Monday, September 2, 2013

"Seeding" a Travel Wardrobe

Top and cardigan: Anthropologie; Pants: Karen Kane (a gift from Sal);
Sandals: Ara; Bag: East 

The outfit pictured here is very typical of what I've been wearing all summer, and came about because of a process I call "seeding," which I'll explain in this post. I developed this process as a way to assemble a travel wardrobe and manage on-the-road purchases, and it has worked remarkably well.

The strategy is easy and straightforward. Before I left for my last trip, I "seeded" my wardrobe with a few new items, shown below. I chose items that seemed very current in terms of color and style, and these formed the basis of my travel wardrobe.


The items I chose worked well with one another, as well as with the pieces I packed from my existing wardrobe. They're also all made of comfortable, washable fabrics that pack easily and resist wrinkling. Below are a few of my travel outfits that used both seeded and existing garments. Right off the bat the new items made my travel wardrobe more interesting because none of these outfits had ever been worn at home.


In addition to the items shown above, I also packed one pair of dark wash jeans, 2 pairs of sandals, one pair of boots, 2 other lightweight knit tops, and a few basic layering pieces such as long-sleeved tees and tank tops. Perhaps you're thinking, "White pants for traveling?" Yep. More on that later.

Now comes the fun part: shopping on the road. The items I seeded my wardrobe with, being the season's current styles and colors, had two important advantages:

  1. They worked well with many things I found in the shops abroad. Let's face it, fashion has become pretty homogeneous in the Western world these days, and the things I picked up in Baden-Baden, Edinburgh and Paris could easily have come from any of the shops I frequent in San Francisco. That's fine; they still have the sentimental value of being purchased while traveling, and I know they won't end up as closet orphans since they integrate well with other favorites.
  2. Since they were the new and exciting pieces in my wardrobe, they made me gravitate towards other items in the same color family that I found along the way. Not only that, but since I was often wearing one or more of my new items while shopping, I had them there to try on with all my potential purchases. 
Here are the things I picked up on the road:



As you can see, my entire shopping haul was made up of navy, teal and white (or off-white). All of these items were worn multiple times during the trip, and many were still workable even as I traveled into colder climates and needed to layer.  By the end of my trip I had slowly infused enough new items into the mix that I never tired of my travel wardrobe, and since I packed light to begin with, my suitcase had the space to accommodate the additional clothes.

The outfits shown below were all born on the trip, and have since been worn to work and around town. By seeding my wardrobe with a few new things and building upon those as I traveled, I built a fresh, versatile summer wardrobe with plenty of items that can transition into fall and winter.


Now, about those white pants: yes, they seem deeply impractical for a travel wardrobe because even the smallest spill will cause them to need laundering, but I managed to be extra careful with them and it was well worth it. The reason is that although it was hot and summery in Istanbul, the rest of the trip took me to colder climates where my sundresses were rendered completely useless. The white pants were a great way to look summery no matter what the weather was doing; in Istanbul I wore them with tanks and sandals, and in Iceland I tucked them into boots and wore them with layers and a jacket. So go ahead, pack those white pants for your next summer trip; just make sure you stay away from red wine and marinara sauce.

2 comments:

Shybiker said...

What smart strategies! You could teach a seminar with these techniques. :)

J said...

Hi Audi,

Great post! Love the idea of packing for a trip around one color family- makes mixing and matching a breeze!