For many of us living in geographic locations in the world where fifty degrees Farenheit is considered a balmy summer day, dressing yourself for a travel day in which you will end up in a hot climate poses an interesting challenge. You leave your house in bone-chilling cashmere sweater and wellies weather, and end up walking out of the aircraft in what my husband describes as a giant hairdryer. Add to this the potential for over-zealous air-conditioning and any cultural considerations of the place to which you are travelling, and you've got yourself a bit of a sartorial challenge.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, over the years I have been lucky enough to have travelled extensively for both work and play, and have come up with my own formulaic approach to dressing for these types of trips, while still (hopefully) keeping things chic.
There is no need to spend a lot on technical "travel clothing", which in my opinion is totally overpriced, laughably over-designed, and horrifyingly under-chic. Do you really need trousers that unzip into shorts for a long-haul flight to Hong Kong? No, you do not.
I like to travel to a hot climate in something with cotton or silk in it, that is lightweight, and printed (it hides everything from red wine stains to sweat marks). I like to carry my own wrap if I get cold. Airline blankets give me the heebie-jeebies.
You can leave your jacket in the car. Even in winter, I usually brave the walk across the parking ramp rather than pack something in my case that I know I won't use. I hate a huge carry-on. With the in-seat entertainment systems on long-haul flights, you don't really need much these days.
Make use of the aforementioned wraps or pashminas. I can't stress enough how often they come in handy. Oversized shirts are also a great alternative to a light jacket, as they pack up really small, fit in your handbag, and you will wear them in other ways during the trip.
The best thing about layering in a hot climate is how useful it is when you are travelling somewhere where local custom might dictate a specific dress code, as there tends to be in a lot of Muslim countries. Being a good tourist requires one to pay attention to the local customs, especially if you plan to go sightseeing in temples or mosques where covering yourself is a requirement.
On our last day on Koh Samui island, it was hot. It was so hot. We were heading for the airport, where we were catching a flight to Dubai, where dressing "politely", as they call it, is strongly suggested. I opted for this French Connection dress as my base layer. Note the grumpy look on my face. That's because we were leaving. I'm a poor sport when the vacation comes to an end.
In my bag, I had squirreled-away a few key pieces that I pulled out at the airport in Bangkok and put on before the flight to Dubai, thus enabling me to go right from airport to hotel to dinner without missing a beat. Knees and shoulders covered, potential cleavage safely stowed-away.
It never ceases to amaze me how something as simple as a well-fitting belted white shirt can elevate an outfit from beach to bistro. What's best is that I really do find myself wearing more of what's in my closet when I travel, as opposed to feeling like I have to run out and buy something new for the trip.