Monday, 23 April 2012

Business and Tourist Travel Wardrobes

 Adaptable Choices

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.  
- Anonymous
Closet Content Analysis:
Traveling Wardrobe

NICE                   NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY            NEED          NEW

I have been to Europe many times, as a tourist and to live in France for extended periods; but I have only been to Asia twice as a tourist and not for business. I asked a good friend, university professor in Alberta, Canada, who travels extensively to Europe and Asia, what are her NICE, NO THANKS, NOTE-WORTHY and NEEDS for business trips. The following are a combination of her suggestions as a business traveler and mine as a tourist in a very general way. Of course there is always greater tolerance for “tourist” attire by the locals, who for the most part think that, “they (read tourists) don’t know any better”. If your goal is to be respectful of the culture, conservative stylish clothing will take you everywhere (see the minimalism post).

BUSINESS NICE: Choose one dark and one light colour combination and take skirts, dresses and jackets in those colours if you are doing anything official and for upscale restaurants. For example, a combination of navy and camel with a good white crisp button down shirt and other tops in co-ordinating colours. Designer names earn points among the women in Asia. Koreans especially love Burberry – don’t we all? Come to think of it, the Burberry colours of black, camel, red and white make a perfect colour base for a travel wardrobe. 

TOURIST NICE: Same as above albeit in less structured styles. I would add pants and longer walking shorts that hit just above the knee in the summer. 

BUSINESS NO THANKS: Anything that suggests beachwear or informal summer wear. For example: sundress with spaghetti straps or tank tops and shorts. Why waste the space? If by some chance, you do go to a resort for a few hours, just buy what you need for those few hours. 

TOURIST NO THANKS: Visiting religious buildings requires modesty in dress. As one of our tour guides in Thailand advised, “no bow-wow skirts please”. When asked to elaborate and explain “bow wow skirts”, he replied, “when you bow everyone behind you say WOW”. For men, the "muscle" shirt or any sleeveless t-shirt is a NO THANKS. Wearing "short" shorts anywhere in Asia may bring you unsolicited attention or a fair amount of discomfort. 

BUSINESS NOTE-WORTHY: Think of the climate inside and out. Building interiors are air-conditioned so if you are so affected, jackets and shawls are necessary for sufficient warmth. 

BUSINESS AND TOURIST NOTE-WORTHY: Natural fabrics will breathe and keep you cool especially through the heat and humidity in Asia from May to September. It’s even more humid on the subways (reliable transportation for both business and tourist purposes). 

NOTE-WORTHY: Speaking of heat and humidity, the Japanese wear long fingerless gloves so that their arms do not stick to tables, chairs, car seats. (I never knew that!) 

For Men Going to Asia and Europe on Business: Very definitely, irrespective of the temperature, you need a suit. End of discussion. 

For both Men and Women: Organize your travel wardrobe on two colours - one based on your suit and one complementary colour. Round out the shirts and tops in white and beige or whatever pale tones complement your suit.

Sample 5 to 10 Day Business Basic Packing List  
(Using navy and camel as the two base colours)
  • Navy blazer
  • Beige/Camel skirted suit and trousers
  • 2 sheath dresses in a print incorporating camel and navy and one in a solid, either navy (make sure the navy is an exact match) or camel (preferable if the blazer is navy)
  • 1 button down crisp white shirt
  • 4 or 5 light-weight tops in scaled down prints (but no "pretty little flowers"), co-ordinating solid colours or prints
  • Beige/Camel trench/all-weather coat
  • One statement piece of jewelry (necklace or bracelet) to bring the sheath dress up to evening wear status and one statement scarf for either a day or evening change. However, a light silk scarf packs like nothing so tucking another one or two in can give you several more looks. Check out the 25 ways to wear a scarf video, if you haven't yet.
  • a beige pashmina or cashmere shawl to use for air-conditioned rooms and as a blanket in transit (this is function, not fad or fashion)
  • Underwear and hose (enough to last the "stay" period). 
  • Two pairs of shoes in beige and navy: 1 flat traditional loafer (for walking and comfort) and 1 pair of pumps
  • A handbag with a zip that allows you to carry it across your body and in front of you (see my Coach bag in my handbag post, March 22, 2012)

Helpful Travel Packing Hints:
  • Keep what is important to you close to your body and know where your passport is at all times. I have heard too many horror stories of people who should know better - such as, putting their passports in a suitcase, placing the suitcase on a rack in a train and then going to another car to sit . . .  anyway, never do that . . .  that's an "are you stupid?" kind of thing to do!
  • Pack relative to your destinations' weather forecasts.
  • When you are packing, think in terms of layering and combining. Your clothing should be there to help you adapt to weather changes and different occasions.
  • If the purpose of your trip is business, you'll need to anticipate what clothing you will need. Finding time to shop can be difficult when on business. However, if you are traveling as a tourist, you can always buy clothing on your trip.
  • Dressing in European and Asian cities is more business smart than comfortable casual as it is in North America.
  • When in Korea and Japan, wear easy to slip on and off shoes. Always wear hose or at least those teenie foot-lets.
  • For very specific and detailed holiday wardrobe advice, just click and you will visit a website and blog originating in the United Kingdom that helps you with wardrobe planning for different destinations.


  1. This is a very beautiful and interesting article
    The most glamorous one i have read today!

    GED Online

    1. Thank you John. We all need positive reinforcement and your comment came at an opportune time.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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