Even though there is no true ‘European’ fashion, Europeans are undoubtedly some of the most fashionable people in the world. Full stop. Forget the fact Paris is the world’s fashion capital – their overall wardrobe choices make them a good group to take advice from. So, what’s the Golden Rule for your European travel wardrobe?
First of all, decide if you want to fit in or stand out; dress up or dress down. Do you want to seem like you thought too much about it? There is a bit of ironic glamour in effortless grooming. A draping cashmere poncho, for example, looks appropriate for a lazy stroll, while giving off a certain sort of elegance fitting for an evening out at the plaza.
Second, consider everything. By everything – we mean the whole repertoire. Pants, dress, scarf, shoes, bag, coat, hat, accessories, and eye mask, you name it. Fashionistas are either over-thinkers or extreme over-thinkers – there’s rarely anything less or in between.
If you fall somewhere in the category, it wouldn’t hurt to get advice from someone who’s travelled the world wrapped in Jet Set Scarf. Listen to Lee Tulloch, travel editor and fashion connoisseur, as she shares the journey from deciding on essentials to strutting out of the plane with her cashmere and silk lounge pants.
Europe Travel Wardrobe
Travel Editor, Vogue Living, Traveller, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age
I always start my packing, a bit unusually, with something with for evening. No matter if I'm travelling fairly casually, there's always an occasion where I find I need to be dressed up. Shoes that work with the evening dress (or palazzo pants) often seem excessive, so I pack a pair of lightweight dressy sandals that might also work by day.
I do not go anywhere with out my Jet Set Scarf!
I do not go anywhere without my Jet Set Scarf. Full Stop. It comes on the plane with me for extra warmth in the chilly air-conditioning. It works as a scarf or wrap in cool weather. And it's amazing how often I need a little bit of lightweight cashmere even in summer. Besides, most of the European capitals cool down very quickly once high summer is over. Finer alternatives are the Supersoft Scarf and the Superfine Travel Wrap. But they pack so light I bring them along too!
The Linen Sack Dress
The linen sack dress. If it's Europe in high summer, I can't do without the loose linen dresses (bought a couple of sizes too big) I found at Val Lambert in Rome a few years ago. They have sleeves and deep patch pockets and roll up to nothing. Great in Islamic countries as well as they give good coverage. And they wash out in the sink. I have four in different colours!
I love linen as much as cashmere but the problem with the former is that it creases badly. I don't mind a bit of crumpling but the deep creases need to be eradicated. I became tired of waiting for hotels to bring up an iron and find pressing services excessively expensive, so now I always carry my own small Korjo travel iron. I'm often on my hands and knees ironing, but at least I don't have to wait!
Travel with a large shoulder bag
I have to carry notebooks and other paraphernalia for travel writing, so I travel with a large shoulder bag by Mandarina Duck. But I find that I need a smaller bag as well, for carrying down to breakfast with my phone and key card in it, or for evenings. I have a small, fringed calfskin bag on a long shoulder strap that's very neat and practical.
Good walking shoes are essential
Good walking shoes are essential. I have some Geox sandals that look respectable and work in the city or country in summer. If it's winter and I'm wearing sneakers, I like to have shoes I can wear on the plane - but that means it's annoying to have laces when shoes have to be taken off at security. I found a pair of black Coach sneakers that have Velcro fixtures. They're perfect.
A light weight coat rolls up to nothing
For the European summer, a lightweight coat is very practical. If it's smart, it can dress up even the sloppiest travelling outfit. Ditto for winter - a good-looking coat will cover all evils. I'm currently carrying a French navy coat by Ines de la Fressange for Uniqlo. It's a very chic little raincoat, very plain, but somehow it looks sophisticated. And it rolls up to nothing.
Accessories, Accessories, Accessories
I'm a great believer in accessories. I never travel with anything valuable, but I always bring some fun jewellery along, like wild earrings, to dress up my mostly plain blacks. Certainly you can go shopping and buy some pretty fabulous accessories on the road, but I always take a few favourites in case an event comes up before I have time to shop. I've been caught out before thinking, 'Oh, I 'll get those over there' and never finding the thing I needed.
I always pack an eyemask
I always pack an eye mask. I know this sounds a bit crazy, as you're often given them on the plane, but not all airlines do good ones, even in business class. And they're essential as I'm a light sleeper. They help with jetlag and I've been stuck a few times with rogue lights in rooms that can't be turned off, street brightness or simply no way to shut the daylight out when I want to sleep.
I don't step out on the plane without my silk and cashmere Lounge Pants and Pilar Wrap Cardigan
And, finally, I don't even step on the plane without my silk/cashmere Lounge Pants. Worn with the Pilar Wrap Cardigan they're like the most glamorous tracksuit ever. They're also useful at the destination if I need to do something sporty or get tempted to try the gym (which is hardly ever).