What are They Wearing This Season, Dahling?
Y'know, for someone who can shower, deodorize, run a brush through my wet hair, toss on some clothes, and be out the door in less than ten minutes on average, I'm spending an inordinate amount of time obsessing on what to bring/wear on my trip. You can't imagine the number of hours I've lost in the last week trawling the internet in search of suggestions, clues, and advice. (And "trying on outfits" on the elouai dollmaker - Oh yes I have!)
Most of what I've learned is what I'd already figured out myself, learned by lugging far too much luggage around with me last trip, so kudos for me. (Lugging/luggage - never saw the connection between those two words before, hmmmm.) Old dogs CAN learn new tricks. Yet I keep thinking maybe I'm still missing some important newsflash and/or brilliant tip and so the searching and occasional real life shopping continues. And as far as real life goes here in our wee town, clothes shopping options leave much to be desired. We have Walmart. Or if you can't find anything there, then there's always Walmart. Or you could go across town and then drive back again and go to Walmart. So. I've decided I'll do any and all additional travel shopping when I'm in San Diego next week. I think they have a few more stores down thataway, yes? Smirk.
There are lots of factors to take into consideration.
Weather - Hot? Cold? Mild? Wet? I don't want to pack too much and never need it but I don't want to pack too little and freeze my tush off. Will one windbreaker and a sweater do? Or should I bring my full length duster style raincoat?
Walking - important to have comfortable but still stylish shoes. Even I, someone who pays minimum attention to fashion, noticed that Americans and Europeans wear very different footwear. It's not that I want to blend in completely - okay, I'd love to blend in completely but with my ever present camera (and my soooo nonblendable hubby at my side), that's going to be impossible. But I don't want my look to shout "Hello Pickpockets! American Tourist right here!", nor do I want to look like some of the, and I'm sorry but it's true, truly ugly Americans I saw on my last trip. You know, the kind that wear big fluffy sweatshirts with little American flag flying kitties appliqued onto the center of their ample chests. Of course, I'd rather do a Lady Godiva than wear something like that walking down any Main Street U.S.A., much less in the fashion capitol of the world. So, stylish but COMFORTABLE shoes. And I need to break them in before we leave. And maybe TWO pair, to trade off or in case one gets wet.
Space - Since I want to bring only enough to fit in one carry on bag, it all has to work together and be non-bulky. No thick seamed jeans or fluffy seaters. Only thin, easily squished into a few inches square, easily washed out and dried in a bathroom clothing need apply. I want it all to be interchangeable, which means picking 2-3 colors, two neutrals with an accent or maybe one neutral with two accents that enjoy each other's company. I really want to go with black, gray and red, because I like black, gray and red, I'll be comfortable in black and red, it's slimming, and it doesn't look dirty if worn more than once. But then I'm thinking - is black so "de rigueur" as to be a stereotype? And red - I had an unfortunate accident with a red sweater bleeding onto my shirts while traveling. And is black and red too winter? Will I get there and wish I was wearing more of a spring palette? I'm thinking of chocolates and blues maybe too.
Carrying - my carry on luggage won't be visible most of the time, but my purse will. It can't be too big or it will count as another piece of luggage, it can't be too small or it won't fit the basics. Do I want a hip pack to keep my handss free or a sling over (and across) my shoulder for more style but still secure. Do I want it large enough to slip my camera in as well or do I want to carry my camera separately in it's own case? Color?
Fashion - okay, here's where I admit that although it might be my own, extremely laid back style and not anyone elses idea of fashion, I really DO care what I look like and I want to look fabulous on vacation. Or, as fabulous as I can with this rather worn body. The problem is that I'm too old to get away with all the awesome styles that anyone under 30 can slip into without looking silly. Not to mention coming out the edges of that sort of style in unflattering extra curves. Still, I'm not a conservative dresser and there's no way I'd be caught wearing my mother's polyester pants suit. Okay, that last bit was a complete fabrication. My mother, bless her rebel heart, would never be caught wearing a polyester pants suit at her age either. But, you get the idea. The fashion suggestions online for anyone over the age of 30 is dreadfully absent or dismissing. Basically we're supposed to wear sensible shoes, and cover our limbs tastefully and conservatively - so as not to make anyone accidentally throw up a little at the sight of our decrepitness I guess. Uhm, I think NOT. There has to be some way to dress joyfully without looking like you're trying to pass as a twentysomething or pick up all slutty Mr. Robinson style on the nearest college student. I've found a balance of some sort in what I wear here in town, but I doubt little ol' Paris has the same love for flannel, blue jeans, and Lassen Grizzlies logos that we have here in Gay Susanville.
I've been dressing each day in potential travel outfits to measure how long it stays comfortable and undisheveled. As much fun as it is to buy new clothes, I'd rather find as much as I can from my current wardrobe first and save the spending for other stuff. (Like, maybe splurge on a new camera.) Yesterday I put on my black slouch boots and wore then for a mile long walk. Not bad, but they have only a thin, flat sole, so I don't know about walking for five miles in them. I found a pair of slim stretch black pants in the back of my closet and wore those one day only to find they kept requiring constant pulling up. I bought a cute new black half sweater the other day, like a shrug, y'know. I showed it off to the family and William said it looked like it was too small, like it had shrunk. I explained it's suppoooooosed to look like that. He just rolled his eyes. Hello! What's THAT supposed to imply?! And who asked for his opinion anyway! He's a teenager. He thinks his mother shouldn't be allowed out in public without a paper bag over my face.
I'm hopping a plane next week to San Deigo to visit my son (another, less critical son) and his family and I'm planning on using it as a practice run. I'll use my new wheeled back pack (which I found on clearance for $9!!! - black and purple, not my first choice - but hellooooo, NINE DOLLARS!), see if I can live happily for a week in what fits inside it, and more importantly, make sure the pack itself fits easily inside the carry on size measuring box thingy at the airport. I'll also try out how the clothes work for the weather, which should be just slightly warmer than what to expect on a rainless day in Paris in April. Last time I went down to San Diego in the winter I thought I'd accommodated the temperature difference by bringing lighter clothing and while the southern California natives were complaining of the chilly evenings and bundling up in sweatshirts, I was so warm I was stripping down to my one and only tank top and buying emergency flip flops! Hopefully I'll do better this time. Plus, I'll have daughter-in-law Lisa (aka - another woman) there to point out any obvious fashion disasters before I whip out my checkbook.