Meet your no-stress beach vacation wardrobe.
But packing? That’s where I’m willing to bet we’ve lost you.
If you’re anything like me, you save the suitcase struggle for the night before (Read: the early morning hours before) you leave and you become an inconsolable ball of stress, which is the perfect way to start a vacation, right? Not anymore.
Elizabeth Hynes, the founder of online retailer Vacay, has given us the gift of no-stress packing for beach vacations. The San Francisco–based company creates destination-inspired capsule collections that are pre-styled for the perfect warm-weather wardrobe.
You’ll find brilliant convertible pieces like beach cover-ups that double as shirts and skirts that turn into dresses, but also full five-piece collections that can mix and match into 12-15 outfits. Yes, five pieces. 15 outfits. Here’s how Hynes learned to make that happen.
After her wedding in 2008, Hynes and her husband did what many of us dream of: They quit their desk jobs to sail to the South Pacific for their honeymoon. When it came time to pack for the 18-month excursion—with stops at some of the most glamorous resort destinations in the world—Hynes found it difficult to feel sartorially prepared within the confines of a tiny sailboat closet. She was forced to learn to pull together a tightly curated collection of items that could create multiple outfits with easy, packable fabrics, which left her with the question: Why isn’t there a company out there making this easier?
Following the trip, Hynes went back to work in corporate retail, but that question stayed with her. In 2014, near the end of about a decade of work with Banana Republic, she began to pick up on the changing landscape of the way people shop and think about their wardrobes.
From Hynes’ point of view, a lot of fashion brands have beautiful resort wear and pieces that would look great on vacation, but in fabrications that aren’t exactly designed to be rolled up in a suitcase, and as a result, are a mess by the time of arrival. And the last thing anyone wants to do after checking into a hotel is pull out the ironing board.
Hynes wanted to create a collection of more mindful garments, which is why Vacay selects fabrics that are wrinkle-resistant, or meant to look intentionally crinkled and textured, for everything it makes. But fabrication wasn’t the biggest problem she wanted to solve; it was that the act of packing was a stressful experience.
When Hynes packs, she’s not only packing for herself, but for three little kids, as well, and probably overlooking what her husband’s bringing to make sure he has one decent pair of pants, at least. So, a lot of the pressure of preparing for vacation became her responsibility.
“I used to have a suitcase that was so big. I mean, it was like a truck. And I can remember so many times sitting on my bedroom floor the night before a trip looking at everything spread out and like, in tears,” Hynes said. “You start to panic.”
That panic left Hynes tossing in “everything and the kitchen sink” out of fear of forgetting something she’d need, and to just get the whole thing over with. She knew she couldn’t be alone in this, and once she began to do more research, she saw she absolutely wasn’t.
Hynes found studies done in the U.K. that showed 91 percent of women don’t end up wearing everything they pack, and will pay excess baggage fees to do so. What’s more alarming, she learned more than two-thirds of couples admit to fighting about what’s needed and what’s not when packing before vacation.
Vacay’s first two collections launched in April 2015 with five to six pieces that, when combined a few wardrobe essentials like a solid tank or pair of white jeans, would net more than a dozen outfits for a warm-weather destination. She puts a lot of thought into each collection, coordinating outfits the way you’d want to if you really had the time. Starting at the design stage, all of her strategic thinking is to ensure that it’s almost effortless to pack. She takes into account the fabric mix, the consistency of colors, and the combination of silhouettes, and she doesn’t leave out the creative details that elevate the pieces.
“We use a lot of color and fun patterns,” Hynes said. “It’s really easy to make versatile pieces that are all black and camel, but I didn’t want to do that, because that’s not what I want to wear on vacation.”
It was also important to Hynes to design an all-around collection that would have you covered for the beach or pool, day excursions, and an elegant resort dinner. Vacay’s most innovative pieces are two-piece maxi dresses and jumpsuits, where the top and bottom can each be worn separately to create additional, completely different looks. They’re great standalone pieces for traveling, but where Vacay really serves travelers best is in its curated collections.
There are currently six collections, named after some of Hynes’ favorite beach getaway destinations: St. Bart’s, Tahiti, Martinique, Cabo, Belize, and Newport. Each one comes with a specific wardrobe card to show customers how to style the looks with a few signature pieces, such as their favorite jeans or tank top.
And the best part? When you fold all of the items, the stack is about five inches tall. It would barely make a dent in your a carry-on space. You could even pack a tote bag—which is included with each collection—and forgo luggage altogether.