• May 2010

Stylist Charlotte Safavi shows us: "How to Get a Big Bang for your Fashion Buck."

By Stylist Charlotte Safavi

Though the official first day of summer (June 21) is not upon us yet, the Memorial Day weekend is often associated with kicking off the season. In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, where I live, people swarm to the local beaches for the long weekend. With highways clogged like cholesterol in arteries, I, for one, believe in packing light for these getaways. My ABCs of weekend travel are simple.

The A’s: I travel in white or blue jeans, as planes, trains and automobiles are invariably air-conditioned, and early summer weather can be unpredictable, so it’s handy to have a basic cool weather item. Jeans are bulky, which is why I wear them.

The B’s: For my palette, I pick a solid color and/or neutrals, and make sure any patterned pieces contain that base color.

The C’s: I pack in a flexible bag, which can do double-duty as a beach bag, once I’m unpacked at my destination.

10 Things to Bring

1. Suit Up. Bathing suits don’t take up much space, so I think of them as a daytime wardrobe. I take 2-3 for a weekend, including a neutral leotard style (this can double as a camisole off the beach). Choose bathing suits that compliment your body shape. I suggest buying good quality swimwear—think of it as an investment—because nothing is uglier than a saggy, faded bathing suit.

2. It’s a Wrap. A sarong is a must. There are different ways to tie beach wraps, as dresses or skirts. If your swimsuit is patterned, pick a complimentary solid. If your swimsuit is solid, go for a pattern. A sarong can also serve as a beach towel, especially in early summer when the ocean is too cold to swim in anyway. [Click here to watch this great YouTube video offering 20 Ways to Tie a Sarong.]

3. Tunic Time. Tunics have been around since ancient times, and remain a wardrobe staple in the Near East and North Africa. Tory Burch shot them into high style. Use a tunic as an alternative beach cover-up on a breezy day or pair it with jeans and heels at night.

4. Get Shorty. Go high or low as you please with a pair of neutral shorts, but keep it classy. A leotard style swimsuit paired with short shorts and flat sandals looks great for lunch at a beach café or a stroll on the boardwalk.

5. The Great White T-shirt. I’m a devotee of white shirts and a white t-shirt is the summer equivalent. For years I wore Hanes t-shirts and Levi 501s. Now I have lots of different fitted styles. Layer the t-shirt under other items on this list, including the dress below.

6. Little Wrinkle-free Dress. I love natural fabrics, don’t get me wrong, but my failsafe no-wrinkle dress is an above-the-knee Rayon/Polyester black number with no sleeves and a collar. I roll the LWFD into a 12-inch ruler that I never need to iron and always looks good. I dress it up with a chunky bling necklace at night.

7. Shoe Fly. One pair of stylish flats that are beach-friendly (so many out there) and one pair of heels are all you need. I’m into wedges right now; again, wear these when you travel to save on space. Bring flip-flops if you must.

8. Bag It. Tempting though my handbag collection is, I’ll pack a clutch for night and a small leather backpack for day. The bigger one travels with me.

9. Outer Wear. A thin cashmere cardigan in a pretty color is a must, especially in overly air-conditioned spaces, as is a neutral waterproof jacket that folds into a tiny pouch for rainy emergencies.

10. Best Accents Come Small. Bring a bling necklace and a casual one—I like fat wood-beads. Stash a patterned scarf to keep your hair in check on the beach, to loop though your shorts or jeans as a makeshift belt, and to wrap over your shoulders in a cold restaurant when wearing the dress. Protect your eyes with one fantastic pair of sunglasses. [Necklace pictured here is available at In the Pink Jewelry.

So go, have fun. Be stylish, travel light. Above all, take a moment to remember our veterans on Memorial Day.

About Charlotte Safavi

Charlotte Safavi has written for many publications, including The Washington Post, The British Sunday Times Magazine, House Beautiful, Victorian Homes, and Better Homes and Gardens. Her style blogs also appear on The Huffington Post. Born in London and educated at Oxford University, her heritage is Iranian. She now resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and son. For more information, visit www.charlottesafavi.com