It might come as a surprise to many of you that the most common question asked of a travel and fashion blogger isn’t about staggeringly beautiful places or unusual street food; it is about packing for conservative countries.
India, Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, Tunisia, Oman, Kenya – countries change, but the question remains the same. What do female travellers pack for conservative countries?
The universally accepted solution to this dilemma seems to be a pair of denims. I don’t like that solution.
Why don’t I like that solution? It’s that incorrigible need to question everything (not always a good thing – cue Savi circa 2008 walking around with a green shoe on one foot and a red one on the other because whoever thought a pair of shoes should be the same colour was a nincompoop – You live and learn people 😉 )
Weird shoes aside, I have some suggestions that will make packing for conservative countries fun. You will feel like you’re breathing the air of new places as you piece outfits together. Don’t resort to jeans. Instead try to incorporate kitschy prints, quirky accessories, and colourful scarves into your travel wardrobe.
#1 Maxi Dresses
Maxi Dresses are ideal for conservative countries. They are comfortable and look stylish without showing too much skin. Paeans have been written about the ubiquitous Little Black Dress but it is the not-so-little black dress that ought to be a wardrobe staple in every traveller’s wardrobe. Throw on a colourful waistcoat and open-toed sandals to complete the outfit. Here’s a maxi dress I wore in Morocco:
It’s all in the details
#2 Statement Accessories
Pack your choicest ethnic accessories to lend interest to lightweight and simple ensembles. I suggest bejewelled wrist cuffs, bangles, rings, and tribal necklaces. Long-draped necklaces and turquoise-hued rings are perfect dress up a flowy maxi dress. Don’t be scared to clash colours and layer necklaces on holiday – it accentuates the bohemian look. Take a look at this post where I combined an ethnic maxi dress with ALL the jewels I had on hand 😉 Here are some of the bangles and bracelets I’ve been wearing recently:
#3 Colourful Scarves
A large scarf can be your best friend in conservative countries – just pop it in your bag and use it to cover your head, shoulders, or legs, if need be. I suggest packing colourful scarves – layer them with maxi dresses, shirts, and vests to create stunning, avant-garde looks. Here’s how I used a bright green tie-n-dye scarf to cover my neck in Morocco:
I always check a couple of voucher sites before making a purchase these days – Flipit is a great one. They have coupons for everything from homeware to jewellery and there are always some great fashion deals to be found.
#4 Loose Cotton Pants
A perfect alternative to jeans, loose cotton pants are perfect for travelling to hotter climes. I’ve waxed lyrical about them in an earlier post, so I’ll keep this short. Combine your colourful flea-market finds with luxurious silk blouses for a look that’s covered yet edgy. Here’s a pair I wore in Egypt:
What’s better than wearing them alone? Persuading your boy to wear them too 🙂 What can we say – we like our harem pants at Bruised Passports
#5 Boyfriend Blazers
If you enjoy minimalism, steer away from ethnic prints and accessories and pack a blazer instead. Opt for a colourful blazer in a relaxed cut – it works a charm to pull an outfit together. Pair it with dainty jewellery and you’re set to explore untrodden ways and forgotten alleys in new countries. Here’s one of my favourite blazers:
#6 Quirky Prints
Print-on-print is the biggest trend this season. Opt for fully-covered silhouettes in kitschy prints that reflect your individuality. Play with experimental clashes of materials and colours. Here I offset floral trousers with a quirky zebra-print blouse.
This article originally appeared in The Mumbai Mirror