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How to: Pack for Christmas break

How to: Pack for Christmas break

First things first: not having access to your entire wardrobe does not make it more difficult to dress well.

In fact, having only one bag of clothes to choose from can actually make it easier to look sharp. "If you pack a bunch of well-chosen staples, you can mix and match them to make outfits for everything from Christmas services to the pub with your primary-school pals," says Thread senior stylist Alice Watt.

"I'm actually the world's worst packer, so I completely understand the compulsion to travel with the majority of your belongings. But putting a bit of thought into what you do (and don't) bring can actually help you feel really put together over the holidays—a feeling that's particularly important when you're living under your parents' roof...."

So if you're just going home for a few days for Christmas, here are the 11 things you need to bring that aren't underwear, toiletries or gifts (don't forget the gifts!). If you're tacking on New Year's as well, consult our guide to dressing for a night out and throw in a few extra items. Also, make sure to roll instead of folding clothes, particularly if you're using a light, soft bag like the one above.

1. A peacoat or minimal parka

"Different as they are, either of these two coats could be worn every day of your Christmas break. If you're thinking 'A parka cannot be worn to church,' here's what I mean by minimal: if it lacks excess padding or embellishment, it's simple enough to be quite sharp. Plus you can get away with being a notch more casual at Christmas."

Photographed: Bleu De Paname parka (£265), Mr Start navy jumper (£110), Research Garments white t-shirt (£15), Norse Projects navy chinos (£100), Red Wing boots (£239)

2. A good pair of leather boots

"The beauty of workboots and practical leather lace-up boots is that they're as utilitarian as trainers but much, much more versatile. You'll wear them shopping, out to drinks and on your atoning post-Christmas walk. Wear them when travelling so they don't fill your whole bag."

Photographed: Red Wing boots (£239)

3. Navy chinos

"These can go with a shirt, jumper and tie for Christmas lunch—or with a jumper and boots for a walk or a lazy day around the house. If you only want to bring one pair of trousers, I'd go for these over jeans for two reasons: 1. They'll make you feel sharper than jeans would on Christmas or at a nicer party, and 2. They're actually way less restrictive than jeans are—ideal for this indulgent time of year."

4. Dark indigo jeans

"I speak from experience when I say bringing only one pair of trousers sets you up to spill something on them."

Photographed: Mr Start navy jumper (£110), Research Garments white t-shirt (£15), Jigsaw black boots (£249), Levi's vintage 501 jeans (£225)

5. Your favourite jumper

"Christmas is a great time of year to wear a bold colour—red or green if you're extra festive—but navy always works, too. Whatever you choose, make sure you can wear it smartly (with a shirt and tie) or casually (with a t-shirt). Wool's a good option because it's warm but also breathable."

6. Black or white t-shirt

"To wear under the jumper—or on its own with your jeans or chinos. If you anticipate mince pies by the dozen, black is more flattering than white."

7. Colourful socks

"You'll be lounging around the house, so bring socks you won't mind showing off. If you decide to pack all neutrals, socks can be your one festive touch."

8. Oxford shirt

"Wear this with a tie, jumper, chinos and smart shoes on Christmas day. Wear it with jeans and boots the day after."

Photographed: Gitman white Oxford shirt (£145)

9. Tie

"Bringing a tie keeps you from having to pack a bulky blazer. Here's why: a shirt, tie and jumper's just as smart as a shirt and blazer. If you can, make it a knitted tie. These are more casual and unusual than shiny silk, and will keep you from feeling as if you're at the office."

10. Brown lace-ups

"Brogues or Derbies are your best option for when dinner's in the dining room (as opposed to the kitchen). Brown tends to be more casual than black, so these will go with all the clothes above."

Photographed: Grenson brogues (£230)

11. The requisite hat, gloves and scarf

"There's nothing quite as comforting as a beanie in the post-Christmas hangover. See The Essentials for your best bets."