Would you pay a holiday stylist to tell you what to pack? These fashion experts charge up to £150 an hour to plan outfits for every day of your trip
- Milda Chellingsworth charges £150 an hour to pack people’s holiday suitcase
- Her clients are ordinary, fashion-conscious women and yummy mummies
- The most a client has spent on packing service is £5,000 to shop and pack for all five family members, which took her three days
With her husband and children out at work and school, Milda Chellingsworth seizes the opportunity to meticulously pack a suitcase with every moment of a well-planned summer holiday in mind.
From underwear — both pretty and practical — to swimwear optimised for either pool or ocean dips, to dresses, heels, earrings and sunglasses, she lovingly wraps each item in tissue paper. Many of the glamorous options have been purchased specifically for this trip.
She then pens detailed descriptions of every outfit and when it should be worn during the trip: a specific restaurant (whose ambience she has checked in advance); the beach with the children; or a posh cocktail party (for which she’ll ascertain the likely guest list).
It’s the way we all wish we had time to prepare for a summer holiday — yet Milda will never wear the clothes herself.
Oriona in Alexandra Miro. For stylist Oriona Robb, 45, holiday packing is made easy by building a capsule wardrobe based on a strict rule: it should comprise 75 per cent neutrals and 25 per cent ‘a splash of colour’
She is one of a new breed of stylists who devote themselves to giving stressed-out, time-poor women the ideal holiday wardrobe, shopping, planning and packing for them as required. She charges £150 an hour for the service — but it’s worth every penny, according to the growing number of women who use discreet stylists such as Milda.
Typically, her clients are ordinary, fashion-conscious women and yummy mummies with top jobs, often in law, finance or tech, who want to look and feel lovely on holiday.
They vacation everywhere from Italy, Greece, Spain and the Cote d’Azur to Dubai, the U.S., India and Hong Kong. Some travel frequently between their own villas and yachts.
‘I know their wardrobes inside out,’ says Milda, 40, who lives in Sundridge Park, South East London, and has been a stylist for 15 years. ‘Either they or their PA provide me with a full itinerary for the holiday, including who they’ll see, events they are attending and restaurants they have booked, plus how important each diary entry is to them. It enables me to tailor their wardrobe precisely to their plans.’
Milda must consider everything from the weather to the local culture when planning a holiday wardrobe.
‘Some of my clients’ international holidays include lunches with royals or presidents,’ she continues. ‘One lady called me the night before her holiday to the U.S. to inform me she’d now be having lunch at the White House. I suggested an existing outfit she had — a stylish trouser suit by Racil.
Milda in Faithfull The Brand. With her husband and children out at work and school, Milda Chellingsworth seizes the opportunity to meticulously pack a suitcase with every moment of a well-planned summer holiday in mind
‘They’ll give me access to their extensive walk-in wardrobes and dressing rooms and I’ll select all the key pieces they need.’
At this end of the spectrum, it’s not about packing to keep luggage light — some wealthy families take seven or eight suitcases with them for a week’s holiday.
Milda has had clients who splurged six figures on exquisite holiday wardrobes, such as the couple who’d booked a bespoke African safari. Milda chose items for them such as a safari jacket by Max Mara and dresses from Chloe and YSL.
‘My clients certainly wouldn’t wear the same swimming costume and pareo at the hotel breakfast and in the evening — and I wouldn’t allow them to!’ says Milda. ‘Some require three or four outfits a day to cover breakfast, daytime activities, lunch and the evening’s plans.
‘One lady hired me to pack for a casual beach holiday in Europe and called me the day she flew to say, “I had a change of plan, I’ve just landed in Dubai and I have nothing to wear!” I called my contacts for Gucci and YSL in the UAE, selected glamorous outfits and had them couriered to her hotel.’
Milda keeps lists and photos of all her clients’ clothes and can style outfits for any occasion at a moment’s notice. They often ask her to choose looks for them to travel in, too.
‘I always recommend dressing for comfort on planes, but many clients change to disembark,’ she says. ‘Their destination dictates what they should wear then — I’ve had clients go from the plane straight to a wedding or an all-day beach party in St Tropez. We pack items in their hand luggage that they can change into on board.’
Hayley in Topshop. Hayley Korn, another holiday stylist, says no matter what your budget, the secret is to create a detailed trip itinerary
The most a client has spent on packing service is £5,000, to shop and pack for all five family members, which took her three days — the cost of the garments was extra.
‘I carefully co-ordinated everyone’s outfits — for example, white broderie dresses for mum and daughters, and matching chino shorts and polos for dad and son,’ she says.
‘Another couple recently attended a Great Gatsby-inspired weekend on a yacht, so I styled them with swim and loungewear, headpieces and 1920s-inspired evening outfits.
‘I’ve packed handbags worth £10,000, diamonds so expensive they travel with an escort, and one six-figure wedding dress that my client hired a private jet to transport to Tuscany for her big day.’
Hayley Korn, another holiday stylist, says no matter what your budget, the secret is to create a detailed trip itinerary. Her clients are time-pressured mums and businesswomen, mostly in London, Surrey and Hertfordshire, who are happy to pay her £100 an hour for the privilege. On average, they spend between £1,000 and £15,000, excluding jewellery, on a holiday wardrobe selected by Hayley.
‘It can be overwhelming if you have a case full of clothes but no structure,’ she says. ‘One client hired me to shop and pack for a wedding in Seville including a dinner, cocktail party and a family brunch the next day. We went to Harrods and spent more than £8,000 on outfits and accessories.
Oriona’s golden rule is to pack 75 per cent neutral pieces and 25 per cent colourful ones, to create an effortlessly flexible capsule wardrobe
‘Recently, I took another lady to Selfridges where we chose glamorous items for the South of France, including a £450 Versace swimsuit, and a Zimmermann bikini and co-ordinating dress for around £1,000.
‘But lots of clients mix and match, even those who own hedge funds. They’ll often say, “I don’t need ten designer bikinis” so we’ll throw a bit of M&S swimwear into the mix.’
For some women, calling in a stylist is a way to avoid family rows — and the risk of embarrassing faux pas.
‘I often dress whole families, particularly where parents don’t approve of their teenagers’ overall style,’ says Hayley.
‘I did this for a couple travelling to the Maldives with their teenage daughters because my client, the mother, wanted them to be dressed appropriately and smartly while maintaining elements of their existing style.
‘Another lady spent a week of her holiday in Las Vegas and wanted chic eveningwear and swimwear. I shopped for her underwear, shoes and hats, too, and set out her outfits for every part of the day.
‘Though it may sound bonkers, in exclusive hotels or resorts it’s important to clients to make an effort at breakfast — it’s a place to be seen.
‘For the second part of her holiday she went hiking in Utah but still wanted to look stylish. We invested in high-end activewear from Fendi and Koral.’
For stylist Oriona Robb, 45, holiday packing is made easy by building a capsule wardrobe based on a strict rule: it should comprise 75 per cent neutrals and 25 per cent ‘a splash of colour’.
Oriona charges £150 an hour and can shop and pack for a standard holiday wardrobe in three hours, as long as clients will commit to a minimum budget of £2,000 for a wardrobe refresh. ‘Having a capsule wardrobe enables them to pack less,’ explains the mother of three, who lives in London.
‘So while an outfit might be neutral, a bright pashmina, bag, shoes, or even lipstick can give it a lift. I often find new clients keep buying the same bright colours or patterns and don’t know how to put it all together. Bringing in neutrals means you can put the same trousers with a different blazer or top.
Pack a day and evening outfit in hand luggage, says Oriona, so you can go to the pool even if you can’t check into your room
‘I work with one family who relocate to their villa in Mallorca for the entire school summer holidays. I prepare outfits for every imaginable occasion for the whole family, packing each one into a see-through bag with a photograph of the outfit attached for easy reference.’
She explains: ‘The mother has a demanding career, so she doesn’t want to make choices about clothes on holiday — I do that for her.
‘I organise separate cases for her clothes, handbags, shoes and accessories, plus further luggage for the children and husband to make unpacking easy.’
She adds: ‘Another regular client, a frequent traveller, would like to be a smaller size than she is and always tries to shop one size smaller.
‘Before her holiday I go to her house, she tries everything on and we decide what she needs to take back or exchange, so she never feels uncomfortable while away.’
Then there is only one thing left to fear: all that perfectly packed luggage going missing on the flight. One client of Oriona’s recently went to the Maldives for ten days but her luggage, including £3,000 of new resort wear, didn’t arrive until day seven.
‘She called me and said, “what do I do now?” I advised her to go to the resort’s boutique and directed her to buy a couple of useful items such as swimwear and pretty dresses. Fortunately, in the Maldives you can get away with going to dinner in flip-flops.
‘When that happens the whole plan on which you’ve spent so much time and money is wasted — yet the last thing you want to do is spoil the whole family holiday. I told her that, ultimately, she should just enjoy her time away. Which is an added benefit of having a stylist on speed dial.’
THE PERFECT SUITCASE: MOSTLY NEUTRALS, TWO OUTFITS a DAY AND AN M&S COSSIE
If you’ve ever emptied the contents of your ‘holiday drawer’ into a suitcase, only to find you have nothing to wear when you unpack, help is at hand. Here’s how to pack like a super stylist…
- Write an itinerary and plan outfits to match. It will save so much effort once there. Milda says: ‘List the things you’re definitely going to be doing and others you might do, then plan for each occasion.’
- Think in terms of outfits, rather than just slinging your favourite summer items into a bag. Oriona’s golden rule is to pack 75 per cent neutral pieces and 25 per cent colourful ones, to create an effortlessly flexible capsule wardrobe.
- Always take white clothes — even for children! Oriona says: ‘White looks beautiful on holiday and makes a family appear well co-ordinated. Although it does stain, it’s easier to bleach clean than patterned fabric. So don’t be scared of the kids spilling food and ice cream on their clothes — I pack extra and accept they will sometimes need to change.’
- Try on your planned outfits before you go, says Oriona. Then, when you wear them on holiday, take a photo of each and make a note of how you feel wearing it. You might find you love a dress but find the accompanying shoes uncomfortable after a couple of hours — you’ll know not to pack them next time.
- Pick the right underwear. Wacoal has affordable but hard-working bras — opt for flesh tones, says Hayley, as most of your clothes will be lighter in colour. And a good strapless bra for flimsy dresses is a must.
- If you buy just one new thing, make it a swimsuit, says Hayley. ‘You don’t have to spend a fortune. I pack pieces for clients from M&S (far left, bikini top, £22.50, bottoms, £15, marksand spencer.com) and Mango. At the top end of the High Street, I like the fit at Mint Velvet and Reiss.’
- Shop (really far) ahead. Time your shopping for the sales.
- Don’t think you can just wear what you’d wear in a British summer. Milda says that for hot climates you need entirely different fabrics — linen, cotton and other natural fibres, nothing clingy or with thick linings.
- Consider packing in tissue paper — it’s Milda’s secret to prevent wrinkles and keep outfits neatly together in your case. Just lift them out and give them a little shake; creases will fall out.
- Be daring ‘as colour can look so different when your skin and hair change tone in the sun’ says Hayley (right, dress, £29.99, 2.hm.com). l
- Pack a day and evening outfit in hand luggage, says Oriona, so you can go to the pool even if you can’t check into your room. It covers you if your luggage is delayed. (Left, tote, £89, arket.com).
- See stylemebyhayley.co.uk; orionarobb.com; sfystyling.com
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