Quite Continental Charm School: Day 11 — Travel Elegantly

11/02/2012 § 8 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Image via The Nationaal Archief in The Hague.

Day 11: Travel Elegantly
It isn’t a revelation that clothing has become much more informal over the past half century or so.  While I definitely don’t advocate a return to outdated social mores, I do believe that missing from much of the fashion one observes on the street today is a certain sense of pride, a certain je ne sais quois, and that it is high time for a revival.

It used to be that the event of travel was occasion to look exceptional, and rightly so — a trip was a special treat, an exciting adventure. Travellers endeavored to put their best foot forward as they explored new territories.  You can find countless old pictures of women in gloves and men in hats, boarding trains and ships and airplanes.  Comparing those pictures to the houses of horrors that are now our airports and train stations, can be bit difficult to reconcile.

Therefore, today’s tip suggests that it is charming to travel elegantly:

  • First the restricted items: No tracksuits, no pajamas, no leggings as pants, no boxer shorts as shorts, no basketball shorts, no yoga wear, no slippers, no Uggs, no flip flops.  None of them.  Never.  Not to travel in (and some never ever).  If you can’t manage to put real clothes on your body, you really ought to stay home until you can.  Your aim should be for timeless, elegant clothes that will travel well.
  • Most months (excepting winter), you will need to travel with a lightweight coat, something that can be tucked away in the overhead easily, but cover most of your body when worn.  For these needs, a basic trench is perfect. (See also: 2011’s 28 Days: The Trench)
  • Layers are important, due to fluctuating temperatures.  I frequently wear a scarf that can double as a wrap or lap blanket, in case of a chill.
  • Slip on shoes are best, for security checkpoints and for removal while seated in miniature coach seats.  Remember to bring a pair of socks in your tote if you aren’t wearing any.
  • Dark trousers are key.  If you are only travelling for a few hours, denim is perfectly fine — provided they don’t look like you should be weeding the garden or fronting a punk band.  Best: well-fitting, straight legged, dark indigo.  For longer hauls, chinos are much more comfortable.

A suggested elegant travel kit:
Burberry double-breasted trench coat

Levi’s Made and Crafted Worker blazer

J.Crew Minnie pant in stretch twill

Brooks Brothers classic fit non-iron dress shirt

Citizens of Humanity Elson straight leg jean

Aubin & Wills Emmerson cotton cardigan

DKNY croc-effect belt

Pilcro Trinket Flats, bee

J.Crew silk-cashmere wrap

Ralph Lauren keyhole sunglasses

Moynat signature tote

Bon voyage!

Image via the State Archives of Florida.
The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

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§ 8 Responses to Quite Continental Charm School: Day 11 — Travel Elegantly

  • lilly says:

    Please, no non-iron shirts! It’s a tempting thought, no creases, but the chemicals they’re treated with render the fabric completely non-breathable – and no one wants to arrive all stinky and sweaty.

  • myphilosofia says:

    I always think when we’re abroad we should represent our home by acting with good taste, which includes dressing with both dignity and style. When my wife and I were in Rome the September before my daughter was born, it was no “Roman Holiday”, that’s for sure …ubiquitous Bart Simpson t-shirts, Teva sandals and cargo shorts.

    I’d love to see your recommendations for travel style for men.

    • I completely agree with you. And Roman Holiday is one of my most favorite films of all time!

      I would love to put a guide together for the gents — be on the lookout.

      And, congrats on your new little one!

  • arianna says:

    sadly my feet swell a lot when I fly, so slip on shoes are not an option for me. When I fly to Europe I fly with flip-flop because my feet will still fit in them…nothing else works. Would leather ,fancier flip-flop be acceptable to you?

    • Hi Arianna,

      Please don’t be made to feel bad if a medical issue prevents you from putting any of my recommendations into action. Above all, one should be comfortable, and as long as you also take pride in your appearance, I’m more than satisfied — not that I’m all that important, honestly! Give this post a look — did you ever consider slippers? Thanks very much for stopping by!

      Happy travels!

  • […] affair with Mariah‘s Quite Continental Charm School is still going strong, and her advice on traveling elegantly is […]

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