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Style Advice

The hardest-working holiday essentials

The hardest-working holiday essentials

People pack for the traveller they want to be, and not the one they actually are. Hence why you pack that Churchill biography for your week away, then spend it reading something trashy you picked up in the airport. We approach our holiday wardrobes the same way, imagining a world of blazers for evening drinks and high-on-the-thigh swimming shorts by day, then leaving them in your suitcase once you actually arrive.

The reality is no one benefits from overpacking. Not you, not your back, and not the airline employee who has to inform you that you’ve exceeded your baggage allowance limit (again). But it’s equally foolhardy to course correct and underpack. No one appreciates you showing up for dinner in the damp swim shorts and sandy flip-flops you wore to the beach all day.

To help you find a happy medium, we asked Thread stylist Luke McDonald to identify the hardest-working essentials – the kind that will do double-duty throughout your holiday, fit perfectly into even the most compact carry-ons, and if chosen wisely, can still get plenty of wear once you touchdown back home.


Just because you’ve lost, scuffed and broken a few pair of sunglasses in your time, that doesn’t mean you should wait till you get there and buy a pair from a hut on the way to the beach. “It’s always tempting to buy cheap sunglasses,” Luke says. “A lot of designs have wildly inflated price tags, but there is a sweet spot, where you’re not over-spending but still get quality build and lenses with proper UV protection.”

If you stick to a classic design, you’ll be able to continue wearing them long after your holiday ends. “Any 1960s-inspired style is tried-and-true and will go with anything. Stick to tortoiseshell or dark colours if you plan to wear them with a range of outfit styles,” Luke says.


Flip-flops are a beach holiday mainstay, but if you want to invest in just one pair of shoes for your trip, make it a sandal. “You can comfortably walk around in them while sightseeing and still wear them by the pool,” Luke says.

“Tevas are a great option – they’re designed for comfort, and you can wear them in several situations and on many holidays to come. Birkenstocks are another solid choice if you’re going to be walking, as they get better with wear and are made to last.” If you want to go for something sturdier, like trainers, choose a design that goes with everything. “Canvas trainers are nice, lightweight option for warm-weather holidays. A classic pair of Converse also work well. They’ll go with your swim shorts and whatever you throw on in the evening.”

Tailored shorts

Shorts are an obvious must-have when you’re heading to guaranteed sunshine, but a holiday is a chance to embrace a brighter, bolder pair. “The great thing about statement shorts is that you can wear them in the day and then add a polo or button-down at night for dinner,” Luke says.

“It might be tempting to invest in a neutral pair, especially if you want to get wear out of them at home, but if they’re in a nice tailored shape then brighter colours shouldn’t be exclusive to holidays. You can still pair it with a neutral shirt and shoes back home, and it will add a bit of personality to your everyday wardrobe.”

Drawstring trouser

Relaxed trousers aren’t just on-trend at the moment (and for the foreseeable), they’re also the ideal addition to your holiday packing list. “Drawstring trousers are usually made in breezy, lightweight fabrics, which makes them easy and comfortable whether you’re doing a lot of walking or relaxing,” Luke says.

“They’re also what you want to be wearing when you’re flying or spending lots of time in a car. They look great with other casual pieces, but you can also easily dress them up with a shirt or jumper when you head out to dinner.”

Tote bag

One of the best purchases you can make for your holiday is a durable bag. “A cheap, poorly made tote bag won’t last you much longer than the duration of your trip,” Luke says. “Invest in a well-designed bag that you can use on this holiday and many to come. You can tuck it under your seat when you’re travelling and use it to carry all your essentials to the beach.

“Look for a waterproof design with roomy compartments and padded shoulder straps for comfort. If you go for one in a more neutral colour, you’ll be able to incorporate it more seamlessly into your everyday wardrobe when you do get back home.” Just make sure to get rid of every last grain of sand before you use it to carry your work laptop.

Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Lola & Pani
Styling: Luke McDonald