Monday, 16 August 2010

The travel wardrobe returns for review

Hello again. I am sure you are all desperate to hear about my fabulous overseas trip. If not you will have to skip the next month or so, as I plan to write about this trip a great deal. I will be kind and mostly skip the work bits and cycling.

However, before I start displaying less than professional quality photographs of well known monuments I want to write about travel clothing. I found planning and packing suitable clothes for the trip a serious exercise. Due to having one bag completely full of non-negotiable cycling gear and bicycle bits, we really wanted to pack thoughtfully.

The bloke wardrobe:

You may remember some whinining and complaining about the sewing I did for my husband before we left. There was a lot of whining, and not much sewing if I remember correctly.
1 long sleeved business shirt, polycotton (almost worn out and considered disposable)
2 short sleeved wicking poly knit shirts with collar
1 long sleeved wicking poly knit shirt with collar
1 wicking poly knit t shirt
2 pairs long pants - breathable, quick dry nylon
1 pair dress shorts - breathable nylon
1 pair board shorts (for swimming or very casual wear)
underwear, wicking polyester, and socks
flip-flops (Australians please excuse my cowardly use of international terms)
walking shoes
Gortex rain jacket
I partially completed wool/cashmere pullover. The theory was that I would complete this before the Pyrenees.

Results: Pretty good, although I did not finish the pullover in time, so we bought one. He had two by England, which was useful. There were always dry, clean clothes, appropriate for the weather and for the formality or otherwise of the situation or events we attended.

Problems: My husband is not terribly interested in clothes, but despite throwing out the business shirt after a few wears, and buying a new one, he became very tired of the lack of variety in this wardrobe over a month, and mentioned this fairly often after the first week. He bought 2 t shirts in London to extend his options (after sending some cyling gear home by post).

The collared wicking poly knit shirts did not dry as quickly in the bathrooms in Europe as in the bathroom in Australia. They took at least 24 hours to dry properly after handwashing, which meant that they could not be washed successfully for a single night stop. They smelt musty and unpleasant if packed damp, even if only for a few hours, and had to be rewashed. The cotton shirt dried quickly, and the cotton t shirts dried slowly, but did not smell musty if packed damp for a short period.

The chest level welt pockets were not useful. (Curses, I could have made lots more clothes if I hadn't added the pockets). He found that the zip pockets on the trousers were sufficient for what he needed to carry, and felt that using the chest pockets pulled the collar of the shirts out of line.

The socks were a terrible nusiance to dry, frequently taking more than 48 hours. The best drying occurred on heated towel racks, present in 2 of the 9 places we stayed.

My wardrobe

I am planning to take a photograph of the whole set, so will write about this later when I have sorted it out from all the washing I did yesterday.

I will progress to the first sewing photos of my trip.
We stayed overnight in Paris after the horribly long aeroplane trip, and before a 6 hour train trip to Tolouse.
I picked the hotel after reading many trip advisor reviews, and we were really happy with it. The staff were very kind, did not laugh at our attempts at speaking French, and all spoke English. They gave us a really early check in, which was bliss after such a long flight.
Hotel Apollon
The fortunate part of jet lag meant that we woke up at 4 am and walked from Montparnesse to Notre Dame, then the Champs-Élysées with the whole place to ourselves, in full daylight. It was beautiful, but very dirty.
I did not see a single fabric or wool shop in 7 hours of walking. I had not really expected to see one, but was hoping for a little light relief before 2 weeks of close association with cycling fanatics.
Here is a fun window display from the Champs-Élysées.

The hotel was a very short walk away from the TGV train station. The train was very comfortable, spotlessly clean, and we had a terrific view of the countryside whizzing past whilst we were eating the very large picnic lunch we had picked up at the markets on our early morning walk. The markets in Paris did not start selling things until after 9am, but the bakeries were open earlier.

Tolouse was not a fabric mecca. I did find a yarn shop,

with mostly novelty yarns,
and there were some markets in the square near our hotel with a trims and button stall. I was determined to only buy things I really loved, so did not buy anything here, as they were low-cost and seemed to be low-quality items.
There was also some leather - my husband bought some embossed goatskin leather to make a wallet. In the market there was a small amount of some coarse, brightly printed North African fabric, and lots of hippy style clothes made from this fabric. I found it interesting that the hippy market clothes in Australian (well, Queensland anyway, I can't really speak for the rest of Australia) are mostly made from cheap Indonesian batiks, and what appeared to be the same clothes here were all using the African prints.



There were many designer clothes shops in Toulouse. I was not able to enter any shops, due to time mostly spent doing work things and cycling, but looking in the windows was very entertaining and inspiring.
Next up, lots of cycling (maybe I will skip this).


sewing spots said...

Great post! Your posts have been missed and it's a delight to have a summary of the results of your hard work. Just the planning alone sounds like a challenge!

RuthieK said...

Oh I want to hear all about the trip please. You can post about cycling, clothes, shopping or whatever you like. Interesting about things drying. Handwashing wrings out less than a washing machine, so I should think there is a lot of water to evaporate. I imagine its frustrating wearing the same clothes for a month.

Mary Nanna said...

Welcome back! After I read your post I said to my husband, "I want to go to Paris, and we're not getting any younger." So we're planning a big trip when our son is a bit older. I can't imagine having to pack and lug around so many practical clothes when you are in Europe and people dress up all the time!

Carol said...

I've been thinking about you. Welcome back. My ex-husband is a documentary cinematographer and is accustomed to being on the road for months at a time. He is a master of living out of one tiny suitcase and I really envy his ability to look stylish at any occasion with a limited amount of choices. I can do it, but I never want to see those clothes again after I come home! Looking forward to hearing more.

Sharon said...

Welcome home and thank you for an very informative post. I agree with Ruthie I want to hear all about it including the cycling. Looking forward to reading more.