Learn to pack like a fashion expert - these are the 15 pieces I pack for a week in the sun

I'm a 57-year-old fashion editor and these are my holiday heroes

Pack like a fashion expert - Julie Player wearing holiday wardrobe
(Image credit: @julieplayerhalpin)

Are you off on holiday and wondering what to pack for a week in the sun? I've got vacation dressing down to an art and know how to pull together a capsule collection of clothes that will work with each other to create a variety of outfits to see you through the week in style.

If you want to pack like a fashion expert you're in the right place. Much like your everyday over 50s capsule wardrobe, your holiday clothes and accessories need to compliment each other, this will ensure they work harder and smarter - while you lie back and relax!

The key to a successful holiday wardrobe is colour coordination. I always begin by choosing a printed sundress, which becomes the starting point to the edit. I love bold, bright prints that are joyful and uplifting, especially if I'm heading to the beach, but you can choose a more muted palette if you prefer, as long as it combines 3 or 4 shades for you to focus on.

Using the colours in the print I then start to build a holiday wardrobe by adding 4 other key items that can each be worn in at least 3 different ways. These are then supported by a few basic essentials. Finding the right swimwear for your body shape is a must and accessories play a major part too. I always pack a couple of pairs of flat sandals, a cute beach bag, trending sunglasses and a straw hat to complete the look.

Learn to pack like a fashion expert - these are the 15 pieces I pack for a week in the sun

A warm and sunny climate requires clothes that will feel comfortable for both day and night. I suggest a floaty sundress in a sheer fabric. I’ve gone for a button-front design that has the added benefit of transforming into a beach cover-up or a lightweight jacket when worn open. It's sensible to pack clothes made from natural fabrics. Fashion stylist Sharon Agricole agrees: “linen, cotton and silk are ideal as they are naturally breathable, allowing the air to flow between the fibres, it absorbs moisture and dries quickly, leaving you cool and dry.”

I always pack a pair of relaxed linen trousers. Co-ords are a versatile option too. "You can wear the items together as a matching set, for that cool, smarter look" says Sharon. "But the great thing about packing co-ords is that you can mix and match them with the rest of your holiday wardrobe."

A linen top with long sleeves is perfect for protecting yourself from the sun on a sightseeing trip and a pair of denim shorts will be useful too. I always pack a supportive bikini, I like high-waisted briefs for a retro look - one of the key swimwear trends for 2024. A coordinating sarong is a pool-side essential, and you can throw it over your shoulders on a chilly evening or tie it up to create a bag. A one-piece swimsuit in a solid colour that matches the sarong will give you plenty of swimwear options. Add in a silk vest to elevate your basics and save room for your key accessories.

Flying and the heat will always result in swelling feet, so I leave my heels at home and opt for comfortable shoes like a pair of flip-flops for the beach and a smarter pair of sandals for evenings and strolling around town.

Julie Player wearing an East sundress

(Image credit: @julieplayerfashion)

Julie player wearing Nobody's Child shirt and shorts

(Image credit: @julieplayerfashion)

Julie player wearing swimwear

(Image credit: @julieplayerfashion)

Julie Player in white linen trousers

(Image credit: @julieplayerfashion)

Julie Player in Uniqlo linen top

(Image credit: @julieplayerfashion)

How to pack a suitcase for a week in the sun

Once you have decided on your coordinated capsule wardrobe and planned your holiday outfits you can begin the packing process. Here are my top tips for ensuring your clothes arrive ready to wear...

1. Go bold - Choose a sturdy suitcase in a bright colour that you'll easily spot at baggage reclaim.

2. Roll your smalls - Underwear can be rolled up to fit into your sandals to keep their shape or squashed into the corners of your suitcase.

3. Lay the linen - Where possible I leave my clothes on flat lightweight hangers making it easy to hang them straight up when I arrive.

4. Get steamy - Linen is naturally prone to creasing, which looks laid-back and cool. But if you intend to wear your linen bits multiple times throughout the week it's a good idea to invest in a travel steamer.

5. Pack a pillowcase - Avoid using the hotel's plastic laundry bags and opt for an empty pillowcase instead.

Julie Player

Julie has over 30 years experience in the fashion industry and is a regular contributor to Woman & Home, Woman’s Weekly and Chat magazines, creating engaging fashion and lifestyle content for women of all ages. She also works in the wardrobe department at ITV, dressing the presenters for Good Morning Britain. Aged 57, Julie loves seeking out the most figure-flattering fashion for every occasion. She’s a qualified sustainable fashion expert with a wealth of knowledge of planet-friendly fashion brands and ways to shop more ethically.