Some of the most uber fashionable cocktails…
Some of the most uber fashionable cocktails…
Here are a sample of my stylish ‘must-haves’ when I travel…
I wish I could count myself as one of those uber fashionable travelers that look ever so chic catwalking down airport lounges in well put together outfits while traveling. I really try, but given the amount of walking I do when on trips, and limited packing space there is only so much a girl can do when on the road. Yet I am not one of those back-packing, wear only two outfits girl either. I like to look put together, especially for city travel. This means I pack some modern basic pieces that are classic in style but at the same time dashing and comfortable. I want to look good when I am on tour.
Pick your base colour – I tend to stick to black as it doesn’t show dirt, but if you prefer navy blue, beige, or white, by all means use that as your ‘base’ and work around that. So I have basic pieces in black and work a travel wardrobe with those basics.
Stylish Coat or Jacket – If there is one piece of clothing that should make a statement it should be your outerwear. A leather jacket, a wool coat in winter or a lightweight jacket in Spring is a must. A knee length wool coat can go day to night, and a classic Mac jacket works perfectly in any situation.
Cashmere – A classic crew neck with jeans or trousers is one of the most timeless looks around. It can take you day to night, casual to elegant. And a cardigan, even in summer makes a lightweight item to pack and wear on the overly air conditioned plane flights.
Scarf – Takes up no room and can transform your look and change your base outfit with a dash of colour. I like to take at least two of different sizes and wear one on the plane so to have added warmth but also it makes you look a bit more put together at airport check in.
Wrap – On a recent trip to Capri where the locals are very chic islanders I noticed every woman wore a stunning wrap in the evening. It gave the ladies a very dressy edge to even the simplest of outfits. I went straight to Missoni and picked up one of their bright, multi-coloured wraps to enhance my travel wardrobe.
Say ‘no’ to shorts in the city – Unless you are on the beach, on a boat, or by the pool, wearing shorts even when it is hot makes you stand out like a tourist. Not only that, going into some places such as churches is not allowed in shorts (and skimpy tops). Even if you are young and having fun, you do better wearing skirts of all lengths to keep cool. City shorts are fine if they are dapper, but skirts are still better.
Long skirt – Especially in the warmer months, I find this a more elegant and fresher look then trousers or jeans. It is nice to have a feminine touch and very easy to pair with a t-shirt for a comfortable day look. Can double for an evening look when paired with a silk top.
Shoes – Thankfully in the autumn and winter months I can get by with some flat, simple leather ankle boots that go with just about everything. In the warmer months this can prove more challenging if you are trying to find something with support to walk endlessly, yet look fashion forward. I cannot pull off the chunky sneakers, so I resort to a pair of athletic ballerina slippers or espadrilles and a pair of low heeled sandals. I’ll also take a pair of Capri sandals but those are for destinations by the sea. For evening I do love Aquazzura shoes as they have some embellished styles on lower heels. I do love their low block heel sandals in a variety of fun finished like coloured pom-poms or fringed suede. I can easily walk around in the evenings while still being au courant fashion wise. For colder destinations, again it is much easier with a pair of lower heeled boots. A pair of classic pumps always work well no matter where or what season.
Aquazurra Wild Things sandals
Accessories – Always pack an umbrella! As a matter of fact I have a small, collapsible umbrella I just leave in my suitcase ready to go when I travel. Purses take up a lot of space so while I like to have choices I might prefer to leave room for some shopping in my suitcase. I take a tote or larger bag for day, that way I can throw my camera, and any small items I might buy along the way. For evening a simple embellished envelope clutch packs well and looks elegant for evening, or a small evening bag that you can throw a credit card, lipstick, and go.
Evening – While I tend to do ‘smart-casual’ for most of my restaurant choices, meaning a lively but popular brasserie, or a trendy trattoria, I still take one piece for that possible nicer night out. My rule of thumb is to take a couple pair of black trousers, and around 4-5 silk tops that I can rotate with the trousers, one of those tops a bit more embellished for the possible fine dining evening. All easy to put on if you are rushing to dinner after a day of sight seeing, and easy to pack. I also tend to have a polished black on black ensemble, of a classic top such as a sleeveless simple silk tunic, button down shirt, or vest, with slim black jeans or trousers. Can be worn more than once, changed up with a scarf and will always look chic.
That perfect travel handbag – After years of searching I have found the perfect bag to suit my needs when I travel. It is a black leather Hogan bag big enough to throw my ipad and book in, and four large zipper pockets on the outside for my passport and ticket, iphone, and compact. It is city chic cool, has a strap to wear cross body, and handles if you want to carry it. Had it for years and is my biggest go-to item when I travel.
No matter the destination do check the weather the day before you leave. Even the warmest of destinations can suffer from cold fronts and you don’t want to spend your travel time shopping around for warmer clothing. Also, I always pack an extra top or one outfit and an extra pair of knickers in my carry on just in case my suitcases are delayed somewhere. That way I have a change of clothes. And don’t forget to pack knickers and pajamas!
Cool chic design oozes from this boutique hotel on the Left Bank in the heart of Saint Germain. French style for sure but maybe seasoned with a bit of South Beach brightness and bold colour to really up the hip factor. Ooh la la! This is not your parent’s stuffy hotel, but then, who would want to stay there when there is the Hotel Bel Ami. With retro, space age pod chairs to swing in, a mint green colour palette running through the decor, and continual sensual scent being spritzed in the lounge like lobby this is a fashionable place.
If you love the Left Bank of Paris like I do, then the location of the Bel Ami could not be better. Around the corner from the church of St. Germain de Pres, a stone’s throw from Cafe Flore, and right in the middle of wonderful shopping you need not walk far to get what you want. The staff are welcoming and affable and even with the ultra stylish decor the establishment feels quite cozy.
Rooms are small in general but feel roomy thanks to the comfortable minimal design with wood, whites, and limited flashes of colour to help give the feel of spaciousness to the rooms. Bathrooms are also quite small but have modern clean design, and I did like the way the bath products in bright coloured bottles added a bit of design conscious flair in a deliberate way to the functionality of the space. The bed was comfortable even though I did find the mattress a bit firm, that is just personal taste, but the pillows were heavenly to sleep on, and I slept well.
The bar downstairs, again, small but uber stylish, is quite the place for events it seems and here there was a bit of a problem (sorry mon amis!). In the evenings, around aperitivo hour this oasis in the middle of St. Germain literally turned into the happening gathering area of the Left Bank. This proved problematic when I wanted to have a cocktail before heading out for dinner one night and there was no room to get to the bar. Instead of giving guests priority, the concierge politely asked me to sit in the lobby space while he fetched the bartender to take my drink order. While this was clearly trying to be accommodating, the problem was that with event spilling out into the open planned space of bar and lobby I felt sort of like I was sitting alone at a party on the corner sofa instead if sitting at the bar relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere. The rest of the time the bar is a tranquil place to be, just not in the early evenings.
I really enjoyed my stay at the Bel Ami and am definitely planning on going back. I felt tres chic just by staying there and I am still dreaming of their perfumed lobby fragrance -I should have bought the candle! This is a hotel that prides itself on its design concept and I loved the style. That said, all types of travellers were guests in the hotel: from the fashionable to the tourist in jeans, from young trendsetters to conservative types. It is not so on trend that it is off putting, it is actually quite relaxed, and accessible. So I guess what I am saying here, is try it. you will like it.
Check-In: Easy, quick and effortless. My room was ready, though it should be noted I arrived just shy of their 3pm Check-In time so that would be expected. Bags were delivered promptly and I was settled in no time.
Staff: Ready to help, just ask.
Housekeeping: Could be better, truth be told. I came back to the room one mid afternoon and my room still hadn’t been made up which I think is unacceptable in a high end hotel. Also turn down service could have had better timing as they repeatedly showed up as I was getting ready to go out for the evening.
Rooms: Decor was modern and stylish but sounds and noises could be heard from rooms next door. Minibar was a bit sparse. Yet for a boutique hotel the room size, though not large, was airy and open.
Bed: While not a sink-in and float mattress, I was still comfortable. And the pillows were divine!
Pros: This is the kind of design hotel that is featured in many books and magazines so part of you will always be chic because you stayed here. And again location plays a big part and this hotel has a great one.
Cons: The fact that it is so trendy makes it an ideal draw for events that take over the public areas.
Extras: Returning guests get a welcome back cocktail on the house.
Packing for a trip while trying to balance out style and practicality is always a nightmare. One does want to look good abroad but at the same time be ready for any situation? I tend to pack a neutral black heavy wardrobe in my attempt to be chic but when I arrive into a fashion conscious city like Milan or Paris I still the need to adapt my look and bring it up a notch. And here is where I take a cue for stylish European women, especially the always effortlessly chic Parisian woman of having a scarf. Classic, always in fashion, lightweight to pack, and brightens up an outfit -not to mention it offers a bit of pizazz to a traveller’s wardrobe in a flash.
There is an amusing scene in the movie “Le Divorce” where Glenn Close’s character points out that while the French language is sparse on vocabulary, yet many different words to describe a scarf -all to the backdrop of scenes of tres chic women ‘throwing’ on their bright, flowing scarves. Voila! Instant fashion. It just goes to show how important a scarf is to a seriously fashionable woman’s wardrobe.
When I travel I usually try to bring two different scarves with me, with the plan of picking up one or two more in my shopping explorations. One I definitely wear on the plane, as again, effortless style, cleans up my look a bit, and it helps to keep me warm on freezing cold planes. It does go a long way to making me feel comfortable in flight and can many times quite literally become a security blanket in both style and keeping me cozy. I then pack the second and try to make it totally different in weight and colour scheme to give me more options on my trip. Also important to keep in mind is how to wear a scarf, so it helps to learn different ways to tie a scarf as that too can take one scarf and give you several choice of looks. Then hit Hermes, Etro, and the scarf department in Le Bon Marche for new ones! A new scarf from a fashionable city will make you feel a bit more in vogue not to mention its a great souvenir.
Hermes – The Mecca of the classic silk scarf. French women believe every girl should have one in their wardrobe and save up or hit the summer sales to acquire one. Good advice.
Etro – King of paisley, and the most luxurious printed cashmere scarves you will ever find.
Venetia Studium – This Venice based boutique is renowned for its Fortuney inspired pleated scarves. In a candy shop of colour variety in both silk and crushed velvet. This is ‘Boho Chic’ at its most luxurious.
Faliero Sarti – For tissue paper thin, flowing scarves with a more modern twist.
Franco Ferrari -Also offers large, flowing scarves, along with an array of cozy jewel toned cashmere scarves to dress up your cold months.
The accessory department in Le Bon Marche in Paris – Has a fun collection in all styles and price ranges.
Liberty of London – Probably the most impressive scarf ‘hall’ in the world. An extensive collection featuring the top and trendy designers alongside their own iconic brand of floral printed scarves. If you had only one place to go for scarves, this is your best bet.