Une femme has been bitten by the travel bug.

Ever since our Paris trip earlier this year, we’ve decided that we need to start making travel more of a priority in our lives, and are starting to make plans to actually see those places we always talk about visiting, though our next big trip is probably going to be a revenue à Paris, with maybe a side jaunt to London via the Chunnel.

Our Paris visit also taught me that I need to master the art of packing smarter. While everything I packed for Paris was fine and appropriate, there was entirely Too Much Of It, and I probably would have benefitted from fewer pieces in general but a greater percentage of which that were easily washed in the sink and dried over a towel rack in the bathroom.
In the past, when I’ve perused websites that specialize in “travel clothing”, I’ve found the selections tended toward the frumpy, or were more appropriate for trekking through Machu Pichu than meandering the boulevards of Paris. Anyone else out there old enough to remember when Banana Republic was an actual travel wear catalog? (And the inspiration for the “J. Petermann Catalog” from Seinfeld.)
But I recently stumbled across the TravelSmith catalog/website again, and I have to admit I’m impressed. Where one used to find primarily baggy drawstring pants and oversized camp shirts, they now have some items that are more sophisticated and dressy.
Granted, these aren’t ensembles you’d wear to Fashion Week in Milan, but how many of us really travel at that level? Once you get over believing you can blend in with the locals (face it, they probably have an armoire full of clean, pressed, tailored clothes at their disposal and you’re living out of a suitcase), it becomes about balancing style with practicality.
Here are some items that caught my eye, and might be earmarked for a future travel wardrobe:
Short trench, $149.00

Shantung silk shirt,$89

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  1. October 5, 2007 / 1:07 pm

    That would be great, thanks so much! We’re tentatively looking at next October, so once we start planning I’ll definitely let you know.

  2. Bijoux du Jour
    October 5, 2007 / 3:37 pm

    Dear Femme,
    Just thought you’d like to know that the J. Peterman company is real, alive and well, and was the real life inspiration for the take off on Seinfield. Go see their website at
    The writing is very romantic/adventure oriented as you remember!
    Thanks for the ongoing tips! I check in with you regularly, as I am also Un Femme d’un certain age.

  3. October 5, 2007 / 5:03 pm

    Thanks bijoux, I stand corrected. I wasn’t aware they were a real entity. I had a look at the J. Peterman site and they are quite romantic. The old Banana Republic catalog used to be quite similar.

  4. October 5, 2007 / 5:12 pm

    I was the editorial director of the old Banana Republic catalog; it always warms my heart to learn that people still remember it fondly! Indeed, the BR catalogs inspired the subsequent J. Peterman effort, from the rambling, journalistic stories to the illustrations. (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…)

    Moreover, I was the original TravelSmith copywriter–for almost ten years–and although I’m no longer associated with the company I agree with you that the catalogs are looking much better. A new president with a solid retail background took the reins about a year ago, and she’s definitely exerting a positive influence.

  5. October 5, 2007 / 5:24 pm

    nancy, how cool! Copywriting for a catalog like that would probably be my dream job. 🙂

  6. Shefaly Yogendra
    October 5, 2007 / 12:58 pm

    Dejapseu: If you are coming to London, do ping me. The train from Gare du Nord is (soon) now 2h to St Pancras in London. St Pancras station is a stunning example of Victorian Gothic architecture.

    I shall be pleased to give you some local tips on optimal time planning, and about restaurants and experiences that may make your trip more interesting. Much of London is best seen walking so your Mac is an apt choice. A hat against rain (if you do not want to carry umbrellas) and good walking shoes will be very useful in London. If you have time in your jaunts, we can meet for coffee too (there are now more people drinking coffee in Britain, than tea it seems, but some places are better at coffee than others!)


    PS: I suppose those, who do attend the Fashion Week in Milan, do not worry about packing light and sensible.. 🙂 Milan’s Four Seasons bar is an altogether stunning place, should you go to the FWk.

  7. October 6, 2007 / 11:26 am

    Yes, I remember BR before it got Gapped! It was definitely not as stuffy as J. Peterman, more laid back, more stuff you could picture out on the trail instead of in the museum. Funnily, the first JP catalog I’ve seen since forever arrived in the mail yesterday and I couldn’t keep myself from reading the entire thing before I turned in. I think it’s pretty funny. Love that caftan.

    Nancy, I loved Travel Smith, too. I’ll echo pseu with a “how totally cool!” I’ve always imagined that copywriters for those things get to hang around with samples, maybe even try on a few things? If that’s the case, dream job is right. Cheers!

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