Thursday, 27 August 2009

Guest Post: The Ten Commandments of Travel Fashion

We are so lucky to have a guest post from Sarah Von of Yes and Yes. We absolutely love her blog, and some of her posts are just so inspirational.

International Travel is an undertaking. Eye-opening? Yes. Challenging? Uh-huh. Enriching? Absolutely. But it can also be an exercise in mind-bending and questioning long held assumptions - and that's just the packing bit!

Now, there are not many things that I can claim to be an expert on (unless you count 'Pony-tail Wearing' and 'Compulsive Cheese Eating') but travel fashion? After five years and twenty countries, I've got a few tips to share, if you guys are willing to look past the crumbs of cheddar all down the front of my sweater.

Picture from here

Thou Shalt Not Wear White Sneakers
Are they comfortable? Sure. But they are also deeply unflattering and mark you instantly as a clueless yokel who's obviously 'not from around here.' And you have no excuse when there are so, so many other options! If you're in an urban area, Adidas or Converse are always good. If you want something a bit dressier try, I cannot speak highly enough of Clarks ballet flats. They're crazy comfortable, dressy enough for a dinner out and small enough that you could pack a few pairs.

Thou Shalt Reconsider Cotton
Yes, yes it's the fabric of our lives and everyone's girlfriend Zooey Deschanel seems to love it
, but you guys? Cotton is heavy, dries really slowly and it's not so great with the sweat-wicking. I know that artifical fibers get a bad rap, but if you're trying to pack light, it's worth considering the poly blend. You don't need to splash out on over-priced specialized 'travel clothes.' Target frequently has cute, non-cotton button-ups and tank tops.

Thou Shalt Not Wear Print T-Shirts
If you're traveling through an hip, English speaking country you can probably disregard this one, as I suspect that the keyboard kitty T-shirt
may speak the International Language of Awesome, but in rural India? or Paris? or Bolivia? you're going to look like a grade-A douche. Also, in twenty years, you will probably be embarrased that all of your pictures in front of the Eiffel towel also prominently feature your U of M t-shirt. Opt for mono-chromatic tops in dark colors that won't show drips of olive oil or all the sweat from hiking along The Great Wall.

Thou Shalt Only Pack What Thou Can Carry
Ooooh, that's quite the challenge isn't it? But don't you want to be that woman who whizzes through baggage check, rolling only her enviously small carry on? Annnnd, $25 richer because you didn't have to pay any of those ridiculous baggage-checking fees we're all saddled with these days. A good rule of thumb is to pack everything you think you'll need. And then leave half of it at home. And then pack the remaining half into your backpack and carry it around the block. If you don't break a sweat, you win!

Thou Shalt Pack a Sarong
After a pocket dictionary and a few tablets of Imodium AD, you will find few things more useful than a sarong. It’s a beach cover up! It’s a towel! It’s a sheet/blanket/pillow/skirt/scarf/impromptu bag! You can use it to cover your shoulders or knees when entering cathedrals or temples or to cover your hair during a surprise afternoon rain shower. And if you’re one to hand-wash things in your hostel’s sink, sarongs dry really quickly as well. I’d highly
recommend steering away from the tropical, tie-dyed sarongs in favor of something a bit more sophisticated, so it could actually pass for a piece of clothing, like this one or this one.

Thou Shalt Not Wear Something Thou Bought in Said Country

I know you can’t wait to wear that awesome Che Guevara/Kangaroo/I Heart NYC t-shirt. And I know that it’s one of the only clean things that you have left in your bag. But trust me, roll it up, tuck it into the bottom of your bag and save it for your flight home. You’ll thank me later. Not only will you look cooler, you won’t be such a target for touts
, pickpockets and the other no-goods that hassle tourists.

Thou Shalt Not Wear a Visor/a Fanny Pack/A Passport Holder

You do, in fact, need something to protect your head/ carry things/hide your passport. But let’s opt instead for this cute little number
. And a messenger bag. And a hidden, under-your-clothing money belt. You can carry more in a messenger bag *and* tuck it under your arm so you’re less likely to get pick pocketed. And less likely to look like a 56 year old woman from Wisconsin.

Thou Shalt Consider a Color Scheme
If you are going to attempt the carry-on only approach to packing (and I know you can do it!) a well-thought out color scheme will help you out immensely. A good way to go is choose two neutral colors and an accent color and work from there. I’m a big fan of black and grey plus pink, or brown and navy plus orange – but you should obviously choose something that works for you.

Thou Shalt Consider The Local Culture
It’s tempting to think that because you’re going somewhere warm your travel wardrobe should consist of tube tops and short shorts. But a surprising number of countries that we think of as beach-y destinations are actually quite conservative. You’ll rarely see native Thai women swimming topless like the tourists, or Fijian women even baring their shoulders. Indonesia (and it’s famous islands of Bali) is actually Muslim and not too keen on your bustier as a top. This is not necessarily to say that you are required to wear long sleeved shirts and pants through out your trip, but you may want to bring at least one outfit that’s culturally appropriate if you’re going to visit rural areas or religious sites.

Though Shalt Bring Two Swimsuits
If you're headed someplace warm and beachy, you'll probably be spending approximately 97% of your time next to the water. And the other 3% of the time oggling the waiters over the top of your Pina Colada. But if you spend your morning spashing around in the shallows in your bikini, then dress for lunch, putting back on your wet, slightly smelly swim suit is a less than appealing option come 2 pm. And if you want to try kite surfing? Or snorkeling? Or riding a horse through the waves? You're exponentially less like to flash your goodies if you bring along a cute one piece.

What are you travel fashion commandments?

If you would like to guest post for HiFashion please get in touch with your ideas!


Claire said...

GREAT post!! I haven't travelled much at all, but will be heading to South America at some point in 2010, so this is v helpful! Given how long it took me to figure out what to take to Paris for a week, I needed some advice. Colour scheme is a good idea :)

Unknown said...

Great guest post, and very timely before my month in Italy! The sarong thing is a particularly good idea as you have to keep covered up when you go in the churches in Italy.

Cheryl said...

Very informative! I always bring my black shawl with me for the same reason as the sarong.

The weather of the place that you're traveling is also important because you can plan your outfits around it.

Rachel @ The Haute Notes said...

Great post! Unfortunately, I haven't done much traveling. However, this post makes me want to take a trip somewhere. Haha!

Mrs. Foodie said...

I love this post. Great advice. Where did you ever find the Kitty Keyboard T-shirt from hell? Ha Ha! I totally agree on everything that you said. I personally follow all of those rules. The only thing I would add is to remind gals to leave their expensive jewelry at home. Don't make yourself a target... buy cheap items from Target to carry with you, or consider a simple, small diamond stud that has screw backs to keep them safely in your ears. When I travel I always wear my small (1/8 carat) diamond studs he gave me in high school. Thanks!

Haute World said...

Great advice! And as an avid traveler I couldn't agree more. Aside from the 'no white sneakers' rule, I'd also add the 'don't look overdressed' rule. I see it so often in Paris - people come here thinking they need to wear designer head-to-toe and strut around in heels all day. No, the French are about understated chic. You'll look ridiculous doing that. Of course a lot of these rules depend on where you're going to, but it's definitely a good starting point!

Ms Constantine said...

Fantastic post!
I haven't travelled much, and the simplest things you've mentioned are things I wouldn't have thought to consider.
Practice obviously makes perfect!

Alexandra said...

Great advice, I couldn't agree more with what you've said! Travelling as light as possible is so important. Holidays aren't any fun if you hurt your back just getting there.
Also, socks, earplugs and an eyemask are essentials for all plane trips :)

Jennifer Fabulous said...

That is great advice and I pretty much follow all of it already. Now, if only I could get my dad to follow it. Lol. Every time we go on vacation, he carries his backpack and holds a giant map and looks around confused, while we're walking down the street. Sigh. He might as well have a sign that says "Tourist" on his back. :P

DS said...

I love these travel commandments! They are perfect, especially when you're traveling far and wide to get somewhere, you don't want to be lugging around a bunch of stuff, much less a bunch of useless stuff you shouldn't have brought along in the first place!

B. said...

great post!! i love sarah von!
your blog always has such great stuff!

ana said...

This is a great great Post!!! So true!! I travel a lot but I make some mistakes like the Passport Holder and I wear the things I just bought!!! but I love them all and will print them!!! also take a jacket in the plane... you will always feel a little cold in there...

Cafe Fashionista said...

I've fallen in love with this guest post - it's humorous yet essential for the world traveler.

One of my travel fashion commandments? Though Shalt Always Dress for Comfort While Flying High - I peruse cardigans and leggings for the flights to and from any destination. :)

Maria Confer said...

Awesome! These are all rules to travel by!


This was too cute!

La C.

Ayesha said...

LOVE this post, a lot of it is what I've learned too from traveling.

Here's my take: If you're not staying in some type of touristy island resort (& you shouldn't, because you won't get to really experience a lot), pack light (you do not need 6 pairs of jeans), bring a pashmina, cover up instead of baring all, & wear a purse that goes somehow across your body but is not a fanny pack. Also, bring a lock in case you crash at a hostal.

E said...

Thou Shalt Consider The Local Culture - YES! That seems to be the first thing that people seem to forget on vacations. They just go to the beach or the hotel restaurant and don't know what incredible local haunts and treasures they could be missing!

Sang said...

your comment was so cute:]
hmm love this post's theme.
international travel..
just thinking about it, gives me goosebumps. wish i could go someday!:]
and love the first photo,
she looks like a real heartfelt person.

jess said...

"After a pocket dictionary and a few tablets of Imodium AD, you will find few things more useful than a sarong."

You sing it sister! Great post (o:

COCOVANA said...

This was a really great post, very informative and considerate. I believe there is something here for everyone!

xoxo anna

GZ said...

One tip - bring at least one warm top that you can wear in a range of outfits, something lightweight but warm. A good fine weave wool sweater works for me. You might think that it's going to stay warm in your tropical paradise, but then a storm comes up, or you'll take a trip to the mountains, and getting cold and sick isn't fun. No matter where you go, it gets cold sometimes.

Damsels said...

"Thou Shalt Not Wear Print T-Shirts"
^^ this one is hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, the only pack what you can carry! Lord before I moved to NYC I would visit with so much stuff... people would get so mad at me on the subway. And, of course, I had to solicit the help of a strapping young man to carry my suitcases. Needless to say, I am surprised I haven't been burgled/robbed/ or otherwise harassed many a' time here!

Yes, and when people wear those crisp, oversized, very new-looking I Love NY tees. they are automatic tourists and therefore get haggled like crazy. If you must Love NY via t-shirt, buy a more worn-looking one. The locals wear those.

Oh and I couldn't agree more about respecting the culture you are in. Leave the string bikini at home when traveling to India or the like. And try not be a loud, American when traveling in Europe!

Great post!

Kait said...

I feel like an efficient traveler since I followed these commandments when I traveled through Europe. I did not want to look touristy or wear clothes I didn't feel good in just because they were "comfortable." I wore black ballet flats when we traveled countryside and my converse in the city. I brought jeans that went with everything, solid colored skirts, tank tops, leight weight sweaters, and about 4
scarves because it's an easy way to change the look of an outfit. I also brought a fabulous trench that was light enough for warmer weather and perfect over a sweater for cooler temperatures.

great post! great guest blogger choice : )

Elaine said...

WOW. These are SUCH great tips!!! Thanks so much for the guest post! I loved it. I'll have to bookmark this post to check back when I travel again :).

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BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

Thou shalt bring a wrap for when the person sitting next to you blasts their fan on you.

Anonymous said...

lol love it!


Milana said...

Great idea! Traveking is always a pain - you want to look great, but still be very comfortable!

Milana from

London Hotel said...

Very nice post! I like to travel a lot via ECT but I never thought about fashion side of my travels and vacations.I will try your Ten Commandments on me and on my husband in the close vacation. Thanks

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