Holidays present such a wardrobe dilemma. To be specific, I’m referring to holidays of the kind where you go and lie on a beach for ten days, and perhaps go for a couple of day trips an extinct volcano or a parrot sanctuary or paragliding or something. The question, then, is how to put together a wardrobe that is at once comfortable and casual enough for beach lazing and functional enough to go on day trips in. Oh, and it has to pack down into a suitcase, which is what makes it hard – you need one set of clothes to do this double duty.
Unfortunately, gauzy kaftans don’t tend to come with zippered pockets, and raffia thongs don’t often have ankle support and grippy soles. Conversely, cargo shorts and hiking boots aren’t too comfortable at the beach, and don’t really go with a coconut cocktail. See? These purposes are kind of at odds, and it’s quite a feat to find items that fit both bills.
Occasionally, you’ll stumble across something that’s suitable for this kind of dual-tasking, but more often than not you’ll end up with something that’s almost a fit. Take my brown leather bag. Buy online, they said. It’ll save time, they said. What they didn’t say was that leather and salt water don’t mix, at least not when the bag’s way more structured than it looked in the picture. A leather slouch bag, for example, might work as a beach tote, but this one was more like something you’d have at the office.
In short, there’s a reason beach accessories are commonly made of straw, canvas, rubber or other materials that can be cheerfully tossed around in the elements. It’s just a fact that leather becomes misshapen and discoloured from water exposure. Obviously, there are things you can do to waterproof it, but at the end of the day it’s better to have a canvas sack at the beach than a nice, sculpted leather bag.