This post is unapologetically about clothing. 🙂
It may seem like a frivolous question, yet it is one that most of us ask ourselves every morning when we wake up: What should I wear?
I have been told by many travelers that while on a boat, you hardly need any clothes. One or two t-shirts and a few swim suits. Most people say that when they’re in the middle of nowhere with no one around, they spend all their time in the nude. Why put on clothes when it’s so hot you just sweat in it and there’s no one to see you?
So far I have had three big life changes that have involved moving country: moving to London, moving to Paris, and now moving onto the boat. In my experience, these changes come with two certitudes. First, I will gain weight (which I usually loose once I find my bearings). And second, I will not properly pack.
When I moved to London I brought party clothes. I expected to go out dancing every second weekend to soak in the London music scene. Instead, I joined a rowing team and was out on the Thames every Saturday and Sunday morning at 8 AM. Younger crew mates could party and row in the mornings but not me. I had sparkly shirts galore, but no “comfort clothes” in which to wrap myself after my chilly morning workouts.
When I moved to Paris, I brought all my London clothes (minus the party clothes that I had since parted with). I had stacks of training outfits that I no longer used, Paris not being an outdoors sports kind of city. My wardrobe slowly changed to Paris chic. I knew I passed (as a Parisian woman) the day I visited the Louvre and crossed the front courtyard where all the water bottle and Eiffel tower key chain sells guys try to hustle their ware onto tourists. Not one of them tried to sell anything to me. They hardly looked at me. I walked through the crowd like the bitchy Parisian chick they expected me to be and felt relief.
In Tarragona, we are in some sort of circle of heat. Like the eye of some heat storm. Wind blows around the area, not in it. The sun beats down on the city ferociously. It starts at around 11 and lasts until 6 PM. The weight of the heat pushes down, causing a heavy sense of lethargy. Walking works up a sweat. Yesterday we walked from the port to the Cathedral and the back of my t-shirt was drenched. Literally, soaking wet. I have taken to escaping the heat at the public library of Tarragona. It is quiet so I can work and there’s AC.
So it’s all nice and dandy to say that while sailing you only need a few t-shirts and bathing suits, but my experience so far tells me that this is far from the truth. If you plan on stopping in cities, you’ll need to dress appropriately even if you’re natural instinct would have you walk around in a bikini all day.
For the boat, I brought all the t-shirts that I love and know will be good for sailing: short sleeved (to cover my shoulders) and tight fitted (to stay put when it’s windy). This means that I left all my pretty t-shirts in storage, which was a bad idea. Even if I love my Montreal Alouettes and my David Suzuki MEC t-shirts, these are not what I want to wear when eating out or meeting up with friends. It’s not that wearing regular t-shirts is a big deal, but when you meet people on their own turf and they are dressed nicely because, well because they are normal people living their normal lives, wearing something clean and presentable is a sign of respect. So do bring the sporty t-shirts for your day-to-day, but don’t forget a few pretty tops to wear around the city, in restaurants, or at people’s homes if you are so lucky to be invited.
I brought a few dresses to wear when we land in African our South American countries. I know for having travelled when I was younger that the sporty-gypsy “I-just-crossed-the-Atlantic” look is seen for what it is: someone who couldn’t be bothered to wash up and dress nice to meet the locals. So, dresses and a nice pair of shoes, to show respect. And not “let’s walk along the beach” dresses. I have about three dresses that I would wear to a nice event or a dinner. I have one pair of black sandal heels and one short-sleeved dress shirt. You never know when you’ll need to go formal. Also, I am a freelancer and I’ll be happy to pick up work along the way. Back home − wherever that is! − I would not show up to an interview or customer meeting in jeans, so there is no reason for me to do so when abroad. As my friend Kenny once said, “You’re usually better off overdressed than underdressed.”
First, let me be clear: I like wearing bras. I like the support and hate having my nipples chafe against my shirt. So going without is not an option, full stop. Here in Tarragona, I go through one bra a day, and I let me assure you that in such heat, not all bras are created equal.
I have many sports bras of varying support. Like tight mini-tops, they are layered and much too warm to wear during the day. The type that are loose fitting offer hardly any support. Why wear just another layer of fabric under your shirt? I have really nice cushioned bra, nude color that works well under white (because I really don’t want to wear black under this sun). I wore it earlier this week and it was horrible. It acted like some sort heating mechanism around my torso. The day’s lethargy was worse than usual. When I removed it at the end of the day, the lower half of both cups were stained of sweat. It was pretty gross.So much for my beautiful nude bra. (I won’t add a picture of it.) Any lace covered lingerie seems wrong to me: why wear something really pretty if you’ll just sweat through it in a matter of minutes?
I find that the best bra to wear is a simple wire-ring, slight push-up, no padding bra. Unfortunately, I have only packed two. So I switch with other bras and do a lot of washings. I may go bra shopping before our stay is over…
Pants & shorts
I had this one great pair of jeans shorts that I always wore while sailing. I loved them! They were old. Actually, they had first been a pair of jeans that I eventually cut. They were thinning out and eventually ripped to a point of no return. I have tried to buy new ones, but they are always all wrong. They are made to look good, not be comfortable. So if you want proper jeans shorts, cut off the legs from one of your pairs of pants.
Otherwise, I have taken to gypsy pants like the ones from Bohemian Island. They are breezy and beautiful and I won’t get a sunburnt. My inner thighs don’t chafe together when it gets too hot and they are appropriate for visiting churches that ask to be properly covered. I won’t wear these while sailing (I think… I haven’t so far) but for any laid back occasion, they’re great. I even got a pair for Pierrick, who kept telling me how comfortable I must be in them.
You will spend a lot of time cleaning and fixing your boat. Rust removers are acid based. I have already burnt a hole in a pair of Löle workout capris. I was not pleased. Best to bring a few rags, for hot and colder weather, that you can wear while mending your boat. Think paint stained t-shirt or those trousers you will never again wear in public.