Getting fleeced

Form and function need not be mutually exclusive, try and include both in your travel wardrobe.
Form and function need not be mutually exclusive, try and include both in your travel wardrobe. Photo: 100destinos.com

Inappropriate travel dress is my pet peeve.  Years ago I was in Barcelona when an unfortunate American woman was robbed not once, but twice.

Predictably she was the walking cliché of a modern tourist, red polar fleece top, bright backpack, and the pièce de résistance was a camera around her neck.  All she was missing was a sign that said ‘Please rob me.” 

I’m not suggesting that a suit, shirt and tie should be carried with you at all times, but I am suggesting that 90 per cent of travel-designed clothing sucks.

The first thing to go was her wallet and the next day when she was leaving early to catch a train, all her remaining possessions were taken.

I’m not here to give lessons in safety. Instead I am suggesting that her ‘sensible’ travel attire is what probably what ended up costing her.

You can be robbed while travelling whatever your attire, but if you look like a wealthy western meal ticket then you’ll most certainly increase the odds of it happening.

I recently wrote about the outdoor-clothing trend that is working its way through fashion like a trail through the trees.

Our fascination with adventure - and our desire to climb every mountain and ford every stream - has become a lucrative resource for designers.

But I believe purpose built travel clothing should avoided for all but the most extreme of adventurers, like those trekking the Himalayas or sledding to the South Pole.

Of course you want the best and the safest gear, but walking through the Gothic Quarter to La Rumbla street market? You can pretty much do it as you would at home.

A couple of weeks ago Ben Groundwater, writer of the Backpacker blog wrote about travel clothes and their appalling state. 

Travel isn’t a fashion show and never should be, but there are still going to be occasions which demand that little bit more from your wardrobe. For instance, what do you wear if you are invited out to dinner or to a special occasion? That fleece vest certainly won’t help you to respect the moment. 

I’m not suggesting that a suit, shirt and tie should be carried with you at all times, but I am suggesting that 90 per cent of travel-designed clothing sucks.

Which brings me back to the popularity of outdoor clothing. Thank goodness there is a new fashion movement that embraces the romance of travel and gives the humble traveller a sartorial kick in the cargos. 

This trend is driven by romantic ideas of trekking with Tenzing Norgay, and personified by rugged and tough fabrics, striped knits and jersey, tweed jackets and autumn coloured raincoats.

And although you’ll probably look out of place in any town in the most cutting edge fashion (remember the Griswalds in Milan in European Vacation?) even the most third world of villages can tell you fleece is a no-no. 

So if your travel clothing is chosen only for comfort, you need to ask yourself the following questions.

 “Will this garment fit with where I’m going?” and even more importantly: “Will I get robbed in this?”

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