Covering up, without losing your cool

by Amy & the world

Shorts, miniskirts, floaty dresses: packing a suitcase for a hot destination is usually a no-brainer. Well, besides narrowing down quite which clothes to take, or whether it’s worth risking the extra weight fee.

But what if you’re going somewhere where more modesty is required? Especially if that somewhere is too hot for jeans and jumpers? Here are some of my favourite summery clothes for when you want to cover up without feeling like a frump.

The sarong/light scarf
Almost every ‘what to pack for travelling’ article lists a sarong or scarf, and for good reason. They’re perfect for destinations where less conservative dress is generally accepted, but where you might need to hide your shoulders and/or legs in some areas or to go into certain places, such as religious buildings. Plus they’re light and small enough to carry around all day without causing backache.

Joy Giraffe Scarf
Giraffe scarf
Mainly chosen because it’s got a giraffe on it. And because ‘giraffe scarf’ rhymes. It’s also oversized, which makes it perfect for wrapping around your waist if you need to cover up your legs, and also means it should double up as beachwear too. Pretty and practical = perfection. Also comes in red.

New Look tropical sarong
Palm print sarong
New Look via ASOS
Going somewhere tropical? Fit in with your surroundings by wearing this palm-print sarong from New Look. Just make sure that if you’re wearing it for modesty reasons, you tie (or hold) it in a way that avoids unintentional leg flashes.

Oysho striped sarong
Striped sarong
The description says that it has a POCKET. That’s all you need to know. (Fine, fine, it’s also 105x186cm which makes it a decent cover-up size, too.)

Light trousers
The problem with trousers is finding a pair that doesn’t make you look like you’re a wannabe 18-year-old Gap Yah-er. But they do exist (even if some might just make you look like a sailor instead).

Oysho linen trousers
Linen Trousers
Cool, comfy and stylish: linen trousers are a summer staple (providing you don’t mind wearing slightly creased clothes or taking a travel iron with you. My preference is the former). But they can sometimes be a little bit shapeless. Step forward Oysho (again) with this tapered, turn-up style. Just remember the nude knickers, and avoid if it looks like it’s going to rain.

Espirit beach trousers
Nautical beach trousers
Espirit @ ASOS
They’re described as beach trousers, but seem opaque enough to be suitable for wandering around town, too. Plus they look like they’d be just so blooming comfy.

ASOS Petite floral summer trousers
Petite, floral wide-leg trousers
One for my fellow shorties. ASOS actually have quite a good number of summery trousers in their petites section, if you don’t mind them coming in a heat-absorbing black or a peg leg (I can imagine the latter resulting in sweaty ankles – can anyone confirm?). I prefer this light, swooshy pair. Another that’ll probably require nude knickers, though.

Maxi skirts & dresses
Kind of stating the obvious here, and they’re not exactly hard to get hold of! The problem is finding suitable ones that don’t have a slit going halfway up the leg, reveal too much cleavage or have an exposed back. These are all a bit more modest, though the sleeveless ones might also require a scarf or kaftan cover-up in some places.

Miss Patina When In Woodstock Dress
‘When in Woodstock’ maxi dress
Miss Patina
This is a dress to float, not walk, in. A dress that would make you feel like a classic Hollywood movie star. A dress made of dreams. (Now could you make a version a few inches shorter, please, Miss Patina?)

Coral jersey maxi skirt
Dorothy Perkins
Sometimes, you just need a plain skirt that’ll go with everything. This maxi fits the bill. They also do a slightly more expensive version in navy and ‘blush‘. Or if you’re a bit shorter and want something similar that you won’t trip over, try this New Look Petites drawstring version (£14.99).

Cotton Midi/Maxi Dress
& Other Stories
I want to wear this dress skipping through hills, hair in plaits a la Heidi. Although this is more of a midi dress length on the model (even if they do call it a maxi on the website), at 109cm it could well be full-length on shorter ladies. But don’t despair, ladies of not-petite stature! The sleeves means it’ll work in places where you need to cover knees and shoulders, but don’t need to go the whole hog.

Star Print Maxi Dress
& Other Stories
To borrow a phrase from the cool kids, & Other Stories is killing it on the dress front at the moment, offering lots of almost-perfect maxi/almost maxi dresses (though some might require a high-necked strap if you want to be properly covered up). But this one was one of the best of them all. Good coverage, lightweight fabric and ideal for going from day-to-night, saving room in your suitcase and time in your schedule.

Monki stripe maxi dress
Striped jersey maxi dress
Simple, easy and comfortable – everything you want from holiday clothing. I’m not sure how well you’d fare wearing this in this in the boiling heat (I’m not a fan of tight clothes when the air is sticky), but it’s a good option for slightly cooler countries, or evenings. 99.9% positive there’s no thigh-slit.

Tops & Shirts
When it comes to tops, finding something that’s suitably high-necked and lightweight but not sheer can be a challenge. The below manage the former, but I can’t promise that some won’t require a thin underlay to prevent unwanted flashes of skin and belly-button through the fabric. You can also never go wrong with some plain, lightweight, jersey t-shirts, but here are some more ‘interesting’ options.

Long-line, blue cotton shirt
I do love a long-sleeve shirt when travelling. Light, airy and they go with most things in your suitcase. Roll the sleeves up when it’s a bit warm, down again when it cools. Button up high when you need, lower when you can be more relaxed. So simple, yet so many virtues…

Embroidered cotton top
Guys, I promise this post isn’t sponsored by Oysho. They just do comfy, casual, covered up holidaywear really well. Admittedly this one’s more your stereotypical holiday cover-up, but the pattern is cleaner than most other tops like this, and it’ll look great with some classic trousers. And let’s be honest, sometimes you’ve just got to embrace the traveller/tourist look.

My Little Pony t-shirt/tunic
Not a particularly holiday-y top, but it’s essential you know this t-shirt/tunic exists. You’re welcome.

Oversize floral kimono shirt/blouse
So pretty, so floaty, so perfect.

Kimonos and cover-ups
Kimonos seem to be ‘in’ at the moment, which is Good News for you. These items of clothing do a similar job to shawls and scarves (on the top half at least, you can’t really fashion them into a skirt). Perfect for throwing on over sleeveless tops, easy to carry around and oh-so-pretty.

H&M patterned kimono
Patterned, long-line kimono
I love the longer length of this one, particularly combined with such a classic, simple pattern. One to make you feel like a proper grown up.

Monki Nina Top
White ‘Nina’ Kimono Top
If you want a kimono that’ll go with everything without being boring, look no further than Monki’s Nina top. If you’re a fellow food/tea/suntan lotion spiller and thus scared of white, they also have a similar black, floral version (£20).

Asos floral kimono
Floral petite kimono (also available in the tall range)
Girls on Film @ ASOS
ASOS love kimonos so much, they’ve got a whole section dedicated to them. I’ve chosen this one for us shorter girls who don’t want to be drowned in fabric. It’s also really quite lovely; so lovely, in fact, that I may even be able to forgive the description of this range being for petite ‘babes’ (I’m not a pig) just this once.

That’s all my tips for now. What are your rucksack/suitcase essentials for destinations where you need to cover up a little, and are there any shops you think are particularly good for these sorts of clothes?