I’m a big fan of packing light and smart. Versatile and convertible fashion accessories can go a long way, when you’re on the road and the constant go.
It was a last minute trip and I had two days to prepare before flying out. I was visiting three to four countries and had to pack for both, winter and spring-summer climates. I was going to travel for close to a month and in some cases I’d spend no more than a night or two in one city. My luggage had to fight the battle of the bulge to make skirting around easy and quick. I had to scale back to purposeful packing.
5 fashion items to trim your travel wardrobe:
When traveling a range of climates, layering is the first and foremost approach to take.
The main clothes to pick should be able to cross the median of all those climates. For example, if going into peak winter conditions, I avoid big bulky sweaters, if I know I can’t use them for summer or spring environments. Instead, I find outfits that mediate between the weather changes.
Secondly, I opt for light-weight accessory items that can be easily added or removed. Most of the fashion items below are deceptively simple in concept and often overlooked, but their convertible uses in travel, stretch a long way.
1. The convertible dress-skirt
Best Uses: Skirt, Dress
I used to be strictly a convertible cargo pants-type of person, until I realized I could go from fall to summer in just one outfit. Yes, the nun’s skirt that you might use to cover and warm you in conservative settings transforms into a silky dress to cool you down in the summer heat. With this piece, I can visit conservative temples during the day and go girlish at night.
For winter use, just don the skirt and add a pair of stockings or leggings underneath.
2. Yoga pants
Best Travel Uses: Outdoor and sports activities, pants, pajama bottoms
Yoga pants are right up there with convertible cargo pants for me. I don’t only use them for gym workouts and yoga, but they’re deceptively useful and can worn as pajamas, casual wear and for workouts and trekking in forests. Depending on color, cut and style, they even occasionally pass for evening wear.
Better yet, if you’re in a hurry or wake up late for a train, you can roll out of bed in them and just go.
Tip: If you get a thin cotton pair, they’ll dry within a day. A thicker spandex fabric could take longer to dry and will add more weight and bulk to your pack.
3. The Pashmina Scarf
Best Travel Uses: Scarf , shawl, blanket, towel
If there’s one fashion accessory that’s the Swiss Army knife for ladies travel wear, it’s the pashmina scarf.
It’s extremely versatile and fabulous for any occasion and climate. Mine is almost two feet wide, so it covers a large range of uses from a shawl to dress you up for dinner or to drape over you in the train, when it’s cold. I’ve used it as a head dressing for temples, to protect myself from dust and pollution, to keep warm during winter,… I’ve even used it as a light blanket and backup towel.
The possibilities are endless and constantly evolving. Check out Wendy’s Lookbook, on ways you can use your pashmina to enhance your fashion.
4. Fleece lined tights
Best Travel Uses: Thermal underwear, pajama bottoms, workout pants, leggings
When my long-time yoga pants finally tore in Korea, I went from having three bottoms to two. After noticing how women and school girls in Korea brave the brutal cold in mere stockings, I went to the store and discovered those are actually fleece-lined tights. I was instantly converted.
These tights have a thin layer of fleece inside so they block the wind and cold, to keep you warm during winter. They’re thin enough to wear under skinny jeans, but thick enough to wear as leggings, under an over-sized shirt or dress. They too, make great pajama bottoms, that allow you to roll out of bed into your day clothes if you’re in a hurry. Best of all, they take little space in your luggage and wash and dry quickly.
They can come in full length, ankle highs and stirrups. Here’s a review of more tights.
5. Leg warmers
Best Travel Uses: thermal extenders
It doesn’t matter, whether I’m traveling through 90 degree heat or subzero cold, arm and leg warmers have saved me several times over. Great for star gazing in the Indian desert at night or sitting for hours in an airplane, with A.C. on high. The beauty of arm or leg warmers is that when sudden climate changes hit, like going from an Indian hot summer to a plane with the A.C. on high, you only need pull this from your bag and Voila! No need to change outfits to stay warm. They’re a welcome substitute to a light jacket in cold climates or as thermal underwear.
Great for layering, they adjust for any climate, can be balled up and packed in a purse and they can easily slip on and off in a hurry.
I prefer 30″ Ballet Ribbed Legwarmers (around $25-30) over the chunky and cheaper ones, you’ll find off in clothing stores or on streets. Ballerinas have used them for ages to keep their legs warmed up. They’re cuddly soft, cling mid-thigh and mine has lasted me for over 20 years. I pack it with me for all occasions, from waiting in the doctor’s office to traveling.
Thin arm warmers can slide under nicely fitted jackets. But chunkier one will provide a warm barrier against winter chill. They can run anywhere from $8 to 40.
Advice: For thin arm warmers, buy a pair of long stockings and cut the toes off.