Traveling Fashionably – Dressing Smart by Packing Smart

As many of you know, despite having a travel blog I am not a global nomad. I often feel like a rare beast in the field of travel blogging (a unicorn on the grassy tundra, if you will), since I have a busy full-time job as a Media Manager on a global beauty brand in NYC. Due to this fact, I typically consume my travel content in my spare time while eating breakfast or during my commutes.

Having said that, I had a meeting yesterday with our ad sales rep at Allure magazine who handed me a copy of the latest June issue. As I flipped through the pages in an attempt to find the Reader’s Choice beauty product winners that I was seeking, I stumbled upon a beautiful image of supermodel Linda Evangelista during a trip to China in the 90’s that instantly inspired me.

Allure's caption on the photo says, "Linda Evangelista in Shanghai in 1993, photographed by Arthur Elgort"

Allure’s caption on the photo says, “Linda Evangelista in Shanghai in 1993, photographed by Arthur Elgort”

As one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers Jennifer L. Scott pointed out recently in one of her latest video blogs, the sense of pride in looking one’s best and putting effort into one’s appearance has been disappearing in American society. She politely and elegantly encourages her followers to “reject the sloppiness of our current culture and to put thought in how you present yourself and what you wear.” Many other cultures do this on a daily basis, so dressing well while you travel will help you fit in with the locals. For example, I have heard my European friends joke that the fastest way to spot American tourists is to look for people wearing North Face fleeces, jeans, and sneakers on the streets.

With that said, my personal opinion is that you do not need to sacrifice a classy and respectable appearance while you travel – even if you’re only taking a carry-on. In the photo that inspired me, Linda is wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and white trainers while riding her bicycle through busy Chinese streets. By choosing a soft white monochromatic color scheme, her practical and comfort-seeking outfit choice instantly turned her look from dowdy to debonair.

While we are not all supermodels (at 5’1” I certainly am not), it is still important to shop for traveling clothes with a discerning eye so you can look smart while staying practical. The questions I typically ask myself when shopping for vacation garb are:

  • Is it comfortable enough that I’d want to wear it all day (or multiple days)?
  • What purpose does the piece serve?
    • This question is the most important, of course. If you’re going on a hiking trip to a remote mountain range, you probably don’t need to bring a linen blazer.
  • Can I wash it fairly easily?
  • Does it wrinkle too easily?
  • How many outfit combinations can I make with it?
  • Will I look stylish enough that I will fit in with well-dressed locals?
  • How easily could the outfit go from day to night?
  • Would airlines or hotels be willing to give me an upgrade if I’m wearing this outfit?
    • I don’t typically get upgraded, but I know that I’m much less likely to be if I’m wearing my college hoodie.
  • Will I look presentable in photographs?
    • Aka – would I be embarrassed by what I’m wearing if I’m showing the photos to my grandkids in 50 years?

Moral of the story is that if you pack smart, you can still look smart – in both definitions of the word. Just like Linda Evangelista. From taking a hike to taking afternoon tea, you can look both stylish and intelligent while you travel if you put thought behind your packing decisions.

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