Meanwhile, perhaps I can use this current context to switch up the perspective on my decision to restrict my luggage to carry-on-only for a ten-week travel period. And let's be honest: my hand-wringing over political events isn't going to help anyone. Sometimes, self-care is the place to start, and a little distraction seems very welcome right now. . . . So, let's see what I packed and how I used it:
First, have a peek through the various photographic collages I've put together, many of them shots you've already seen if you follow me on IG, many of them the poor-quality selfies I took in the mirror in my first two solo weeks (in Rome, then Bordeaux). I felt pretty decent in all these outfits, and looking back over them, I think I looked alright. I was comfortable enough for the range of weather -- as high as 28 degrees Celsius in Rome and as low, so far, as 9 degrees here in Bordeaux, probably a few degrees colder than that when we walked home from the ballet the other night (yes, I shivered a bit in my trenchcoat!).
Now I'll do my best to list what I packed, although I'm afraid I have no photos of everything squeezed into my Rimowa Salsa Air Cabin Carry-on. If I remember, I'll do this for you when I pack to go back, but believe me that it did all fit. Also, believe me: that case required some serious pressure when it came to zipping up. As well, I relied heavily and happily on Eagle Creek ultralight packing cases in a few sizes to contain and organise -- and, let's be serious, to compress. I used those tricks you've read elsewhere, such as stuffing shoes with underwear, etc. and in the end, this is what I carried on the plane:
3 pairs of pants: 2 were jeans (one pair boyfriend; one pair wide-legged, cropped -- not particularly sensible, but I love them and just wanted to flaunt them while travelling -- and I did!). 1 pair were black, microfibre, very cool slim cut with elastic waist (I know!) and pockets -- Aritzia, highly recommend for travel, dress up, dress down -- fabulous!
2 skirts: 1 black merino knit, fitted, knee-length; 1 brown pencil faux-leather, knee-length
2 dresses: 1 printed ivory silk, dreamily breezy and cool as tunic over pants in Rome, but haven't worn it enough otherwise. Still, it packs down to nothing, and maybe I'll try to layer it again just to lighten up the cooler-weather stuff; 1 short/cap-sleeve Vince dress, loose, knee-length, heavy-ish microfibre jersey
and a 3rd, for which I CHEATED: Pater, who joined me two weeks in, if you'll remember, had promised that if he had room, he'd bring along a dress I thought would be useful, but then left out to conserve space -- a very simple bracelet-sleeved, knee-length shift in blue velour jersey. Had it for years (paid $15 at a closing-out sale, and it's by Sandwich), but the "velvet" look and simple style let me feel a bit more dressed-up for the ballet
:Navy T-shirt with graphic print
:Marinière-style (so, navy and white stripes, long sleeves) sweatshirt, Gap, cotton (Hmmm, collage shows I haven't worn this much, but it was useful in the evenings for loungewear -- and perhaps I should start wearing it more now)
:Printed navy silk loose shirt (Equipment-style, but J Crew)
:Leopard-print cap-sleeve blouse (haven't worn this a lot, but it's been a fun pop occasionally)
:leopard-print bracelet-sleeve cashmere v-neck pullover
:black tissue-weight merino long pullover -- this Vince pull has been a favourite, a wardrobe staple for two or three years, but it's wearing out, and the plan was to wear it here but not bring it back home
:black turtleneck pullover, viscose, by Sarah Pacini, this piece is at least eight years old and also ready to be replaced but I've never found a turtleneck I like as much (hardly ever wear them otherwise!). Plan was to abandon this here as well, but I'm wavering. It's just so useful. Still, eight years for viscose. . . That's a stretch!
AND, as planned for ahead of time, I bought two new lightweight (extrafine) cashmere sweaters at Bompard on arrival in Bordeaux while they were on sale at 30% off:
:a navy v-neck pullover, because the one I bought a few years ago is really showing wear (it's a bit felted, honestly, so I must have made an error in washing at some point),
:a black cardigan
:black Vince sneakers
:black ankle boots, low-heeled, bought in Paris 5 years ago, earning their keep, these babies!
:black runners -- work for my running and are currently fashionable enough for walking the city
: Ultralight down jacket, bought last year at Uniqlo expressly for this kind of travel -- I carried this on the plane in my little backpack and I used it as a pillow during the flight
: Faux fur vest -- this one I really debated over because of the weight and the space it takes up (although the Eagle Creek packing sack compressed it significantly). In the end, I brought it, knowing how much I enjoy wearing it during the shoulder seasons at home, and it's been so perfect. Another piece I told myself I could leave behind -- it's my fourth year with it, and surely that trend won't last too much longer and if it does I could buy another eventually -- but now I'll probably squeeze it back in. . .
: J Crew camel blazer
Scarves: Camel cashmere scarf, quite voluminous, very comforting! Cherry-red handknit, laceweight alpaca scarf, crunches very small but all kinds of warmth -- and colour! Silk print scarf (navy-rust on cream ground)
Umbrella: Tiny, lightweight, black -- and luckily, I've used it about 1% as much as I would have in the same period if we'd stayed home!
BOUGHT here, again according to plan -- new black leather gloves
Besides my new Prune M0851 bag, I brought along a very simple, light, small, olive M0851 cross-body (their Small Original Flat bag, I believe), for days when I know my shoulders can't stand much weight. I also brought an M0851 cobalt/indigo clutch that protects my iPadMini perfectly and doubles as an "evening"-ish bag.
Underwear and pjs: 2 bras, 7 pairs of Hanky-Pankies, an ancient pair of cotton flannelette pj bottoms to be left behind, old cotton T-shirt, ditto.
Running gear: Capri-length tights due for replacement, will be left behind; ditto for long-sleeved technical running top and for tech-merino sports bra. Also brought 2 pairs running socks, a waistpack, and my bright yellow Vancouver marathon T, lightweight, technical, definitely not to be left behind.
As for the eternal question of carry-on liquids (cosmetics) -- I pumped out 70 days of my indispensable (ha! I was dispensing it. But you know what I mean) Curls Rock into smaller containers. Ditto for a week's supply of my night, day, and eye creams, which I replaced, once here, with the purchase of Caudalie products. Travel-size Aveda shampoo and conditioner -- need all the help I can against the hard water here, but I could have bought good hair products here easily. Small contact lens solution and again, easily bought here if I need more. I was lucky to have been gifted five small (sample) vials of Le Labo perfumes at my last purchase, and I'm stretching those out nicely. Otherwise, I wear only blush (stick, Nars Orgasm, and I didn't include that in liquids) and mascara (Maybelline, ditto) and lipstick.
No point in denying that I look covetously at the windows we pass daily, nor that I think wistfully of garments currently hanging in my closet at home. And as the temperatures drop, my earlier post made clear, I wish for more outerwear variety. More than that, actually, I wish for outerwear that was more representative of me -- I would rarely wear a puffer jacket at home, nor do I often wear the trench; the camel blazer look I really like, but it's a slight departure for me also. All chosen for travel and I think this outerwear worked well for that, but it's not as much "me" as the gear I have back home.
But to get back to the point I began with. . . besides the undeniable advantage of traveling light (easy access on public transit; more manageable in small budget hotel rooms and for hefting up those stairs). . .
In these times of ever more visible forced migration, of homeless refugees, of the disenfranchised being shifted from one place to another (a huge under-the-bridge encampment of Romany people that we cycled past regularly last year has been completely erased, vegetation regrown over its memory, chain-link fencing and huge concrete barriers the only hint at the hundreds who lived here in tents just beside a prosperous "city of wine"), in these times, I went out the other morning, having posted about wishing for more coat variety. I went out thinking that perhaps, if I found just the right sweater. . . .
And I'm not saying that I may not eventually succumb to that urge, nor that I couldn't justify it without too much discomfort.
But that morning, doing my window shopping, walking briskly to counter the not-quite-9-degree temperature, I walked past this man. (Yes, I have reservations about having taken his photo, but he's not identifiable, and I left something in that basket). I'm not going to indulge in more sentimental liberal guilt here than I can help, but he is very thin and he seemed not to have the will even to move to the sunny side of the street.
Although I did buy this wool Made in France beret at the market a few days later (from a man who cheerfully chatted with us in French, teasing and cajoling and singing his way through a charming sales pitch before telling us, as he rolled up my purchase, that he was having surgery the next day on a tumour in his jaw, and that maybe he would be back in a few weeks or maybe, hop-la, and he laughed....so Another reminder of perspective).
So glad I got this post written and I can publish it before we pack up for a week away. Yes, we're heading off soon, and speeding up the pace of our travel a bit. Stay tuned to see where we land. . . Meanwhile, take time for some self-care this weekend, if you can.
And if you have comments or questions about my packing or my travel wardrobe, I'll be very happy to read them.