For years, the idea of layering was a mystery to me. I understood the concept that layers of lightweight clothing would provide more versatility and warmth than a giant sweater or bulky coat. I finally nailed it when I packed for a 7-day canal cruise in France a few years ago.
We were traveling in November so I knew there might be warm, sunny days, cool nights and perhaps even rain. We had to pack clothes that were suitable for touring as well as dining on board with the same people every night. And I didn’t want to check our luggage, so everything had to fit into one carry-on bag.
Here is what I wore and packed:
Black leather jacket
Beige hooded unlined raincoat, which could be worn over the leather jacket
Beige and black dress
Short sleeved red top and matching cardigan Pink sleeveless top and matching cardigan Short sleeved red and white striped top Long-sleeved gray top Long-sleeved black top Long-sleeved gray and black striped top Two silk undershirts
2 Large Sq. silk scarves (red, orange & gray and black & white)
One ivory pashmina wrap Beige hat and red gloves
Black tights, grey tights, knee socks and necessary undergarments Black loafers and black heels
Basically, I dressed in black, gray and beige neutrals and added red as an accent colour. I aimed to wear each piece at least twice, but not more than three times. Local dry cleaning or laundry is difficult when you are on a small cruise boat.
One very cold, wet day, I layered my silk undershirt, sleeveless top, cardigan, black leather jacket, raincoat and pashmina and wore my hat and gloves. I was warm, dry and and didn’t look like the Michelin Man. Had I brought a heavy coat, I would have baked on the sunny days, though a coat with a zip-out lining could be another option.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR
Since you’re not going to check your luggage, efficient packing is paramount. These tips may seem contrary to traditional travel advice but you’ll be more comfortable, better dressed and less of a target for scams if you follow this practical advice.
DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
Generally, people in cities don’t wear short-shorts and halter tops, so save those for the beach. I love that sophisticated Bermuda has laws against wearing skimpy attire in town. I wish more destinations would follow their example. Leave your safari hats and multipocketed jackets at home, unless you actually are on safari.
HOW TO LAYER CLOTHING FOR TRAVEL Photo Gallery
Unless you’re going to a dude ranch, bulky blue jeans are a waste of valuable luggage space. They can also be uncomfortable for long distance travel and can discourage gate agents from offering you that coveted upgrade. Designer or discount, jeans are still taboo in some clubs and fine restaurants. Instead, travel in non-wrinkle cotton or linen pants, which are classier and lighter to pack. If you’re a die-hard jeans fan consider black denim instead of blue.
WHITE ATHLETIC FOOTWEAR
Runners, gym shoes, trainers, call them what you like but don’t call them stylish. There are many other ways to keep your feet happy while promenading along the boulevard. Try wearing a pair of chic loafers like the French do, and cafe waiters will assume you parlez like a local. If you must wear athletic footwear, at least avoid white.
Nothing screams tourist louder than a bulging backpack. A more sophisticated way to travel around town is with a canvas messenger bag. Sling it over your opposite shoulder for better security than a backpack, which is often accessible to everyone but you. There will still be enough room to carry cameras, guide blogs and the ubiquitous bottle of water.
FA TIP: Always pack something lighter than you expect to wear and also something heavier. You may end up wearing that outfit for most of your trip. Of course there will be times when you absolutely must check your bags. But if life is a journey, why not travel light?
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