My love for an impromptu weekend away is no secret. Especially if the destination in question is the Cape West Coast. In the few years I’ve been a travel writer, I have become somewhat of an expert on packing light. No longer content to carry myriad pieces of luggage containing multiple outfit changes, my ideal weekend bag holds a few considered essentials – leaving of course, sufficient space for my camera equipment and styling props.
I recently had the opportunity to rethink what I consider to be my weekend away must-have items after being approached by international shapewear icon Spanx. Although usually not one for fancy functions and high-brow occasions, I decided to put two of their best-selling pieces – the Brallelujah bra, the Higher Power panties and the Essential legging – to the test to see if I could get away with wearing them over the course of one very relaxed weekend away.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not one for body-conscious dresses or barely-there slips, and feel more at home in a simple sheath dress and sneakers. But the curiosity of wanting to see yourself looking your best is too tempting to refuse. And I can’t deny that after three years of being involved in the cooking, styling, photographing and ultimately eating of many delicious dishes, I’m certainly no longer the size 8 I was in my late teens. Now a comfortable size 12, with a bit of extra padding here and there thanks to many a grilled cheese sandwich, I reasoned that I could do with a little shaping. You know, into a form other than circular.
Cue two outfits created to fit into my weekend up the West Coast – I had already planned to be shooting a few recipes for an upcoming project of mine and so comfort and freedom of movement was key. My fitting for the shape wear listed above took place at the V&A Waterfront branch of Inner Secrets, with their trained corsetières expertly measuring me for the correct size. While fortunately I was already wearing the size I was supposed to, having a professional bra fitting makes for a reassuring experience – one that I can certainly recommend to every woman. What sets Spanx aside is undoubtably the fit. There was none of the restrained movement associated with shapewear, but rather a seamless amalgamation between garment and one’s own natural form. Fastening in the front and offering wider straps for added comfort, the Brallelujah bra shapes and supports your assets without detracting from your natural cleavage – perfect for those fitted dresses or plunging blouses. Able to attach to the Brallelujah though a clever hook and eye system, the Higher Power panties become a bodysuit. Finally, my personal favourite – the Essential Legging – shapes and lifts my derrière t0 the point where it would seem that I’ve been climbing stairs nonstop for the past three years. What’s not to love?
Essential for travel, the leggings can be easily rolled up and packed light. Dress them up with block heels, an oversized tee and a blazer or down with flats and a canvas parka. Packing light also needn’t mean piling your curated collection of clothing into your old gym bag; I recently stumbled upon ZEMP Lifestyle – a purveyor of classic leather luggage and quality timepieces. In desperate need of a new leather holdall after my vintage Brazilian bag finally packed it in (hehehe), I opted for the Bobo weekender bag and used ZEMP’s optional monogramming service to stamp my surname into my bag. Set in silver against the rich chestnut hue of the leather, this added extra personalised my luggage and made me feel rather posh using it. Completed with the minimally elegant lines of my ZEMP Eleven Eleven watch – perfect for keeping an eye on the time when shooting at dawn or dusk – meant that I was ready to hit the road. When juxtaposed against my late grandfather’s film camera, this stylish watch proved that it was certainly a case of classic against contemporary. Apart from the luxury of time and being able to capture moments within it, my only addition to the perfect weekend getaway would be the ability to eat all the grilled cheese sandwiches without putting my waistline in detriment.
Putting the snacks aside for now, since it was Velddrif I would be off to I kept things casual and paired my Spanx Essential leggings with a voluminous shirt, parka and sneakers to explore the picturesque harbour and its colourful fishing boats, and a simple striped shirt dress perfectly shaped by my Brallelujah bra and Higher Power undergarments clothed me while capturing the pastel pink sunset from the jetties at Bokkom Laan. While not the most glamorous of locations, Velddrif holds a very special place in my heart and I’m always grateful to return, explore and experience it’s charm.
Making the ideal travel partners, both Spanx and ZEMP prove that all one requires for the quintessential weekend away is a good base collection of quality items. If you have those, then all you really need is a tank full of fuel, a brilliant Eighties playlist and a couple of loaves of fresh farm bread for those aforementioned grilled cheese toasties!