What to Pack: Travel Essentials: the Dress

What to Pack: Travel Essentials: the Dress

Call me an inverted snob but much as I love to travel I avoid specially designed travel clothes.

Being a good Kiwi I love the New Zealand travel and adventure Kathmandu and can be frequently found resting my head or bottom on that travel essential, the Kathmandu pillow, supping tea from a Kathmandu camp mug and hanging one of their brilliant handbags from my shoulder on my travels, but I draw the line at kitting myself out entirely in their clothes.

Not that I haven’t tried it. I confess I own a pair of Kathmandu trousers but I never wear them because they’re unflattering (they cling to my thighs), uncomfy (too short in the crotch) and decidedly frumpy. Likewise my Kathmandu sports top hasn’t been worn much either because it’s also a bit short in the body although I do wear my black Kathmandu sports shorts (as seen in the soccer post) every week and have been doing so for about six years now. Hmmm, I might be overdue for a new pair of those.

It’s okay to wear the odd piece of travel clothing that you’re particularly fond of because it’s practical, easy to wash and dry or has so enough pockets to stash your own body weight of travel snacks and accessories in. But when you wear travel clothes from top to tail instead of making you look like a professional traveller it makes you look like a bad impression of what a new traveller thinks an experienced traveller looks like. And probably deeply unfashionable too.

Not that I am a style queen but I do try to make the best of my appearance. I understand it’s important to  look good in travel photos because you’ll be looking back at them for years to come and I do know the difference between being badly dressed and being a style pariah.

By which I mean nylon fast wash trousers with zip on, zip off anything, waistcoats with a zillion tiny pockets and shirts with mesh inserts which are supposed to keep you cool but make you look uncool.

So once we’ve gone past the packed the tavel wash bag which is THE essential item for women travelers, while some wouldn’t leave home without those zip off pants which double as shorts or long trousers I recommend you pack a good dress or two.

Here’s why a dress is an essential travel item whether all I’m just packing a carry on bag for a weekend away or going off an a longer adventure:

1. You can wear a dress anywhere. Really. You can go out for dinner, out dancing or even on a jungle hike in a dress. You can wear it to a business meeting, to the beach or even mountain hiking. You might need to tuck a dress in your knickers sometimes but that’s part of the appeal although not suitable for business trips.

what to pack - travel dress

Smart enough to wear on a business trip because of the dark color and tigher fit but comfy for travelling in

2. Dresses are cooler and comfier than any other item of clothing. It’s all about having nothing clinging to your body and the breeze blowing up and around your legs.

what to pack travel dress

Slightly thicker cotton with three quarter length sleeves makes this good for spring or autumn

3. Dresses are always in style. They are classic, feminine and easy to wear. Just throw on a dress and you’re ready to go.

what to pack travel dress

I picked this up in Byron Bay, it’s great to layer with short or long sleeved tshirts underneath when it’s cooler

4. There’s a dress style to suit everyone. I go for an empire line which I think makes my small breasts look just a tiny bit bigger and is delightfully comfy with nothing digging into my waist. Try a few dresses on and you’ll soon work out what suits your body shape.

what to pack travel dress

Fun beach dress that’s easy to dress up

5. Dresses are great for layering to suit the climate. When it’s cold just add trousers, leggings or tights underneath and a tshirt or vest on top with cardigan or shawl as required.

what to pack - travel dress

My favourite go anywhere polka dot dress.

What to look for in a good travel dress

1. Make sure the dress is in a good easy breathing fabric that won’t make you hot and doesn’t need ironing. A cotton lycra mix is great or bamboo and elastene.

2. For the ultimate comfort look for stretchy fabric with no tightness around the arms, chest or waist.

3. Patterned fabrics are best to hide stains and spills but failing that any dark colour will do. I try to avoid black because it’s hot and drains the color from my face but I’m a sucker for a red dress because red always makes me feel bright and cheery.

Where to find a good dress to wear at home and on your travels

I picked up most of these dresses on sale or in outlet malls. It’s really just a case of keeping an eye out for a good dress and trying them on. Here’s where I bought the dressed pictured from top to bottom:

Black and white cotton dress – Rockmans $29 on sale

Grey and pink cotton dress – Blue Illusion $39 on sale reduced from $199!

Red bamboo pinafore dress – Body Peace Bambo0 – $70 in Byron Bay

Multi-colored dress – Boomshankar  $75

Favourite red polka dot dress – Factory outlet store $39

Do you pack a dress when you travel? Is a dress one of your essential travel items and if not why not?

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  1. Johanna August 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Love you in the red dress from Byron Bay. Really suits you :) I also like dresses, and my favourite is a swirly above the knee number which I can dress up or down, wear a scarf or cardi with and flats or high heels – and it doesn’t crease!

    • Annabel Candy August 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm - Reply

      Hi Johanna,

      That sounds like the perfect travel dress, wish I could see a pic of you in that!

  2. Carolyn @ Holidays to Europe August 13, 2013 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,
    I have to agree with Johanna – the red dress is a stunner – I’d love one of those for my travels!
    My ‘must have’ for travelling is a skirt – much like a dress, I find they are cooler and can be dressed up or down as needed. Wrinkle-free is best!

    • Annabel Candy August 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Carolyn,

      I love skirts too but I find dresses cooler as long as there are no tight bits!

      That red dress in bamboo is so comfy and a great price as some bamboo clothes are quite pricey. It’s also crease free and is washing and holding it’s colour and shape well too. A winner all round :)

  3. sharon duarte August 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    It is so true about a dress, I have just begun to wear them again. Here in Brazil the women are so sexy and feminine..whatever shape, size or age and dress wearing is completely natural in every walk of life.
    So easy to roll up and pack, need fewer accessories too.
    Somehow I always felt “dressed up” when I wore a dress, but things are going to change…going shopping ,where is my credit card??

    • Annabel Candy August 14, 2013 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Hi Sharon,

      Sounds amazing in Brazil and good to hear you can be sexy and feminine at any age and size :)

      Hope you find some good dresses!

  4. Beth August 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    I absolutely agree! Dresses are cute, no-fuss, perfect travel companions.

    With the crazy hot and humid weather here in Hong Kong, I find myself wearing a dress at least twice a week!

    • Annabel Candy August 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      Hi Beth,

      Oh, they would be perfect in that climate. May fresh breezes blow on you wherever you go ;)

  5. Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel August 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel, well, my fave of your dresses is the top darker one, so stylish. Gorgeous. Funnily enough I have a fave dress for travelling and it IS from Kathmandu, it’s a stretchy black long-sleeved one with a tie around look, so comfy. I wore it when I flew Sydney-Glasgow, was in business class for a bit of it and was in the mood to be smart so I wore it with a soft Charlie Brown wool poncho (2nd hand on Ebay) and long leather boots. Tra-laa!!

    I recently found the same dress in purple on sale and snapped that up as well. They’ll do me for years and years. Great for cool weather wanderings.

    • Jamila August 27, 2013 at 1:47 am - Reply

      Hi Annabel, for me it’s also more skirts and shorts but I like the idea of finding a good travelling dress. Will look out for one. We are in Europe right now and a good excuse to buy one. You look so nice in dresses. My favorite ones are the red one from Byron bay and the red polka dot one look amazing on you.

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