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Gone are the days when we could bring a closet full of clothes in several large size suitcases on a vacation. Airlines are adding ever more restrictions on baggage and increasing prices of transporting them. I have always been a minimalist packer. I like to pack simple and basic clothes when I travel but I also like to feel I am wearing stylish and fashionable outfits. So I have put together some tips for you on how to pack well for your trip and look stylish while you travel.
All the clothes you bring on your trip should be appropriate for where, how, when, and why you are traveling. I suggest you take the time to review each of the activities you have planned and chose accordingly. Over packing is time consuming and expensive. If you are going to spend money on new clothing try packing less. Then you could use that money to buy yourself something special when you reach your destination. I usually buy a scarf or jewelry to bring home with me.
My criteria for a successful pack is based the three principles of fit, fit, fit! The clothing I choose to take along must fit into the into a standard carry-on bag. It must fit into the overhead compartment of an airplane or in the trunk of a small compact car. It must also fit the season, location, and culture I am visiting.
For example, women in Paris really do not seem to like wearing hats. Many French women have told me they do not like to wear a hat. "The hat," they say, "messes up the hair." The English, on the other hand, seem to have a penchant for hats. Being a practical American I bring a hat in the summer to protect me from the sun and in the winter to keep me warm. So choice of clothing can be affected by what appears to be culturally correct. However, there are times where I use my own judgement. Certainly the hat messes up my hair but it also helps me stay healthy so I wear a hat.
Color also has a cultural dimension so I try to figure out which ones are the most acceptable. I do admit I choose rather conservative colors for my basic wardrobe. My basic year round color palette is black and navy. I combine black with grey and brown in the fall and winter. In the spring and summer I combine navy with tan and white. All of these basic colors go well with any other color.
The time of the year I travel also determines the colors I choose to accent my basic color palette. I usually travel to Europe in the off season so many of the clothes I bring are either fall or year round colors. If I am going to a tropical location, no matter what the time of year, I choose from the summer and year round colors. The season does affect my decision about what colors to bring on my trip.
Also, I have a fondness for the color red. I wear different shades of it in every season. Red is my 'comfort' color. However, I generally limit red to a turtleneck, scarf, or jewelry. The color red makes me feel good no matter where I am in the world. Do you have a 'comfort' color?
Another important factor to consider is the climate. Clothing should keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. As temperatures often change from hot to cold it is often necessary to pack for all kinds of weather.
Layering is the key to regulating body temperature. Silk, linen and cotton are the lovely fabrics for spring and summer. Cashmere, wool and cotton are more suitable for fall and winter. All of these fabrics should contain about ten percent synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers keep fabrics from getting wrinkles and helps them dry faster.
Now that the basics are taken care of I like to check the panetone.com website to see what are the teend colors for the season I am traveling during. Knowing about the latest color trend makes it easier for me to choose stylish additions to my wardrobe so I look current and up to date. However, when I travel I usually limit additional purchases to a scarf or top.
Just for the fun of it there are two stores in Paris that offer fashion shows for the general public. I have heard tickets are hard to come by but here is information about how you can attend.
Printemps Department Store
Similar in price to Nordstroms in the USA, gives an informal fashion show all year long on Tuesday at 10 AM under the dome and from March to October on Friday at 10 AM on the 7th floor. Reservations do not seem to be necessary. Printemps offers a 10% discount coupon, with restrictions, which can be printed online from their website or you can get it at the service desk. A passport is required to redeem it in the store. If you are a non-EU resident and spend 175 euros in the store you qualify for a 12% tax refund. The detaxe form is available at the customer service. Dining at Printemps is a treat for the palette and the eye. The relatively inexpensive 7th floor buffet restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and a panoramic view of Paris.
Similar in price to Macys in the USA, has a 30 minute fashion show from April to July and September to March on Friday at 3 PM on the 7th floor of the Couple (main store) building. It does require reservations because this is a formal runway show. I have tried reserving tickets on the email address, [email protected], with no success. You may also call for reservations at +33 (0)1 42 82 36 40. I hope you have better luck than me. If you get a reservation bring your emailed confirmation page to the show. Your ticket is the only way you will get seated. A 10% discount coupon, with restrictions, is available at customer service and can be combined with the 12% tax rebate. A passport is required to redeem it in the store.
If you would like to see historical fashion the Museum of Fashion of the City of Paris (Musee Galliera - Musee de la Mode de Ville de Paris) is finally open after many years of renovation. The museum offers constantly changing exhibitions by famous international fashion designers. However, there are no permanant displays here so you will need to go to the website and see what is currently on display.
In the fall of 2014 I attend a show at the Galleria museum. The show is a collection of clothing created by French designers between 1947 and 1957. As you can see the lines for admission are extraordinarily long. I wait for almost an hour to buy a ticket thinking to myself I could have saved a lot of time if I had bought an e-ticket online at the museum website before I left home or at my hotel. Other places you may be able to see fashion exhibits in Paris are the Museum of Decorative Arts (Musse des Arts Decoratifs) and Foundation Pierre Berge - Yves Saint Laurent.
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Pack a Suitcase Full of Fashion
The exhibit is well attended and the costumes are wonderful. Sadly, I am not allowed to take any photographs. There are no windows in the room, the air is thick with the smell of human bodies, and there are few places to sit for a rest. Lecturers and students from local schools crowd around many of the most iconic outfits making it difficult to view them up close.
Yet it is good to see the museum is open again. After I view the exhibit I stop in a park in the front of the museum for a snack, a breathe of fresh air, and to commune with nature. Joining me for my brief respite are three women statues classically dressed in Roman attire. I think they are suppose to represent the womanly arts of painting, sculpture, and textiles but that is really just guessing on my part .
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I usually do not leave extra space in my suitcase to purchase items of clothing or accessories. I find it difficult to fit into European sizes. My body shape is not thin or tall enough for Parisian fashion. However, that does not keep me from enjoying a look at the latest trends. Instead of buying I window shop and take photographs which I use when I get back home to create my own fashionable outfits.
On the Champs Elysee I find many upscale designer shops displaying their expensive fashion lines. For more economical shoppers I visit smaller boutiques around the city of Paris where I can to buy less expensive, up to date clothing. For clothing on the cheap the Tati department store chain is reputed to have great deals but I personally found their merchandise of poor quality even though the price was low.
Deciding what to pack in my suitcase is always a challenge for me whether I am traveling abroad. Not long ago I would never have considered wearing or packing sport shoes while I was in Europe. Now they are all the rage. Thank goodness I can wear them because many cities on the continent have dangerous uneven cobbled sidewalks and streets.
Fashion changes from season to season, time to time, and place to place. What may be OK in Paris may not fly in Rome. In general it is wise to assemble your wardrobe and pack your suitcase with an eye on the latest fashion trends that are reinterpretations of classic designs and leave anything at home that hints of immodesty at home...unless you have a hot date planned. In that case why not just wait and buy those little oh-la-lahs with your special someone in the city of love?