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Wear A Travel Skirt? You Can't Be Serious!
"When trousers are too casual..."
If you think a travel skirt sounds like a nutty item to take on your trip, think again.
Even if you're not usually the skirt type, you might change your mind after you read this.
But meantime, in case you're already convinced, here are some of my top travel skirt picks.
If you want something hip-hugging and a bit on the short side, the ExOfficio Camina is stretchy, light, doesn't wrinkle, dries fast - the ideal travel skirt. If you're headed to the sun your thighs (the top part at least) will stay protected. It has a UPF of 50+ and - great for me - pockets!
You'll find it at ExOfficio or Amazon US
Patagonia Seabrook Skirt
This replaces the insanely popular Vitaliti, which is no longer part of Patagonia's skirt stable. Sad. Still, the Seabrook likes a worthy alternative: it's a mix of recycled polyester and spandex, which means it wicks the sweat off you, dries fast and - I like this feature - has a 50+ sunscreen protection.
You'll find it at Patagonia
Royal Robbins Discovery Skirt
This one I love. Not one but two pockets! This is the perfect skirt for the tropics because it dries so quickly and everyone who has one seems to swear by it. It's a bit stretchy and dressier than some of the others - great for day-to-evening wear.
You'll find it at Amazon US or CA
One skirt I have to talk about because it's so controversial is the Macabi skirt. I can't show it to you because I don't have their permission to use a photograph but you'll find some here. This is a skirt that converts into pants and shorts. I tried one on and looked like a stuffed penguin. My friend Gigi on the other hand, who is tall, was able to carry it off well. It's one of those skirts that you either love or hate but versatile it is.
So now: why would you even think of wearing a travel skirt?
Why? Lots of reasons!
- Skirts are cool and allow the air to circulate around your legs better than travel pants (trousers, if you're from the UK).
- They are often culturally appropriate for women traveling in conservative countries, especially when they are of a certain length (best not above the knees or too tight if you're in a country where modesty is valued).
- Skirts are flexible. If you choose the right skirt, you can wear it to travel during the day and to go out at night. Just shake it out and throw it on.
- They take up less space than pants. You can usually roll them up or bunch them into a small ball when they're wrinkle-resistant.
- Skirts are usually easier to care for than pants. The latest skirts use modern fabrics that dry quickly, don't wrinkle, and wear forever without losing their shape.
- Some skirts are convertible and can be adapted to become shorts or pants with a few snaps or clips.
Have I convinced you yet?
I traveled the length of Africa for a year wearing a skirt most days and it's the best item of clothing I could have taken along.
We all have our favorites. Mine was a wonderful model by Tilley Endurables. I could crush it or snag it but somehow it always looked fresh. It also dried quickly.
Of course they don't make it anymore (isn't that always the case when something is great?) The only good news is that I've kept it so even if it's not made anymore, I still have mine.
How to choose the best travel skirt for your trip
You can find travel skirts in almost any style but there are a few characteristics you should look for.
A great travel skirt should be...
- Lightweight. If you're traveling light, weight is of the essence. A big bulky skirt will weigh you down and take up valuable space in your ever-shrinking luggage.
- Resistant to wrinkles. Ironing during a trip is not how you want to spend your time. I like cotton and love linen, but linen wrinkles too easily to pack - at least for me. If it's high summer I'll make an exception, especially if I have evening events to attend.
- Quick-drying. If you're traveling constantly you'll need something that dries quickly, but if you're staying put this might not be an issue. When I was on the road in Africa I changed locations almost every night and one thing I couldn't afford was a wet item of clothing.
- Neutral in color. Depending on the kind of trip, color will matter. If you're mostly in the city, a black skirt can double as evening wear. If you're in the countryside or somewhere dusty, black is the last color you want. You'll prefer a gray, khaki or beige instead. Black and white dirty the easiest.
- Of appropriate length. Your height matters but so does the length of your skirt. As I mentioned in conservative countries you should choose long over short. But the issue of comfort is also important and you need a length that is natural to you: for some women that's short, for others it's knee-length, and for others a comfortable length is a long one.
- Practical. That's right - pockets! I can't live without them. A pocket with velcro is a bonus!
- Comfortable. I have sensitive skin and even a bumpy seam or sharp zipper can bother me. I need the kind of comfort you can only get from something well-sewn, and sometimes that means I have to pay the price.
- Not too expensive. If you're a normal person who can wear clothes that don't rub and chafe then you'll find many travelers head to the neartest Walmart or similar discount store to get a cheap skirt they can replace when it wears out. Whenever I've done that I've wasted my money. Try handing your cheap skirt to a laundrywoman with powerful arms and it could fall apart on first wash. I prefer something...
- Sturdy and long-lasting. A tough skirt won't let you down. You can wash it, wrinkle it, stain it, scrunch it and try to destroy it but it will continue to serve you faithfully.
Much as I love to wear skirts when I travel, sometimes you just can't. When you're hiking in the rainforest, for example, and the ground is rife with creepy crawlies. And when it's so hot your thighs chafe (if that's a problem for you use Body Glide - won't happen again).
Most times though? I wouldn't leave home without one.
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