Skip to content

Fashion Friday: Traveling with Style

The first time I traveled to Italy I was convinced I would never have the opportunity to visit again. I threw myself into preparations: memorizing countless maps of Italy, noting various attractions’ opening times, and tirelessly researching the location and background of every major monument, museum, and art gallery I had been exposed to in my undergraduate art and history classes. The last thing on my mind was fashion!

Now for those who know me today, this seems impossible. I love fashion, and I live by the motto that one can never be overeducated or overdressed. But like anyone, my sense of style has developed over the years, especially my travel style. The key to traveling with style is form and function—clothes need to be practical but still photograph well, since for better or for worse you will be looking at these pictures forever!

Every year before departing, I receive countless emails from students stressed over what to pack. Packing is an art form, and I hope that by sharing my traveling fashion follies and triumphs selecting pieces to pack will be a less taxing experience.

What not to do:

These pictures are from my first trip to Italy and clearly I was not concerned what I looked like—I mean, I am wearing green terry cloth sweat pants for crying out loud (in my defense, it was 2004 and everyone was wearing Juicy sweats)! I also selected comfortable but ill-fitting t-shirts. I never did my hair and that scarf headband thing is doing me no favors. The end result was that I hated almost every photo of myself from this trip, which is a shame because these photos document a life-changing experience!

Better but not great:

The following years I focused on basics. Never underestimate the power of well-fitting wardrobe staples! While my clothes were not exciting, I was happy with the way they looked in photographs—clean lines, flattering shapes, and timeless style (try to avoid dating the photo with your clothes, case in point, my green terry sweatpants).

Finding my Style:

Over the years I started to mix it up a bit by adding color and texture or patterns. And I finally streamlined a packing system. Color and fun patterns or textures are great ways to inject style without moving away from the clean-lines and shapes that are most flattering in photographs. But, remember select one or two colors to add to basic neutrals, that way everything you pack can be mixed and matched for more outfit options.

I think it is also important to have a little fun and not be afraid of coordinating your outfit with your surroundings (I got a little carried away with this when I visited London following the royal wedding and wore a different fascinator every day).

A nautical striped top pairs well with the Amalfi Coast and a vibrant color-blocked dress echoes the beauty of Moroccan tile work. Obviously, you want to avoid looking costumy in all of your photos, but I am definitely for sporting a beret and striped top in front of one of your Eiffel Tower photos (just saying)!

Lastly, always remember that while it’s great to be stylish, you also need to be practical when traveling. I always ask myself the following questions when packing:
1. Is this flattering? (Photos can be unforgiving)
2. Does it have clean lines and a basic shape?
3. If it is colorful I ask, can it be paired with both neutrals and the other colors I am packing?
4. Is it easy to care for, wash, and dry? Will it wrinkle easily?