By Sara Kennedy / Sunday Market
Many of us do one of two problematic things when packing for vacation.
Either we overpack, and we’re left schlepping a supersized suitcase down cobblestone streets, or we focus on practicality to the point of dowdiness. Picture yourself out to dinner in that wrinkle-free black dress … for the third night in a row.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a few items that are both practical and chic. And many of them take the place of a bulkier item — so you have a little extra space for a pair of kicky heels or an extra-special dress (or both!).
Packing a bag of neutrals is great for mixing and matching, but it can leave you pining for color and sparkle. Zara’s Printed Scarf ($30 at Zara, downtown) has enough hues in its floral pattern to give a boost to any outfit. It can also double as a shawl or headscarf.
Punch up a tank dress with a glittery statement necklace. The BaubleBar Crystal Collar Necklace ($40 at Nordstrom) is on-trend in rose gold with peach stones, and comes at a price point that won’t leave you crying if you forget it in a hotel room.
As for that multitasking tank dress, the Lolë Sarah Dress ($75 at Escape Outdoors, Bellevue, or lolewomen.com) goes from beach to bar or museum to dinner. Contrast stitching and a braided racerback add interest to this classic maxi dress, made of organic cotton with SPF 50 protection.
The new Hunter Water Resistant Hooded Anorak ($195 at Nordstrom and usa.hunter-boot.com) is practical enough for rainforest hikes, but cute enough to wear on a breezy evening, meaning you don’t have to pack two jackets. The semi-transparent smock by the Seattle-favorite boot maker has an asymmetrical hem and empire waist, and comes in an array of bright colors.
Tommy Bahama’s new Relaxology A-Line Slip-On Shoes ($98 at Tommy Bahama) do double duty, pairing as nicely with a swimsuit cover-up as a pair of flowy pants. Their foam soles are supportive but lightweight, so you can carry them in your beach bag and slip them on when you need to do some walking.
L*Space’s Sunchaser Tunic ($108 at Everything But Water, Bellevue) is technically a swim cover-up, but it looks just as great out on the town. Tuck the Missoni-esque printed top into a maxi skirt or leave it long over white skinnies for a fresh summer look.
Carry your blanket, book and water bottle to the beach in the Shake Tote ($90 at quirky.com). It’s got bright coral handles and navy contrast stitching — but best of all is the bottom that unsnaps to reveal mesh netting. After a day gathering sand, just open it up and shake it out. Then use it to tote souvenirs home at the end of the trip.
The benefits of leaving your camera at home and using your smartphone for photos are many: cutting bulk, instant uploading to social media, looking less obviously like a tourist. But you may want to give it a boost with an attachable lens.
Photojojo’s Telephoto Lens ($20) gets you twice as close to your subject, while the Wide Angle/Macro Lens ($20, both at photojojo.com) enhances landscapes and detailed shots in one lens. They’re compatible with iPhone and Android phones.
Another luggage space hog: hair tools such as dryers and straighteners. Set yourself free from the heat and pack products designed to help your hair look great in its natural state.
Oribe’s Purse Size Apres Beach Spray ($21.50 at Bluemercury, U District) is a travel-sized version of the cult favorite. It repairs hair post-sun and adds texture to polish those beachy waves. Serge Normant Meta Revive Volumizing Dry Shampoo ($15 at sergenormant.com) also comes in travel size and will let you skip washes altogether.