts always make me think of Baron Glenconner, who bought the West Indian island of Mustique in the late 1950s and transformed it into a tropical retreat for celebs and millionaires. When I buy my island, this is the only kind of shirt I’ll need.

I always take my “holiday watch” with me so I don’t have to worry about it getting covered in sand and suntan lotion, nor do I need to get stressed that my children are using it as a toy to retrieve from the bottom of the pool – which is not what one would usually do with a 1970s Rolex Explorer 1016.

Shorts are usually 24/7 island-appropriate as formal occasions are few and far between, and styles such as this will work just as well at the bar as on the beach (my desert island always has a bar).

While in sunny climes, I like to wear very little other than swim shorts and a hat. Always a wide brim, and always in straw, to keep me protected from the sun and to stay nice and cool. I’d probably ditch the swimmers on my desert island, but no self-respecting Englishman should ever be without a hat.