So, packing a small suitcase for my jaunt around Europe was a fun exercise in travelling light, but it hasn't been easy. As we've seen the sights, I admit I've been fantasizing about having more with me. It might not be the dead of winter yet, but I don't think you can say it's spring either. So I've been thinking about how to stay both warm and stylish on a winter getaway - when you have a full-sized suitcase with you, that is. If you're a lady who gets freezing as soon as the atmosphere drops below room temperature, it can be difficult to wrap up warm and still feel sexy. Bundled up in ten layers, maybe with only your eyes showing between your hat and scarf? Well, at least it's keeping you warm. But you can stay cosy and look great, plus fit everything into a standard suitcase, even if you're off to experience subzero temperatures. So here are some tips for packing for your next winter getaway - although there might not be time to fit one in this year.
Coats and Jackets
If you want to keep from freezing, you'll need your coat or jacket. But getting the right one and knowing how many to take is the complicated bit. You need to think about how cold it is where you're going, as well as how susceptible you are to the cold. If you're off skiing, I'm afraid you'll have to ditch your stylish trench coat for something a bit warmer. If you don't want to go full sporty ski jacket (although that will make you look like a seasoned skier), a puffy down coat will serve you well and look fantastic too. But if you're not frolicking about in the snow, your standard winter coat will keep you warm, although you should prepare yourself with extra layers.
But what about that awkward winter-turning-to-spring period, when you don't know whether to wear a coat, a jacket or nothing at all (apart from other clothes)? That can be a tricky one - you can start off needing a coat, and then you have to take it off in the middle of the day and carry it around. The best option is to choose a light jacket and layer up, carrying a bag that you can shove a couple of layers into if you start stripping off.
Layers, Layers, Layers
Layering is everyone's friend when it's chilly outside. It makes it easier to control your temperature if you're getting too hot or too cold - just add or take away a layer or two. If you're going somewhere colder than home and don't want to buy a big new coat, just pack plenty of layers instead. You can build up a vest, a top, and a sweater or two under your jacket without looking anything like the Michelin man. Thinner layers are much easier to pack too because you can fold them up tight. Big bulky cardigans and sweaters are much harder to fit in, and you might find yourself sitting on your suitcase.
Tights and Leggings
No one wants to spend all winter avoiding skirts and dresses because their legs are cold. Some good pairs of tights and leggings will become your favourite accessories on your winter getaway. They'll keep your legs warm when you wear your best dresses, and you can even wear them under trousers if you get exceptionally cold. They're so versatile; you can wear them with a casual sweater dress, a lovely tunic or a sexy evening outfit. Winter boots, pumps, brogues and sneakers are all perfect for wearing with tights or leggings.
The Right Shoes
Shoes! Since I could only pack one small suitcase for my European journey, I could only take two pairs of shoes - one on my feet and one in my case. But if you have a full-sized case, you can afford to take another pair...or maybe two. Packing winter shoes can be difficult, especially if you're going somewhere with a lot of snow. You need a pair that will keep your feet warm and prevent embarrassing falls, but you don't want to go out to dinner in a pair of snow boots. Luckily, you can take shoes for different activities. If you're going somewhere fairly mild, like Holiday Parks in Scotland, you can pack a pair of shoes or boots that will protect you from rain and a little light snow. But you won't need anything heavy-duty. But you need to think about what you'll be doing too. Pick shoes that are both stylish and comfortable if you're planning a lot of walking.
You can't bundle up against the cold without some winter accessories, and it's these that will make your outfit. Take a few hats, scarves and pairs of gloves to match your different coats and jackets. Don't like hats? Earmuffs can be a cute alternative to keep your ears warm or you can pull up your hood on a coat or sweater. If you're heading to the slopes, make sure you have some waterproof gloves, as well as your fashionable après-ski ones. And don't forget scarves, because they can be incredibly versatile. Wrap them round your neck or over your head and drape them over your shoulders (if they're big enough) to keep you warm. If you're off to the mountains, don't forget some snazzy shades - it's sunny up there.
Thermal Layers and Snow Gear
If your winter vacation is in the Alps, or somewhere equally snowy, and you've never been before, don't underestimate the cold. You might think you don't get cold easily, but with temperatures in the negatives and wind chill, it can be colder than you think. Investing in a some thermal underlayers is a good idea. They don't look fantastic, but no one but you will see them, and they'll make an enormous difference to how warm you feel. Kit yourself out with all the appropriate snow gear too, from salopettes to ski gloves.
When you've gathered all your winter travelling essentials, it can look like far too much. But if you can't fit everything into your suitcase, it's time to break out your matching skills, and create several outfits with as few pieces as you can.
Check out my Instagram for photos of my European trip at the tail-end of winter.