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- We asked three husbands to pack for their wives for a week in the sun
- Then asked the ladies to critique their efforts
- One husband included a scarecrow's hat and a ballgown
- Another left out suncream and knickers
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 16:58 EST, 21 August 2013 | UPDATED: 18:46 EST, 21 August 2013
Who packs your holiday suitcases? It’s normally a task that falls to women - and they usually have to do their husband's packing too. So what would happen if the man of the house was forced to do the packing?
We asked three husbands to pack for a week in the sun for themselves and their wives, then asked the ladies to critique their efforts. From what they did pack - a scarecrow's hat, a ballgown - to what they left out - sun cream, knickers - the results are hilarious . . .
Anna Maxted, 43, journalist, and Phil Robinson, 40, author
Anna says: My husband dumps the case in the hall like Hercules having completed his twelfth labour. I flip it open and am immediately confused. For our week in the sun, he has packed for himself: one pair of swimming trunks, three T-shirts, five work shirts and a solitary pair of boxer shorts. That’s it.
Bewildered: Phil packed clothes his wife Anna hasn't worn for years
No smart shoes, no change of underwear, no soap or shampoo, toothbrush or book, hat or sun cream, no trousers, no shorts, no jumper. I’m not sure what he plans to team with the luxurious array of work shirts for the romantic dinners we’ll undoubtedly enjoy at the hotel restaurant — and these aren’t even his best pants.
When I challenge him, he explains that he’ll be wearing shorts to the airport, which will, apparently, cover him for all further eventualities.
I open the case he has packed for me with low expectations. A woollen fleece bought for a holiday on the Isle of Mull is the first item I see. OK. Let’s be generous and say that I always feel the cold. He has packed the book I’m reading, and the hankie I wear on my head on the beach (I look mad but without it I have sunstroke by lunchtime).
Oddly, he has packed a metallic brown ballgown that I most recently wore for my sister’s wedding a decade ago, and some skinny jeans I last squeezed into aged 25. I begin to wonder if he ever notices what I wear. He has given me one pair of trainers, two bras, vests, shorts, swimsuit and beach dress but no sunglasses. Or knickers. This would be an interesting holiday.
Mistakes: Phil forgot a number of holiday essentials like the sun cream
Despite the absence of beach towel and flip-flops, and complete lack of toiletries, make-up and underwear, I feel that I could almost manage.
When I pack, I do so grimly, anxiously, neurotically, determined to cover every kind of weather and pursuit, any possible want or need. The cases always bulge to bursting point, and I end up wearing a fraction of the vast mound of clothes and shoes that I’ve lugged across the globe.
I’m caught between admiration and exasperation. Phil’s simple, stress-free approach is alarming but liberating. In future, I may assign him the job of preliminary packer, then I’ll take over with a shortlist of added extras. We’ll avoid paying for excess baggage, and I’ll wear every item packed.
Phil says: Opening Anna’s wardrobe is like stepping inside an episode of ‘Most Deranged Hoarders’. There’s a mountain of stuff jammed in there, and more items crammed in bags on the floor.
I am ten minutes into packing our cases when I realise that some of the stuff I included was actually intended to be to be given to charity.
One of the most stressful things about dealing with a woman’s potential holiday wardrobe is that women use their clothes in a deceptive way.
Men wear clothes to a) cover themselves, and b) stay warm. Women use clothes to trick people and conceal lumps and bumps, and various items can be combined to multiply this effect. I have no idea how this is done, or what’s necessary. It’s like looking at a new alphabet and not being able to form any words.
I’m glad it’s the last time I will ever do this. It was as annoying and bewildering to me as it would be for Anna if I asked her to name her top Ashes side.
Jenny Wood, 36, journalist, and Joe Levenson, 37, PR director
Jenny says: Every time we go away I write lists weeks in advance, pack toiletries in plastic bags to avoid leaks, and take at least five pairs of shoes.
Kept it simple: But that meant Joe forgot to pack all Jenny's girly items from her make-up bag to her jewellery
Joe just grabs a pile of clothes from a drawer, figuring that if we forget anything, we can always buy it on holiday. Watching him pack for me is torturous. Still, he’s game, and starts throwing things into a suitcase (I’d have methodically folded them, but never mind). Four hours later - yes, really - he has finally packed us a case each.
Surveying the results, I’m pleasantly surprised and horrified in equal measure. For me, he has packed decent underwear, two bikinis and a swimsuit, just enough tops and bottoms (albeit non-matching ones, including my tatty gardening T-shirt), a cardigan, my phone charger, camera, two books and two pairs of shoes.
He has also remembered my insect repellent and even put my shower gel in a plastic bag. However, he has failed miserably on the girly stuff. He has forgotten my hair dryer, jewellery and make-up bag.
There’s no sarong or beach bag, no clutch bag, no heels and only one old dress for evenings, that I wore when I was pregnant. I do, however, have a woolly scarf, which Joe mistook for my pashmina.
The only beauty items I’ve been given are a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and moisturiser.
Not got it wrapped up: Joe mistook a woolly scarf for a pashmina
Being practical, I’d pack an umbrella, different factors of sunscreen (he only packed factor 15), a notepad and pen, spare sunglasses and enough medicines to stock a branch of Boots.
Still, he hasn’t done a bad job. He has gone for the minimalist approach, with just enough clothes for a week, though mostly in shades of blue, brown and grey. More worryingly, there’s nothing smart and no decent trousers.
On the other hand, he has taken a Kindle and has at least remembered a beach towel.
So what has this taught us? I grudgingly accept that I ought to edit my wardrobe down a little. And I probably take more clothes, medicines, books and beauty products with me than I need.
However, the thought of jetting off with no heels or make-up bag brings me out in a cold sweat. So much so, I think I need a holiday to recover.
Joe says: I’ve never understood why Jenny takes so long to pack . . . until now. I had absolutely no idea where to look for all her stuff, and there was so much of it.
In the end, I decided to use the same technique I use for my own suitcase - keeping it simple and remembering that it’s a week in the sun, not a round-the-world trip.
I’m proud that I remembered to pack the insect repellent. I even put her bottles in plastic bags, as she always does, in case they spill.
Jenny suggested that I didn’t pack enough smart clothes, but we rarely go anywhere hugely fancy on holiday. As for toiletries, all you need are the basics. Jenny never uses half the things in her bulging washbag.
Overall, I think I did a pretty good job - and Jenny’s case was much lighter than usual. Perhaps I should pack for us both every year.
Jane Sanderson, 50, novelist, and Brian Viner, 51, journalist
Jane says: We have been married for 20 years but Brian has never packed a suitcase for me — until now. After this exercise, I might wait another couple of decades before letting him do it again.
I marked him six out of ten for what he packed for our week’s holiday in Turkey, but only two out of ten for what he left out, including the sun dress I had bought with this forthcoming trip in mind.
Mix up: Brian packed a hat usually worn by a scarecrow and his son's trainers for wife Jane
I was also deeply offended when I realised that he had packed the straw hat which our scarecrow, Madeleine, used to wear. It sat on her head in our vegetable garden for four years, and Brian seems to have assumed that I’d wear it by our hotel swimming pool.
I was also pretty gutted that he packed me a pair of size 9 trainers (I’m a size 6) that belonged to our eldest son, Joe, but no flip flops.
And why did he pack my running kit? Yes, I run three or four times a week at home, but surely he should have known that I’d have no inclination to go running on holiday. Men!
Useless: Brian packed shoes that don't fit Jane and a book she's already read
Brian says: Jane marked me up for putting in her hair straighteners (I wasn’t sure what they were but they looked important), and up for a pot of face cream, but down for overlooking the make-up remover. I got the right toothbrush but the wrong trainers. And while I very considerately threw in the book on her bedside table, May We Be Forgiven, by A.M. Homes, it turns out she finished it three weeks ago. May I be forgiven.
Still, I got a tick on the underwear front - three bras seemed about right for a week, and it was - and an even bigger tick for digging out a pair of heels that she’d forgotten she had. But there was no time to feel smug, as with a harrumph she began to gather all the things I’d unwittingly omitted. There were no belts, and no sleeveless silk top that she always takes when we go to a hot country, apparently.
Unsurprisingly, I had much more success packing my own bag, although I left out all the last-minute essentials which Jane always adds to my case just before the ritual Zipping Of The Luggage. With me in charge, these were exluded - so no plug adaptors, no sun cream and no packs of cards for those long summer nights.
Women, I now understand, think of everything. Men think of hardly anything. I suspect I may be reminded of this in a harbourfront restaurant in Turkey in the coming weeks.
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