encore: warm weather travel wardrobe tips

This post originally appeared in March, 2014.

Warm weather travel wardrobe
Ah, Venizia. Don’t forget your straw hat, and be sure to stop for a Spritz.

Clockwise, from left: Dress | Shirt | Hat | Tee | Bracelet |Pants | Sandals | Sandals

I’ve had a few requests to put together some warm weather travel wardrobe suggestions. For a variety of reasons, we’ve tended to travel during cooler seasons, but our trip to Italy in 2011 was during one of the warmest Springs on record, so I did get some practice at dressing for a non-resort vacation when temperatures were reaching into the mid-90’sF/34 C with some regularity.

The concepts of lightweight layers and building on a core of one or two neutrals still hold. While the fabrics for warm climates might be different, you still may be dealing with temperatures that fluctuate from day to night, or from outside to over-air-conditioned interiors. (Caveat: I run cold. While everyone else is sighing with relief under that blast of a/c, I’m the one reaching for my sweater and scarf.) Personally I find that being more covered, in lightweight pieces that fit slightly away from the body is most comfortable, especially under mid-day sun. A straw hat with a decent brim is indispensable.

There is one overriding suggestion I will offer: think linen.

Linen is lighter than cotton, will dry more quickly if wet, and breathes like nobody’s business. A big linen button front shirt is a fantastic warm weather jacket alternative. Roll up the sleeves and wear it open or tied over a sleeveless dress or top to keep the sun off your shoulders or for venues where more “modest” dress is required (like visiting the interior of churches and cathedrals). Yes, woven linen will wrinkle. If a casually rumpled look is more than you can bear, think about linen jersey. All of the benefits of linen, without the issue of wrinkles. Lighter colors of linen jersey may be less than opaque, so I’ll often add a featherweight tank or camisole underneath.

Other fabrics that can be lightweight and breathable include rayon (also listed as viscose and modal), tencel and even some modern microfiber polyester which has wicking properties. I have a couple of tanks from Adea that are surprisingly cool in warm weather, totally non-bulky and layer beautifully under my linen knits. Silk jersey tanks from Eileen Fisher are another option if you prefer garments that fit less close to the body. Some people find silk to be too warm; this has not been a problem for me, especially with tanks.

When it comes to footwear, I’ve found that sandals with a nubuck, cork or wicking fabric insoles are more comfortable in the heat. Arche, Mephisto, Birkenstock and Dansko all offer styles with this feature. Keep jewelry light and minimal.

Lighter colored fabrics are generally more comfortable under direct sun, but do have the problem of showing dirt more easily. Dust and dry dirt can often be minimized with a garment brush, otherwise you can carry some portable spot remover if doing laundry isn’t convenient.

What are your favorite wardrobe tips for traveling in warmer climates?

Note: I’ve updated my SHOP page with more warm weather travel wardrobe suggestions. You can also see my recent travel wardrobes (including one for Hong Kong and Thailand last year) HERE or click on the “travel” image in the right sidebar. 



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time for a break…

posted in: Housekeeping | 24

Musée d'Orsay Paris

Whatever happened to summer as a quieter time to relax, take stock, kick back a little bit? I feel as though I’m still trying to catch up with myself after returning from our travels in June.

Between work, dog emergencies, dental “stuff” (after my last cleaning I’ve been having some severe sensitivities–e.g. “pain”– which my dentist told me yesterday is a normal side effect of routine cleaning when one has receding gums and bone loss, but I digress), and some changes on the horizon with Jeune Homme who turns 18 in a few days, it’s been a challenging few weeks.

And in the last week I’ve encountered some technical glitches with the blog, which though now mostly resolved have required a lot of time to straighten out. I would like to thank you all for your patience. I’ve had to disable one “plug-in” that handled blog subscriptions, so if you’ve not been receiving blog posts in your email the last few days that’s probably why and I apologize for the inconvenience. I’m hoping I may be able to turn this back on in the near future, but in the meantime you can subscribe using the widget in the right sidebar. Just enter your email address and click the “subscribe” button. You’ll then receive an email requesting confirmation; once you do that you’ll begin receiving new posts in your email inbox. If you change your mind, it’s quite easy to un-subscribe.

All this is a preamble to say that I’m giving myself a little blogging break. I’ll have some “encores” of my favorite posts scheduled in case you missed them first time around, and may post if anything particularly inspiring appears on my radar, but otherwise for the next two weeks, blogging will be light. I’ll be using the time to work on future posts and to answer backlogged emails.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer, and that you’ll enjoy the posts I’ll be working on for mid-August and beyond.

Bon weekend!

on the beauty beat: travel brushes

posted in: La Beauté, sales | 3
makeup travel brushes

If you haven’t yet checked out some of the Beauty buys at the Nordstrom anniversary sale, it’s worth taking a look, especially if you need some travel-sized makeup brushes. I’m going to pick up this set before the sale ends, as it has one of my favorite foundation brushes, as well as several other basic brushes I use. (Even if you don’t travel, shorter handled brushes are great for stashing in your purse cosmetics bag, or if you’re nearsighted like me, for applying makeup while leaning in close to your magnifying mirror! 😉 )

In addition to travel brushes, there are a lot of great beauty buys offered, see my picks below.


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warm weather workday

Eileen Fisher tencel pants, white jacket

Dressing for the office in warmer weather is always a bit of a challenge. Granted, our office on the casual side, but if I have meetings on the agenda I try to include some structured elements like a jacket and closed-toe shoe. (Within those parameters though, I’ll allow for some rumples and comfort.) Lightweight jackets like this one are lifesavers during summer months.

jacket (Eileen Fisher no longer available, similar) | top | necklace (Ann Lightfoot, not available online) |
bag | bracelets | pants | shoes (similar)

Brahmin bag, Alexis Bittar bangles

This jacket is from Eileen Fisher, from last year. I kept hoping they’d include more linen jackets in this year’s spring/summer collections, preferably in an off-white or bone, but alas ’twas not to be. The tunic top and bag were Nordstrom Anniversary Sale scores. The tencel pants are from this season. They are so comfortable, have a nice drape and are also machine washable!

Belle by Sigerson Morrison

Do you have a formula for summer office wear? Any items you wish you could find again, perhaps in a different color or cut?


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the graceful wardrobe

backwards and in high heels
they seem to be floating on air…(via)

or Effortless Isn’t Easy.

I was born too late for the Golden Age of Hollywood, at least in theaters. But from an early age, I sought out those local TV stations that ran “old movies” (1930’s-1950’s) regularly, and especially enjoyed those that included dance numbers. I was entranced by the costumes, the grace and glamour. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s and joined performing folk dance groups that I began to understand just how much effort, discipline, precision, strength and control went into these dance numbers. Ginger and Fred made it look effortless, and as I labored to complete a turning leap and land without a giant thud, I got just some sense of how easy this was NOT.

cafe dance in funny face
this dance looked wild and impromptu but was painstakingly choreographed, and Audrey had a serious ballet background. (via)

So what does this have to do with style? A lot actually, if you think about it. Just as great dancers work hard for years, sweat and bleed to create a performance that looks effortless, great style rarely happens without effort. As with “chic” I think there is a lot of mis-use of the word “effortless.” I see it used frequently to describe street style looks or other outfits that either are very simple/minimalist, or that have a certain casualness or ease to the cut of the pieces, or have that enviable effect of looking put-together without trying-too-hard. But really, how “effortless” are most of these looks we admire?

Sure, there are those women, one in several thousand perhaps, who have that recessive gene that’s given them an almost flawless eye and sense of style. They’re the ones who wander into a charity shop for the first time and within the first 30 seconds find a Missoni sweater. In their size. For $5. Their closet is your definition of “a charmed life.” But for most of us, it takes more work to hone our style and wardrobes to that point where we can begin to make it look easy. Even for celebrities or street style stars with enviable figures, stylists, and brands paying them to wear fabulous clothing, that Easy Airport Look™ is far from effortless (and the effort may be a team one). In all likelihood even those jeans and simple tee shirt may have been altered to fit just so, the tops of the boots folded down just the right amount to balance the proportions. For those of us without a team of style professionals, it takes not only effort, but trial and error and practice, practice, practice to make it look easy.

Most of the time, “effortless” is an illusion. Trying to create a wardrobe or style that’s actually effortless will either be a frustrating and futile pursuit, or else (if we hew to the literal meaning of the word) will result in a drab mish-mash of pieces without any discernible style. Rather, I’d suggest a goal of creating a “graceful” wardrobe.

I once read somewhere that physical grace is the marriage of strength and control. I think this is a concept that can be applied to our wardrobes as well, and an investment of time and effort on the front end can help us create a cohesive, graceful wardrobe that makes getting dressed and looking put-together-but-not-trying-too-hard if not “effortless,” at least easier.

Wardrobe strength (for most of us) will come from having a foundation of basic, core pieces that fit well, suit our lifestyle, and can adapt to different occasions. I find it helps to stick to neutrals for these foundation pieces, and to simple designs. The idea is that you can build upon these pieces season after season. It may take a while (and some trial and error) to build a strong foundation, but again an initial investment of effort can help save time and anguish later on.

Control as it applies to wardrobes to me means creating cohesion. Do the pieces in your wardrobe work with each other? Like basic dance moves that once mastered can be combined in many variations, a cohesive wardrobe is one that allows most pieces to be worn in multiple combinations. Sticking to certain color families or silhouettes are ways to achieve this, but achieving cohesion sometimes means passing up an otherwise gorgeous item that doesn’t work with anything else in your closet. That doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional outlier, but too many of these can lead to those nothing-to-wear mornings.

A graceful wardrobe isn’t static, however. Life changes, size changes, seasonal updating and wear-and-tear mean that that some ongoing effort is required to maintain strength and cohesion. But the effort pays off in ease in getting dressed day-to-day, when it really counts. Grace under pressure, and all that. :-)

Do you have a word or concept that guides your style and wardrobe?

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