The in-demand freelance stylist, who is a also contributing editor at Vogue.co.uk, as well as the founder of MarthaMagpie, shares her packing tips for a beach getaway and tells us about the dress Matthew Williamson designed especially for her (lucky girl!).
City you call home?
Where are your favorite warm-weather destinations?
There’s nothing I love more than a paradise isle beach, picture-postcard style, which I have mostly found to be in the Carribbean (Mustique, Grenada, Jamaica). Having said that, a holiday in Provence, or anywhere in the south of France (even if it’s rustic) still gives me the greatest pleasure as it’s where I always holidayed as a child. Having said that, a recent road trip around Puglia was exceptional on every level.
What do you pack for a beach getaway?
I always pack the same things. A selection of vintage lace lawn dresses come out first, and I always bring an Edwardian nightie-style number. Vintage printed sundresses are another holiday prerequisite. As are denim shorts, dungaree shorts, petticoat skirts, white applique tops, embellished numbers and a stack of blouses. And I’m never without a loose fitting cashmere jumper as I loathe being cold and evenings, even abroad, can be unpredictable. I will pack 6 pairs of sandals and they are all generally the same; flat, gold, minimal coverage, and simple in style. A few tan pairs from Ancient Greek Sandals are in there too. I like a subtle sandal. I also bring a handful of pretty dresses for evening – generally pastel in colour (many a pink) and there will always be a lace or embellished number in there too. And multiple bikinis – all bright in colour and bandeau in style….I can’t bear straps. Oh, and I only sleep in old French nighties so there will be a few thin-strapped, lace-detailed, monogrammed ones (as only the French can do) folded up with a lavender bag and an eye mask. Essential!
What accessories do you bring?
Round sunnies are my go-to staple sunglasses–so several pairs of them, multiple raffia bags and baskets, a series of shell necklaces for day, and jeweled neckpieces for night.
What are your must-have beauty essentials when you’re traveling?
A face oil– either Bio Oil or Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. SPF 30 Ultimate UV Defence by SkinCeuticals. Clarins SPF 30 suncream for the body. Lancaster After Sun Lotion. Tubs of Jo Malone Body Creme. Endless hairbands and curby grips. An eyemask, ear plugs, Kalms and a delicious hand cream (all essential for the plane and also by the bedside).
One surprising thing you always pack?
Kalms?! Lavender bags?! Doesn’t sound surprising to me, but it could intrigue others I suppose
Do you have any packing tips?
You rarely end up wearing everything, so always take out 4 things at the end of the packing. I never end up missing those pieces. And pack as neatly on the return home as you do on the way out…it’s not great unpacking an exploding suitcase.
What’s your overall ‘summer vacation’ style?
Relaxed, vintage, lightweight, minimal.
What luggage do you use?
If it’s over 4 days then I check luggage. But if it’s for a long weekend then a carry-on will work, if neatly packed and stuffed full. All my luggage is Mulberry. They are incredibly durable.
What’s your go-to outfit for the plane?
Jeans. And lots of layers. So a vest, t-shirt, a shirt, and always a cashmere jumper. Plus a cashmere blanket/scarf. I am always cold on the plane, so I put nice socks in my tote bag (the only time I ever use a tote is for travel). Comfort is key!
What’s the one item you’ve recently purchased that you’re dying to wear this summer, and where in the world do you dream of wearing it?
A Matthew Williamson yellow embellished lace dress, called the ‘Martha’ dress as he designed it with me in mind (it incorporates all my favourite things). And I would like to wear it for an alfresco dinner in a villa on the very top of a hill somewhere in Umbria or Provence. That’s what I envisage anyway!
Martha Ward photographed in Provence