Have clothes, will travel


Clothing — and, specifically, wardrobe building — has been on my mind for a while now, but perhaps never more than when I’m travelling. Somehow, despite reading quite a lot about creating capsule wardrobes and personal uniforms, it never fails that the minute I get wherever I’m going and open my bag I realize that I’ve utterly failed to pack outfits. Instead, I have a bunch of pieces that don’t really go together in any kind of coherent way, soon to be immortalized in all my vacation photos.

Shaelyn and Grace, the absolute stars of my travel wardrobe.

Shaelyn and Grace, the absolute stars of my travel wardrobe.

Typically, this initial panic recedes a bit and I realize there was some method to my packing, but honestly, it’s definitely a make-do situation. How someone who reliably wears the same basic outfit everyday can be this inept I don’t know, but I think that maybe writing it down here will help me remember this failing in the future. Having spent the last ten days thinking about where I went wrong this time, I think I’ve narrowed down where my thought process went wrong:

1. We planned to split our time between hiking and sightseeing, so I needed two totally different wardrobes. I did really well on the hiking side (clearly what I was more worried about), and left the everyday/sightseeing side to chance.
2. Me Made May distracted me. I made the pledge knowing I’d be away for a third of the time, but I didn’t really think about how that would factor into my packing. I was doing really well and wanted to keep it up, but in general, my sewn pieces all require ironing, making them less than ideal for travel. I changed my mind about half way through packing and then didn’t compensate with my usual wardrobe staples.
3. I forgot about colour. My default colour is dark blue, which serves me very well, so why I decided to change it up for a holiday is beyond me. I mean, I packed my Grace cardigan for layering, but then also a pink t-shirt. There is zero logic in that.
4. I made a bad bet on the weather. If Switzerland had been warm and sunny, I think I would have been okay. But the first half of our trip was pretty cool, and since that’s when we did the bulk of our sightseeing (saving the nicest days for hiking), the skirt and dress I’d planned to wear were pretty useless, and the necessity of layering (and thus, the uselessness of the pink t-shirt) was pronounced.

It probably goes without saying that handknit socks are a staple. They saw me through hiking, sightseeing, and just hanging around the apartment. They are the absolute best.

It probably goes without saying that handknit socks are a staple. They saw me through hiking, sightseeing, and just hanging around the apartment. They are the absolute best.

All of this aside, I am thrilled to say that both my Grace cardigan and Shaelyn shawl saw regular wear and I’m not tired of either. I could definitely use some neutral handknits though, so I’m going to have to think about how I want to handle that. I had been thinking about knitting the Sibella Cardigan in a gold colour (I’m partial to Shibui Staccato in Brass, to be specific), but now I’m thinking I’d get a lot more wear out it if I knit it in a tonal grey — maybe Tanis Fiber Arts Slate or Charcoal? My Flukra is already a great neutral (why oh why didn’t I pack it?!) but I also have some Tosh Merino Light in my stash that would be a great neutral colour for an interesting but neutral shawl (Holden or Ishbel maybe).

As I’m mulling all of this over now, I thought I’d ask your advice. What are your wardrobe staples when you travel? Are you ever surprised by what you come to rely on? When it comes to your handmade wardrobe (knit or sewn), what are your favourite or most versatile pieces?

I’ve got myself to a place where I want to be really specific about what I’m making, and I’m with my sock drawer in good shape, I’m especially interested in garments and accessories. With Me Made May ending today, I will for sure be writing more about this in the near future, but with travel top of mind, I thought I should pull this out as a separate post.

9 thoughts on “Have clothes, will travel

  1. Kepanie

    How exciting to pack for an upcoming trip. I always check out weather and yes, what kinds of activities. Jeans are a must and comfortable walking shoes. Layers are good too. Your cardigans would be perfect.

  2. salpal1

    I usually go with dark blue bottoms, and then tops that can be mixed and matched, mostly white. On top of that, I bring a cardigan or two that match, and as you say, lots of colorful socks. I also will bring a dressier scarf or shawl in case we get more elegant than normal. they don’t take up much room, but they make a navy skirt and white shirt look much better. 🙂

  3. Audry

    Gosh, I hadn’t thought about it much. Today, I did notice that all of my sweaters are in a similar palette: greens and greys. I suppose I have a hard time not matching what I own because everything is so neutral to being with.

    So, do we get to see the pink shirt picture? 🙂

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      Haha. That’s the worst part! Because it didn’t match anything, it didn’t get worn, which is doubly frustrating because it took up space that could have been better used. Sigh. If I had a picture, though, I would totally post it 🙂

  4. shoelaceswitcher

    I hate packing for trips like that, when the weather is uncertain and the activities are varied, I feel like I always bring way too many things. And I just do not understand those articles where people write about packing for a 2 week trip in one backpack… sigh.

  5. Kristina

    Oh yes, I can relate! I usually just pack way too much because I don’t want to bother with outfit planning while packing. Hiking is easy because you just need two sets of pants and t-shirts since these things wash and dry so quickly. For normal clothing I’ll usually pack jeans, jersey tops and a few cardigans and hope for the best. Somehow my clothes always wrinkle really badly and I have resigned myself to never looking my best while travelling. I’ve made lots of knit tops and skirts lately (all to be blogged whenever I get around to photographing them *ahem*) and I think these will be much more daily-wear and travel friendly. We’ll see 🙂
    I just need to say again how much I love your Grace cardigan!

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      Thank you! I am continuously amazed at how versatile a bright orange cardigan can be!

      In terms of packing, I try not to bring a big bag when I go away (I usually take my hiking/camping backpack, so I can carry it), which really limits what I can bring. Maybe that’s part of the problem — I used to pack as much as I wanted and now I can’t.

  6. Pingback: MMM recap | Pans & Needles

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