Monday, August 9, 2010

Remaining Stylish Whilst Roughing It: Clothing Part One

Here it is - the first installment of my series on style in the out of doors. I'm a big nature girl, love to go on hikes, birdwatch, and i've gone car and walk-in camping since i was two or three years old. Disclaimer: i've never gone backpacking. Coupled with my interest in style, i realized i'm (somewhat) uniquely situated to address this topic. That, or else no one else has been nutty enough to waste their time on this type of foolishness.....whatever the case may be, on to the series overview!

I'll be focusing on issues relating to my idea of style in the outdoors: The stylish outdoorsperson will be prepared, be considerate, and have fun! How you look relates to having fun but also clothing helps you cope with the elements and avoid injury. If you get blisters from crummy shoes and sunburn because you only brought a spaghetti-strapped sundress, you will likely be restricted in your activities, thereby lessening your ability to have fun. With that in mind, this series will cover:

Clothing: how to assemble a capsule wardrobe that reflects your personal style and offers options to cope with a variety of weather situations. basic concepts of layering to control body temp.
Head, Hands, Feet: you need to protect your extremities in order to stay warm and avoid sun overexposure.
Accessories: ideas and concepts for grouping accessories to create maximum style impact (!) without sacrificing function.
Skin, Guts, and Feet: how to keep these organs happy and healthy while traveling.
Grooming: a few tips on looking your best when separated from blow dryers, press-on nails, showers, and heels.
Miscellaneous: camping faux pas to avoid, a few gadgets that are worth the space in your pack, some medications that can come in handy.

Along the way, to pique your interest, i have documented TWELVE different camping outfits. Six i wore during our recent trip to Point Gualala Regional Park. The other six i put together to illustrate the clothing and accessories ideas in this series. I created three outfits around the same khaki jacket and cargo pants and three additional looks around the sleeker base of a black windbreaker and leggings. (I would have preferred jeggings or fleece pants, but leggings were in the house.) My intention is to pique your creativity in creating casual/outdoor outfits yourself and to illustrate how grouping accessories can create very different looks around similar 'base' pieces. Also to give ya'll something to look at!

Most of the ideas in this series - capsule creation, choosing accessories, how to keep your feet and tummy happy when on the road - are completely applicable to any type of travel, especially that involving a lot of time outdoors or walking. So even if you aren't interested in camping or the outdoors, i encourage you to take a look.


(This will be the longest, densest, most information-packed segment of this series. That said, this is a blog about clothes, after all! So the topic should be dear to all of your hearts. And always, please ask about anything - if you'd like me to clarify a concept, details on particular outfits, whatever. I'm not exactly swamped with comments, so i'll be sure to get back to you.)

Before you even LOOK in your closet, you need to do some research (be prepared!) First, check the weather forecast for the place and time frame of your trip. Be thorough - check all the days you will be there, and all the different places you plan to be. Walnut Creek and San Francisco are both in the 'Bay Area', but on the same day can experience temperature differences of 50 degrees. If you will be visiting someone in the area or know someone who has spent time there, get their input. Secondly, create a list of planned activities. Biking, hiking, rafting, fancy dinners, swimming, tidepooling, hot tubbing - whatever's on the schedule you want to be appropriately attired. Again, don't be shy about asking more experienced people for their advice. This includes rangers at any parks you may plan to visit.

NOW you can go to your closet. You are going to create a clothing capsule for this trip. Here's the best definition of a capsule i've found, from Diana Pemberton-Sikes at

"A clothing capsule is a group of 5-12 pieces (jacket, skirt, slacks, etc.) that work in combination with each other in color, style, or mood."

My only quibble here is the upper number - i have a clothing capsule of around 40-45 pieces, which is the bulk of my wardrobe. So the upper size of your capsule is only limited by your creativity. How many pieces you put into your capsule depends on how long your trip is, the number of activities you will be participating in that require specialized clothing, and your tolerance for wearing the same thing twice. For me, the beauty of camping is lax personal hygiene standards, so less is more! But i do recommend that you wear a clean inner layer (next to your skin) every day. This will keep you warmer and be easier on your skin.

to be continued.......later today!

Pic One: While camping - Day Two

Pic Two: 'Casual Khaki Base' with black floral theme - details of accessories

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