Packing For A Trip Outside Your Style Comfort Zone

style comfort zone

A friend of mine is facing a packing dilemma.

You see, he has agreed to go on a holiday with a large group of friends to celebrate a 40th birthday. He is very close to the ‘birthday girl’ and doesn’t want to miss her special day.

But he is struggling a little. Because the holiday involves a cruise. In fact, the trip is all cruise. And my friend’s wardrobe contains anything but cruise attire. He’s not even sure if he is a cruise kind of guy.

If his vacation required dapper suits or black-tie evening wear, this man would be fine. But it doesn’t (except perhaps on the night of the celebration itself). And I can safely assure you that even his most casual gear will be too formal for everyday cruising.

He is being forced well outside his style comfort zone into a land of shorts and polo tees and of all things (at least in his mind), flip flops.

He and I were discussing the issue recently. His concerned eyes betrayed how he was feeling about packing for his trip. He knows he will look out of place if he sticks to his style personality. But he is also well aware that he is unlikely to feel comfortable with a more casual look.

Seriously, if there were some way to magically transform either his wardrobe or his holiday so the two were aligned, he’d jump at the chance.

While I don’t possess a magic wand, I do have a couple of strategies for when you are packing for a trip that is outside your style comfort zone. To my mind there are two options. You can either choose to ‘adopt’ or ‘adapt’.

Packing For A Trip Outside Your Style Comfort Zone

Strategy One – Adopt

The first option involves the creation of a capsule wardrobe specifically curated for your trip.

This choice will see you deliberately investing in items that you wouldn’t normally wear. It is up to you how much you might like to spend, although if you are going down this route it is probably worthwhile scouring sales for pieces that allow you to feel good about your outfits without completely blowing the budget.

This strategy allows you to play a version of grown up dress-ups. And you never know – it’s entirely possible that you could fall in love with your new look. At the very least, you’ll have acquired some go-to items the next time you find yourself in similar style territory.

Strategy Two – Adapt

The second alternative involves getting creative with clothing combinations and accessories and looking for ways to repurpose your existing wardrobe.

Often I find that you only have to pick up one or two items that introduce the flavour of the look you are going for in order to transform your wardrobe.

Employing this option allows you to choose items that aren’t too far away from your style personality which means you are likely to get more wear out of them in your every day life.

This strategy works best where you have built your wardrobe around a complementary colour palette which allows for maximum ‘mixing and matching’.

So Which Is Better – Adopting Or Adapting?

Well, it depends.

Sometimes, deciding which strategy to undertake depends very much on where you are travelling.

For example, when we first travelled to Europe in winter, I found myself purchasing items I’d never considered before as I prepared myself for the weather. I created a capsule wardrobe of pieces I love but that really only get worn when we are travelling – the Melbourne winter just doesn’t get cold enough for me to need those items at home.

More recently though, when I spent time at a beachside writer’s retreat, I knew the vibe would be more bohemian than my own style currently caters for. Rather than racing out and buying a whole lot of clothes I knew I wouldn’t wear much at home, I introduced a couple of relaxed pieces that co-ordinated well with items I already owned and at the same time allowed me to feel relaxed in the retreat environment.

Are you an adaptor or an adopter when you find yourself packing for a trip outside your style comfort zone? I’d love for you to share your packing tips in comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

Photo Credit: Haute Stock

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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One thought on “Packing For A Trip Outside Your Style Comfort Zone

  • Alisa

    A thoughtful post, as usual!
    I think that one important difference for your friend was that he was being put into the unnatural (for him) environment not of his own choice (unlike your writer’s retreat), so he is even less enthusiastic about identifying and obtaining new feathers.
    When I am put into this position, I try to remember that I feel comfortable in my clothes because they fit my life; but in a context that they don’t fit, they will become as uncomfortable as another style would be in my normal life. That provides some encouragement but it is still hard to picture in advance what will feel comfortable, when the new environment is unfamiliar. For someone with a genuine personal style, this is very stressful.
    Under these circumstances, I think it is a good idea (when possible) to postpone purchases until arrived on site. It may be that your usual plumage will fit after all – at the very least, you will be in the environment and best able to judge what new feathers might be needed – and they will be readily available and probably at a variety of price points.
    For a cruise, this is not really possible. I would go to a good men’s shop – not a department store – and look at the options. The shop where my husband buys his suits also has a nice selection of ‘grown up’ casual wear: long-fiber Egyptian cotton polos, khaki colored pants that are actually a microfiber blend that drape beautifully, fine-gauge sweaters, silk and linen camp shirts. I can’t imagine that any of these things would be out of place on a cruise and would allow your friend to feel dapper while casual. (Forget the flip flops; there are very nice men’s leather sandals available.)
    Please report back to us after his cruise!