Whether you’re the type of traveler that crams a week’s worth of clothes into a carry-on like a pro or checks an amply-packed suitcase, figuring out what to bring on vacation can be challenging. Last month, we focused on what men should pack for Europe; now, for the ladies, here are some tips on how to look chic and feel comfortable no matter what European destination you’re bound for over the next few months.
If your vacation plans include visiting a glamorous European city, steer clear of packing anything too informal or flashy, advises Allure Fashion Director Siobhan Bonnouvrier. "Many European cities tend to have a more polished dress code," she explains. "I find it’s a lot less casual than we’re used to here. Certainly I would not bring anything gym-related, like sweats or flip-flops or white gym shoes. And I would leave kitschy things at home, like message t-shirts and anything along those lines that scream ‘tourist’."
If you’re heading to the beach, a sense of reserve is also key. "Trying too hard at the beach just looks horrible," Bonnouvrier says. "I would definitely bring a great cover up—something that actually covers. At a lot of beach locations you see people in restaurants who just are basically still naked while they’re still eating lunch. It’s really unattractive." Options like a simple cotton t-shirt dress, pareo, or kaftan are great, particularly paired with flat sandals, to throw on over a swimsuit during a day in the sun.
As for swimsuits, Bonnouvrier suggests packing two, including—even if your figure’s not picture perfect—a bikini. "A great bikini that has a string tie on the hip is actually very flattering," she says. "A lot of people feel like it might be too skimpy for them, but actually to have less fabric on the hip is better looking because it doesn’t break up the line of the body."
If your travels include time outside of big cities or resorts, channel your inner Audrey Hepburn and bring a couple easy, crisp pieces. "If I was going to charming small town, I would wear a slim capri pant of some sort with a button-down shirt in cotton," she advises. "I would look more relaxed but still polished. Keeping it simple and polished translates anywhere in the world."
"The key to dressing in all these various places is to have it look effortless, because that actually is sophisticated," she adds. "When I go anywhere, I always try to pack clothes that can translate from day to evening easily. A simple shift dress is something that you can wear with a flat shoe during the day, then at night really dress up with a killer stiletto and some accessories, or even throw a jacket over it to look like a completely different outfit. It’s key to take fantastic accessories with you, since that’s a really good way to change an outfit."
Of course, if you don’t pack enough accessories—or clothing for that matter—you’ve got the ideal excuse to go hit the shops while you’re away, which might just be the perfect excuse to pack extra-light.