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The Art of Packing

Posted 09.07.15  - Style

A holiday need not be to a far-flung location to offer the experience of escape. After all, it is as much about a psychological as well as a physical relocating - the chance to let go of one’s day-to-day self. Perhaps this is why, when abroad, so many men dress as they rarely would at home. As Christian Dior noted, 'On vacation, you can wear all the colourful and casual clothing that you like.' Turnbull & Asser's historic reputation for palette and pattern - check out its candy-pink or floral shorts for summer 2015 - mean it is well placed to proffer garments that will look as at ease on the promenade as during boardroom power games.

Yet, conversely, Dior's is advice that some men take rather too much to heart: traditionally, Brits, in particular, have a habit of dressing for their holidays rather like oversized toddlers, packing a mish-mash of garments that have no place in the male wardrobe, ever. Among them might be cap-sleeved T-shirts, three-quarter length trousers and half-mast socks - often all at once. There are many other such aberrations - if you are not on a beach, then there is no place on male feet for flip-flops, for example. Such men need to take heed of the caveat that concludes Dior’s exhortation to explore the brighter side of one’s sartorial self: 'But you must always be elegant'.

The typical advice is to look to our continental cousins, those more used to coping with the heat of tropical locations the likes of India or Thailand. The popular conception is that they all dress like James Bond enjoying his statutory civil-service six weeks off: shirts in lighter- or middle-weight fabrics that pack well, such as Turnbull & Asser's 100-per-cent-cotton Informalist; casual but still tidy fits the likes of Turnbull & Asser's chinos, in neutral, masculine shades of khaki, white and navy; and versatile, go-anywhere shoes such as loafers. In short, a distinct lack of logos or 'kiss-me-quickery' and a leaning towards classic garments that might have been worn by a man of sophistication on holiday any time in the last half century.

Turnbull & Asser's historic reputation for palette and pattern mean it is well placed to proffer garments that will look as at ease on the promenade as in the boardroom.

Truth or fiction, the continental aspiration is to be encouraged, aesthetically speaking. But it is also practical: lightweight garments pack smaller, while a minimal palette and a leaning towards the semi-formality of, for example, Turnbull & Asser's textured-denim blazer, means more goes with more. Add in some key accessories - a pocket square or cotton scarf, for example, maybe even a slim repp tie, to be worn loose - and the same few garments can be made to look as though they are a whole new wardrobe.

While Brits may characteristically flee these shores in search of sun, the same packing philosophy applies well even if one is simply exploring the underrated backwaters of the mother country. But, Britain being Britain, one might well want to pack a classic raincoat too.

Josh Sims - Writer for the Financial Times

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