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(Dawn, The Review)

The month of June is upon us, schools have shut down for the long, hot summer and women all over Pakistan are packing or planning to pack for an upcoming holiday. That holiday could be driving up north to one of the country’s picturesque hill stations or flying abroad to a distant, exotic location. While most of us think practical and travel light, for the style conscious nothing can be worse than compromise on personal appearances. Dressing up is such an important ingredient to happiness and the wrong clothes on the right vacation can be a dreadful buzz-kill. Here are travel tips on this year’s trends and advice from the experts on how to travel with oomph…

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Deconstruct your shalwar kameezes: Our national dress, the shalwar kameez, is not practical and certainly not advisable, given that it’s an identity mark that makes us stand out rather than blend in. You want to look like a global citizen on your trips abroad therefore trousers and tops couples with scarves are a better option. It really is easier than you’d think because almost everyone is wearing cotton pants these days and the tops are versatile. All you have to do is swap a scarf for your dupatta and you’re good to go.

“Always pack something white when heading for a beach,” recommends Safinaz Munir of design duo Sana Safinaz, who often flies out to Bali for a resort break. “A glamorous evening outfit, maybe a cocktail dress and elegant sari, a swimsuit with a cover up, a large hat and a long flowy kaftan with open culottes should cover it all.”

Denim will take you a long way: Whether you are migrating north for summer or flying out abroad, a comfortable yet stylish pair of jeans is a suitcase essential. Not only can jeans be stretched out to a longer wear but they do not crease or stain easily and thus are a traveller’s best companion. They are especially valuable when you plan to take go hiking in a cooler locale.

“If you’re heading up north, then be sure to have sturdy walking shoes and a nice pair of (loose and comfortable) Boyfriend Jeans which are very popular these days,” adds Safinaz. “A couple of soft, A-line tops and a sweater for chilly evenings should keep you covered.”

Jeans work in all weathers but wide leg linen trousers are perfect for sunny, tropical locations. They come highly recommended for women who feel they have outgrown denim and need a suitable alternative. Linen is organic and breathable and while it will crease as you travel, the comfort value will be well worth it.

A necessary formal option: All that said about casual comfort, always remember to pack at least two formal options on your trip. Choose something traditional if you tend to bump into relatives; you don’t want to be caught off-guard in a scruffy outfit when invited to your mother’s aunt’s home for brunch. Preempt and plan. And if you’re on a romantic getaway or simply plan on going western then a glamorous cocktail dress is for those who wear dresses while a luxurious satin jump suit would be just as good, if not better for women more comfortable in trousers.

“It doesn’t have to be a very formal piece,” says Sadaf Malaterre who is often on a flight to Paris. “I say always carry a crisp white shirt with either black pants or a black skirt. Those can easily be dressed up if you pack enough accessories. They also work if you have an unexpected work meeting.”

Top it off with style: While you may be tempted to pack the fanciest items in your wardrobe, it is advisable to think of comfort when picking out tops. Let them not be too tight or too transparent and let them also not be fussy and complicated. You don’t want to be worrying about trailing hemlines and plunging necklines when hauling luggage across an airport. That said, loose muslin kaftans are highly desirable cover-up options when you’re hitting the beach. T-shirts work best for women who wear them on a daily basis but beyond the tee, retail stores in Pakistan do offer a wide range of conservative blouses and tops as well.

Maheen Karim, a frequent flyer to Singapore says: “In places like Singapore where the weather is tropical and the climate is a bit formal, I always go for white jeans and cool and breezy tops. I invest in peasant tops and would recommend sheer, floral, chiffon prints, which can be worn over tank tops. They look good with skinny jeans and flats and can be dressed up or down, depending upon where you are.”

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