reader question: 5 top tips on how to look polished for slow travel
"You always look so put together in your images. Love your style. How do you manage to walk out the house très chic every time? Do I need to go to France before learning the secrets!!? Hopefully not, because after seeing so many of my friends take the plunge and go slow travel the world, I want to follow suit. Just how does one do this in the most polished way possible?" -Heather, fellow miss minimalist and eternal optimist
How kind of you to notice the obvious. Yes, I am indeed très chic, because I wake up looking quite frankly like a single chic with my hair extensions all unruly and skin more oily than a wok, only to call upon my entourage of minions who begrudgingly transform me into deux chic, and then magically, as if witnessing a mystical butterfly emerge from a cocoon of wonder, I set sail on my daily journeys as the most très chic of them all! And you too can achieve such a feat for the small monthly installment of $499, one Mexican maid to lint roll all your belongings (not just clothing obviously, face tissue needs to be lint-free as well) and a mute assistant who will adjust your corset each day Jessica Alba style, since we all know you cannot look polished weighing anything over an American size 2.
Truly though, it’s quite simple to accommodate a minimalist wardrobe for the sake of traveling around the world as I announced in this post I would be doing. The key is to start at home, cultivate a method of madness with surgical precision, then take that with you wherever you go. I can’t pretend to be an expert when my very feminine aura rests upon the many help of others, but here are some ideas and tips I've heard through the grapevine from years of being surrounded by fabulous folk:
- Truth be told, polished women, (even the French ones!) spend years on their signature style: What do Kate Moss and the editor of Paris Vogue undoubtedly share in common? They got that speed dial on check! Don't think for one second that flawlessly polished women are born on a hereditary pedestal. It is an acquired skill, like learning to fake a good orgasm. Everything from the haircut to the skincare regime is a strategic chess move that has been perpetuated over time, only to be occasionally interrupted by gifts and swag bags brimming with [enter trendy new item here]. Not to mention the grooming of their nails, body hairs and facial elasticity is down to a science! In short, they know what works for them by testing and testing like there's no tomorrow. Become a loyal groupie of trusted products and habits, specifically the ones that earn you compliments and winning comments on Facebook albums. This is where your minimalism list begins.
- Adjust and Touch Up: You're either in or you're out, there is no in between. A true polished woman discreetly excuses herself like a leaf in the breezy night to go reapply powder, rid herself of excess oil, tie a scarf around wine stains, and tousle her tresses. But being a diva does not a comfortable traveler make. To save yourself from all the fuss, invent a time machine to travel back and just be born naturally stunning. No time machine? No problem. California has tons of specially trained doctors I can recommend for that. Though well-crafted makeup routines would be cheaper. Just sayin.
- Invest In A Tailor and a Rich Husband: Stepping off the plane with mascara running down your face will make a statement- it just might not be the right one. But that's the least of your worries if you're caught dead in frumpy ill-fitting clothes. Yes vintage is in. No, it's not okay to look like your grandmother. Even if she is Sophia Loren. For heaven's sake, just try a day at the tailor already and stop making excuses. Would $15 really kill you? If so, there should be a website with a sugar daddy calling your name. Good items to keep in your carry-on for the polished look are a structured blazer (hello waistline, remember me!) tinted moisturizer, lip balm, and some cream shimmer from quality beauty brands, not the drugstore mmkay.
- Polished Women Pack Tightly: That is, their cosmetics fit into the case snug as a bug so that they don’t spill open and create a soupy mess. You also never see a well-kept woman in whatever that mistake of an outfit Beyonce was wearing. Wardrobe minimalist = polished. How do you cull your wardrobe like a french woman? Buy quality and actually use it. Editing your wardrobe and belongings is tough, but you don't need 33 different types of jeans. Just the ones that will make your derrière look slim while binge eating cheese and olives in Greece. Keep it simple stupid.
- Keep Your Travel Documents Handy: Does my bag sometimes eat items that I need? Yes. Let’s not pretend that my lipstick doesn’t sometimes fall into the folds of my bag, cracking open, and painting the town red. But nothing is quite as unsightly as watching a disheveled woman rummage through her purse like a bag lady to find tickets and identification in the security line! And be sure to pare down your wallet to what you need and leave the rest at home. A minimalist knows that the less you bring, the less you can lose and a polished woman won’t be juggling old receipts to find her card. Become a swan and gracefully glide through security checkpoints, taxi lines and crowded market stalls with ease.
Hair & Makeup
As silly as it sounds, remember to drink water on the plane- especially if you have a long overseas flight. Cabin pressure is dehydrating and will do nothing for your skin. In terms of cosmetics, you don’t need a lot to look beauteous. If you are wearing too much, not only is it not simplistic but you just end up looking a bit plastic, and showing the world how many hours you spent in a mirror is the epic fail. Cosmetics that are cream-based have more staying power and are much easier to reapply on-the-go than their powdered relatives. Waterproof mascara and long-lasting lip colors are de rigueur as well. Needless to say, it's foolish to believe you'll be casted out of society if you lack an obnoxiously bright nail polish. A manicure isn't defined by an array of color options, so keep nails trimmed, healthy, and hydrated with a nude color in your bag just in case. Well groomed nails and eyebrows are actually your quintessential accessories. The secret is out.
Now when it comes to your head, let's all be seriously honest here. Hair can be a travel problem. It’s hard to maintain while out and about, but you can look very sloppy and unpolished if you don’t do something strategic with it. So pull an Anna Wintour and plan a signature look before departure. Stop putting off that resolution of getting a dramatic haircut and use round the world travel as your reason to see it through. Whether a bob, a pixie, or box braids, a polished look is led by the low maintenance hairstyle. Plus you have to ask yourself: what tools am I really willing to carry around with me in a suitcase? Also, if your hair gets greasy or needs a touch-up, dry shampoo might do the trick.
When it comes to traveling like a minimalist, ignore the myth that polished means boring and instead stick to what complements your skin and body by building your traveling wardrobe around two or three neutral colors and silhouettes. These items can always be combined with patterns but classic really doesn’t go out of style (however it's up to you to define your own classics as it were). Rock your natural fibers because these babies are lightweight, easy to fold, and they won’t wrinkle on the plane. Synthetic fabrics might more wrinkle-free and low maintenance, but they'll also bleed all kinds of nonsense into your bloodstream when you're under the Mediterranean sun! Though the real lesson is to care for your belongings, the little that will be left. It all goes back to quality over quantity. Even a nylon day dress can look mesmerizing once ironed, but a wrinkled and fraying APC jacket will leave you blending in with the "average" folk. So déclassé.
Travel Accessories: Play nice and make friends with scarves, you'll be thankful later. They are extremely versatile, foldable, easy to travel with, and can give your outfit a little pop of color. In terms of jewelry, it is a shame statement jewelry always seems to be called a trend, because good personal pieces can add a lot to your wardrobe without taking up too much space, and shouldn't be viewed as a fad so much as an investment to project any look from plain Jane to "who's that girl?".
Remember that you are trying to simplify. A sleep mask for an overnight flight and some earplugs can do wonders. Becoming a minimalist means being reflective. Traveling can be an excellent way to start prioritizing. Are you really wearing this t-shirt from college? Or might it be baggy, unbecoming, and taking up room in your closet? It may take a bit of money, time and effort to look like an effortlessly stylish vagabond, but it also requires sense and intuition. Don't feel overwhelmed. Make it a weekend ritual to touch up or mend items you absolutely can't part with, schedule fittings with a tailor, (even a cheap local dry cleaner will do) and slowly but surely develop a grooming routine. By this time next year, you'll have one carry on to your name and still be as chic as Jackie O.