This summer, Ireland is set to be a staycation nation. Travel restrictions have officially lifted, and as the hospitality sector slowly reopens, many of us will be looking to replace holidays abroad with a home-grown getaway over the coming months.
But in between scouting out local attractions, browsing hotels and tracking down the best beaches, there's the issue of what to wear. We've spent much of the last three months around the house in some lifeless variation of leggings, T-shirts and slippers, but a trip away - even if only an hour's drive from home - calls for a wardrobe change.
The question of holiday packing usually involves choosing from a range of floaty sundresses, flip-flops and beach cover-ups, but our unpredictable weather will likely rule out sarongs and string bikinis this year. Plus, parading around in a wafty tropical-print kaftan doesn't have quite the same effect on Hook Head as it does on Maspalomas. So what should you bring on your staycation?
A summer dress should be top of your list. It's just a matter of finding the right one: sunny enough for a 'holiday' feel, dressy enough to look like you've made an effort, billowy enough to be comfortable, and with a throw-on quality that means it can be chucked in a bag when you're at the beach without having to fret too much about wrinkles.
Prints are your friend here as they'll help to disguise grass stains or creases from being folded in a tote, and midi lengths are particularly useful so you can easily cross your legs and move around on a picnic blanket or beach towel without fear of exposure. Taller figures have an advantage when it comes to this season's trendy flowing smocks and floral midis, while petite shapes may prefer a more defined silhouette - something as simple as a wrap detail, smocking or a belt around the waist can help to avoid looking overwhelmed by fabric or print.
If you're shopping for a new piece, & Other Stories has plenty of printed options, including a short-sleeved midi in fresh green florals (€89) and a lilac puff-sleeved, square-necked dress with a tiered skirt (€99).
If you're planning on swimming, you'll want a bit more coverage than the average bikini. Those braving cold waters for paddle-boarding and other sports can stay warm in Perfect Moment's flattering rash vests and wet suits, available from Brown Thomas. A one-piece should be fine if you're just taking a dip, and you can find playful prints and colour-blocked styles in the high street sales, as well as sustainable brands like Tucca Swim, Batoko and Casa Raki, whose swimsuits are created from 100pc recycled plastic waste or Econyl, a regenerated nylon fibre.
Such one-pieces can double up as bodysuits beyond the beach too, particularly when worn with high-waisted trousers. A stylish pair of jeans works well for a 70s touch, or try a lightweight cropped pair, which should prove more practical than shorts for an Irish summer. H&M's tapered linen (€27.99) or Whistles' cropped style (€85 in the Brown Thomas sale) can be dressed up or down, and the breathable fabrics will keep you cool on hotter days.
On top, keep things light and breezy. Linen and cotton blouses are a summer favourite, or go for a masculine striped shirt that can be thrown on over a swimsuit or jeans for an effortless outfit, no matter how crumpled. Add to that a couple of T-shirts - steering clear of greys, which will show up sweat stains quickly - and you'll have the bulk of your packing sorted.
The typical sun holiday demands a straw beach bag, which in the last few years have come to be flamboyantly embellished with all sorts of pompoms, tassels and colourful embroidery. On a soggy day in West Cork, however, such bells and whistles look a bit desperate, so you'll probably fancy a more low-key alternative. A basic straw basket works great, ideally one with a bit of structure to it for a smarter finish, such as LK Bennett's Lynne (€115) or Next's woven bag (€60).
Alternatively, seek out a sturdy canvas carry-all, like Mango's embroidered shopper (€39.99), Melissa Obadash's frayed tote (€220, Harvey Nichols) or the White Company's metallic herringbone bag (€47, reduced), to bring a casual elegance to your beach trips.
With hair appointments few and far between - or just for the sake of protecting your scalp - make sure to invest in a decent sun hat. Happily, a straw hat is one of the few exotic holiday staples that you can wear around Ireland without raising eyebrows, and all the better to shield your face from intermittent blasts of sunshine. With that in mind, you may as well indulge with a broad-brimmed number that will add a bit of romance to your staycation wardrobe. COS has lovely, wide straw and broderie anglaise patterned hats for €45, or you can get classic woven styles with contrasting black ribbons from & Other Stories (€35) and Mango (€19.99).
And don't forget your sunglasses - crucial for driving, but also to fend off headaches and migraines. For stylish shades on the high street, check out Chimi's collection for H&M (from €39.99), which offers 100pc UV protection, or if you can spend a bit more, have a look at Le Specs (from €69, Seagreen), Ace and Tate (from €98), and Finlay London (from €150, Costume Dublin).
It can be tempting when travelling locally to fill the car with every conceivable kind of shoe "just in case", but for a streamlined suitcase, we recommend sticking to two reliables. First, you'll want a good pair of walking sandals. Birkenstocks have been the great footwear success story of lockdown - UK department store Selfridges reported a sales increase of 140pc since March - so you may already be covered in this area. If Birks won't do it for you, try Teva's popular dad-chic sandals, which start from €44 in Office. The recycled polyester straps are very durable and dry quickly, so can handle a sudden shower, and they also come with midform and flatform soles to keep your feet (mostly) free of loose stones.
Secondly, pack a pair of dressy flats. We're unlikely to be hitting any dancefloors this summer, but if you're heading out for a pub dinner or a couple of pints, you may be up for making a bit of an effort. A dressy shoe can elevate the most boring white T-shirt and jeans to a going-out look. Topshop's sleek peep-toe slingbacks come in five shades, all of which are on sale (from €18), and will do the job nicely.
Well, let's be realistic. You're unlikely to go five days in Ireland without at least a hint of drizzle, and you'll want to be prepared. No need to overdo it - a cosy cardigan and a good rain mac will suffice. After lockdown, a couple of nights spent anywhere other than our own house will feel like a true escape - even if it's raining.