All The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Holiday Dressing

Sarong, and yet so right...

All The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Holiday Dressing

by Lauren Bravo |
Published on

One of my favourite things about summer holidays – apart from the three or so hours where I'm actually relaxed at an ambient temperature – is picking ridiculous fashion characters to become while I’m away, and packing accordingly.

Because really, summer vay-cay is a holiday from your sensible daily wardrobe. A holiday from all the negative thoughts that hold you back during the rest of the year, like 'bikini tops don't belong at the dinner table' or 'no, you really can't style out a coin belt.' It’s about letting all those secret sartorial urges off their leash, to frolic and mate into beautiful outfit mutants.

'Ah, that's the summer I was a beatnik Baywatch extra!' you'll say in years to come when you see the photos of you in a high-leg swimsuit, ankle socks and a beret. 'That's the holiday I became a flower child crossed with Thelma and/or Louise! Who’d have thought a denim waistcoat would look so great with harems and a hair wrap? Good times.'

But of course this is all fantasy, and another word for fantasy is lies. It’s not that holidays release your special styling talents; it’s that you’re drunk on sun and cheap sangria, and nobody knows you here anyway.

It’s fun though! Here are some of the holiday fashion fibs we’ve definitely filled our suitcase with.

‘Kaftans are the epitome of easy, breezy holiday style’


A kaftan, so goes the myth, is a foolproof shortcut to beachy insouciance. Thrown on over a bikini (maybe even literally thrown from the back of a passing camel), it will make you look like a whimsical barefoot folk poet and definitely not one of Loose Women in a Littlewoods catalogue. With each swish of its crease-free cotton folds, more of your workday cares will waft away on the wind. If it’s embellished, even better! Maybe a little see-through. Sexy AND practical, because look at all the patatas bravas you can cunningly stow beneath it!

No, stop thinking about Denise Welch. Or Demis Roussos. Stop it. Or just satisfy the urges with this hippie compromise from ASOS – a ‘t-shirt’ dress with kaftan sympathies.

Liquorish Multi Embroidered Tassel T-Shirt Dress, £22, ASOS

‘A vintage 50s sundress is the height of holiday chic’

Here’s the thing about the 50s: those guys loved excess fabric. It was the whole point; to laugh in the face of rationing with their big swirly skirts and massive petticoats. But while fair enough, there’s something appealing about swishing round looking like Betty Draper while everybody else slobs about in Primark playsuits, somehow the reality always ends up more Kirstie Allsopp, doesn’t it? Plus all that heavy cotton will eventually tip you over the edge – of the thermostat, and the baggage allowance.

Compromise instead in Finery’s pristine Bartley dress, which has all the Grace Kelly vibes you desire but also a handy ventilation hole in the back. Plus you can wear it open over a bikini. Genius.

Bartley Button Through Dress, £75, Finery

‘I am Jennifer Lopez in the "Ain’t It Funny" video’

Your love don’t cost a thing, but LOM Fashion’s fluoro spin on off-the-shoulder ruffled bodysuit costs £89. Worth it for the impromptu Flamenco opps.

Lycra Festival Bodysuit with Pom Pom Frill, £89, Etsy

‘I will definitely wear those heels I packed’

Of course, you packed them ‘for the evening’ – because in the parallel holiday universe of your mind, what you’ll definitely want to do come sundown is take off your sandals, ram your hot, sandy hooves into a pair of pinchy stilettos and totter round on the cobbles looking for the most vibing taverna.

What you actually need is an ‘evening sandal’, which looks exactly like your day sandal but cleaner and also bejwelled. These swellegant slippers will make it a holiday for your bunions too.

Embellished slippers, £69, & Other Stories

‘I am Geri Halliwell in the Mi Chico Latino video’


Ruffle Spot Midi Dress, £79, Warehouse

‘All I really need is a giant blanket scarf thing’

Just one beautiful bit of tasselled fabric that you’ll casually throw around yourself in lieu of an actual top, or skirt, or dress. Everyone will marvel at your creativity. Today it’s a shawl, tomorrow it’s a halterneck! Then a strapless smock! Then the day after that, it’s accidentally ripped off by a passing pedalo and used as a makeshift hammock.

Try this cheat’s version from Free People instead – looks like an artfully tied scarf, stays up with actual elastic.

Easy Day Beachin Dress, £29.95, Free People

‘The creases will drop out in the heat!’

No, you’re thinking of ice cream. Ice cream drops out in the heat.

‘Beachy waves are the ultimate hair goal’

It’s a nice idea, obviously – that we will leave our dryers at home and let our hair run wild in Mother Nature’s seaside salon instead.

But then you remember there’s a reason you don’t let your hair dry naturally for the other 51 weeks a year. There’s a reason you don’t normally dunk it in brine, rub it on a sandy towel and let it fry to a crisp in the sun, and that’s because afterwards it doesn’t look like Daryl Hannah’s hair in Splash; it looks like deep-fried calamari.

Luckily, there are hats. Mango’s giant-brimmed straw fedora is basically cheaper than a deep conditioning treatment.

Contrast ribbon hat, £7.99, Mango

‘I’m going to be so terribly on-trend compared to everyone else! I'll probably be street-style snapped!’

Once upon a time you might have stood out amid a sea of white jeans and terrible vest tops, but things have changed. Zara happened. And now, we stand (bare) shoulder to (bare) shoulder with our European sisters, in the same blue cotton Bardot top as every lady from here to Mykonos.

Embrace it – or pioneer the next generation of weird tan lines in this Topshop Boutique body instead. British, but not in a Brexity way.

Asymmetric Body by Boutique, £28, Topshop

‘I will want to wear tight jeans’

What you were going for, wearing high-rise stonewashed denim, white plimsolls and a leotard to the beach, was a kind of hip, preppy, Baby-from-Dirty-Dancing-meets-Jessie-Spanno-from-Saved-By-The-Bell idea. What you got was thrush.

Thank god then for chambray, which is basically denim-lite. Here’s a nice soft pair of blue trews and a slouchy jumpsuit to wear your Gazelles with instead.

Sister Jane Chambray Wide Leg Trousers, £32, ASOS; Chambray Jumpsuit with Banded Sides and Culotte Leg, £24, ASOS.

‘I only need as many outfits as there are days’

WRONG, because you are forgetting all the times per day when you will run back to your villa/hotel room/caravan muttering ‘so hot so hot too hot hot hot’, peel off whatever moist jersey item you’re wearing with sun cream stains and smears of Maxibon down it, and stick your head in the fridge. Factor in all those outfit changes and you actually need at least three times as many outfits as there are days. It’s simple maths.

OR, you just need this go-anywhere dress in all the colours, and a lot of wet wipes.

V-neck Slip Dress, £55, & Other Stories

'Ooh, that’s nice'

It isn’t nice. You’ve just had two beers and found the Portuguese equivalent of Dorothy Perkins. Retreat.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

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Follow Lauren on Twitter @laurenbravo

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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