Fugly Fashion Mistakes | Tourist Chic, Vacation dress do’s and don’ts:
What to wear while traveling and how to avoid fugly fashion mistakes
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Tourist Chic, Vacation dress do’s and don’ts…
What to wear while traveling and how to avoid fugly fashion mistakes
Dear Sharon:I’m employed in the tourist industry at a resort area which draws travelers from across the country. Being involved with tourists daily, permits me to observe the many different styles of dress— some good, some not. I often see a lot of women travelers who dress like they are in their teens, others who like they are ready to wash the car, or some who just look out of place. Ironically, observing so many tourists from so many areas makes me realize that I too may be dressing a tad out of whack and appear fashionably awkward as well.
I’m about to go on vacation with my daughter who is pretty savvy to what’s going on and I don’t want to embarrass her with my frumpy wardrobe. Or, my worst fear, end up looking like a member of the traveling mass of the poorly dressed. For our trip, I want to take mix and match pieces that won’t wrinkle. Plus, I want to look my best and be comfortable too while I’m on vacationin a warm climate. I have just changed hair styles from extremely long to fairly short, which was a very drastic makeover for me. And I’m willing to let my wardrobe follow suit.
What would you suggest bringing on vacation that is inexpensive, won’t take up my entire suitcase, and save me from looking like I just got off the tour bus? — Tourist Chic (Iowa City, IA)
Dear Tourist Chic: Oh, how right you are, there’s something you can always tell about the traveler in the pull-on pastel shorts. Man or woman, somehow tourist fashion mistakes are hardly gender specific. To paraphrase Diana Vreeland, the only thing worse than bad taste is no taste. Boy, how right that is when it comes to the fugly fashion fiascos of the average tourist.
Instead of adapting an “I’m on vacation, I could care less how I look” mind-set, have more of a when in Rome attitude and dress in manner that’s more respectful of the natives and to your overall persona. Wearing out-of-date styles which are so unbecoming that I don’t even understand why someone would buy in the first place, let alone bother to pack in a suitcase to wear in public, is totally beyond me. In this electronic age, there is absolutely no excuse to be limited to fashion-free clothing if that is only what’s available in your town. There is no excuse to put up with local merchants who insult you with hideous, dated offerings– the web offers the broadest spectrum of shopping at every price point, so say phooey to shapeless and sensible, and say hello to style!
The bar has been raised! And for the record, great style has nothing to do with price, it has to do with taste.
Style also has a lot to do with presence and how you are perceived. Avoid looking sloppy, inappropriate, or like a human Easter Egg in freaky, vivid colors. Dressing like a teenager when the calendar years have long passed on is not as stylishly sad as dressing dowdy and frumpy for fear of taking a fashion risk. Attempt to look appropriate in your environment rather than dressing like you just fell off the turnip truck, and you may not be handed the “Tourist Menu” but actually be informed of the house specialties.
One of the most paramount tourist fashion no-no’s is to assume that shorts are the given for a summer wardrobe, regardless of their suitability. First off, there are stylish shorts and there are shlumpy shorts. This summer, shorts happen to be one of the hottest fashion trends. However, they are for women with long, lean, and flawless legs— if that’s not you, move on. Second, the new short shorts are well designed and have a shape that’s flattering to your figure. To balance the bareness of short shorts, city, not slutty heels and a fuller cut blouse work best— not a too tight camisole and clunky sneakers.
Short shorts for men may work well on a model on the Prada runway, but for the average man, it’s just kinda embarrassing to look at a fellow wearing shorts that could be mistaken for hot pants, you just want to look away. Men’s short should hit right above the knee or below to be flattering. Shorts on either sex, should only be considered a fashion choice when they are styled more city chic and sophisticated if you are in an urban environment. Pull-on shorts are for sleeping or running, not roaming around the city. Ill-fitting shorts that sort of bell out on the side, particularly ones in Jordan Almond colors, are to be considered as dust rags only and never to be worn again. Never.
With this, comes the second most heinous tourista mistake— the omnipresent clunky, boxy white sneaker. Have you not noticed the incredible amount of stylish sneakers out there? Many are colors other than chalk white. And, all have a certain style that does not mimic wearing a milk carton with an air mattress as a shoe. The worst offense, is wearing athletic footwear when the closet athletic adventure you had in recent was bending down to lace them up. Athletic shoes are for athletic activities. Those strange, little white anklets—they’re not for anyone. Find a comfortable pair of shoes, or two, or three that coordinate with your outfit(s) and are appropriate for a sophisticated soul like you. The tourista sneaker is fashion poison.
Now that we’ve covered the top two fugly tourist dress mistakes, let’ review what not to wear when traveling or anywhere, for that matter:
When shorts aren’t for you but you want to wear something casual, Capri pants are a natural option. The length of the Capri should hit the most flattering part of you calf and fall in a way that creates an overall line to your figure, rather than hack you off as if you were standing in quicksand. For a novel alternative, why not try wearing a comfy andflattering knee-length skirt or city chic, slim knee-length Bermuda shorts? You’ll look ultimately more polished and pulled together than in super-sporty Capri’s. Trust me, you will.
Abnormally vibrant, peculiar colors that are not found in nature are simply not flattering. Your wardrobe should not be the color of a drink typically contained in a Tiki glass. When travelling, there is nothing wrong with adding a dash of color as an accent, but your core wardrobe should be easy to match neutrals. Oddball colors like tangerine, watermelon pink, mint julep, clear turquoise, and atomic turquoise do not make for an entire outfit unless you are preparing for Mardi Gras. Also keep in mind, that dark or neutral colors appear more luxurious in inexpensive fabrics than wild colors which always look cheap.
Avoidgarish prints particularly inexpensive stamped on prints. The print should be woven into the fabric so that when you reverse the garment you can see how the patter was created, it should not be the textile equivalent of a Press-On Fingernail! Solids are far easier to coordinate than bold prints and ultimately look more sophisticated. Prints should be an interesting addition to your wardrobe and not a focal point. And guys, there is nothing fuglier than a printed rayon camp shirt or Hawaiian shirt. Nothing, except maybe socks worn with sandals… not sure, it’s kinda a toss-up!
The tucked-in T-shirt that spotlights an overhanging belly is like shooting yourself where it hurts, your gut! If you have a bit of a tummy pooch, or even more, cleverly learn to dress in a figure-flattering manner by wearing a well-fitting, untucked shirt that grazes over figures flaws and does not cut right into the bulge. For women, never bare a belly that’s less than taught. In this case, it’s not about dressing like a teenybopper, but dressing for the shape that you are in today regardless of age. This T-shirt, by the way, is not a moldy, oversized one that you got as a freebie when you signed up for a new insurance policy or got a new muffler, it’s a well-cut T-shirt in your size sans advertising.
The word is coordinate, not matchy-matchy. Your entire outfit should blend in an interesting and appealing way— sometimes by even adding a touch of the unexpected. An inordinate amount of minutia driven coordination, like matching the tiny print of your shirt to the pattern of your earring, is not cute, but hokey—and that’s without the pokey. Mix and match is fine, but matchy-matchy is neurotic.
Frumpy, wrong-cut jeans– it’s not only the proverbial, fashion-hating Mom jeans, it’s any pair of jeans in a reverse fit, relaxed fit, bluebell color that scream out, “I gave up on style 15 years ago!” If you are unsure about jeans, and admittedly, they can be hard to fit, look for a dressier, more elegant dark wash denim in a safe straight leg or slightly boot cut. Men, you too- dark wash, straight leg. Ladies, consider a knee-length denim skirt that you can dress up or dress down and packs more style interest than shorts.
The droopy backpack or the OMG you haven’t thrown it out yet, fannypack. Millions of people live in a city and commute all day. In their purses, they are able to hold whatever they need for the day. Why is it that once the word vacation comes into play, suddenly there is some need to tag on a tacky appendage to your body— particularly when your main form of exercise is getting in and out of a car? The only thing extra that you should now be carrying is a map, travel guide, and maybe a passport— they all fit in to a purse, man bag, or tote. The backpack and fanny pack are fine a trail—if you are not hiking, forget it.
So what should you pack when you are traveling?
A simple core wardrobe that has a base color like navy or black which won’t show soil is the easiest way to build a road trip vacation wardrobe. Shirts that are washable or can be hung in a shower to ‘steam out” and which you are able to layer up or down, dependant on the weather rather than ones that require a lot of fussing. A couple of pairs of shoes to give your feet a break from wearing the same pair daily and transform your outfit casual to dinner appropriate. A climate suitable jacket and packable umbrella—no, a plastic garbage bag worn as a rain poncho will not do. Don’t forget a small bottle of your favorite shampoo and conditioner to maintain your hair color, and your favorite styling product. Leave the hot rollers at home.
Bon viaggio, buon voyage, have a fabulous vacation and wear it well!
–August 1, 2007