With pieces in every wardrobe worth a walk in – from Hollywood royalty to just, well, royalty – Amanda Wakeley’s style queen status is undisputed (and, as demonstrated by her OBE earlier this year, even the Queen agrees).
We’re currently running a competition with Amanda’s sought-after fashion label – there’s £600 worth of chic womenswear up for grabs, as well as the same again for the gents from Gieves & Hawkes, and a two-night stay at the stately Lower Slaughter Manor in the heart of the Cotswolds. We thought we’d grab the opportunity to ask the well-travelled designer what she stashes in her weekend bag. This, Messieurs et Mesdames Smiths, is Amanda Wakeley’s guide to packing perfectly for a classic country weekend…
The key to packing successfully for a summer break is to pack lightly but smartly, to remember your comforts and to pack things that have more than one function.
When I go away for an English weekend getaway, I always try to head somewhere quiet, beautiful, comfortable, cosy and, if possible, dog-friendly so my labrador Lola doesn’t get left behind. As for the actual weekend bag, I have an amazing Hermès Lindy, which is made from butter-soft leather, has a surprising amount of room with plenty of little compartments and can also fold down much smaller, so I can use it as a day bag, too.
Travel in style, by all means, but comfort is key. I like a cotton-tailored trouser with a loose cotton jersey top, or a pair of good slim jeans and flats with a boyfriend blazer – smart but easy and you won’t look too dishevelled when you arrive.
Try not to pack anything terribly delicate that will ruin on the road, you don’t want to have to worry about steaming and rescuing when you arrive. A weekend getaway is about luxury and spoiling, yes, but should ultimately be your time to rest, relax and worry as little as possible. Pack unfussy pieces that will endure a little creasing along the way. Jersey is great for travelling; I use a lot of different jersey materials in my collections.
Layers are always a good idea for summer days outside, pack oversized boyfriend sweaters to wear over summer vests, blazers and trenches and, of course, a great pair of sunglasses.
Remember to pack something for lounging in the pool or spa. I always bring a summery kaftan and flip-flops.
From Converse to Christian Louboutin, I always pack three essential pairs of shoes for weekend getaways. Flats such as Converse are a great everyday shoe for a village stroll on a summer day, flip-flops are invaluable for padding around poolside and a good pair of heels is a must. Generally, I plump for Louboutins which never fail to add a touch of glamour. There’s no need to bring wellies – any hotel worth its downpour will have pairs to borrow.
For cosy drinks by the fire and local dinners in the evening, pack a dress that is stylish and beautiful but won’t scare the locals in the village by being over-glamorous. Something that you can dress up or down depending on what accessories you wear is a good idea, and that can potentially double up as a smart-summer-lunch look on the lawn as well as a dinner dress.
Things I never leave behind: a really good moisturiser with SPF (a must, even in Britain), a stack of magazines – from Vogue to Vanity Fair (VF is like a whole collection of little novels which I can dip in and out of). I like to take a copy of Grazia for light reading– it’s an instant fashion fix (and my guilty pleasure). My BlackBerry (I never truly stop working) an iPod with a romantic playlist for the journey there and back, my camera, my sketchbook and pencils and sometimes my Flip camera too for catching moving memories, several bars of very good-quality 90% chocolate to balance moods and sugar cravings, plenty of dog biscuits for Lola, a local map of the village in my back pocket and extra room in my bag for all those delicious goodies from the spa shop and other finds I may discover on my travels.
A cashmere pashmina comes with me everywhere I go. In Britain, week-long sunshine is never guaranteed. I also like to throw it across my bed to add an extra splash of colour, comfort and familiarity to a country hotel room.
And if you also have the job of packing for the man in your life, I really love Gieves & Hawkes for both beautiful contemporary walking jackets, vintage British accessories and really nice classic tailoring for both day and evening.
To get your hands on on any of Amanda’s designs, either win our competition, visit www.amandawakeley.com or pop along to her flagship store at 175 -177 Fulham Road London SW3 6JW – lucky Smith members are entitled to an online discount on the Amanda Wakeley Ready to Wear collection.