Friday, July 30, 2010

Elegance in a Suitcase

Conscious of my northern hemisphere readers, here's an ode to the warmth of summer.

Adaptability is one of the keys to travelling light, but it doesn't sound as though it lends itself to elegance, especially the elegance of a modest lady, who requires more fabric per garment than most modern women. I thought I'd test this.

These photos represent my pondering on what to pack for a summer holiday with family in Nelson. Nelson is New Zealand's sunshine coast, its population multiplying by four during the summer months. I could expect it to be hot -- most of the time. I would be babysitting small nephews and niece, and I had tickets to Opera in the Park, a concert I had dreamed of attending for half my life. I flicked through the garments in my closet...and flicked again...

Oh dear, why can't I take it all?!?

My travel pack has only so much space. Press and squeeze as I might, it's still only thus big.

The decision-maker was:
Is it adaptable? Will it serve multiple functions?

I crafted this embroidered polycotton into a skirt for comfortable everyday wear, but the satin ribbon and pretty colour enable it to transition quite well into after-five wear.

A cotton print border helps this stunning checked satin chill out. With a cotton shirt it's perfect for cool day wear. Add the right accessories, and I've got myself another after-five outfit. Bonus: neither of these skirts needs ironing.

I love dressing up, so I ignored my nicely adaptable skirts and packed a dress as well. Okay, I admit that's cheating on the test. The dress is a wee bit too delicate to adapt to childcare wear. My excuse is that I had tickets for two concerts in the Nelson music festival, one in the cathedral, one in the park. I might not have had time for laundering in between!

The dress was crease-resistant and cool, a dainty burnout polycotton. It's transparentness was redeemed with a full length chemise, x2. For extra modesty plus evening bling, I added a Pagani crocheted bolero, around the border of which I threaded beaded ribbon. None of this took up inordinate space in the pack. After-dark chill would be handled with a white denim jacket, which I used during the day to prevent sunburn.

In my opinion, the bulkiest, most awkward items to pack are shoes. They tend to have sharp edges that need to be kept away from other objects. They aren't malleable. In short, they're hard to pack! And how hard to travel with no more than two! My summer solution was jandals (thongs/flip-flops), but not the humble plastic version. This pair of beachfeet sport patent leather thong and faux cork sole. Practical for the heat, pretty for the park. Even prettier if a flower is attached to the junction of each thong.

Top me sweet with a utilitarian cotton sunhat -- to which I would have applied a freshly picked flower with a hatpin if I'd remembered. I demonstrate here with a polarfleece hat and fake flower, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Finally, a cushion and water bottle were stuffed into this delectable, reversible carry-all.

Supposing I hadn't had room in my suitcase for the dress and its liners, the crocheted bolero would have worked magic on any of the outfits you see me wearing in these pictures. If your basic wardrobe is modest and feminine, even if all you can fit in your suitcase is everyday wear, the right shoes and accessories will transform you into a lady of elegance.

Off we go to enjoy the show!

Guess who forgot their sunhats? (Click on image for a better view.)

An absolutely superb program, and a dream come true.
I didn't want it to end.
Ah, summer bliss.

Ladies of the North, enjoy it!
Ladies of the South, it will come again.

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