Sunday, January 01, 2006

Lifestyle: Weekend FT, What To Wear on a Desert Island of a very exclusive nature

By Julie Earle-Levine,Weekend FT, Jul 02, 2004

If however, said beach is a hip, island retreat where you might be sharing the golden sand with supermodel Elle Macpherson, or could bump into designer Ralph Lauren, it may be worth briefly considering your wardrobe. Or at least asking an expert.

Like India Hicks, a model and minor royal (she is the granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India and a bridesmaid of the late Princess Diana) who is also the first lady of the currently very chic Harbour Island in the Bahamas.

Hicks likes to wear a yellow bikini, pink sarong and white flip flops and believes beach clothes should be "as unpretentious as possible, natural and comfortable". But what does this mean for those who spend most of their time comfortably wearing a two-piece suit? An entirely separate, beach-friendly wardrobe?

Not necessarily, says Hicks, who notes that a Ralph Lauren cotton pin-stripe suit with a plain white Hennes T-shirt and a pair of suede Tod's loafers will make the transition from one realm to the other; ditto dark blue well-fitting jeans, a crisp white shirt and boots (a favoured Hicks look for both island and city life). Other labels that transcend climate and context are Diane von Furstenberg - "the master of beach/city wear" - and J&M Davidson, an English/French design team based in London.

"They design with strong geometric patterns," says Hicks. "Their clothes are perfect for beach and city, and they also design bags for both places."

The bottom line, however, is that beach clothes should be minimal. "You can run around in a bikini and T-shirt most of the time, but you can dress this up with jangly shell belts, or coin belts, or long, dangly earrings for a more St Tropez kind of look."

Hicks also likes camisole silk dresses by Gail Elliott, another former model, in "sensational girly colours", and says: "On the beach I tend to be a bit ethnic, lots of Indian patterns and fabrics with beaded necklaces and hoop earrings. I also have a very dramatic silk kimono from Ralph Lauren I wear to gallery openings in the city, paired with boot-cut black trousers and heels, and for a simple beach holiday with jeans and bare feet."

In other words, while the basics can be the same in both big city and beach, the accessories must change. The only big don'ts by the sea? High heels and make-up: "It looks strange."

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