Travel: I Want to Pack Like Patti Smith
|Photo: Rebecca Miller for the Washington Post|
She is famous for being the lightest-packed person on her tour; for months on the road, she takes multiples of very similar clothes, which always include black dungarees.
This is not for everyone; a friend takes three hair appliances, and enough cosmetics to stock Sephora and can't imagine otherwise.
I am a Patti packer. For a trip of a few weeks, you only need one long weekend's worth of clothes, given laundry facilities, no formal appearances and only minor temperature fluctuation. That fits into a carry-on bag and a smallish backpack that's your "personal item".
The key is to begin with one Launchpad Look. If you've never done it, here's how:
1. Think of what you will do on a typical day. Dress for that in something you enjoy wearing—you would wear it every day if you could. Neutrals serve well, but if you prefer "hot mustard" trousers, that's it!
Put on the coat or jacket, shoes and day bag you will carry.
Check that in your mirror. When you feel an inner chime of contentment, this is your Launchpad Look.
2. Build off that, and only off that. Keep the bottom, add a few tops.
Flex to some warmer or cooler tops, but riff on the Launchpad Look, choosing only variants, or multiples of the same item. If away for weeks, make at least one a pattern or interesting colour. (Shown, J. Crew Tippi sweater in brown/pink leopard leopard).
Patti takes multiple Ann Demeulemeester and Electric Ladyland tees.
3. Choose two more bottoms that work with all the tops. A dress counts as a top+a bottom. Don't add other outerwear.
4. Accessories: Add several scarves or shawls, and the jewellery you will wear every day. Optional: hat, gloves; a day bag that packs flat, like Baggalini's Zipper Crossbody or Everyday Crossbody.
5. Pack two pairs of shoes; usually one pair is boots or booties. Even in summer, fly in closed shoes and socks. Planes often leak frigid air at foot level, and covered shoes are important to safety.
6. The one area for extras: what Patti charmingly calls "underwears", and socks—because even though these can be washed in a sink, sometimes you don't feel like it. A few camisoles add warmth without bulk; I like Uniqlo's HeatTech.
I don't take workout gear; walking supplies exercise and I can do yoga in the room, in my underwears and a tee. I take minimal, multi-use cosmetics like Eight Hour Cream, a few 1ml perfume decants and only essential medication.
At this point, one might be tempted to throw in extra tops and then, another jacket. In the back of the mind is the fear, I'll look like a dumb tourist.
Take succor from Patti, who in a recent New York Times interview said, "I feel like at my age I can do whatever I want, pretty much as long as I don't hurt anybody and that includes dressing the way I want, everywhere I go."
Pattis rocker aesthetic is not every woman's cup of loquat tea, so here are a few other Launchpad looks, fall choices for a trip to Europe or much of North America.
1. Pantsuit: Lafayette148. A suit is a travel staple for my friend Roz, who wears hers with a tee or no-iron shirt. Her coat is a classic trench in forgiving navy.
2. Tunic and slim-legged pants: J. Jill. Sonya loves colour; her coat is a surprising pinky-red wool.
3. Long cardigan, velvet pants, tee: Eileen Fisher. The velvet pants are easy-care and chic for urban locales. She sticks with EF, a nylon quilted coat.
A last detail: Sunglasses, as demo'd by Patti with longtime bandmate Tony Shanahan, in the Baltimore train station. Good for your eyes.
|Photo: Patti Smith on Instagram|
I shivered with envy when Frugal Scholar told me she had spoken to her in an railway station in Italy last summer; Frugal thanked her for her books.
Since I'm not going to have that luck soon, I'm following Patti Smith's tour to promote her latest book, "Year of the Monkey" on her Instagram account.
Now that the bag's packed, I'm away for awhile; I have left posts but may not comment.