Tagged: tips

7 Tips for Traveling Well

This I Wear | 7 Tips for Traveling Naturally

While I am ok with roughing it once I’ve reached a destination, I like to make sure the journey is pretty comfortable and in line with my routines at home. As I was flying back from New Orleans last week, drinking a cup of herbal tea, I realized how much more enjoyable travel becomes when we bring some of our home wellness habits with us. A good journey means we arrive at our destination relaxed, and return home still savoring the good memories of a trip.

My travel calendar is filling up for spring, and I have my heart set on a few summer trips already (does anyone know a good yoga retreat in Costa Rica?). As my at-home routine has become more health and self-care focused, I can’t imagine traveling without bringing these practices with me. Especially when there’s lots of travel on the horizon, it’s nice to know that you can still feel like a human even in an airport.

I hope you’re planning a few adventures, and if you are, here are my favorite tips to travel naturally and healthfully:

1. Travel with tea. Sugar, caffeine and alcohol are your worst enemies during a flight, especially when you’re going between time zones or seated for an extended period of time. Instead of a sugary in-flight beverage, I ask for a cup of hot water and use my own caffeine-free herbal tea bags that I pack in my carry-on. The experience of drinking tea is not only relaxing, but the aroma of the herbal blend freshens the air around you. If you’re like me and love something warming or spicy, try Yogi Tea Ginger or Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice.

2. Bring a cozy wrap from home. No little scarf or paper-thin airplane blanket will do when you’re freezing on a flight. A large wrap like this one from Study NY rolled up in your carry-on is easy to pack and can double as a blanket during transit. It’s also the perfect accessory once you reach your destination.

3. Opt for refillable containers to bring your natural body care with you. I used to use whatever shampoo a hotel supplied. Now that I’ve so carefully selected the safe and natural products I use at home, I stock up on small refillable containers (These mini Nalgene bottles have never let me down!) rather than purchasing travel size items or using hotel-supplied products. Bonus tip: In my carry-on, I always make sure to have hand sanitizer and a heavy duty hand cream to keep me fresh and moisturized during a flight

4. Don’t underestimate an eye mask (and earplugs). Sleep can be tough in unfamiliar environs and when you know you should sleep, but it’s hard. Pack an eye mask (like this option on Etsy) and earplugs to protect your sleep, both during travel and once you arrive at your destination.

5. Drink enough water. It’s hard when you’re in transit and out of your normal routine to remember to drink enough water. But water can kick jet lag to the curb and keep your body working when it’s under the stress of travel. Pack a reusable water bottle like this easy-to-clean and super lightweight Klean Kanteen version and fill it up at the airport after security. Then play a game – whenever you see your travel companion(s) drink water, you each have to take a gulp. It’s a helpful reminder and it keeps everyone mutually un-grouchy.

6. Carry a reusable bag that folds up. Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you should say yes to plastic bags. And with more cities charging for disposable bags, it’s a good time to start the habit of bringing one with you. Slip a fold up bag into your purse for day trips or bring a larger bag that folds up and stores in your luggage in case you plan to do some shopping.

7. Stay grounded with a yoga or meditation service. Whether you have a regular routine you want to keep up while you’re away from home or to stretch out if you will be doing lots of walking, try a service or app that will stream to your phone or tablet. I’ve been a yogaglo subscriber for 3 years, and I love taking a break for a 10-minute post travel grounding practice or a longer session to work out the travel aches. Recently I’ve been trying out the meditation app Headspace. It’s a great option for beginners and quickly brings a little calm to long days. I’ve also heard that vacation is the best time to start new habits, so if you aren’t meditating or practicing yoga yet, it’s a great opportunity to try it out.

So there you have it. Those are my travel tips, but I can’t wait to hear yours! What are your travel essentials? What at-home routines do you make time for during your travel? And most importantly, where are you headed this year?

Photo sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Know Your Tacking

This I Wear | Know Your Tacking

Clothing construction is a mystery to most of us. How a bolt of fabric becomes a tailored jacket or your favorite perfectly draped blouse is hard to imagine. It seems like the seamstresses, tailors and knitters who make our clothes have a million and one sewing tricks up their sleeves to keep us looking good.

Tacking is one of those sewing tricks, and I like to think of it as one of the most polite ones. Tacking refers to using large loose stitches to hold pieces of the garment in place temporarily. It’s commonly used on any type of garment slit, so that the garment stays flat while folded during shipping and looks perfect when it reaches you.

You’ll find these “X” shaped stitches on your suit coat back flaps, on the kick pleat or slit of a skirt, and on your winter coat’s back vent. You’ll also find similar stitching inside pockets that were stitched shut for the same reason.

It’s a special little touch by a clothing manufacturer to say “hey, I wanted your clothes to travel safely and nicely to you.”

But a lot of us don’t realize these stitches are intended to be removed after a garment is purchased. I often catch people in the subway with skirts and coats that bunch up and pull in the back because the tacking has not been removed. (You’ll start to notice it now because it makes a garment look very restricting!) Or someone mentions that their jacket pockets are fake, only to discover that they’re real – they were just nicely stitched shut.

So this is my little polite PSA to you to get to know tacking and make sure to do a little snip to remove those stitches before you wear that new item out.

Photos via The Joinery and Of a Kind.

My Closet: Ask & You Shall Receive

This I Wear | Ask and You Shall Receive
A few weeks ago, I had a hunch that if I put out the idea of my ideal sandal to The Internet, it might magically send the sandals I had been looking for my way. It was a crazy idea that somehow a pair of properly made, high quality, non-disposable shoes might enter my life and save me from my minimalist lifestyle-induced problem of having only one pair of sandals that were on the brink of death.

So if you’re looking at the above photo and asking yourself “how is it possible that she had these shoes made from a sketch in the three weeks since she posted the illustration?” you would be asking a very reasonable question. Except that these shoes were bought straight off the rack. And very fortunately in this case, on the sale rack.

After I wrote that original post, I ended up purchasing a pair online from a reputable brand that were way too big and way too much “foot exposure” for work, so I headed back to the department store in person to return them. Now shoeless again and needing to kill some time, I popped over to the sale racks that seemed overflowing with shoes. In that moment, I realized that I never go to department stores – there were so many options in one place – for better or worse. But I also had no expectation of finding anything.

I did a once over and then was somehow compelled to walk through again. That’s when I found these shoes. It was the exact shoe that Mike had helped me draw out a few weeks ago. And on top of that, they were the last pair in the store and they were in my size.

I looked around expecting that someone was playing a joke on me. As if the people in the store follow my blog (pfff!) and they had planted this shoe here for me. But this was a fancy department store, and there are no jokes there.

After 20 minutes of walking around with them on and searching the Internet to learn more about the brand, I decided to embrace that this was serendipity.

So how do these actual shoes stack up against the criteria I laid out in my “Ideal” post? Actually, pretty good.

Timeless, work-appropriate design – Yes! In fact, these are made by a very traditional British brand known for their men’s shoes, so they do simple, classic design really well.
Vegetable tanned leather – Yes! I actually sent an email to the company’s customer service once I got home with the shoes to get the full details since I couldn’t find the pair anywhere online. And yes, the leather is vegetable-tanned, though I had no way of knowing this in-store.
Stitched insole + Leather sole – Yes! These shoes are sewn, rather than having the pieces of the shoe glued together. This means more durability and less toxic glues for the makers. It also means very durable construction, and the leather sole lends itself to infinite repairability.
Conflict Mineral Free Hardware – Not sure. I did not ask this question and actually I’m not sure how many brands could answer this. So for now, this remains unanswered.
Comfortable – Yes! I’m not sure how or why, but these just feel great on my feet and I knew it instantly.

A little something extra:

Made in Italy – While this is a historical British brand (who knew that Northampton has a tradition of shoemaking?), the customer service representative confirmed that the brand makes all of their women’s shoes in Italy (the men’s shoes are still made in England). Ok, it would have been cool if they had been made in this historic town known for shoemaking, but Italy has some higher standards than other countries, and they have a tradition of making leather products that count on highly skilled labor.

And with that, I promise not to talk about shoes again for a really long time.

If you’re feeling lucky, tell the Internet what you really really want in the comments section and maybe your dream _____ will find you too.

My Closet: Black Boots and New Style

This I Wear | My Closet: Black Boots + New Style

We are quickly approaching the end of 2013, and there is something about the holiday season that feels simultaneously fast and slow. On one hand, I have just a few more days to find perfect gifts for the people I love AND get all of my work done so I can take off a couple weeks. On the other hand, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, I always find myself immediately slipping into a reflective state, slowing down and thinking about the year past.

This year was filled with big changes, some of which I shared here and others that made me so busy that this blog has been quite quiet. But I have tried to be really open about my own struggles with rediscovering my personal style. And as I’ve slipped into that year-end reflective state, I know that the top of my list in 2014 will be letting my style evolve a little more. Because, honestly, I haven’t really felt comfortable in my clothes AT ALL this year.

Fortunately, I know I’m not the only one with a changing sense of style.

I’ve loved articles this year from Garance Dore and Jess Lively on what they’ve learned from wardrobe mistakes and their own journeys to filling their closets with clothes that truly represent their personal styles.

I’ve been trying to do this on my own, but I decided to speed the process up a little bit and hire a professional. Luckily, I was inspired by an article by Jee on Oh How Civilized and set up an in-home appointment with a personal stylist. Beyond looking through what I already had, we made a list of what I needed to look for.

And at the top of the list, which I knew already, was a pair of black boots.

The shoe industry is not pretty. I’ve never had a great passion for shoes and I’m extremely concerned with comfort, but as I’ve learned about the toxic glues and solvents present in many factories, I’ve felt really hesitant to buy shoes since I’m not sure what I’m buying into. I also happen to own a pair of black booties that I saved up to buy and are in perfect condition but absolutely murder my feet. So perhaps subconsciously, I’ve been punishing myself for at least two years by not letting myself buy a new pair of black boots that I can actually wear.

But it became clear that a new pair of black boots would be a game-changer and totally take my existing outfits up a notch. Not an easy task, however, as I was looking to hit at least two of Garance’s rules:

1. Perfect piece = eternal joy
2. Quality = longevity

So what’s a conscious shopper to do? Buy the best quality pair of shoes you can afford. Seriously.

Here’s why: Your shoes can be repaired almost endlessly if they are of good quality. You will likely wear this pair of shoes multiple times a week (if not every day). You do not want to have to buy a lot of shoes and therefore support more factories that may or may not have healthy working conditions. And also quite important is that you do not want to end up an old lady with bunions.

In my case, a serendipitous text from my sister told me that one of my favorite brands, Rag + Bone, was having a sample sale. I like them because they do a fair amount of domestic production, the clothing is a perfect fit for my body, and the quality is high. It turns out the same is true for their shoes (minus the domestic production). I bought this pair for $200, which is objectively a lot of money but based on how many times I will wear them, the cost is relatively little. (See Zady’s article on measuring cost-per-wear)

But the work isn’t over. In the new year, I’ve got a list of new pieces I’ll be looking for and I can’t wait to share what I find (and how I find them) with you.

In the meantime, I’ve been turning to Pinterest as a helpful visual reminder of what I want my closet to look like, so I can make compare a potential purchase with that ideal style. Follow my evolving style on my latest board.

What’s the linchpin item missing from your closet? Share below or tweet @ThisIWear and tell us what you’re looking for.

Summer Packing 101: A Weekend Getaway in Nashville

This I Wear | Nashville Getaway
Suki Mulberg Altamirano wears many hats (including one very adorable straw one featured below!), but one of her coolest hats is as co-founder of STYLEVISA, which features the perfect home and personal accessories from designers and makers all over the world (I love the “shop by country” feature!). If our closets reveal a lot about us, I figured our suitcases are an even more concentrated story of who we are. I invited Suki to share what’s in her travel bag this summer to learn a little bit more about her style but also to pick up a few packing tips from a seasoned traveler. Below, she highlights her must-haves and gives us a little insight into the stories in her suitcase.

I’m always up for a good road trip, and summer is one of my favorite times of the year to explore new places. Next weekend, I’ll be heading on a quick getaway to Nashville, a city I can’t wait to check out. I’m a big fan of The Black Keys, which initially enticed me to learn more about Nashville’s new wave music scene. Besides heading out for some live music, a few items on my to-do list are exploring Nashville’s diverse neighborhoods and the local arts scene and just enjoying the unique vibe! Here’s a look at what I’m packing, a mixture of easy pieces for laidback summer days and year-round travel staples.

My Trusty Ray-Ban Sunglasses
I’ve had these classic Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses for years and rarely leave home without them. They really do make every outfit look cooler. From carrying them during daily life in New York City, San Francisco and now Louisville to packing them for trips to Mexico City and the beaches of Bermuda, I’m always impressed by how long they’ve lasted!

Quick Fix Sticks for Speedy Solutions
These are from a clever brand, Solutions That Stick, which invents all kinds of fashion first aid products. This fashion tape is great when you’re on the road. It packs flat and has a ton of uses, especially if you’re in a pinch. I use it to mend hemlines, keep shirts in place, fix buttons, hide rips or stop slipping straps.

Artisan-Made Nakate Songa Necklace
I really like how this necklace mixes a bold, ethnic shape with a soft pastel color palette. It’s a new handmade design that we just introduced on STYLEVISA from a brand called Nakate. They connect Ugandan professionals and artisans with women in rural villages, using local talent to cultivate African growth and development. When I wear their designs, it feels special knowing they originated in a small Ugandan village.

Summer-Perfect Straw Fedora Hat
This is my second season with this hat, and I love it! The natural straw material keeps it lightweight, and it cures a bad hair day instantly. I really like using hats year-round because they serve a double purpose: adding a unique style while protecting you from the elements. This fedora is my summer favorite, because it looks great and also provides sun protection – perfect to use while touring Nashville neighborhoods in the warm summer weather.

Lightweight Drapey Shirt
I tend to stick to neutral colors in summer and have an affinity for drapey, feminine shirts. For Nashville, I’m packing this ivory shirt with delicate details that has an artsy vibe reminiscent of the city. I like its simple, natural style and the lightweight fabric is great for keeping cool.

AYRES Beauty Miniatures
My mother started me on the habit of collecting miniature beauty products and saving them for travels. AYRES’ Pampas Sunrise mini body products will be coming with me next week. Their body butter has an amazing texture and a light citrusy aroma with essential oils like lime, mandarin and lemongrass. It puts me in a summer mood.

A Travel-Ready Handmade Leather Journal
I think it’s handy to have a place to jot down favorite spots and things you want to remember to do when you’re on the road. I use this leather journal to keep notes like these and also a list of recommendations I’ve received from friends. I like the rugged look of this leather journal, which is handmade the old fashioned way by experienced leather artisans in Los Angeles.

Suki Mulberg AltamiranoSuki Mulberg Altamirano lives in Louisville, KY. She is co-founder of STYLEVISA (along with her husband Eduardo) and Founder of Lexington PR. When she’s not planning her next trip, she can be found exploring the Louisville food scene, visiting local distilleries on the Bourbon Trail and if the season is right, at a horse race or two! Follow her @STYLEVISA or @SukiMulberg (and on Instagram too). Thanks, Suki!

[Photos by Suki Mulberg Altamirano]

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