I was chatting with a friend recently about swimwear. Just about this time of year – when you’re still debating whether to bare your lily white pins in a pair of shorts in case you dazzle a passing driver and cause some sort of accident – is, weirdly, the best time to buy your new swimwear. The shops are still full of all the lovely bits. But, woe betide that you leave it until a couple of weeks before your summer holiday – it will all be sold out and you’ll be left with the choice of a teeny tiny string bikini or a boring black sporty swimsuit left in your size. Happily, I’m here to help and yesterday I took a little sortie to Milton Keynes to check out the swim and beachwear from M&S. There aren’t many places better to buy swimwear – their fit is always good, the prices are reasonable, the fabrics wash well and don’t fade in the sun, and they always have nice matchy matchy bits too. Read on, then, for my best buys:
Isn’t this weather glorious? Last week, we were lucky enough to have a little adventure on board Royal Caribbean’s newly refurbished Independence on the Seas, and from there I went straight to Gatwick for a quick overnight at the BLOC Hotel there (write up coming soon) before flying to Palma on assignment for Cruise International for the launch of Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises) brand new ship, Marella Explorer. Fab fun, but the challenge was that I had to have cabin baggage only for two trips, which forced me to think long and hard about what I needed to take. Happily, this means that I’ve been testing out the perfect holiday capsule wardrobe and I think I’ve come pretty close.
This week, having finally beaten the jetlag which has been making everything foggy and slow, and also having finished drafting all of the new recipes for the book update I’m writing for a work thing (woohoo!), I woke up to beautiful, spring sunshine streaming through the window. I sat and had a cup of tea with the dog on my favourite blue seat in the garden and watched as my beautiful baby cherry tree shed its blossom in the breeze, like pretty pink snowfall. Oh, isn’t it glorious? As you know, I’ve been lucky enough to have had a couple of trips away so far this year, but even then, I rarely feel like I nail the effortless sunny day dressing thing. As much as I’d love to wear bright colours and prints, I just don’t feel right in them. I’m a more relaxed, monochrome dresser at heart, but feel this mostly lends itself to winter dressing: black jeans, grey cashmere and white shirts are an easy uniform, somehow, when it’s cold. So is it possible to dress for summer without opting for brights and florals (yes, I know they look lovely on some people), well, I’ve had a scout around, and here are a few of my favourite things for chic dressing for sunny days.
I do realise, as I’m perched here on the breakfast bar right next to the snowy scene of devastation that is currently our garden, that talking about holiday dressing might be a bit of a stretch, but honestly, I’m all about the escapism. Right now, if I can imagine myself on a sunkissed beach somewhere, I’m a very happy bunny. So even if your current surroundings might not scream (or even whisper) new bikini, I feel that we could all do with a bit of beach dreaming to warm us up. And with so many gorgeous holiday clothes new in at Boden, it would be rude not to have a quick look, no?
If you’ve been here before (hello!), you’ll know that at the beginning of the year, I wrote a little about this year being my year of ‘thoughtful spending‘. This meant attacking the vast piles of clothes in the top of my wardrobe, working out what was wearable and what wasn’t (tick), sending what wasn’t to charity (tick!), and having a good hard look at how in future, my wardrobe could be a) smaller and b) more user friendly (work in progress). Of course once I started on my home wardrobe, this started to filter down to my holiday wardrobe. Here’s how I got on in my quest to pack like a minimalist.
Summer is coming! Hurrah for bare feet and sunny breakfasts al fresco, dog walks without wellies and massive coat, pottering in the garden and – hopefully- a bit of beach and pool time too.
So I’m off on my travels again this week. First, to Texas (I KNOW!) to have a nose around, and then joining the beautiful Carnival Freedom to be whisked off to various places including Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. I promise it’s work (I know you don’t believe me) and lucky Charlie gets to accompany me as it’s the Easter holidays.
And so to packing. I’m determined to become more clever at the dreaded packing. I always end up taking loads of things that don’t go with each other, or don’t even get worn. What a waste. Ages ago, I had my ‘colours done’ and the lady told me to stick to the softer versions of colours (so instead of black, grey and instead of navy, softer blues, plus peach instead of pink, etc, etc) and I’m only now really learning to wear those colours, and realise that she was right, they do suit me.
I’m also trying to remember that it’s NOT A CRIME to wear a dress more than once at dinner, for example, but maybe change up the shoes or the accessories (especially important on a longer trip like this one).
Here’s what I’m thinking of taking:
hush’s boyfriend jeans – soft, comfy, loose and perfect for travelling…
… although I might splash out on some new Converse. I quite like these charcoal ones (charcoal’s neutral, right?):
For everyday wear, you can’t beat denim shorts, and again I’ve gone for the hush ones as they’re just the right amount of loose, just the right amount of worn-in, with no baggy bottom and a turned up hem that stays up:
And because I’m just IN LOVE with this gorgeous print, I’ll be throwing a pair of these soft tropical print loose shorts in too. They have a really comfy, wide smocked waist and are perfect to throw on before heading to the beach (I love the trousers too but it seems so does everyone else as there’s a bit of a wait):
For t-shirts, I love Gap stripy t-shirts, the soft cotton slub hush ones, and I’m also a bit obsessed with these soft tees from New Look that have a split back with a chiffon layer underneath. They drape beautifully and are an absolute bargain – just slightly more interesting than a normal tee (nice bit of bum cover if you’re self conscious too):
I’m still obsessed with everything Allium B and will be taking the superbly fitted and incredibly flattering Eliza dress with me (there’s something about the cut of these that is both figure hugging, flattering AND comfy – how do they do it?):
By the way, if you’re also a fan, I have an exclusive Allium B 20% off discount just for you. Just add the code: ENGLISHMUM at checkout to get the discount!
Sticking with the blues, I’m adding this soft, easy to wear Fat Face Tenby dress (mine’s actually in the Batik print – you can see the print here on their lovely, inspirational ‘Love Blue‘ page):
Shoes-wise, I have a pair of metallic go-with-everything wedges. Mine are last season from Boden, but very similar to these:
And continuing with my obsession with all things metallic, I’ll also be packing these ridiculously comfy and utterly beach-blingy Carvela espadrilles:
I’ll be adding my old faithful Birkenstocks, sunglasses, my super-flattering Boden Sorrento swimsuit (eagerly awaiting the new hush beachwear too) and a hat. Oh, and my last airport purchase, this lovely soft beach cover up from Accessorize, which is the most beautiful sea green colour, and squishes easily into the corner of a beachbag:
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Will I survive for ten days (I AM packing underwear and toiletries too)? Keep an eye on my social media to find out! x
- The hush summer sale is here! June 21, 2018
- Visiting Walt Disney World with toddlers June 19, 2018
- Come shopping with me: swim and beachwear from M&S June 16, 2018
- Coconut chilli prawn noodles June 14, 2018
- Marvel Summer of Super Heroes at Disneyland Paris June 12, 2018