Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Traveling in Style: Clothing, Part 2
Before we move on to tops and sweaters/jackets for travel, I wanted to add my own thoughts to a couple of common themes that seem to come up whenever travel wardrobes are discussed.
I don't want to look like a tourist!
Having expressed this sentiment myself before our first Paris trip, I have sympathy for those who post to travel forums asking what to pack for a European vacation, often concluding with "I don't want to stick out/look like a tourist." There can be such a negative association with the word "tourist" which often conjures an image of a loud person in loud clothing, wearing a fanny pack and behaving in a generally clueless manner. But the truth is if you're traveling for pleasure, you're a tourist, and will be identifiable as one the minute you whip out a camera or consult a map, or even just stroll and look around you, taking in the sights. Even if you don't do any of those, remember that the locals will probably be dressed for work and not for leisure, so trying to "dress like a local" is pointless. My goal is to be a *stylish* (yet comfortable) tourist, and a gracious guest wherever we're visiting.
Buy what you need when you get there!
This is one I see often on various websites that offer advice on packing light. While this might work for some, I'd be cautious about over-reliance on this strategy, especially on a first visit to any given locale. First, one must consider how much time you will have. This was brought home to us after we'd spent the better part of one precious morning in Paris trying to locate and purchase an electrical adapter when the one we'd brought with us bit the dust. Shopping for clothing can be tricky too. You need a warm sweater but it's early summer and the shops are full of linen and sun dresses? You're 5'1" and need every pair of pants hemmed before you can wear them? You have a wide, hard-to-fit foot but need a pair of walking sandals? Probably not the best idea to count on finding clothing you need to wear on the trip while *on the trip.* I'm not saying don't shop, I'm just cautioning against assuming that what you need will be immediately available. (This generally isn't a problem at resort destinations, which will carry clothing and other items for use while there. Which brings up another point: be careful when shopping at resorts. The prices tend to be high, and you might wind up with clothing that will never be worn back at home.)
Topping it off
tanks and tees (long and short-sleeved). These are lightweight, breathable, washable (and dry overnight), and can be layered if needed for warmth without bulk. (When we visited the glacier in Alaska two years ago, I wore one tank and three long-sleeve tees layered underneath a fleece vest and was plenty warm.) Bien sur, I'll be bringing my new Babette tops on this trip as well.
I love cardigans for travel, especially cashmere which provide warmth without a lot of bulk. But the weather in Italy in late May might be too warm for cashmere, and if so I'll be bringing a longer lightweight wool EF cardigan, and possibly an elbow-sleeve EF cotton lace cardigan for warmer days. (We've been advised that women need to have shoulders covered when visiting many churches/cathedrals in Italy.)
I no longer pack or bring woven jackets when I travel as they take up too much space and often require pressing/steaming. My new Babette cream shirt will also work as a lightweight jacket worn open over a tank, and I have another black Eileen Fisher knit silk/cotton 3/4 sleeve jacket from last year that should work for any other circumstances.
As we get close to our departure date, I'll put together a Polyvore on the Floor with my final travel wardrobe selections.
Next installment, some clothing care tips and tricks for the road.
Please share your favorite tops, sweaters or jackets for travel. Do you pack everything you need, or shop once you reach your destination?