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Los Olivos, California, United States
You can reach me at fool4fabric (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Evolution of a Travel Wardrobe

Several people have shown some interest in how I decide what to take on a trip; I decided to tackle this while my trip to Ethiopia is fresh in my mind.

First of all, I travel in what I wear daily. Yes, even to the dirty, dusty places which we seem to frequent. In other words, I don't have clothes just for traveling. When I started going to India more than 20 years ago, I found that I loved wearing colorful, pretty clothes and interesting jewelry. It's a perfect way to connect with the women in the country I'm traveling to; they ALWAYS notice and often give me a "thumbs up" sign, or ask in sign language if they can trade something of theirs for something of mine. I'm obviously not talking about France or Italy here, although I love "dressing up" for travel to countries like those, too.
So, no nylon travel pants that zip off into shorts for me! At my age, I know what looks good on me and what doesn't...and  being a million miles from home doesn't change that.

I pay great attention to what items weigh; the older I get, the less I want to be dependent on someone to help me with my luggage. I travel with a 22" Eagle Creek suitcase that I check, and a large tote as a carry-on.

On most of my trips, at some point in my travels, I start keeping a list of what I've brought that doesn't get worn, doesn't work, etc. I also keep an ongoing list of what I DIDN'T bring that I wish I had. I find that if I wait till I'm home to make those lists, I forget too much.

For instance, on my trip to Ethiopia, I realized that my long-time practice of packing my clothes in zip-lock baggies needs to change, maybe to packing cubes of some type. As I wear a lot of black, a baggie of underwear doesn't look very different than a baggie of tops, at least to my aging eyes. I reminded myself that I have vowed to tuck silk long-johns in my luggage before; they take up no room or weight, and quite often are welcome.

I need to find a protein powder to mix with water, as I don't like sugared energy bars, but quite often need a helping of protein to get me through the day (suggestions are welcomed!)

I want to download some Audible books on my iPad, as well as ebooks; sometimes I just want to listen to something, not read.

So...here is what I took with me on this trip; if you look back in my blog, you will see that I started "interviewing" clothes a long time ago...and I also allowed myself to make some big changes less than 24 hours before we left!
These are the pants I took; from the top, the black/white tweed pants I made, my TNT Eileen Fisher Slim Stretch Ankle Pants, another TNT pant, Eddie Bauer Bremerton Stretch Twill, a Marcy Tilton Vogue pant I made in a "zen" black and white fabric, another Marcy pant in black and white polka-dot cotton/lycra mix, a black rayon crepe pull-on pant from Loes Hinse (Cruise Pant) and finally, a Giselle Shepatin "clown pant".

The tops I took, from the top: a dark red tee from Target, a black/gray/white shirt from Itemz, a tie-dyed tee from ???, a TNT Blanque cotton asymmetrical shirt, the Style Arc Adele tunic in a rayon knit, a black/gray stripe slinky shell (forget the pattern), a Marcy Tilton tunic in another rayon knit, a black tee from Target, a black/white check crinkle rayon shell (made years ago, forget the pattern), a black and a white rayon crepe tank, also from years ago, a Sewing Workshop Stella t/neck in a black and gray print, and the top part of the Giselle Shepatin outfit (lightweight black cotton with white zig-zag trim).

The "jackets" I brought:

From the top: A white "safari" shirt from TravelSmith; my "can't travel without it" vest from Magellans (lots of pockets), a black and white rayon crepe kimono from at least 20 years ago, a black taffeta Itemz jacket, a reversible red/black rain jacket from Mycra Pac, and a pleated shirt/jacket from Babette SF.

The shoes/accessories I took:

Red Arche shoes, Black and Gray Arche shoes, Red Ecco Walking Shoes, Black Ecco Walking Sandals...and a wonderful selection of colorful bracelets to choose from!

And a few scarves...

So, what DIDN'T work? The Babette shirt/jacket, that was just too tight-in-the-sleeves and hot, the Itemz black taffeta jacket, not practical enough (no pockets) and too hot, and the "Zen" black and white pants, which are great worn for a few hours at home, but stretch and droop something awful on a trip.

A secret...the Eddie Bauer black twill pants were a main-stay, and I never washed them. I brushed the dust off, and spot-cleaned them, and aired them as much as possible...and I don't think I offended anyone!

The black with white polka-dots pants were cool and comfortable; on one day the dust turned the polka-dots beige, but after a wash, they were fine. No wrinkles, no spots, excellent!

The Eileen Fisher pants are somewhere between leggings and a slim pant, and with one of my knit tunic tops, allowed me to feel a little "dressy".

As far as laundry goes, I don't rely on hotels, as many of the places we go have no laundry services. I wash my underwear in the shower every night, and wait for a two-night stay to wash things that need a little more drying time.

One more word, not wardrobe-related; being the techie I am, the development of the iPad has changed how I travel. No more MP3 players, phones, books, etc.
I downloaded both Dave's and my pictures daily, was able to look at them, do basic editing, and add them to my blog posts easily. The blogging was done with simple iPad apps, and saved for those rare times when I had wi-fi access, to post.  I read at least 7 books, and watched the first season of Downton Abbey. I kicked myself for not pre-downloading maps, itineraries, etc. which is easy enough to do. I used a Notes app to make notes as we went along so that I could remember where we went, what we saw, and how I felt about it. And, of course, when we DID have wi-fi, I was able to check in with my nearest and dearest.

Bon Voyage!


  1. This is so helpful to me-thank you for these tips. I pinned a pic to my travel board on Pinterest-here is the link http://pinterest.com/pin/186125397069831279/
    While reading your travel blog, I tried to convince my husband that Ethiopia would be fun but he was not going for it. This from a man who just came back from living in Mexico for awhile.

  2. This is most impressive. I am impressed by the variety of your pieces, even though they stay within a color scheme. I plan to study this for awhile to really figure it out.

    I can learn much from this post. :)

  3. I pinned your wardrobe to my Pinterest board. You are now my inspiration for wardrobe planning, period. Not travelling-real life. Love your clothes.

  4. Very, very informative. I like your statement about wearing your everyday clothes. Makes perfect sense.

  5. Just found your blog today - it's terrific!

    I was raised by archeologists, so I grew up with an awareness of travel packing for challenging situations. It's an art, really, and one that can make travel much more pleasurable.

    My well traveled late aunt gave me a tip for traveling in areas with few laundry opportunities. She took pantyliners along instead of handwashing every night.