summer travel: lyon and provence

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it’s research – really!

My husband travels to Europe periodically for work and research. Sometimes (not always, darn it) I get to go along and “help” by taking photos, being a second set of ears and eyes, etc. Someone has to do it, right?

This time I joined him for a quick visit to Germany to see good friends and then on to Lyon and the Provence region of France for the research. I know, it’s a shame.

When we travel, abroad or in the US, I do my own research. Style trends are different everywhere you go, and I find it endlessly fascinating to people watch and take in what people are wearing, what’s in the shop windows, and what you can find new-to-you. I especially love French fashion – the casual elegance is inspiring.

travel light

We stayed in Lyon for five days and then went on to Provence for four. We were gone two weeks total, and I did do laundry once in our Airbnb apartment (one of the many perks of renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel). It’s super important to travel light, especially when you are moving from place to place. It just bogs you down to have too much stuff to lug around on trains or even when renting a car.

I do the travel capsule approach when packing for a trip like this, making sure that everything goes together so I can wear things several times in different ways. You’ll see in the outfit pics below that I wore my white jeans with several different tops, and the lightweight neutral cardigan ended up being a mainstay – the weather fluctuated a lot and was cooler than expected.

 

I brought very little jewelry on this trip and nothing of great value except for my wedding rings. This pendant necklace is graphically simple, so it pairs with a lot of things. I wore the oxfords frequently because they are super comfortable for a lot of walking.

lyon

 

The shop windows in Lyon are stunning. Seeing the beautiful fabrics, designs, and attention to detail gives me so many ideas of ways to put things together and to have fun with my wardrobe (and yours!). A hands-down favorite were the patchwork pants at Atelier Yukako, an independent designer. So beautiful and whimsical!

 

I did purchase a couple of new items in our travels. These pink Haflinger comfort sandals live up to their name – I walked at least 7-8 miles on this day, and I was so glad I had them on! I picked them up in Munich for half the cost you would pay for them in the US, and I love the color and design. I’ll be wearing these for a long time.

The new-to-me Fossil cross-body bag was really great for keeping things organized in all its zippered pockets and comfortable for carrying all day. It’s nice to be hands-free for taking pictures and browsing the markets and shops.

 

Lyon has a good number of resale clothing (dépôt-vente de vêtements) shops. I checked out four on this trip – two had many interesting pieces, one had only about 30 very high-end pieces (not sure how the shop could survive), and the last (Frip’&Cheap) was very much like a thrift shop. My dream is to someday move to France and open a consignment shop – who’s with me?!

 

I struggled a little with temperature regulation (um, being prone to hot flashes and dramatic weather swings do not mix – at all). The weather kept changing in Lyon – it would be in the 60s and rainy/super humid and then 80 degrees. It kept swinging back and forth, so I was glad to have layers. I wore a sleeveless top and then wore the neutral cardigan or a sweater tied around my shoulders. I know I missed the brutal week of heat in Minnesota, so I’m not complaining (much)!

 

If you ever have opportunity, go to Lyon. This was our fourth visit, and I love it. Even more than Paris. It is gorgeous, the food is amazing, and the people are delightful. Just go.

provence

We rented a car and headed to Provence, ending up in the Bandol region on the Mediterranean. We visited a street market, tasted wine at a vineyard, ate at cafés, and soaked it all up. Glorious!

 

This dress was another retail purchase – I found it at a shop in Lyon and couldn’t resist the sweet beach umbrella print and breezy, summer style. It brings me a lot of joy and is classic in design, so won’t go out of style. I know I’ll wear it at least 30 times!

 

We stayed in an old Provençal villa with a lovely view and a donkey next door who greeted the day exuberantly each morning – at a reasonable hour, so it made me smile.

 

One day we went to Bandol, right on the coast, and took a ferry to the island Bendor. It was a hot day, so I was glad for this very lightweight sundress. Sundresses are great for travel, because they don’t take up a lot of space, and they are effortless polish. If you need to cover your shoulders for warmth or for going into a religious institution, tie a sweater  or throw a lightweight scarf around them.

 

The bay was gorgeous, and the sleepy pace was just what we needed. So beautiful.

 

Before we knew it, it was time to head home. The lightweight cardigan was perfect for the plane (both ways) – I paired it with athleisure pants, a tank, and sneakers. Super comfortable and the cardigan added a little polish.

My friend in Munich gave me this hilarious tote bag – the translation is “I have to go into the city to buy something for my headache – shoes…or something.” It turned out to be a lifesaver, because of the shoes (and other things) I bought! My suitcase was filled to the brim – I turned it into my “personal item” for carrying on the plane along with my huge tote bag. Again, travel light so you have room to bring things home!

 

 

 

what to pack: a week of upper-90s in Washington, DC

Last week my family traveled to Washington, DC, because my daughter Grace was competing in National History Day (NHD). She won First Place in the Junior Research Paper category at the Minnesota State Competition in April, which earned her a spot in the national competition – super exciting, and we were over the moon!

The weather forecast was for upper-90s all week, and – for once – it was completely accurate. What to pack when it’s going to be blistering hot for a week, and you know you will be touring outside for much of the time?

beat the heat

I almost always travel with only a carry-on roller bag, and this time was no exception. Since I knew that I needed to focus on staying cool, I packed several summer dresses, a pair of shorts, one skirt, one sleeveless blouse, one t-shirt, 3 pairs of sandals, and two pairs of sneakers. (I know – a lot of shoes, but these are what give you choices for dressing up or down and comfort for a lot of walking.) I also added a lightweight scarf to throw on in case I got cold in air-conditioned museums, which came in very handy.

On the travel days, I wore cropped jeans, because I always freeze on the plane. I used my scarf on the way there – I would have been shivering in the sleeveless blouse without it.

To see photo captions, hover over the bottom of the photo or click on it to enlarge.

 

keepin’ it real

I often hear from my clients that they chose me and enjoy working with me because I am a “real” person, not super trendy or focused on being a fashionista. And that makes me really happy, because what I do is to help people feel authentic in expressing their personal style and feel great while they’re at it.

As you can see from the photos, I’m definitely keeping it real. When it’s over 90 degrees by 10 AM, the level of dishevelment progresses quickly! I have an appreciation for all those fashion/travel bloggers who curate their photos to perfection – we would have had to spend the entire week working on just that, but that’s not why we were there. So, here’s to living real life!

So, it was hot. SO. HOT. You can see the flush on our faces and, yes, the heat was radiating off the pavement in full force! Dresses were the way to go – cool and breezy.

awkward turtle

I’m a reluctant photographic subject. I LOVE being the photographer, but put me in front of the camera, and I go stiff as a board. Grace was my trusty “outfit of the day” photographer on this trip, and for some reason all the photos for this day’s shoot were looking really, really awkward (it was me, not the photographer). Grace’s teacher had just taught us the awkward turtle the day before, so I did it to try to relax – it was the only photo that worked! Again, keepin’ it real, people.

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Awkward Turtle and the US Capitol

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Grace, much less awkward, conferring with Minnesota’s Mr. History before her interview with the NHD judges. Her paper is “Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Standing Up for Women, Science, and the Environment.”

 

nevertheless, she persisted

Grace and I got these shirts before our trip, and we thought the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial was an appropriate place for the message. This memorial was really powerful – the artist captured the significance of Dr. King’s place in history in a moving way.

A really big bonus – we saw Senator Elizabeth Warren in one of the Senate Buildings the following day! Both Grace’s teacher and I were starstruck and speechless!

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Love my girl.

 

 

 

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US Capitol from a tunnel used by our representatives.

national history day

Grace won second place in her category for the national competition!! It was so exciting to see our daughter recognized in such a way for her hard work, determination, and you better believe it, persistence!

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National History Day Parade of States – the large gaggle of students wearing maroon is Minnesota!

 

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And she was tired.

 

 

how to: packing light

my 9-day trip with only a carry-on roller bag and tote

This summer my family took a trip to Northern Michigan to visit family and to enjoy the gorgeous lakes and beaches, charming towns, and all around fun. I hate checking bags – not only because the airlines charge now (grrr) and there is the possibility of them getting misplaced, but also because large bags only bog you down when you are traveling. They make it harder to get from place to place, and honestly, you really don’t need that many clothes.

I always regret when I bring too many clothes, because they actually get in the way of enjoying the trip. Spending time figuring out what to wear takes away from time spent enjoying your vacation! And packing light forces you to put some thought into what you are taking so that you are sure to actually have clothing that works together to make outfits for the variety of activities you’ll be doing.

Here’s what I packed, along with how I made decisions for what to bring.

all clothes

The whole shebang (minus a raincoat in the outer pocket of my roller bag)

Last year I wrote the post summer travel capsule on putting together outfits for two weeks of travel. I followed the guidelines of that post when packing for this trip, but packed a couple more tops since I knew I’d be exercising and getting sweaty.

This trip was mostly casual outdoor activities – the only dressier thing we did was dine out at a nicer restaurant one night and at other casual restaurants. Otherwise, we were on the beach, going for hikes and walks, and exploring in town.

the basics: tops, bottoms, and shoes

(hover over bottom right corner of each photo to see captions or click to enlarge and see full captions)

mix and match: the key to packing light

Make sure all the tops go with all the bottoms to have plenty of outfit choices. You can wear things more than once (who will notice?) and still feel like you have variety.

pack for what you’ll be doing

Bring only what you will need – no “just in case” items that end up going unused. I had another blouse and a second dress that were originally in the mix, and I cut them because I knew I really didn’t need them.

swimsuits

much of our time was spent at the beach – #bikini rebellion!

exercise_athletic wear

walking, hiking, tennis, and knocking around

accessories

A few accessories are all you need to add polish to your outfits.

packing the suitcase

Maximize all the little crevices – I put socks inside shoes and roll up items I don’t care about getting wrinkled like pajamas, underwear, and exercise tanks to stuff in between other items. Do take care with the nicer items like dresses and blouses.

 

packed suitcase and travel outfit

packed with my travel outfit ready to go | the scarf is good for the plane if it’s cold – I put it on my legs!

the tote

I brought a large tote and a small handbag so I didn’t have to haul the large tote everywhere once at my destination. On a touring trip, I would bring a cross-body bag instead of the small handbag for safety and more storage.

The tote – dubbed the “75 lb bag” because it holds so much – fits under a plane seat, but lives up to its name. I can put my handbag, laptop and power pack, a book, my little liquids/gels toiletries bag, umbrella, water bottle and snacks, and more in the tote bag. I prop it on the roller bag as I move through the airport because it can get heavy if I have the computer with me.

So there you have it. We enjoyed our getaway, and I was happy with what was in my suitcase. I hope you have opportunity to have a little vacation time this last month of summer as well!

share your packing tips

What are your tricks for packing efficiently and effectively? Share in the comments below – I love to learn new ideas!

summer travel capsule

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Summer is drawing near, and with the fabulous weather comes opportunity for travel. Whether it be to visit family nearby or to explore other parts of the world, it’s ideal to be able to travel light and still have plenty of choices for outfits that are comfortable and you feel great wearing.

The concept of seasonal “wardrobe capsules” has been all over the style and women’s blogs lately. The idea is to put together a set of several tops, bottoms, shoes, and a few accessories that all coordinate with each other to create 10-15 outfits – a minimalist, hassle-free approach to dressing by putting thought in up front to create a set of outfits so that you don’t have to each day.

Clothing capsules particularly lend themselves to travel. They provide many options with relatively few items, preparing you for weather changes and different circumstances. The capsule above provides enough outfit choices for a two-week trip that includes dressing for evenings out and warm or cooler weather.

the basics

When traveling, wearing items multiple times becomes a necessity, but can be done in a way that feels like you aren’t wearing the same outfit every day. The key is that all the tops can be paired with all of the bottoms. The shoes also go with everything and are used to change the level of dress of the outfit. Just a few simple, inexpensive accessories that can be added to any combination of tops and bottoms polish off the ensembles without adding a lot of extra bulk to your bag or creating worry about theft or losing them.

Several lightweight tops – two knit tees and a dressier textured sleeveless shirt here – and a summer sweater to wear on its own or for layering if it gets chilly are sufficient (add another tee, if you worry there aren’t enough) to match with a couple of skirts, a pair of dressier jeans, and a pair of ankle length chinos. White-on-white ensembles with white denim are very contemporary, and bright-colored slim fit ankle pants are a polished alternative. Half-tuck the front of the knit tees or the sweater for a little body definition and to highlight a bright-colored belt.

A knee-length skirt is a more sophisticated way to stay cool rather than shorts and is just as comfortable, if not more so. A knit maxi skirt is an excellent option for a long flight – soft, non-binding at the waist, and coverage for your legs – and serves well if the day is chilly or more modest clothing is required for the day’s activities.

Bring one dress for an evening or two out and to wear to museums or sightseeing during the day. Pack it inside a dry-cleaner bag before folding it for the suitcase, which will reduce wrinkling.  The skirts can also be dressed up for evenings out with shoe pairings and adding the scarf.

A denim jacket is a perfect travel jacket-of-all-trades (forgive the pun – I couldn’t resist!). It goes with every outfit and is easily dressed up or down for a cool day or an evening out. And it’s a great layer for air travel.

 

footwear

When traveling abroad, it’s essential to have comfortable shoes for walking. Classic white leather tennis shoes are all the rage right now here and in Europe – think Adidas, Tretorns, etc. Wear them with jeans, ankle pants, and short or maxi skirts (sockless or with low-cut footies), and you will be both stylish and ready to walk all day!

Comfort sandals and ballerina flats are cooler for hot days and provide a fun pop of color and polish while still providing support for your feet. Throw in a pair of wedge sandals, which can be surprisingly comfortable for walking (the Minnetonka pair above are lightweight and very stable), and some ankle strap dress flats, and you are set for dressing things up a bit.

 

essential accessories

A single large, rectangular scarf is a really handy item for travel. It adds a pop of color to outfits and is easily stowed in your bag. It can also be used as a shawl wrap when the evening gets cool or when your shoulders need to be covered for entering a church or temple (many European religious institutions ask for no shorts and no exposed shoulders) or a highly air-conditioned museum. I’ve been known to use a scarf as a blanket on airplanes as well – even if it is sheer, it adds warmth!

A cross-body purse is essential – it puts less strain on the shoulders and back, is less prone to pickpocketing, and is easy to access when you need something. The bag I included above is Fossil brand, which I particularly like. Fossil bags are well-constructed and durable, and they typically have lots of zippered pockets inside and out, which are great for safely organizing things like passports, phones, money, cameras, sunglasses, an umbrella, and other travel sundries.

have fun

Feeling comfortable and knowing that whatever you pull out of your suitcase will work well together and look polished makes traveling all the more fun, as does traveling light. Wherever your journeys take you this summer, savor every moment.

Bon Voyage!