Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dear Shopping Savage...

Dear Shopping Savage,

I am in the midst of a fashion conundrum. I will be presenting at a conference in Spain in September, and since I don’t get to travel to Europe very often, I’m going to take a little vacation time, too. On arrival, I will be visiting the south of Spain, Seville and Grenada, for five days (average temperature 90 degrees in September). The remaining five days will be at the conference in the north of Spain, Santiago de Compestela, (average temperature 65 degrees in September and rainy).

I need to travel lightly; I’ll be the one who has to haul my luggage everywhere. I’m hoping to only take a carry-on size bag, but as I think about this trip, it seems that I’m going to need tourist clothing for both summer and fall weather, as well as professional clothes for the conference. Added to these multiple dressing requirements, I’ve noticed that European women dress so stylishly, even when they are being tourists, and I’d like to follow their lead.

I’m in need of some shopping magic.


Fashion Climate Control


Dear F.C.C.,

Allow me to be your tour guide through this fashion crisis. The key here is to "pack with purpose". Everything you'll need for this ten day trip is as follows: two pairs of slacks (one black, one brown), three light weight tops, two collard shirts (one white), three skirts (one professional, two casual - go for neutral colors), three dresses (wrap dresses, preferably - they tend to travel well), two sweaters, a neutral blazer and four pairs of shoes (one sandal, one day-time heel, one night-time heel and a sensible, yet stylish, sneaker).

For the first half of your trip, mix and pair your casual skirts with your light weight tops for day and slip into one of your dresses for evening (or a dress for a different day time look). Wear the sneakers for sight-seeing, the day time heels if anything work-related should arise and the sandals or night heels for dinner, dancing and exploring the city under the stars.

Since the second half of your trip is more work than play per se, now is when you'd want to incorporate the pants you stowed away as well as the collard shirts and professional skirt. The light-weight tops can be layered with a sweater for warmth or with the blazer for a professional look. Make sure the day-time heels you pack are versatile enough to be worn throughout your conference (the night-time heels could also serve as an alternative).

Notice I did not mention anything about bringing accessories. The idea here is to pack necessities stateside and purchase scarves, jewelry and any additional clothing you "deem necessary" once you arrive in Spain. (Stow away an empty collapsible bag in your suitcase and use it later (if necessary) to carry the additional items back on the plane or as a checked bag.)

By combining your familiar pieces with your newly purchased ones you'll feel comfortable - because at least one thing you'd be wearing would feel familiar - and therefore appear equally as confident, which happens to be one of the secrets to European women's style. (Don't believe me? Check out here and here.) From afar, you would look less like a tourist and more like a woman who's adopted the city - and its style - as her own.

I hope this helps you find your way.

For more tips on traveling efficiently check out Rick Steves' Europe Packing List for Women.

Need sartorial advice? Email me: ShoppingSavage@gmail.com

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