Here is, yet another gratuitous shot of Big Ben. This is my porn right now as I ponder what will be packed as the Ultimate Urban Chic London Wardrobe. I'm not new to the concept of packing since we travel quite a bit throughout the year, but mostly that is for track events which I can do blindfolded. I know exactly what to pack, be it for a one, two or three day event. I know which items go where in the bag and what goes with them. It isn't difficult. Ditto packing for a tropical vacation. Bathing suit, cover up, flip flops, sandals, sun dresses--lets go! But this has been hard. Mostly because I have no clue what the weather will be like. I am guessing it will be cold and wet, but what if it isn't? I know I will be doing an absolutely INSANE amount of walking. I do not want to be immediately identifiable as an American at 100 yards by my running shoes, so they are staying home. I don't really want to look casual, but I do want to be comfortable, so here's what I've compiled. Please do tell me if I'm kidding myself here or if you have better ideas.
First off, there is outerwear. I may look like a complete tool walking around London in my Barbour, but I will be warm and dry. I'm guessing that no one wears these in the city, but I don't care--I like it.
My trusty Brooks Brothers trench will be coming along since it looks equally fab with jeans and dresses. The only problem with mine (not exactly the one pictured, but a lighter color and fabric) is that it has no lining, and therefore provides only basic warmth and the fine fabric wrinkles like the dickens. I hope the hotel has an iron.
The Restoration Hardware chiffon scarf. I think they changed the design to an "infinity scarf", which is a darn shame because the original model was a real chameleon. It works as a shatoosh-like wrap--light and fluffy and oh-so-elegant with a dress or as a light airplane blanket and equally wonderful doubled up and tied in a myriad of ways as a chic and warm scarf. It also weighs NOTHING and can be rolled up and stashed in your purse if you find it's too warm to wear.
The Marc Jacobs Globetrotter Kit Calley bag impressed me in a whole bunch of ways, not the least of which was the soft, buttery leather and nearly impossible to pick-pocket styling. It's big enough to hold what you need without being TOO big and lays fairly flat when worn across the body AND has an infinitely adjustable shoulder strap that you can make small enough to use it as a shoulder bag if you wish by simply doubling up upon itself--brilliant! It also does not unbuckle, making it nearly impossible for a would-be thief to undo the strap and run away with it. The jury is still out on the completely useless luggage tag on the front zipper. It flops back and forth when you walk and there is no good way to remove it without destroying the pull, so it's not leaving. I do like that it adds some interest to the front of the bag, so we'll see.
Yeah, there it is... the ubiquitous Longchamp Le Pliage tote. Everyone has them and there is a reason. They're waterproof. They weigh nothing. They can be folded up and stashed away when you're not using them. The one huge downside for me is the total and complete lack of compartments, but I can deal with it. They also hold a TON of stuff and still manage to somehow look like a purse. Also, the handles are a good length to carry it on your shoulder--some of my nicer leather totes have short handles which greatly reduces their usefulness.
Blundstone 500's or "Blunnies". I don't even know how long I've had these and I rarely wear them at home, but they are great for traveling, mostly because they behave like a sneaker and look like a nice boot. They are also waterproof and slip on and off with ease. With the addition of thick socks they are warm and comfy--if not the most elegant things in the world. I can make a concession to my feet since I don't want to spend the whole trip in pain/freezing.
Should the weather decide to cooperate, even just a little, I am wearing these. Attilo Giusti Leombruni or AGL ballet flats. They are, um, not cheap, but there is a reason. Hand made in Italy, they are hands down the most comfortable ballet flats I have ever tried at any price. It's the leather. And the memory foam footbed. And the leather. Did I mention the leather? It's thick, soft and well, you just have to try them for yourself. I also love the color combination. They work with black AND brown--how many things do you own that do that?
A must see for this trip is the Liberty store. I realize this is blasphemous, but I haven't always been a fan of their small floral prints. Then Ann Mashburn came out with this:
The Liberty print popover. I am a huge fan of the popover since I hate tucking my shirts in my jeans. This one dresses up or down and looks great with a variety of colored sweaters or jackets--it has the unique ability to go with red or pink. I'm hoping the find some other gems when I visit the mother ship. Also the achitecture is incredible.
Traveling with me as well, will be the Banana Republic Sloane fit boot cut black pants. Dress 'em up, dress 'em down--they always look good and the fabric is comfy. They are the swiss army knife of the travel wardrobe.
Last but not least is the COH Dita Petite. For the vertically challenged, there is nothing better. You can wear them for days on end (in fact they recommend that you wash them as infrequently as possible) and they just keep getting better in fit and softness. The "felt" wash is particularly choice since it's thin and soft and very dark, with just the right amount of whiskering.
One last thing. The Humangear Go Toob is possibly the most ingenious packing device I have ever seen for toiletries. They have a huge wide mouth that is easy to fill and clean (really), the silicone is soft so you can get ALL the goo out (when you are running out of shampoo, this is huge) AND a suction cup so you can stick it to the tile in the shower and not have your little bottles falling all over the floor. I found these years ago in an REI and they were pricey for travel bottles, but recently Target and Walmart have started carrying them at reasonable prices. If you travel a lot, these are priceless.