Packing with a Sense of Style: A How-To
Posted by Mary-Frances Walsh
Posted in: Travel Tips
Tags: Travel, How-To
When packing for travel, the thought of condensing your apparel down to a single bag can bring on a sense of dread. What to bring? How much? How to dress so that you don’t feel out of place? Here’s a rough guide to advice shared by a number of travel fashionistas, including one of our very own here in Tauck’s Connecticut office.
- Why does travel style matter? Dressing well can make a great travel experience even better by leaving you feeling prepared to meet anyone, go anywhere. It will help you blend in, even if it’s improbable to hide the fact that you’re not a local. And being dressed a little “better” may mean being treated better by airline employees, customs officials and other service personnel you encounter along the way.
- Pack early. For best results, give yourself time to re-think what’s sitting in your bag. By packing smartly – thinking about the weather, versatility and comfort – you’ll be able to pack less. You’ll be free to focus on the travel experience, not spending your time deciding what to wear.
- What should you bring?
- Layers, like a light cardigan or other sweater – to pull on for chilly weather or hyped-up air conditioning and to pull off easily when no longer needed. Button-ups or tie-at-the-waist styles work well. Clingy pullovers might prove awkward getting on and off when on the move.
- Neutral colors (black, brown or khaki) are great for pants, shorts and skirts. They can be mixed or matched with everything else, so you can pack fewer of them. Darker colors minimize the inevitable stain or smudge and more easily go from casual to dressy. Some recommend foregoing brighter colors and choosing solids over patterns. In cities, you’ll find that black always seems to work; it can even make you look slimmer.
- Dark slacks or a simple black skirt to wear with a silk, crepe de chine or lace blouse, or a flattering top or sweater, for a dressier evening.
- Leggings, jeggings or jeans? If you’re a regular wearer, you’ll know that their comfort makes them perfect for sightseeing; they let you focus on the sights, not your outfit. But in Europe, they don’t work so well for dinner at an upscale restaurant or for a special evening out. Leggings / jeggings are great with tunics, sweaters and even a light coat on top. As for jeans, they’ve been common in Europe for quite some time but a flattering fit is considered essential.
- Mix & match – a useful mantra when packing your bag. Travel in style by layering pieces, like lightweight t-shirts and tops that work together in different combinations. Many fashionistas swear by simple basics that can be spiced up with jewelry, make-up or a pop of color in a scarf.
- Speaking of scarves, they can pull a look together or add a splash of dash or an interesting pattern to a basic outfit. They’ll warm up your neck when you’re hit by a breeze, protect your shoulders in sunny climes, and hold back your hair with a touch of class. A larger scarf can double as a poolside sarong; shawls are great for covering up on a chilly flight or coach. If you’d like some inspiration, just google “how to tie a scarf;” you’ll find more videos than you can count!
- Accessories… like costume jewelry you’re not afraid to lose… a bold necklace that can take a little black dress from plain to dapper… belts and sunglasses that serve a purpose, but also change up an outfit worn multiple days… a fun, chunky watch… a trendy clutch for arriving at dinner in style.
- A light raincoat or hooded jacket, with pockets for holding essential gadgets, receipts or the sunglasses, that you may want to keep at hand. Aim for zippered pockets to protect against loss – and again, neutral colors are best.
- Shoes: Don’t bring new ones! Think three pairs max: one for walking (like a thick-soled, supportive sandal or flats), one a bit dressier for evenings (that you can also walk in with ease) and a pair of flip-flops, if you’ll be at a beach or pool. Choose a comfort brand, shoes you’ve worn before – that you know are comfortable.
- What not to bring? Clothing that makes you feel conspicuous. White tennis shoes (difficult to keep clean) or linens (perennial wrinkles). Perhaps shorts – once a rarity on adults in Europe; they are becoming less so – but again, choose a style that flatters.
- Anything else? A cover up for your bathing suit? Think comfort. Be practical. Consider other country’s cultural traditions, like bringing a scarf to wear atop bare shoulders if you’ll be visiting a mosque. Aim for versatility. Dress for the season. Think about what you like to wear, not only what will function best and make every item in your suitcase count – that’s how to travel in style!