Dress Like A Traveler, Not A Tourist

Editor's note: This is the fashion travel diary of Missy Schnaps, a noted Bay Area fashion stylist and contributor to The Penny Rose. 

Two-and-a-half weeks in London, Barcelona and Morocco.  As quickly as my excitement was mounting, the harsh reality of packing had become an obstacle between me and the international terminal at SFO. As a collector of fashion, a trip like this is the opportunity to rock the treasures that I have amassed in my closet over the years.  I needed to build a travel wardrobe that was stylish, interchangeable and practical.

My best friend, newly married and spending the year in London, had invited me to visit. The visit quickly morphed into one of those trips of our lives that would span 18 days, three countries and one suitcase. Our journey would begin in London. Pubs and Pimm’s, High Tea at Brown’s Hotel, late night clubbing and the Tower of London. From there, we would jet to Barcelona to explore the architecture of Gaudi, enjoy midnight tapas on the Ramblas and shoe shopping. Then it was off to Morocco where camels dress better than most Americans.

With an itinerary like that and a girl like me, this was the chance of lifetime, if not an obligation, to wear some of the gems of my closet. The world was my runway. 

Knowing that when I visit my sister in San Francisco for the day, I show up with three pairs of shoes (the weather can change so quickly!), packing for this adventure was a fashionista challenge. How could I narrow it down to my most special yet urban sophisticated yet practical?    

I carefully laid out my plan. Seven days out I pulled my “wish wardrobe” out of the closet. The one that if you were not limited to 45 pounds per bag and were traveling with your personal sherpa, you’d pack it all? Yes, that’s the one. From there, I measured shoe against shoe—what was the more natural shade of brown, which heel would accommodate cobblestone and allow my feet to breathe? What dress could be sexy at 2 a.m. at a club in Barcelona yet photo-worthy at the Eye of London when paired with boots and a leather jacket? I painstakingly narrowed down the pile until little by little, everything fit into a single roller, a small carry on and a fabulous carry all purse. 

I was off.  My trip was full of great interactions with the locals, memorable meals, late night laughter and what have become inside jokes that will be eternally funny to Jill and I. Equally wonderful is a photo diary of this jaunt that I am proud to look at. It’s rewarding to know I have no fashion regrets. The white crocheted dress was the right choice for the ball gown exhibit at V and A Museum followed by High Tea. The black maxi skirt when layered with tights worked great in 52 degree London weather and was perfectly lightweight in hot, conservative Morocco.

While I may never be one of those women who jets around with one small suitcase, nimbly stowing the wheeled hard black plastic container in the first class overheard compartment, I have created my own travel style. One that blends my colorful burka in the Marrakesh souk, running in the airport in Barcelona in a gold lame vest, and not letting the fact that there are two airports in BCN ruin my day.