I have an uncomfortable relationship with fashion.
I love beautiful handmade textiles, I love design, I like dressing up (sometimes) and street style is my favourite beat but at the same time, I find the fashion industry largely wasteful, unethical and unsustainable. So I decided if I ever wrote about fashion, I’d do it in a way I thought was somewhat responsible.
In April, my piece on textiles and travel appeared in Femina (in time for Fashion Revolution day, a much needed movement that asks the all important question: Who made your clothes?) and today I have a story on Jossbox, about packing a minimalist travel wardrobe.
Travelling with a minimal wardrobe
If humans were like websites and each had a FAQs page, mine would say ‘Where’s your luggage?’ I travel often, sometimes for many months at a time with only a small wheeled suitcase and most people express a bit of surprise (or dismay) at how I manage to fit anything into it, especially since I’m usually in pretty diverse geographical and cultural destinations.
I also manage to not look like a vagrant or worse, a backpacker, for the most part.
There’s travelling light and there’s travelling like me and I am a great advocate of the minimal wardrobe. A few years ago I began getting rid of more stuff from my wardrobe than I added to it, and streamlined my wardrobe to only things I liked and wore. My ethos: have less stuff, have quality, ethically produced stuff, have handmade.
A minimal wardrobe suits my lifestyle for many reasons. I need a wardrobe that translates just as easily to life on the road, it means I’m able to pack light (if I can’t fit it in carryon or a medium sized strolly suitcase for longer trips, something I can easily pack, lift, and navigate by myself, it isn’t coming with me) and it’s sustainable.
I don’t shop very much. This is essentially my wardrobe on the road and off (with the inclusion of several gorgeous dresses at home, I am but human). My wardrobe consists of vintage or flea market finds, tailor-made outfits from textiles bought on travels and designer pieces.
Contrary to popular perception, rather than hampering my personal style, having a minimal wardrobe has actually helped me further develop it. I only own things I find purposeful or beautiful, and paring down my wardrobe has actually made me a more creative dresser. Plus I can invest in real quality because I buy so little.
And so I’d recommend packing a minimal wardrobe to just about any traveller.
Packing one means packing light and it will free you from the shackles of checked in baggage (if you want it to), and offer you unparalleled freedom and mobility while saving you the trouble and time of unpacking and repacking for hours.
Here are my tips for packing a successful minimal wardrobe when you travel:
- Stick to your personal preferences. One of the misconceptions of a minimal wardrobe is that you have to follow some sort of strict 3 pants, 5 shirts type rule which is rubbish.
- In a really successful minimal wardrobe, everything goes with everything. I took these photos over a few days at work and I can still think of different ways to wear some of the items pictured.
- Get good basics. A great pair of jeans, good flats, a white T-shirt. It doesn’t have to be these but items you can get a lot of use out of are recommended.
- Find a colour palette you love. Black, white and neutrals are great and you can add colour, prints and accessories for interest.
- Versatility is key. Pack items of clothing that are multifunctional. I wear my dresses as jackets, my skirts as dresses, etc, to get more use out of them.
- Depending on the length of your travels, you might need to pack for different seasons, terrain and occasions - rain, brunch, gym, summer, party, city, swim. Master the art of layering.
- Do not take more than three pairs of shoes including the pair you’re wearing.
- Try everything on before you travel and try to create outfits so you know what works.
- Invest in great, small sized luggage because it makes everything better. I have a Benetton hard shell trolley bag, a satchel for electronics and an Longchamp Le Pliage travel bag tucked away for any weekend trips or purchases on my way home.
- A good rule to practise is one in one out. If like me, you sometimes shop when you travel, see if every time you add to your wardrobe you can give something away.
Shot by my best friend and fave minion on the best studio terrace in the world.