I Have Nothing to Wear is the series asking ELLE staffers and industry influencers to obsessively record what they wore for a full seven days. From the discarded to the which-shirt-goes-better? moments, it’s a complete snapshot of how we think about getting dressed. This week, Angel Lenise is taking us back to her summer vacation.
The Editor: Angel Lenise, Supervising Video Producer
Personal Style: Minding my monochrome.
My closet is mostly full of… neutrals, monochromatic looks, coordinating sets, mini bags, high heels, and Nike Huaraches.
I want to be buried in… a white Cushnie gown, hoop earrings, and delicate, stacked rings.
Vacation means a break from the norm and that goes for the wardrobe, too.
Let me start by saying I’m a nudes girl. Although I don’t subscribe to the concept of having a daily uniform, my work wardrobe is full of neutrals and monochromatic looks that I rotate for quick-ish 10-to-6 dressing. But when it comes to vacation—especially one during Bermuda Carnival—I embrace the more colorful side of things and build looks in anticipation of wanderlust-inducing backdrops.
Color and great construction are a must.
When I first saw this strapless mini on ASOS, I fell in l-o-v-e. There was a spirit of exuberance and jubilee during my stay on the island, and I was there to celebrate a milestone birthday. Hence, head-to-toe highlight. The one thing I really appreciated about this dress was that it had structure. The minimal boning made me feel secure, without being restrictive. The fabric was surprisingly sturdy, but afforded enough breathability for the subtropical climate. The gathered waist and draping made it look more expensive than what it actually was. I paired it with velvet Tom Ford heels (that I found on TheRealReal in pristine condition!) for dinner at Marcus Samuelsson’s eponymous Hamilton Princess restaurant.
Be a certain type of bag lady.
You can thank Jacquemus for my current handbag obsession: the mini, the micro, the petite. In a place like New York City, most dress with utility in mind. This focus on function can sometimes take the fun out of dressing. And these bags—especially when packed for vacation—are all about the latter. While my green Le Chiquito bag can actually hold a few essentials—cards, ID, keys, lipstick—I opted to color match with the sunnier, slimmer coin purse, packed with Listerine strips and my hotel key card.
I’m all about keeping it light.
If I’m packing a bag, I guarantee there will be an ivory edit: something for day, something for night, and something for swim. This high-waist set was reserved for Bermuda Carnival’s Raft Up, a day party where locals take in Soca and sun, out on de water, via boat, floaty, or raft. The décolletage was on display, but this two-piece was constructed with a bandage material, so it held me up and in with little need to adjust throughout the day.
We’re adults. Wear a cover up.
I used to be the woman who deemed a pair of denim cut-offs good enough for beach wear. And while I still love to slip on a pair, I have a new appreciation for a more stylish option: sarongs, beach dresses, and in this case, a crochet maxi with fringe. This was a Zara find and could easily go from day-to-night (layered over a slip dress, for example).
Your water-ready look deserves grown up accessories, too.
I have a bad habit of losing sunnies while away. Such was the case with these milky Ray Ban frames that I got half-off at Century 21. I was drawn to these because we tend to think of tortoiseshell on the more cognac end of the spectrum, but this ivory pair was a fun twist. As for my beach bag, I kept the straw tote at home and went with a Cult Gaia Dome, a piece that, like my coverup, could work when the sun’s up, and after it goes down.
When in Bermuda…
…you do as Bermudians do. A highlight of my trip was playing mas during the island’s Heroes Weekend. The celebration stems from the centuries-long tradition of Caribbean Carnival, which originated in Trinidad and Tobago. The concept was introduced to the islands during the slave trade and was originally reserved for the white elite to masquerade before Lent. Slaves adapted the observance as Canboulay, and the celebration evolved to honor emancipation through music, costume, and lavish fêtes. I reveled in an ornate, feathered pink and green costume—wings, headpiece, and all—worn over flesh tone fishnets (security, remember?).
But what I failed to account for were shoes.
I had the perfect pair of sneakers set aside: Nude Nike Huaraches (duh!) with neon accents that complimented my costume. Of course, I forgot to pack them in my Away luggage and was relegated to parading in Adidas slides with a cork sole. Not ideal, but they carried me through a full route.
Ruffles are a strategic choice.
They say summer bodies are made in the winter. They are right. And the act of prioritizing proper form while summer-ing—Why diet? Why run? It’s vacation. Be free!—is not one I adhere too. Enter: Ruffles and intentional ruching for hourglass illusions after indulging, as one does, while OOO. This Jonathan Simkhai is slinky, yes, but, differs from your everyday slip dress because there is lining. If you can’t tell by now, feeling secure—even during summer, when the lighter the fabric, the cooler—is très important to me. I don’t want to feel super conscious of the undergarments I pair with easy pieces, and, if I choose, I don’t want to actually wear undergarments when it’s hot outside (catch my drift?). A plus: You can try this look on before committing and see what I mean.
Celebrations mean all white everything.
Here I am, again, betting on monochrome to get me through another festive moment. This time, it was to ring in my 30th. In long sleeves. In 90-degree-weather. With humidity at 90 percent.
But, when I commit, I commit. Balance, to me, is long sleeves for the mini-est of minis. A bonus: These cut-outs called for some pretty strategic tape placement but also allowed for some much-needed ventilation. I knew that this number—and its poly blend—probably wasn’t ideal for a Caribbean climate at the start of summer, but the length, and vents allowed for room to breathe.
Neon, that is. Very few of my wears fall under this category, but what better place, time, and occasion to break out the brighter-than-brights than in Cartagena, on the first day of summer, while drifting amongst the Islas del Rosario, an archipelago off the coast of Colombia?
But save your coins.
A word of advice: When dealing in trends—things you likely won’t revisit in seasons to come—look for the save, not the splurge. I found this set on ASOS for less than $50. So, I got enough value out of it for one wear, in the event that it stays folded away for a while. And, whenever I do decide to pull it out for another round, the cost per like, will have been well worth it.
And keep with a theme.
Orange you glad? I couldn’t resist. One thing that’s saved me this summer, and made me feel most put-together with minimal effort, is the printed silk scarf. This one, from Ferragamo, has been my go-to: the accent that transforms my everyday bag into a warm-weather staple, the hair accessory that shields my hair from sun damage and adds a little chic.
…without securing the bag. I bring home two souvenirs from every destination I visit: a spoon and a bag. It’s one part travel ritual, one part being sure that I don’t just load up on magnets and postcards, but something that has utility. This heart-shaped find was woven at a local shop in Cartagena’s Old City and cost me just $40. It, like my other OOO finds, is inspiration for the straw/woven/wicker bags that inundate our feeds as soon as we spring forward and a wanderlust-inducing conversation starter.
But we should really focus on the dress. It’s linen, perfect for the climate. It’s not neon, perfect for a spot in my closet’s rust section. And there are straps—perfect for going bra-less, but still working in a bit of support.