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How to pack for a weekend away

From the bag itself to the shirts and shoes it should contain, here's how to best pack for a weekend break

Ah! The weekend. That wonderful exclamation point on the end of a hard week’s work. A time for outdoor pursuits, rigorous socialising, thorough refreshment – and ideally a raucous combination of all three. But behind every good weekend is an even better wardrobe. Here’s how to pack yours:

How to pack for a weekend away

What shoes should I pack?

One ought to work from the ground up for these sorts of things. A country break requires something fairly rough and tumble, but still elegant – a shoe to take the edge off the odd cattle grid and still pass muster at Sunday lunch. For this, a noble chukka boot or Chelsea will often do the job. Or, for something more ornate, a country brogue (clue’s in the name.) If there’s a smarter do in the evening, opt for an elegant penny loafer. Or, if it’s That Sort Of Party, a Gucci slip-on.

How to pack for a weekend away

What trousers are the best to pack?

Some classic denim, in a slim (rather than skinny) fit can happily put in a shift in the daytime, though navy chinos might make the transition to evening slightly simpler. Better still – a pair of each. If you’re dining at someone’s house, you’d do well to check the dress code first. Nothing worse than turning out in chinos and blazer when the Man of the House is resplendent in black tie

And, while we’re on the subject of formalwear, don’t for a second imagine it’s okay to shove a suit, of any stripe, in your weekend holdall. Take a suit carrier along for the ride. It’ll keep things crisp and un-creased, and look great on the parcel shelf of a Land Rover Defender.

How to pack for a weekend away

What shirts will work best?

Unless you’re off to the a fancy dress do, or the Bahamas, or a particularly ironic corner of Norfolk, it’s best to ditch the hawaiian shirt and keep things simple. Oxford shirts are the king of weekend wear, and can slide between preppy, smart casual and layered-looks with ease. For the evening, linen is wonderful in the summer but can look a little tired come autumn – better opt for something simple and elegant in cotton from a good shirtmaker, and ideally something that can play well under a blazer, or on its own, with sleeves rolled up.

How to pack for a weekend away

Outerwear

Very much horses for courses here. If you’re shooting/ beating/ walking/ fishing/ lamping, the general form is a Barbour or Derby coat. The latter has the benefit of a bit of extra insulation, while the former is more waterproof and smells like your childhood. 

Nothing wrong with a more standard woolen overcoat – which will work well if you’re jetting direct from the office in your suit, actually – while a mackintosh can look at once very smart and very casual, depending on what else is going on. A good bomber, on the other hand – in suede, I’d imagine – might be the perfect outerwear option for a city break.

How to pack for a weekend away

What should I pack everything in?

All the above comes to nought if it’s jammed in a Waitrose Bag For Life or your ex-girlfriend’s mother’s wheelie case. A weekend wardrobe should be contained in a weekend bag – a holdall with two handles that can be dangled artfully over the shoulder or shoved casually into a friend’s VW Golf of a Saturday morning. 

Rugged yet refined, a good weekend bag comes in leather, and has a few sharp but understated details to get the staff at Fleet Services drooling. Textured leather – usually scotchgrain – adds a certain rakish, country chic. And never skimp on quality. Treated right, a good weekend bag will be a friend for a life, and a timely reminder, as you dig it out of a Friday evening, that the good times are just around the corner.

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