Holiday dressing can be tricky at the best of times, but if you have very pale (think Twilight pale) skin like mine, it can throw up other challenges—especially when you've been known to burn despite the regular applications of factor 50. I turned to some of the most stylish fair-skinned fashion writers I know to find out how they stay covered, stay cool and stay stylish all at once—which anyone with super-pale skin will know can be harder than you'd think.
Elle Fanning at the Cannes Film Festival.
Scroll below to read their tips and shop the five key looks I'll be putting into my suitcase this summer.
Embroidered Kaftans are your friend
"Without wishing more clothes on anyone in 30ºC heat, you’ve got to cover up if your skin ticks the porcelain box," says The Times fashion assistant Natalie Hammond, one of the chicest fair-skinned dressers I know. "One of Pippa Holt's embroidered kaftans—100% cotton and roomy—is top of my beach wish list, plus a wide-brimmed hat because my scalp always burns, and some linen mules from Ancient Greek Sandals. Things to avoid are complicated cutouts on swimsuits and gladiator sandals. (They both are a nightmare for the regular factor 50 application.)"
Sheer button-downs are a pale-girl staple
Kristie Dash, fashion and beauty writer, tells me: "I'm extremely pale, and I burn very easily, so even when it's super hot, I try to stay somewhat covered not only to avoid blinding people from the reflection of my skin but also to protect myself from the sun. My two go-tos (besides SPF products) are flowy maxi dresses (paired with some kind of jacket at night) and sheer, long-sleeve button-downs. This way, my skin isn't exposed, but I'm still cool. These staples work for beach or city because they work over swimsuits, pants, shorts, or on their own. They're also lightweight enough to stick to my normal all-black wardrobe theme."
Focus on accessories
Another top packing tip from Natalie is to focus on accessories that will look chic but also help you avoid sunburn. "City breaks usually mean schlepping around historical sites and sweating bucket loads, so I always take a fan," adds Natalie. "Fern Fans has the prettiest, and hopefully they'll make you look like an alluring woman of mystery and not like you've been for a dip in the Trevi Fountain. I'm also a sucker for a puffy-sleeved dress because it covers the shoulders but bares the legs—perfect for us pale folk—and am loving the fact that visors are back (no one likes a burnt forehead)."
Use T-Shirts to cover your shoulders
Anyone with very pale skin will have been made to swim in a T-shirt to cover their shoulders at one point in their lives. Rosie Boydell, fashion assistant at The Telegraph, tells me that she still relies on the T-shirt trick. "Slip dresses, shirtdresses and shift dresses are all I wear when the weather warms up," she tells me. "They're the easiest and most versatile item to own. If I opt for a slip dress, I'll nearly always layer it over a T-shirt to keep my shoulders covered, and I tend to favour a midi-length dress for further coverage. "
Take the statement sleeve to the beach
Another thing fair-skinned girls will tell you is that they often want to cover even more than their shoulders—there entire arms need some TLC in the heat, so the statement sleeve trend gets a big tick. On holiday, the one thing I want is a loose-sleeved blouse with playful detailing, such as this printed shirt by Dodo Bar Or which works for any holiday occasion.
Pictured above: Dodo Bar Or Ruffle-Trimmed Printed Silk Crepe de Chine Blouse (£380), Stevie Paisley-Print Crepe de Chine Maxi Skirt (£515) and Ruffle-Trimmed Printed Silk-Georgette Mini Wrap Skirt (£315); Eres Les Essentiels Cassiopee Bandeau Swimsuit (£320).
Next up, shop our edit of the eight best beachwear brands.