What I wore for a long weekend in Portugal’s Algarve in July

This week I headed out to Portugal’s Algarve region for my first hot abroad getaway to celebrate my sister-in-law’s hen do. Traditionally, I’m guilty of being an overpacker, throwing in every sundress, swimsuit, and floppy hat I own, just in case I might need them. But with shared suitcases and soaring temperatures, I needed to curate a vacay wardrobe that was both light and versatile without compromising my personal style.

When shopping for my summer essentials, I opted for creamy neutrals for the most part, including pieces that could be effortlessly mixed and matched. That crochet dress that doubles as a beach cover-up? Yes, please! The classic striped shirt that can be dressed up or down? Absolutely, get it in the case.

Comfort was non-negotiable when the forecast was between 25-35 degrees for the week. Breathable fabrics that would flow and keep me cool under the sun were a must, so I leaned into lightweight linen blends and airy cottons, as well as open crochets and a wide-brimmed hat simultaneously acting as a fashion statement and sun protector.

But we all know that my style is an extension of my identity, and while it’s difficult to curate a capsule wardrobe as a dopamine dresser, I did manage to sneak one bold piece into my luggage.

Because of the restrictions on packing, it definitely made me consider my outfits a lot more consciously, and as a result, I really enjoyed styling this small handful of carefully curated looks. So without further ado, here’s what I wore over my four days in Vilamoura, Portugal, with huge thanks to Jamie and Mel for being my Insta boyf for the weekend and making sure the outfit snaps were gram worthy.

Outfit one – the airport

Because we were flying at 5am and weren’t able to check in to our accommodation until 4pm, I needed an airport outfit that was going to be suitable for both flying and exploring Vilamoura until we could get into our townhouse. 

I started off with a pair of cream Stradivarius linen blend trousers – which I also have in sage green – which offered a combination of style and functionality, keeping my cool, allowing me to move freely, while shading my legs from the sun while I was without my trusty SPF50. The trousers cost £22.99, and I paired them with a simple camel racerback from TU at Sainsbury’s, radiating a more laid back vibe. To keep my shoulders cool, I threw on my plisse Stradivarius shirt, which I picked up in the sale last summer. I also have it in green, which I styled last summer here.

As any seasoned traveller knows, a reliable bag is a must-have, and Uniqlo’s circle shoulder bag fits the bill perfectly. It’s spacious enough to carry all your essentials – including a paperback book – yet lightweight and easy to carry throughout your adventures. I have this now in four colours, but just the cream came away with me, and trust me when I say it goes with pretty much everything.

My former Primark floppy hat had certainly seen better days when I pulled it out of the wardrobe last month, but I’ll forgive it, because it has seen me through a number of summers. I decided to upgrade it for something a little more structured this year, and this one – also from Primark – cost £8 and offers a beautiful scalloped detail that makes it look far more expensive. I absolutely adore the tie detailing too, which can be switched up with different scarves for any outfit.

For flying, I wore my heaviest shoes, which were my trusty Dr Marten Blaire sandals, which are the epitome of comfort and fashion combined. I finished the look with a pair of Shein sunglasses for a touch of glam that would shield my eyes from the dazzling sun.

With breathable fabrics, stylish layers and practical accessories, this ensemble set the tone for my sunny vacay and really got my time in Portugal off to a comfortable start.

Outfit two – evening meal

This was my dopamine outfit of the trip, and ideal for our first meal out together. From ASOS, this £46 Neon Rose number ties in a lot of the colours I wear frequently, so felt like a seamless addition to my wardrobe for both holiday and at home. Complete with a pink and red gingham design and lime detailing, it really captures the essence of summer with its playful pattern, while the shirred bodice and tiered skirt offers a flattering silhouette. 

I teamed the midaxi with a pair of lime heeled sandals from TU at Sainsbury’s – the vibrant shade of the summer tying in with the trim on the dress, making it feel cohesive and put-together. The heels cost £21 and feature an elasticated strap design making them comfortable to wear and walk in, and I can think of so many outfits already in my wardrobe that they’ll also pair well with. 

I finished the look with a red scrunchie headband from Manchester indie brand Rommy, and my Abbott Lyon name necklace for that 90s touch. This necklace was probably my most worn for the whole week, because it goes with everything and adds a bit of an edge with its old English lettering. I feel like accessories are your secret weapon on holiday – for example, you’ll see this Rommy headband with another look later in the post, too – transforming another fit while taking up next to no case space. I’m all for it.

The temperatures dipped in the evening, particularly after sundown, so while this dress may have been a little heavy for the day, it was prime for those late nights out, and it’s fit allows for a lot of stretch while disguising my tum after eating huge portions of pasta on the marina. 

Outfit three – the beach

When hitting up the golden sands of Vilamoura’s beautiful beach, my aim was to channel seaside chic. Starting with the essentials, I ordered a handful of bikinis from Shein, but this brown crinkle number was my favourite, and formed the foundation for this look. 

This fabulous two-piece not only flattered my figure but also added a touch of boho charm with its textured fabric, and paired really well with my Stradivarius linen blend skort. It’s the best of both worlds in a pair of bottoms, giving the freedom to lounge on the sand or stroll along the boardwalk without any anxiety.

I matched the skort to this chocolate striped linen blend shirt, which I also have in a cream colourway. Much like I have the striped linen shirt in cream and chocolate, I did the exact same with the skort, creating at least four outfits by switching up the shades. It’s such a gorgeous cover up that effortlessly drapes over a bikini, while staying light and airy, protecting my skin from UV rays without overheating.

Speaking of sun protection, I returned back to my Shein sunglasses and Primark sun hat, swapping out te black ribbon for a £3 satin leopard print tie from Primark, rounded off with the Bits and Boobs silk tote bag (now Ay That’s Nice). This elevated the look further while offering ample space for all my beach essentials, including my leopard print beach towel, also from Primark. This is a look I’ll definitely be repeating in Cornwall later this year, too.

Outfit four – dinner and drinks

As the sun sets, Vilamoura transforms into a vibrant hub of nightlife, which requires an outfit made for a memorable evening of dinner and drinks in the popular live music bars. Inspired by Maya Jama’s iconic Love Island look, this white crochet dress from ISAWITFIRST is giving serious villa vibes. 

When I first ordered the dress, I thought it would be one that would be returned immediately, but when it’s on it feels so feminine and empowering, making it easy to see why crochet is such a huge trend this summer. Not only is it mega fashionable for festivals and poolside breaks, but it’s also incredibly breathable, comfortable and elegant, in my opinion. 

Its intricate crochet design adds texture and a touch of boho chic, and while cut-outs are not usually my thing, I love the detail in this dress which makes it a real showstopper. 

The Rommy headband paired with a red lip gave this look a hint of allure, while it could have had a completely different vibe paired with the lime heels and a pair of matching sunnies. The Dr Marten sandals also graced the look, adding a bit more of my personality to the look while being comfortable enough to dance the night away without complaint.

One of the gorgeous gals I went away with was kind enough to let me borrow her handbag, as it’s one of the few neither my Uniqlo nor Bits and Boobs bag would go with. If you’re going away as a group, it’s well worth having a chat about sharing a wardrobe of accessories to help streamline packing and avoid taking too many things. 

This was one of my favourite summer fits – all that’s missing is a margarita from my hand.

Outfit five – pool party

Last but certainly not least, I was ready to make a splash at Vilamoura’s Purobeach Beach Club in this stunning one-shouldered ASOS swimsuit, styled as part of my outfit to avoid packing additional tops. For the beach club, the bride wore white, while all of the bridesmaids sported black get-ups. I wouldn’t typically choose to wear a black swimsuit, but I wanted to get one that was of a high quality and I could wear again, and this £21 costume was ideal. Its crinkle fabric is very forgiving, while the one shoulder design is so pretty, giving some serious pool party glam.

Keeping it cool and comfortable below, I styled these creamy, wide-leg culottes from Roman, which are elevated off the floor to avoid getting them soggy poolside, while giving a breezy and airy feel while walking through town. Meanwhile, H&M’s padded black crossover sliders are not only on-trend but also practical, making it easy to navigate the poolside without compromising on style.

Of course, the Primark hat came to the rescue once again, ensuring I could stay sun-safe, while adding a touch of drama to the overall look. I’m a big fan of a statement hat, and this one takes up space and creates an eye-catching silhouette that throws extra shade.

And that completes my holiday wardrobe for Portugal 2023. While I did come home with one or two pieces unworn, I definitely did a better job at packing light than usual, and really considered every outfit before I left, which made getting dressed each morning a lot easier. It was also really helpful to dress for the day’s plans, too, be it lounging on the sand, or exploring Vilamoura’s picturesque marina. 

I loved getting glammed up and dressed down in a combination of flattering fits, while keeping cool and protecting my fair skin in the sun, and I can’t wait to do it all over again for Newquay later this year. 

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