WITH holiday season upon us, it's officially time to pack for the great escape.

But whether you're driving to the British coast or jetting away to foreign climes, make sure it's a glamorous getaway.

For Europe-bound Brits, the average suitcase is packed with £580 worth of stylish clobber, according to recent research by Very.co.uk.

"A summer holiday represents the perfect chance to showcase a hot summer wardrobe," says Julie Donnelly, head of womenswear at the website.

But it's important not to go overboard and risk losing your holiday spending money at the excess baggage counter.

Pack a capsule wardrobe to impress with our practical guide.


Never leave your packing until a few hours before you're due to check in. Cue snap decisions, highly impractical pieces and forgotten underwear/swimwear/shoes.

Some pre-vacation planning will make pulling holiday ensembles together a breeze on arrival.

"When it comes to luggage, aim for streamline," advises Rachel Zoe, stylist to the stars and author of Style A To Zoe.

"Go with cases you can haul effortlessly by yourself and resist over-packing."

Think about where you're going, for how long, what you'll be doing and, most importantly, the weather outlook.

Your travelling companions should also determine your suitcase essentials. Think accessories aplenty, dresses and heels for a girly trip away and comfort, practicality and flat shoes for active family hols.

Assess how travel-friendly fabrics are and how they'll fare after a stint in the suitcase - nobody wants to spend their holiday at the ironing board. Fine knits, chiffon and denim travel more easily than linen, silk and heavy cotton.


You don't have to pack everything but the kitchen sink to look vacation-chic.

The trick is to select versatile pieces that double up and have more than one purpose.

If your destination's hot, hot, hot, try sheer dresses that you can wear over swimwear by day and over a slip teamed with heels for sunset evenings.

Zoe suggests: "Look for tunics, kaftans and sundresses that can serve as dresses or tops.

"A fabulous belt can turn a sarong into a dress, so pack one that sits on the waist, in leather or raffia, or a coloured woven or gold chain."

You're on holiday so ditch the black and dark colours and aim for a suitcase of white and lighter, brighter shades that you usually wouldn't dare to wear at home or in the office.

When it comes to accessories, sandals in pretty metallics can be worn for day or night. Espadrilles and open-toe wedges are also ideal for puddle-free destinations.

"Clothes might be minimal, but not jewellery," Zoe suggests. "Stockpile hoops, anything ethnic and bangles - island cheapies are a great addition."


Say bon voyage to chaos and hello to suitcase order for a super-stylish vacation. Zoe has these packing tips: :: Start with shoes on the bottom. Protect their shape by stuffing them with socks or tank tops. Protect any favourite shoes in drawstring cloth bags so they don't get scratched.

:: Layer in denim, folded in half.

:: Layer in everything else, laying it flat with as few folds as possible: trousers, sweaters, dresses.

:: On top, place the more fragile items - anything chiffon, beaded or sequinned - and turn inside out so they won't catch. You can also wrap these in plastic or tissue paper to protect them.

:: Don't overstuff your bags. Clothes and even shoes can end up badly creased and you'll risk paying extra pounds at check-in.

:: Keep jewellery and other valuables on board with you.

:: Always unpack your bags as soon as you arrive at your destination. This gives clothes and shoes a chance to air out and regain shape - and enables you to see everything you have right away.


Actress Freida Pinto shimmers on the red carpet in a Rachel Roy embellished dress. Be the belle of your summer party in Monsoon's Cleopatra dress, £99 (0203 372 3000/www.monsoon.co.uk).


Taking inspiration from the sporting event of the year, Warehouse's Olympic-themed collection is a fashion front-runner. The capsule collection of five Grecian-style occasion wear dresses take direction from Ancient Greece with elegant pleats and draping. Priced from £80, available online and in selected stores from late July.