Owing to living 800 miles from the majority of my nearest and dearest, as well as having an insatiable appetite for travel, I have become quite adept over the years in the art of hand luggage packing for whenever I go on a trip. In the main, the key is to take layers, neutrals that can be dressed up and nothing that needs an iron. Here is what I take whenever I return to the Big Smoke or go on a city break. I will tackle summer holidays another time - but it is possible to take two weeks' worth of outfits in even Ryanair's hand luggage allowance!
- One pair of smart trousers. I always take a pair of leather look leggings. They are surprisingly comfortable and are suitable for both day and evening wear so earn their keep taking up space in your carry on. Lk Bennett have this great pair.
- One pair of jeans. Take whatever set suits your shape best. Bootcut flatters everyone, though skinny jeans are a trend that won't go away! For versatility, which is a premium on hand luggage items, take a dark blue or indigo coloured pair. If you can find some with a little bit of give or lycra in them, all the better for that extra bit of comfort whilst travelling. I like jeans from 7 For All Mankind, which hold their shape for years and years, but at the cheaper end of the scale you can't beat a pair of jeans from Gap.
- One blazer, to keep you looking chic and put together, whatever time of day - be it sightseeing or after dark cocktails. Reiss always has a fabulous selection that should cost more for the level of tailoring provided. Zara also offers a more affordable range in a jersey material that are ludicrously comfortable AND well cut. Try to pack a plain one in a heavy material that creases less, though I often wear mine on any plane journeys.
- Three T shirts in neutral colours (black, white and grey marl), should see you through any eventuality. Asos sells a well priced multi pack in said neutral colours. A slouchy shape can be dressed up or down with leather leggings and heels for night time, or jeans and converse for day.
- One long sleeved breton top - these are always impossibly chic and make you look like Audrey Hepburn in your holiday snaps. Again have a look at Asos, but H&M do a good range with Pima in them making them both wearable and breathable.
- One fine knit crew neck jumper, and one fine knit boyfriend cardigan - cashmere if possible, to help with any chilly walks or draughty old museums and galleries. Cashmere always looks a little smarter which helps if you are in need of a cover up at night. J Crew is the king of the high street knit in a variety of colours to suit all tastes. I always err towards darker or neutral colours when travelling - but it is hard to resist this company's electric colour wheel sometimes! It is not the cheapest shop, but their goods last, plus they always have a ridiculous sale online.
- Ankle boots - either flat or heeled if you have a pair that are comfortable enough for walking longer than usual distances. Black or tan will be the most useful. As these are my largest item, I will try to wear them on the plane, and as such I will always take a pair that I can pull on and off. By not wearing any brogue type booties I can breeze through airport security without having to tackle any laces or buckles. For a designer hit, I love Acne's range, but realistically any ankle boot purchase come down to your foot shape and size. I would recommend going to a department store that sells lots of brands and try on as many pairs as possible before going with a pair that not only look good but are uber comfy.
- High heeled pointed court shoes in black patent, suede or plain leather. These will smarten up any outfit for partying away the night. I would even argue that they don't have to be comfortable, they just have to look good from hotel to cab, from cab to bar and back again. The ultimate pair here are Christian Louboutins but Kurt Geiger does a great range that will have a pair to fit every foot shape.
- One pair of trainers. I fall under the Converse camp in this argument, but I was once an Adidas shells owner - both will see you walking very comfortably to wherever your destination of choice is on your city break. However, the high street is currently awash with trendy sneakers that aren't just for gym use but made to be seen on the street.
- Scarves, one patterned, one plain. Scarves will help brighten up any outfit but are also great for planes when you can't quite bring yourself to cover up using the static inducing blanket supplied by your airline. Zara has an absolutely brilliant selection of scarves at the moment that are so soft you'll want to wear them all the time.
- Statement Jewellery - just a few pieces are needed! This is usually where I take far more than needed. Again, I love Zara here for costume pieces, but Anthropologie also has some really interesting items that will help 'make' any t shirt and jeans combo.
- One loose fitting coat - again, I try to wear this on the plane if I can. As I live in a colder climate, I will often need it at my 'home end' out of sheer necessity. However, if I'm going to a warmer climate where I will only need a blazer, at most, in the evenings, I will try just to layer up from the front door of my house to the passenger door of the cab taking me to the airport door. I absolutely loathe having to carry things other than a handbag whilst travelling, so I only take a coat if I am going somewhere equally cold.
- Hands free handbag. Luckily, this is a trend that is incredibly practical (given that you don't have to carry your bag in your hand) so I say make the most of it. High street shops have them everywhere your turn, though the fashion set love a mini Gucci or Chloe number at the moment. Either way, they make travelling a lot easier and if you are flying with Easyjet or Ryanair, they are small enough to fit or hide under any large scarf, blazer or coat you are wearing. Additionally, a smaller size messenger/cross body bag makes a good evening option so no other purse needs to be packed!
This may look like a lot, but I promise it will fit into any regulation carry on bag! Hope everyone enjoys any breaks on which they are now going to look very chic!