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A great country staycation

Join content editor Dulcie Emerson on a sartorial journey through the countryside and discover her go-to outfits for looking chic while sightseeing



“It’s holiday season and time for this city dweller to escape London for some sun (hopefully), sea (definitely) and sand (OK, will settle for shingle).

“First stop on my road trip is Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent, UK, and I’m glad to find that even grey skies and drizzle can’t detract from the beauty of the historic site and grounds. I’m in my element exploring the walled gardens and narrow pathways – flat sandals were a sensible footwear choice.

“This breezy cotton blouse taps into this summer’s whimsical fashion trend thanks to the pretty tie-neck detail and flutter sleeves. Tucked into wide-leg or flared jeans and styled with a basket bag, it nods to Jane Birkin’s seventies style – my fail-safe reference for holiday outfits, Provence or no Provence.”

“A vintage-inspired COTTON blouse and high-waisted jeans are ideal for exploring the countryside”

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“Next stop is the quaint seaside town St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex, UK – brimming with independent shops and trendy new eateries, it’s the perfect place to start my trip.

“Thanks to the blustery summer weather, it’s a case of a quick dip in the sea and hot chocolate in the morning (glad I packed my swimwear) followed by a breezy afternoon walk along the promenade to nearby Hastings – these chunky leather flip-flops were super comfy, even on their first outing.

“A light-yet-warm cotton shacket is a packing must-have and so easy to dress up or down – I styled it with Holly Willoughby’s sell-out floral dress and my new-favourite cross-body bag for a look that took me from day to evening without the need for an outfit change.”

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“A peaceful day soaking up the sun while staying at a converted barn a short drive from the historic town of Canterbury. First order of the day – an al fresco breakfast followed by a short walk to the village to shop for supplies, and then an afternoon of reading in the sunshine. Bliss.

“A wide-brim hat is essential for staying safe in the sun and, this season, M&S has everything from classic straw fedoras to on-trend canvas bucket hats.

“Nothing says ‘out of office’ like a sundress. This loose-fitting maxi shows that black is a chic choice for warm weather, or choose classic white if the heat is really on (take a size down for a more fitted look). Simple leather slider sandals and a pair of sunglasses complete the look.”


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“After only a handful of days in the countryside, my style is taking its cues from the dreamy setting. A ditsy floral-print maxi dress ticks all the trend boxes for summer – vintage-inspired print, puff sleeves, smocked cuffs – while being high on sustainability credentials, too (hello, plant-based viscose). No wonder M&S dresses are all bestsellers this season!

“Floaty floral dresses are ideal for road trips: they easily fit in a small suitcase and are simple to de-crease by hanging up in a steamy bathroom while getting ready to go out. Holidays should be ironing-free zones, after all.

“Paired with cute sandals or smart trainers, a patterned maxi dress is an instant outfit for every outing, from exploring the local markets to special dinners out – add subtle gold jewellery and a pop of bright lipstick (remember that?) to take it up a notch.”


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“The final days of my trip are spent in the historic seaside town of Margate in Kent, UK. It has been dubbed ‘Shoreditch-on-Sea’ due to the number of art galleries, trendy eateries and vintage shops that have popped up in recent years. Combine this with expansive sandy beaches and traditional seaside attractions, the town is a popular spot for a weekend break and is buzzing when we arrive.

“With so much to see and do, a versatile cami top paired with relaxed-fit white jeans (or denim shorts) is a safe bet. This sweet sleeveless top caught my eye with its bow-detail at the back and frilled hem. Teamed with a chunky cropped cardigan, I’m prepared for any weather.”


“Stock up on PRETTY sun tops to make the most of long, balmy July days”

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Words: Dulcie Emerson / Photography: Jian Wei Lim