Plus-Size Packing Tips for Summer Vacation

Don't spend another getaway freaking out about what to wear! Full-figured fashionista Ashley Falcon has the lowdown on what to bring — and what to leave behind.

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I probably spend half my mornings trying on clothes and modeling outfits in the mirror before settling on one. That's partly because of my mercurial fashion moods, but also because when you're a size 18 like me, your weight can fluctuate even overnight. I've worn a killer pair of skinny jeans on Monday only to find they won't zip up on Tuesday. Is it any wonder then that so many big girls melt into hysterics the night before a vacation as they try to whittle down their wardrobes to just a handful of pieces?

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Trust me, I've been there. But because I travel a lot, I've learned that a versatile, carry-on wardrobe is an absolute must. So, after much trial and error, I've devised this no-fail summer-getaway packing checklist.

Shorts and tanks. These are the items you'll basically live in for several days. Look for shorts that hit the knee or fall no more than three inches above. Anything shorter and you may as well draw invisible arrows that point directly to your thighs. Since black is too heavy for the beach, try navy instead, which is equally slimming. I found a killer pair of navy shorts at onestop plus.com that goes with everything — button-downs, tees, zip-ups. As for the tank top, stick with wide shoulder straps (better for bigger busts), and have fun with patterns. Don't shy away from this season's nautical-inspired tops — just be sure to keep stripes thin.

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The pool dress. Throw this over your swimsuit for lunch or a lazy afternoon stroll. There's nothing as chic as a long, flowy sundress with a structured top, like the white-and-black feather-printed maxi from Rachel Pally. This lightweight stunner cuts a sexy hourglass figure and is ideal for women who need help in the cleavage department. (If you're top-heavy, V-neck dresses are your best bet.)

Since your trip will invariably include a pool or beach, here's an addendum to my column last month on the best swimsuits for summer (read it online at marieclaire.com/ashley): Monif C.'s raspberry, ruched Monaco suit is the perfect cut for curvy girls. Va-va-voom!

The day-to-night dress. Wear this fuss-free number while sightseeing in the afternoon and, later, while sipping wine at an off-the-beaten-path bistro. Don't board your plane without it! I can't tell you how many times I've been on vacation with jeans-and-flip-flop-clad tourists who, once dinner rolls around, frantically search for a halfway decent restaurant that won't treat them like riffraff (because, news flash: Outside of America, locals actually dress up for dinner). Look for a lightweight dress with a cinched waist or one that can be belted, preferably in a solid fabric, like the ruffled emerald-green number from Talbots — so damn adorable that you'll be tempted to plan your holiday around it.

As for accessories, go wild with pastels and bold patterns. (Save the matchy-matchy routine for home!) Don't forget to send me pics of your top holiday looks at biggirl@marieclaire.com. Bon voyage!

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