"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Friday, March 18, 2011

Traveling SistahDiva Style! Part 1: What to Wear, What to Pack

"There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage 
like the beginning of it." - Charles Dudley Warner

I LOVE to travel, every moment of it - from deciding where you're going, to the ride home from the airport. Packing and 'getting there' are their own mini trips, particular adventures.

There's nothing more tiring and annoying than lugging a huge, packed to the gills, heavy suitcase for what seems like 5 miles through an airport. And you always wear only a third of what you packed and still don't have the things you need [oye]! There's nothing more irksome and nerve-racking then sitting in a tiny airplane seat: bored to tears and uncomfortable to boot [sigh]. 

Over the past 30 years I've traveled in everyway a person can: by plane, train, bus, car, sailboat and motorized yacht. I've traveled in almost every incarnation: child, college student, single, married, married with children, and married with children, an elder, and a dog! And, though it took me several attempts and failures, I've realized that: a) you don't need to bring a lot to look fabulous and be comfortable while traveling; and b) you can have a relaxing diva-luxurious in-flight experience - yes you can!

Paris with the entire entourage ;-)

For the sake of length and detail, I'm dividing this series into 5 posts (I'll add a link to all 5 at the end of every entry). You know me, so you know where I'm going to start - what to wear. Believe it or not, how you dress for travel is an essential component to a positive travel experience.

"I get ideas about what's essential 
when packing my suitcase." 
- Diane Von Furstenberg

Travel Ensemble:

Note: I'm assuming that you're traveling somewhere where the temperature low is 40, the high 80. I don't ever go anywhere 'winter-cold' on purpose - I live in the midwest for goodness sake.

Your ensemble should be soft and comfortable; have layers you can easily add, remove, and stow; wrinkles very little, and looks effortlesslly chic. Just because your schleping halfway across the world doesn't mean that you can't look and feel fantabulous while you're doing it!

You should have one outfit that you wear going and coming, but not during your actual trip. As soon as you arrive at your final destination, go to the laundrymat or send it out if you're staying in a hotel (@$10-$20 - it's worth it), then hang it up and don't touch it 'til the day you leave. You won't have to worry about if you've got enough room in your suitcase. And you'll have a crisp clean gorgeous and comfortable outfit all ready and waiting = no worries ;-)

Your travel outfit should be very simple, neutral colors: black, grey, mauve, sage, khaki (the color not the clothes), brown, creme/tan; with dashes of color (a brilliantly colored scarf, some red lipstick...) - the goal is classic elegance. Travel is a wonderful experience - even if you're going to Canton, Ohio for the weekend. It's about fantasy, romance and adventure - even if you're going to a sales meeting. So why not look and feel like it? These are my favorite pieces...

Hankercheif Linen Pj Pants ($80) - Sandmaiden Sleepwear

Circle Wrap w/ Kilt Pin ($75) - Sandmaiden

I know, you're thinking "Pj pants in public?" To that I answer "Oh yes!" Amanda Boyd (Sandmaiden) hand makes these pants to order in a variety of beautiful colors, in several luxurious materials (linen, cotton, and light wool - all organic). She can make them drawstring or foldover top (soft and non-binding - essential comfort while in a tiny airplane seat for 3+ hours). Her cardigans are so decadent I can't find the words. Amanda's clothes are of the highest quality and there's something wonderful about having a few outfits that have literally been handmade for you. Also, they fold up very small - easy to put in your carry-on - and so pretty!  

Finespun Slash V-Neck Tee ($25) - J.Crew
Get these in as many colors as you can.

J.Crew's tees are phenomenal. They're roomy enough to hide my baby-belly-paunch, yet fitted and feminine enough so that I don't look like I'm wearing one of Mr. Gorgeous' tees. They come in about a dozen colors (your flash of brilliance) and last forever  



J.Crew's Cashmere Collection is simply the best on the planet. Their are 10 different styles that come in 2 dozen colors (with more colors added steadily); you can wear them alone but they easily fit over a short-sleeved tee and under a cardigan (go one size up). Yeah, they're costly - they're permenently on my Christmas, Birthday, and Anniversary lists, I've got 20. And NO I didn't pay full price for all of them. J.Crew always has them on sale ($75 to $100) and you can always find them at Ebay for 65%+ off (I regularly get them there for $50). The only downside to Ebay is that you have to constantly keep and eye out for your size and the colors are limited - still they're so worth the extra time and effort to find at a reasonable price. They're gorgeous, soft, and last forever [don't dryclean them - that can be costly, I've found that a 2-3 teaspoons of Woolite, my extra delicate cycle, and hanging them to dry (1-2 hours) works perfectly].

I know that a Sandmaiden/J.Crew travel ensemble is not cheap, especially if you buy a set each for fall/winter and spring/summer colors. They're an investment, that you'll wear forever, and are well worth it. Just make sure to use Woolite, the delicate cycle on the washing machine, and the delicate cycle on your dryer (or hang dry). 

"A woman is never sexier than when 
she is comfortable in her clothes."
- Vera Wang

Still, there are less expensive, slightly lesser quality options:

Beach Linen Pant ($35) - Victoria's Secret

V-Neck Sleep Tee ($18) - Victoria's Secret
Get these in as many colors as you can.

Cotton & Cashmere Cardigan ($40) - Victoria's Secret

Victoria's Secret has several types of drawstring pants, tees, and cardigans - in several beautiful colors. The downside is that the quality is average and their items don't wear well over time - for travel. Though, if you commit to Woolite, the delicate cycle and hang-dry, you'll get a respectable amount of wear. And Victoria's Secret's clothes and shoes make up a large part of my everyday wardrobe (love their cargo pants).

It's isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out;
it's the pebble in your shoe." - Muhammad Ali

Dansko @ $100 at Amazon.com

Perhaps the most important part of your travel wardrobe is your everyday shoe. You're going to be schlepping through airports (there and back); and walk several miles a day. Leave the impractical shoes at home and go for comfort. Believe me, there's nothing worse than going into hour 2 of your 4 hour walk with sore feet! I bought my first pair of Dansko clogs 15 years ago and just bought my second pair 2 months ago. These amazing shoes easily tread over any and all street surfaces and come in a dizzying array of colors, patterns, and finishes. Don't let the photos fool you, these look fabulous on and are so comfortable. 

Anniel Ballerina Flats ($150 USD)

In my humble estimation, Ballet Flats are the perfect Spring/Summer shoe for travel (heck, they're perfect any and everywhere!) They're the perfect blend of elegant and practical; and go with everything (from dresses to a pair of jeans)  I'm in love with these Ballerinas from Anniel. Currently they're available in 14 shades (Black, Navy, several shades of nude, pinks and grays). Yes, at $150 USD they are a splurge, but keep in mind these beauties will see a lot of wear. You're feet will thank you.

Sidebar: American travelers PLEASE don't wear gym shoes! Everyone who sees you will laugh at you and talk about you behind your back. They are NEVER stylish - EVER! Dansko clogs come in men's sizes and man-sandals are always cool and timeless. See - manly, comfortable and stylish too.

There are two more essential travel pieces:

Sweater Coat from Etsy.com

Sweater coats are awesome! They're essential - cashmere tees and cardigans easily fit beneath it and they're small enough to fit in an overhead bin. Again, they come in all colors, materials and patterns. I get all of mine on Etsy.com and Ebay - from Boho Chic to Stella McCartney, at all price points. Go take a look, you'll fall in love with them too.

Wraps/Shawls are my most favorite wardrobe item - period. They come in a-gazillion colors, patterns and materials and they are always so chic and elegant - effortless style. They're easy and light to pack (even the winter weight ones). Pair with a cashmere tee and/or a cardigan and you're toasty warm in most cold weather and the dreaded indoor air conditioning. And they also make great blankets and pillows - when you miss your connecting flight and have to stretch out on a few chairs to nap; they're lifesavers when the weather turns unexpectedly cold (I've also used them as stroller blankets, an emergency diaper changing station, and a Coco pillow - but that's for another post). You can find them everywhere but my favorite, reliably reasonably priced places are: Target, Overstock.com, Smartbargins.com, Ebay.com and Amazon.com. They're a must have - you won't be sorry.

"Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them."
- Marc Jacobs

What to Pack (not inc. your travel outfit)
Over the years, I've put together a travel wardrobe - my specific go to pieces whenever/where ever I travel. Of course you'll wear this stuff in your everday/home life. The idea is to not have to scramble or spend a lot of wardrobe money on a specific trip; to be able to grab your suitcase, pack quickly and efficiently and go. 

In addition to Tees and Cashmere...

Pixie Pants (ankle): they come in a gazillion colors 
[your dash of color?(@ $35, Old Navy)]

Gap's 'Sexy Boot' Jeans  (($60). 

We American girls love our jeans!

Express 'Barely Boot' Jeans ($80)

Mr. G and me (Paris 2012)

Pencil skirts are my favorite type of skirt. They elongate the torso and legs, are sexy and elegant. But they have to fit your individual form. For years I've been looking for the perfect one for me. I finally decided to splurge and have one handmade for me in Paris. If you find a Pencil Skirt you love (that comes in a variety of colors) let me know and I'll post it here.


I've recently discovered the joy and many treasures to be found in high end consignment boutiques (I'll post about this at length in a few) Finally! I've been able to not only fully explore and indulge in my love for pretty dresses, I now always add them to my suitcase. Timeless, effortless, romantic, easily packable chic. Pair it with your Ballerinas and a wrap - so fabulous! From a museum tour straight to dinner.

"I firmly believe that 
with the right footwear 
one can rule the world." 
- Bette Midler

Honey, it's the Shoes!
Yeah, practical shoes for a traveling SistahDiva are a must. But a gir'ls still gotta have a super diva shoe...

Cork Wedge Sandals @ Boston Proper - 4" with a 1" platform

'Cyntia' Wedge Ankle Boot, Jessica Simpson ($119 USD)

Of course you'll need a dress-up shoe while on your travels. But who wants to walk over cobblestoned streets, gravel, etc. in the dark, eat and drink plenty, then shake their booty on a dance floor in stiletto heels? Ouch! La solution? It's all about the Wedge. They cover the entire foot, giving even shock absorbing comfortable support. 1-2 inches are platform, so 4 inches become 2 or 3 - all the advantages of a high heel without the discomfort.  They're the secret to fashionable diva strolling comfort. I've tip-toed over cobblestoned Paris streets at 2 in the morning in these, in total comfort, and lived to tell the tale. 

Sparkle Plenty

Rising Jewel Collection  ($8 each set)

As for jewelry, keep it simple, inexpensive but most of all elegantly fun. I'm seriously feeling Charming Charlie's 'Rising Jewels Collection.'  It comes in every jewel and pastel tone you can think of. Charming Charlie's also has a dizzying selection of inexpensive rings, bracelets, and necklaces. As for fabulous statement pieces? What better way to memorialize your trip than to buy a few fabulous pieces of jewelry?

*Extensively revised: October, 2016

Explore! Dream! Discover!



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