It’s gonna be a good day…traveling to Pine Bluff, Arkansas for the annual Skyhook Fly-in with the Black Pilots of America. I’m trying to pack really light – because I have a tendency to OVERPACK (especially shoes). It’s a primarily casual event, but with a couple of social outings and an award dinner at the end. Versatility is the catchword of the day. Since beginning this challenge, I’ve had to re-think my wardrobe choices – and normally, traveling in a skirt would NOT be my first choice, but…since I committed to the challenge, I had to come up with something!
I wanted to be comfortable – because who wants to be in too-tight clothing all day when traveling? Comfortable shoes are a must – and those which you can get on and off easily to move through airport security – plus some way to protect your feet. This is NOT the time to go barefoot – just thinking about walking on those floors with all the germs that can accumulate gives me the shivers. You want to avoid a lot of ornamentation – this is not the day to wear every piece of jewelry you own – you’ll simply have to take it all off and put it back on at the security area. There is the added risk of leaving something behind as well.
Keep your outfit simple and elegant – you do want to project an attractive image, but overly flash clothing is just out-of-place in an airport for the most part. I like to people-watch, and my eye is generally drawn to those who look comfortable and put-together in their clothing. Remember that you’ll probably have to remove any jacket or sweater you are wearing, and for some people, air travel makes their feet and legs swell – so allow for added ease and room in your garments and shoes.
Color and fabric are your main fashion accents when traveling – especially by air. Travel by train adds a different set of considerations, because you’ll be sitting most of the trip. Traveling by car is another area where comfort is of great importance, because you’ll be sitting most of the trip, and in a more confined space – getting up to stretch means stopping your trip, and many are loathe to incorporate too many stops into a road trip.
My travel outfit of choice – after an impromptu shopping trip at my favorite discounter, T.J. Maxx, included a few pieces from the Willi Smith line they carry. I found two lovely maxi skirts – made of a medium-light weight knit that feels rather like a t-shirt – one in black and one in grey. I already have great pieces to mix and match these skirts with, but since I was in a buying mood, I also picked up two knit jackets. They are open front, approximately the same fabric “weight” as the skirt, but with a little more structure. They are not from the same designer – another testimony to having patience and giving yourself plenty of time when you shop. The jackets were hanging near the skirts, but not “with” them, and if I hadn’t looked around, I might have missed them totally.
Keys to shopping – always look for companion pieces when you are in the store – especially at discounters like T.J. Maxx, if you leave an item in the store, likely it will not be there when you return – it’s just the nature of the beast. You may not always be successful in finding items that mix and match well, but at least take a look around. Sometimes it can inspire you to go in a different direction with your wardrobe plan.
Since I didn’t own anything like these skirts before, it might seem a bit risky to start with a new grouping of clothes, but I’ve found that if you keep your personal style in mind, consider fabric weights and what you will wear items with, and have a good idea of what you can mix and match from your closet with your new acquisitions, then you’ll be in good shape and minimize wardrobe waste.
Things to remember and guide your shopping:
- Always, always, always hold out for good fit. No matter how much of a bargain an item is, if it fits badly, you’ll end up spending more $$$ to get it tailored. Carefully examine whether the garment is truly worth it – if you spend $100 total on a garment you only wear 5 times, that’s $20 per wearing. If you spend $250 on a garment that you wear 50 times a year for 5 years, the cost per wearing is negligible.
- Be open to taking risks with color and fabrics. As your confidence grows in your wardrobe choices, try to diversify the colors you choose. A wardrobe of nothing but black, grey and white can get somber after a while…don’t get locked into “safe” colors from your personal palette. Try an accent color – generally brighter and richer – as the main color of an outfit rather than relegating it to jewelry or accessories all the time. Experiment with texture and fabric weight as a way to add interest to your wardrobe.
- Plan ahead to avoid budget disasters. Planning ahead for wardrobe updates may mean starting a seperate savings account and using the principle of dollar cost averaging to fund your wardrobe. If you put aside the same amount of money every week / month for your wardrobe, it will always be there. You may not spend it all every trip, but when you DO find that spectacular item you just can’t live without, chances are that the money will be in the account for just that purpose. That’s not saying you should splurge every week – there are weeks where I just can’t find anything I like in the stores – but when I DO find something, I can get enough pieces and coordinating items that I’m walking out of the store with a complete mini-wardrobe and no need to stress about finding companion pieces.
Enjoy the wardrobe journey – it can be fun, exciting and transformative. Sometimes, all it takes is a flash of color or a new fabric to get you excited about making strategic changes in your Visual Image.