Staying fashionable while on the road

I’ve personally found it an impossibility to stay chic and fresh as I pull pair after pair of wrinkled pants (and shirts) out of my bags while moving from place to place. Even with hair that has thermally reconditioned (it’s a concession that I’ve been giving myself for the last decade to tame flyaway hair that can sort of still look alright in the morning), jet-lag and travel fatigue generally help guarantee that I wouldn’t be walking down any fashion runway any time soon. Those who look good effortlessly have my perpetual admiration and envy.

Yet I’ve never really been particularly image conscious, until I started walking the streets of Paris, London and Tokyo, where I stood out like a cranky barbarian who absolutely stood out from the fashionable natives because of how sloppy I looked.

Clothes maketh a man, so they say. But this wisdom has clearly passed me by. Sometimes clothes just don’t help me at all, considering how I try to wear my most well-worn things on travel so that they can get ripped and eventually tossed…without me, well, giving a rip and a toss. Paranoia also makes me keep it down to the minimum, especially when it comes to jewellery. I simply don’t wear any, safe for a boring, cheap watch that reliably tells me the time.

In short, I do think that many travellers don’t exactly care how they look as they wander down yellow brick road, just as there are many who do.

My own humble opinion really, is that I try to strike a balance between staying practical and looking as though I can fit in. But because I also dress for safety, what I ultimately throw into my suitcase requires more than a little thought given to it. Here are just some simple rules that I follow:

  1. Choosing basic colours that allow you to mix and match clothes effectively. I’ve always liked Scandinavian chic, so there are loads of black, navy and white (read: dull) combinations in my suitcase. Boring, practical, but easily matchable and great for concealing bulges and slimming silhouettes. Also prevents those sweat stains from showing which is already a huge tick in my book. Personally, patterns and dots and checks spell my doom.
  2. I typically pair loose tops with tight-ish or straight bottoms and vice-versa. No two things should hang loose at the same time, nor should both top and bottom squeeze you into a muffin top. This rule gets tossed out of the window when it comes to visiting religious places–stay conservative, culturally sensitive and respect the rules and regulations.
  3. Minimal accessorising: The most colourful I dare to get would be with a scarf, or at most, with some fancy bracelets that scream costume (not real) jewellery. Add too many colours to your getup and risk looking like a heavily-dressed lantern out of season.
  4. Being very careful with the use of cosmetics. I find myself rushing more often than not and there are fewer fancy nights out that I actually get to. Again, I keep these so very basic (I bother with sunscreen when visiting the beach, for instance), but ladies, I don’t think I should say any more because I do tend to be on the no-maintenance scale here. There are women I know who pack hairdryers and straighteners and every type of mask available in their cupboard, but I’m going to go out on a limb here to say that you’ll need to space for other things.
  5. Finally, looking good from the inside out: I do bring vitamins, keep myself relatively hydrated and try to stay the narrow road when it comes to eating healthily. It’s not always successful, clearly, but well, acne outbreaks and flaking skin have long taught me my lesson.

How do you look good while travelling?

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