Outfit Icing: Suitcase Wardrobe Part 2

Ahhh, shoes! So many styles, so many looks, so many purposes, but so little space. Shoes would have to be my one vice. However, its not an ideal one for someone that’s been such a frequent traveller. Shoes are the one thing I can always justify buying. Whether it’s for an occasion, to complete an outfit, just because they’re new season, maybe they’re limited edition (this is a good one) or simply because I love them too much to let someone else buy them. In fact, strangely enough I often build an outfit around what shoes I want to wear – from the bottom up. I’m always disappointed when I put some layers together, only to realise I don’t have the shoes to really ‘kick’ it off. Shoes for me are like icing. Some cakes are edible, even nice without icing. But nice is just that, nice. Boring. Mudcake with no chocolate frosting? Carrot cake with no cream cheese icing? I rest my case. Shoes are my icing, my WOW, the exclamation point!

And so when it comes to packing time once again – harder than choosing what jacket or swimsuit to pack – shoes are my hardest dilemma. There are so many factors to weigh before actually weighing your bag. Versatility, purpose, comfort (who am I kidding, comfort and fashion in shoes = sketchers. Ummm, No), colour, season and bag space are a few. If you’re going to a wedding or some formal celebration on your trip and taking a suit or formal attire, naturally you’re going to pack black formal shoes, or perhaps a black Chelsea boot that can then be worn with fitted jeans for a night out – 2 outfits = win. It’s best to try and avoid taking a pair of shoes you’ll only wear once or only go with one outfit. Which also brings me to the subject of black vs brown. Brown formal or business shoes work with many colours and styles of pants, but when it comes to suits brown or tan shoes only go with navy or blue suits. So if you’re planning on wearing a dapper navy suit to the wedding, go with brown shoes. Now you can also pack some jeans for a dressed down evening option with the shoes or throw in some blue or olive chinos to fold-up for a great smart but casual ankle-baring look.

I would also recommend packing a classic pair of white ConverseĀ (low or hi-top) or similar espadrilles for your trip. Converse offer great versatility and can be paired well with shorts as well as jeans or again cuffed pants for the new ankle-baring trend. Converse are classic and give the perfect finish to a casual outfit or help in trying to dress down an outfit where you might wear a light coloured blazer. The Converse however would typically be a summer option. If you opt for the canvas ones over leather they’re not the best shoe for wet or inclement weather. And speaking from a Toronto experience in a nightclub queue at 3am in January, they have no more insulation than cotton socks!

Similarly as essential, is your pair of trainers. I quite like to pack casual lifestyle trainers as well as gym trainers. However, there’s not always the space to pack both. This is also sometimes something I like to buy on a trip so I need to save the space (but this never happens). I go through a pair of Nike gym trainers about every 6 months because they’re the shoe I wear almost everyday – and Nike always have a new design of Roshe. So if it’s not a complete relaxation and binge trip and working out will be a part of most days, opt for the gym trainers. There’s even social fitness activities like Runyon Canyon if you’re visiting L.A that I’m sure will be a part of your itinerary and you’ll be thankful for appropriate yet fashionable footwear. On the other hand, if you seem less likely to partake in intensive physical activity then opt for a more relaxed lifestyle trainer that says confidence in a sports brand but has that more urban street flair like Nike Huarache, Adidas Original Superstars (which have made a comeback in some chic new limited edition styles – like the gold ones I just bought) or if you’ve got serious swag, hi-top Adidas Tubular X or Raleighs. On a side note, if you’re going with White Adidas Original Superstars I wouldn’t also pack Converse.

Finally, the in-betweener – a smart loafer or boat shoe. Personally I prefer a loafer but I know some guys find this Italian style a little too pompous and the boat shoe a little more understated. Loafers come in varying styles, typically suede, patent or leather. In keeping with the current ankle-baring trend, loafers are the ideal shoe to wear with cropped khaki’s or chinos as well as a well-pressed pair of shorts. Surprising to some, the glam of patent means that a loafer of this kind can also be worn with a black suit (with tailored slim-line trousers) to perhaps a cocktail affair. I respect the traditionalists that are believers of socks on formal occasions, but this is not permission to do such with a loafer. Loafer’s + socks = NEVER! So if you’re not baring your ankles with your suit, traditional lace-ups are the only option. Now loafers much like a blazer, bring an outfit into a semi-formal or business casual realm. If you’re summer dining, vineyard visiting, at the Polo or maybe Spring Racing Carnival, a loafer will serve you best. I love the class and contrast of a suede tasselled loafer.

As I’ve referenced a few times and in accordance with seasonal footwear, exposed and sockless ankles were a runway trend circa 2015 and have since become more fashionable and common place. Shoes are low cut and pants are cropped or pinrolled – a technique that is more intricate than it might sound, so follow the link for an explanation and video tutorial. Now ‘sockless’ might be the wrong term as the shoe and/or outfit is only to appear sockless, when in fact what had once been only female footwear fare for ballet flats, hidden socks or footlets are now the genius unisex ankle-baring shoe illusion. With so many styles of shoe suited to the sockless appearance these days, integral to the success of your outfit is make sure the pant and shoe pairing is articulate and brings the shoe smartly to our attention. Whether you’re going urban street with pinrolled jeans and your metallic Adidas Original Superstars, cropped trousers with suede loafers, a smart slim-leg suit with patent or bedazzled loafers or classic converse with turned-up chinos, there’s so much more to consider when pairing and packing your shoes.

NB: 6 staple suitcase shoe suggestions, as I have detailed, can be previewed below by Polyvore.

 

 

 

 

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Suitcase Wardrobe

Packing for a trip is almost what I’d call an art form or trained skill – well for most of us anyway. I know some guys that have no qualms leaving it to the last minute and much to my envy, still manage to look cute on vacation or business – at least 80% of the time anyway. But I put it down to a limited wardrobe or they’re just those naturally chic guys that even with a closet full of the latest threads, rock up to brunch and have literally rolled out of bed, pulling off the effortless look with absolute obliviousness and genuine effortlessness. My casual Sunday getup, though trying to look minimalist, after it’s actually carefully conceived, bedroom modelled and tweaked I wonder if the ensemble looks completely contrived and a paradox to the concept – ‘effortless.’ So maybe those effortless babes won’t relate to the skill of packing a fashionable suitcase coz’ an easy hand through their dishevelled bedroom waves and carefree approach will always get them to the next brunch with minimal effort, but for the rest of us that employ a little more effort this read is for you.

Often my trips will include multiple cities and stop-overs. Though within in one country, a trip I’ve done a few times including Miami, New York and LA – in Nov/Dec – calls for not only an array of climate accordant dressing but also variations in style. Miami folk dress very different to New Yorker’s. Not just because most of the year when Miami is hot (when is it not), New York is cold (or snowing), but the two cities have different fashion ideas and style. LA is albeit, a combination of both – warm during the day and often cooler in the evening. Throw in limitations on how much weight you can check-in on your flight and the packing for a trip turns into a considerable process of umm’s and ahh’s, yes’s and no’s and continual indecision. So as I’ve become more of an accomplished traveller over the last few years I’ve developed somewhat of a template, or go-to plan for choosing what to pack and being assured I’m going to be most importantly – in style – but also warm, comfortable, occasion assorted and under 23kgs.

The biggest recommendation or tip I can suggest is to layer. This is not news to anyone that’s travelled, especially backpackers – but how they travel for months at a time with only a backpack is beyond my comfort of living. Packing a winter coat, even opting to wear it on the plane is not advisable, as it will at some stage take up space, whether it’s at your feet on the plane, the overhead compartment or just be something else to lug under your arm when you’re on the move again – it’s not gonna miraculously fit in your suitcase one day unless you lose or sell three pairs of shoes. I pack a leather or denim jacket. This is then also multi-purpose; you can dress it up, you can opt for casual sexiness with that white tee or you can layer under it and wrap it up with a scarf for warmth. The leather and denim jacket are universal fashion items that are not only a wardrobe staple but a suitcase one. It offers you urban street chic but also evening rock and a warm classic statement – all in how you under layer and accessorise.

White is another must. Believe it or not, it doesn’t matter what your skin tone is, everyone can pull off a white V-neck and a white collared button-down. Each of which are the perfect in-between layer with that leather jacket. James Dean made the white tee and denim combo infamous in the 50’s and it still has classic appeal today. Roll up those knee torn Levi’s (501’s if you really wanna go vintage) and pull over a well-fitted or over-sized longline white tee, jump in your cons or trainers and you’ve got easy-chic summer Sunday down-pat! Just as easy, breezy would be to wear the collared button-down with an open chest and the sleeves rolled to the elbow and untucked. 5’Oclock drinks down at the local or casual alfresco dining and the shirt can serve you well again. Button up to the collar, maybe clip on a collar pin if you want some extra flair, cuff your jeans over some suede desert boots, add a cute trilby or fedora and the white staple has once again been stylishly transformed.

There you have it. In 4 staple items – leather/denim jacket, jeans, white tee and white collared button-down – we’ve detailed a range of styles and looks for varying occasions and climates. Personally I travel with both a leather and denim jacket as I’m still not the hugest fan of denim on denim unless they’re contrasting colours and I like the choice of black/dark or blue jeans. But the more options I pack, the more shoes I need to compliment…and so the struggle begins. But shoes are a whole other kettle of fish to be continued next time…

NB: Visual examples posted below courtesy of Polyvore for reference (Prices and branding not relevant). See and share more of my fashion stylings by following link.

Intro

Welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

I’d like to share some of my travel experiences and passion for fashion. Maybe a little ‘Queer Eye for [All] Guys’ from the perspective of a travel savvy gay Ginger with a shoe fetish. There’ll be tips and wisdom I’ve garnered from my last 4 years jet-setting (mostly from Australia to the US, Canada and the UK), fashion fabulous-ness and the faux pas’ and general commentary on what’s hot and what’s not – everything from what colour shoes to wear with that dashing navy suit, to how to pack a suitcase of 23kgs for every season and still be dressed to impress every time you step out.