"Traveling - it leaves you speechless, then it turns you into a storyteller." - Ibn Battuta
I first published my Travel SistahDiva Style 5-part series in 2011. Wow! What a difference six years, soon to be seven, makes! In the interim I've seen, experienced, discovered, learned so many new aspects of travel (wonk, fashion, gadgets, etc.), I began updating my 2011 series. So much so, I've decided to publish a 2017-2018 edition...
"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. But 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 - le sigh.
Over the years, I've put together a travel wardrobe - my specific go to pieces whenever/where ever I travel. Of course I wear these pieces in my everday/home life. The goal is to not have to scramble or spend a lot of wardrobe money on a specific trip; to be able to grab my suitcase, pack quickly and efficiently and go. But, most importantly, travel is a wonderful experience - even if I'm going to a tennis tournament in Michigan for the weekend. For me, travel is about fantasy, romance and adventure. So why not look and feel like it? After years of travel experience: trial, error and, eventually triumph, I decided to write the travel guide I wish I had when I began this wonderful travel journey...
*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.
My travel wardrobe aesthetic is: neutral colors (shades of: black, white, brown, creme and blue-jean); dashes of color (a brilliantly colored wrap, red lipstick); and statement pieces (a bejeweled handbag, a vintage appliquéd silk Chinese jacket with funky Frog/Ball enclosures). Let's begin with the foundation...
Hankercheif Linen Pj Pants ($80) - also available in winter weight fabric(s)
Circle Wrap w/ Kilt Pin ($75)
I know, you're thinking "Pj pants in public?" To that I answer "Oh yes!" Day to night: 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 (flash of color) and last forever
J.Crew Cashmere Collection ($128 - $328)
J.Crew's Cashmere Collection is simply the best on the planet. 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 (go one size up) and under a cardigan. 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 most 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. Another flash of color, gorgeous, decadently soft, and last forever.
Wanna kick it up an extra diva notch?
Check out Marcella Moda
Minimalist clothing, effortless, elegant, edgy.
I know that a Sandmaiden/Marcella Moda/J.Crew travel wardrobe is not cheap, especially if you buy a few sets each for fall/winter and spring/summer. Each piece is 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). Still, there are less expensive, slightly lesser quality options...
Beach Linen Pant ($35); V-Neck Sleep Tee ($18); Cotton & Cashmere Cardigan ($40)
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).
Pixie Pants (Old Navy $35) - your dash of color
We American girls love our jeans! Express 'Barely Boot' Jeans ($80)
"Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them."
- Marc Jacobs
Pencil skirts are my favorite type of skirt. They elongate the torso and legs, are sexy and elegant. For awhile now, I've been singing the praises of high end consignment boutiques. 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.
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, handle slush, rain and a little snow with ease (especially when you wear thin fleece socks with them), 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. Your feet will thank you.
"I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world." - Bette Midler
Yeah, practical shoes for a traveling are a must. But a gir'ls still gotta have a super diva shoe...
Spring/Summer: Cork Wedge Sandals @ Boston Proper - 4" with a 1" platform ($100USD)
Fall/Winter: '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.
The Right Tools for the Job
During my travels I've discovered three essential tools that absolutely need to always be in every SistahDiva's suitcase. No matter how carefully or gently you pack your clothes, most every piece is going to be wrinkled/creased by the time you reach your final destination. Sending out, via your hotel or local laundry/cleaners is expensive and time consuming (and next day service is a substantial up-charge). But I have the perfect solution for your cares and woes...
Pure Enrichment Fabric Steamer (Amazon $30);
Pecksniff's Fresh Linen Spray (16oz Amazon $22)
The Pure Enrichment Fabric Steamer is small but mighty. Hang your article of clothing, pour in a cup of tap water, wait 2-3 minutes til it starts to steam and you're good to go. Steamer magic works best when the article you're de-wrinkling is first slightly dampened. Spritzing with plain water will get the job done; but spritzing with a softly scented spray keeps your clothes fresh smelling, even after one or two wears (it's a very good thing). My favorite: Pecksniff's Fresh Linen Spray (I put some in a 2oz spray travel bottle. Yes, you can starch your clothes with a fabric steamer. Lightly spritz your article of clothing with liquid ironing starch, instead of (or in addition to) Pecksniff's. My recommendation: Oxford & Wells Ironing Starch (5--2oz spray bottles, Amazon $12).
Temple Travel Tip:
Have one outfit that you wear going and coming, but not during your actual trip. Your ensemble should be soft and comfortable; have layers you can easily add, remove, and stow; 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!
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 ;-)
This series is dedicated to my Paris travel mentor and heroine: Sandra Gustafson.
Explore! Dream! Discover!