One of the problems of travelling quite a bit is getting your packing right, partly because wherever you go this question of relevance crops up, in that whatever your normal dress style, if you want to fit in somewhere and feel comfortable as well as appropriate you need to understand the dress code of that place. Couple that with a mixture of work and play – business meetings, the opera, dinners out, a serious lunch and visits to art galleries, not to mention shopping and a BA weight limit and you can be severely challenged.
New York is without a doubt one of the most sophisticated, hard edged cities in the world, where (and I saw this several times) skinny jeans tucked into boots and worn with a textured coat of some kind were balanced with the totally classic glamour of a black Hermes Birkin tossed over the arm, all just shrieking modern class. How some handbags managed to have quite such an impact whether carried by someone old or young I have no idea but as I say I saw several and this one always does, although the older women were not wearing jeans of course. And the handbag below is not the Birkin (try finding that online) but a Chanel Vintage from Matches Fashion.
For me, amazingly I only took four pairs of shoes, well three, really if you count that one pair were trainers. So a high pair of black evening heels, a high pair of black boots which would do for day for day or night, and a lowish pair of boots that I knew I could walk in, and that would work with day dresses and under jeans. One more pair? That would have been a pair of ankle boots, black with a mid heel so I could walk in them but high enough to wear with a dress if I felt so inclined and also with my jeans.
On to the jeans and I took the black slim leg jeans that have become my favourites. That is all you need unless you wear pants all the time, in which case I’d suggest a great pair of black wool straight leg pants The importance with both of these is fit, round the waist, on the backside, flattering your legs and absolutely the right length otherwise you look a complete idiot. Worry about this, the length really really matters.
I’m not a huge separates person, particularly when travelling as that can lead to so many complications. You have to decide which jacket to go with which skirt in which colourway and pack by outfits which inevitably leads to you taking more. Having said that had I had room I would have taking my just-above-the-knee black lace skirt which would do for day time meetings and informal dinners and paired it with a sleeveless black cashmere roll neck under a cashmere cardigan if necessary. In any case that black cashmere cardigan, and preferably one in another colour, can travel with you everywhere as can a fine leather jacket, although mine didn’t make the cut on this occasion.
Dresses? Are now there’s the rub as I am a collector and cannot bear to travel without a choice. So. A simple, beautifully cut black shift, preferably sleeveless, will never let you down and works for day or night. Pack something in a modern colour too – I have a pillarbox red DvF above the knee dress (yes one of those from a previous post) which definitely stands out from the crowd, is sleek and individual and again, travels with me everywhere. It worked just fine for a smart lunch in NY.
Karen Millen is the place to find evening glamour, and I never go away without one of her dresses, this time a tightly fitting corset dress with a sheer top. Can I eat in it? Well not a lot but that doesn’t hurt either. Getting in an out of cabs can be interesting as well. One more for evening would be something beaded, lace or textured, something pretty and glamorous that makes you feel great wherever you go. It doesn’t matter where you are with these, whether NY or Paris but couple a special dress with a pair of heels and you’ll feel wonderful everywhere.
You also need a really great coat that will work over everything. Forget the ‘I can’t be bothered to take my coat I’ll just go for that down jacket’ inclination. In NY smart sophistication is the name of the day and you’ll regret it if you don’t make the effort.
And finally accessories – depending on the time of year take black leather or suede gloves, a black wrap/scarf and a printed one and of course if you don’t have the Birkin (and I definitely don’t) a chic, preferably black or neutral bag for day in a modern/classic shape (and doesn’t have to cost the earth, there are some really good not so expensive chic handbags out there that will hold all your essentials on your flight, take you shopping, and out to lunch and look sassy and sophisticated), plus an evening bag, preferably quilted with a chain and most definitely preferably Chanel though again, of course, I’m saying that tongue in cheek. But I always travel with a day and evening bag. Always, and never regret it.
New York is a fast moving, modern, sophisticated city where young and old dress beautifully (on the whole). I always find that I’m happier if dressed appropriately, and the attitude ‘I’ll wear what I darned well like and forget the natives’ has only ever served to make me feel uneasy.
Doing so much travelling I like to get the basics right, and add to them (of course) with a few little forays to Bloomies or Banana Republic or Ann Taylor (which is wonderful for reasonably priced cashmere and accessories by the way). The huge danger for me personally is that my favourite designer is Diane von Furstenberg and in the US her clothes are at least 25% less than in the UK. Couple that with the fact that Bloomingdales will give you 10% off if you’re an alien and oh dear you’re really in temptationland. No I’m not going to tell you. Sorry dears.
Finally wherever you’re going make a list of the things you’re likely to be doing and have it all covered. Did I say 15 items? I definitely failed on this occasion……….