Summer holidays are a time to rethink your wardrobe. Stephanie Smith looks at British brands that offer practical luxury.
There is something wonderfully liberating about summer holiday dressing. Rules can be broken, conventions discarded. In a place where hardly anyone knows your name, why not wear what you like?
Leaving behind the real world of work and day-to-day business means we can simultaneously be bold and more relaxed in our approach to fashion, although this should not be interpreted as digging out the oldest, more threadbare and bizarre clothes from the back of the wardrobe and chucking them all into your suitcase, on the basis that no one knows you, so no one cares.
Think co-ordination, think versatility. Holiday clothes and footwear need to combine wearability and durability with style. There is an underlying yearning to reflect the surroundings, engage with the elements, get back to the earthy, natural world, especially on those summer holidays we take within the UK, perhaps to the beaches of North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Cornwall, Pembrokeshire and Scotland. Indeed, a fashion industry has grown up around these desires and practical needs, based on classic workwear in natural and organic fabrics.
Seasalt Cornwall was founded in 1981 and still has its original shop in Penzance, where it began selling government surplus clothing. It now specialises in producing environmentally sound clothing, reflecting its Cornish heritage, featuring striped tees, gilets and tunics, smocks, knitwear, print dresses and accessories. In 1996, it became the first fashion brand to have clothing certified to Soil Association standards and last year won the Drapers’ Award for Womenswear. You can find it at Hoopers, Fenwick, Dales Country Clothing and at Yorkshire independent stores listed on the Seasalt Clothing website.
Organic fashion brand Beaumont launched in 2008 and prides itself on producing clothes that offer attention to detail, precision and elegance. Made in the north of Portugal near Porto, fans include The Saturdays, Sophie Dahl and fashion editors and the brand has won awards for its organic pieces. The clothes are luxurious and style-conscious, but are timeless wardrobe classics made from premium fabrics that will withstand many washes – essential for holidays.
Another fairly new luxe British brand is Mint Velvet, launched in 2009 by three working mothers who had worked in the fashion industry for 15 years and wanted clothing that would reflect their lifestyle but also make them feel glamorous and confident. The collection combines beautiful textures in luxurious fabrics, often with glistening embellishment and a strong yet muted and earthy palette, in flattering cuts, so pieces are effortlessly wearable and co-ordinated.
The brand has more than 20 stores, most in the south of England, but there is one in Harrogate and last week one opened in York. Mint Velvet is also stocked in John Lewis and House of Fraser.
By putting together a co-ordinated, practical wardrobe for taking on holiday, we can learn much about dressing for our daily routine back in the land of normality.
We all need a little more luxury in our lives, and a little more daring, more time for thought, more engagement with our natural surroundings.
These are what a holiday ought to bring to us – and we should try to bring some of it all back.