Travel Beautifully · Perform Confidently
Travel Beautifully · Perform Confidently

Style in a suitcase with Deborah Brett

The Fashion Editor-at-Large of Wardrobe Icons and contributing editor of Red Magazine, Deborah Brett, on the art of packing, the importance of accessorising and her love affair with cashmere tracksuits.

How I pack definitely depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing…

“When I go for short breaks or a mini trip of 3 to 4 days, I tend to pack really succinctly. Depending on where I’m going, I whittle things down to a one-tone colour palette and become an expert minimalist where everything works together with lots of mix ‘n’ matching.

However, when it comes to a longer break of anything more than a week, I suddenly want to take everything with me. As a fashion editor, I always want to wear all my new additions and old treasures.”

I’ve had every permutation of suitcase…

“I went through a phase travelling with my family with these very lightweight nylon duffel bags because it meant we could pack as much as we could for the kg allowance. But loaded up with five duffel bags and no trolleys to be found, my husband and I often resembled pack mules. So last year we invested in cases from Rimowa. We have the Classic Cabin S $950 and the Check-in L $1220 both in aluminium. I stroke them I love them so much. I thought I’d get upset when they got battered but they still look beautiful.”

deborah brett travel style rimowa suitcase
Deborah has invested in a set of Rimowa suitcases
I take packing very seriously…

“People think the job of fashion editor and stylist is incredibly glamorous but in fact you are just a glorified packer.

So much of what goes on behind a fashion shoot is thinking about what clothes you’re taking, how you’re going to put them together, and the things you’re going to really need. Then you take them away on location and dress a gorgeous model on a beautiful boat up a canyon. So with so many years of that training it’s invariably filtered into my own life.

I tend to lay my clothes and the clothes of my children on the floor in front of the cupboards and I leave them there for about four days. Slowly I add bits to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.”

I’m definitely a flat clothes packer…

“I always feel that works best for me, especially in my Rimowa cases. They get compressed with the panel inside that flattens them down and holds everything in place.

I pack my socks and underwear in all the gaps and I always put my shoes in shoe bags.”

I always pack for my destination…

“Wherever I’m going it’s like I’m styling myself for a photo shoot there. For example, if I go to Ibiza my clothes tend to be more colourful and hippy like. However, if I’m going to New York they tend to be more elegant, and if I’m going on a winter ski holiday I will take Nordic knits, velvets and lumberjack shirts.”

I adore accessories – I’m definitely a maximalist…

“I take all my costume jewellery away with me – favourites include my Forte beads by Carolina Bucci, Marte Frisnes new bamboo bangles, my rings, Tilly Sveaas Gold Curb Link necklaces, and Dana Levy evil eyes. I love to wear rings on every finger, earrings, and bracelets as I feel they definitely make my outfits.

I also love shoes although when packing I do try to keep them to a minimum. In the summer I take a few clutches on holiday and use a basket by Rae feather as my carry on and a velvet cross body by Meli Melo in the winter. My current obsession with hairbands by Born in the Sun means that my number of accessories in my suitcase is on the rise!”

deborah brett style maximalist accessories
Deborah is a self confessed maximalist. Image
I try and limit my shoes when packing…

“In the summer I love a simple pair of neutral sandals by Ancient Greek sandals which go with everything. I also have a great pair of flats by Nupie. I got them from Koi Bird and I love the fact that they come with different fabric ribbons so suddenly you have three or four different pairs of shoes. I tend to take one pair of heels with me –  I love my Jimmy Choo strappy sandals –  and for winter I make sure to take a stack heeled boot from Isabel Marant as well as my Golden Goose shearling lined trainers which means I have a soft comfortable pair of shoes to walk around town in.”

For an important meeting I would pack a great dynamic coat…

“…and an elegant expensive bag. First impressions always count.”

I have curated a collection of eveningwear over the years…

“…some fantastic Stella McCartney and Preen dresses. But one of my favourite pieces is a black velvet jumpsuit by DVF with a satin band that ties around the waist. It’s very sleek, simple, sexy and cool.”

I don’t know what I did before the cashmere tracksuit…

“…which is my favourite thing to travel in. I have a lightweight striped version by Chinti and Parker and I also have just designed a Nordic knit cashmere tracksuit for Wyse. They’re so comfortable and they look elegant as well as being cosy. I then wear them with my shearling slipper shoes by Gucci.

Finally I wear a very lightweight cashmere baseball jacket by Zoe Jordan for an added layer of warmth and comfort.”

deborah brett style cashmere tracksuit
Deborah has a love affair with cashmere tracksuits. This one is fro Chinti & Parker
I wouldn’t travel without…

“…a wonderful lightweight cashmere shawl, which can double up as a blanket on the plane, or to wrap a child in on a long car journey.”

I always travel with…

“My customised denim jacket from The Jacket Bar in the summer, otherwise an eye mask from Bodas and earplugs to sleep in.”

When it comes to coats I have a wonderful khaki long sweeping trenchcoat…

“…lined in red and a black lumberjack check from Preen that is reversible that I love to take for cities. If I’m going somewhere cold I adore my Preen shearling lined biker jacket it has these panels of shearling that zip on and off which means it can transform from something lightweight to something warmer quickly.”

I remember the first time I came to Ibiza…

“I was told that the island (Deborah now has a house there) was so low-key and relaxed that I wouldn’t really need any heels or fancy dresses and that we would be going from beach to dinner in a kaftan and flip-flops.

However, on our first night we bumped into Tamara Mellon who at the time owned Jimmy Choo. We got invited to her party with Valentino and model Yasmin Le Bon. Everyone was wearing Valentino, YSL and Jimmy Choo and I turned up barefoot in my beach dress.

Ever since I have never listened to someone else’s packing advice and I always make sure I have one great party dress and a pair of heels with me.”

Follow Deborah at @deborahbrett on Instagram.