TRAVEL FASHION: 10 COOL (AND NOT-SO-COOL) THREADS FOR GLOBETROTTERS
Some travellers can't stop thinking about their packing, others really don't mind what goes into the pack. Some will agonize over which shorts to folk and what tees to take, while others will simply bundle up some threads and whack them in the backpack before making for the airport. No matter what sort you are, this list of the top 10 cool and not-so-cool pieces of globetrotting fashion might just help you look the part on your journeys this year. Enjoy…
Cool: Yogi pants
Ah, the classic yogi pant. They're the go-to travel wear for many a backpacker these days, boasting baggy dimensions and one seriously breezy interior that's great for fending off the humidity, whether that be of the Southeast Asian, South American, Indian or Sri Lankan variety. But let's not pretend it's climate control in the lower half that gets everyone so excited about wearing yogi pants. It's surely the patterns that abound on top. There's everything from psychedelic tie dye circa 1969 to intricate Hindu patterns to classic elephant motifs. Choose what you will.
Not-so-cool: The money belt
At the risk of becoming involved in an Inbetweeners-esque farce, we'll say this: wearing a money belt might not be the coolest of fashion statements on the road but it sure is a practical one. You can stow these bad boys under a tight vest for added security, or wrap them around your waist just like you're supposed to do. Stash all you baht or pesos away inside to keep them truly safe, or use them as a double layer of protection for that document wallet and passport. The choice in yours – just don't expect to look like Kate Moss while you're at it!
Cool: Board shorts
Ever since the days when the god-like Duke Kahanamoku ruled the waves of Hawaii, folk have been searching for the best all-round surfing pant. Today, everyone's pretty much agreed that it's been found. And boy has it lived up to expectations! Cue the board short, a medley of floral patterns a la Oahu that's got neat little string ties and fast-drying material. It's now become acceptable to don these baggy water bottoms for virtually any day-to-day activity in the tropics, whether that's hitting the incense-scented temples of Thailand (at least they cover the kneecaps, right?) or actually riding the wild swells of the Bukit Peninsula.
Not-so-cool: Wearable tech
Don't get us wrong, we're not tech-a-phobes in LBW, we just like to keep things in perspective. We're of the firm opinion that traveling is sometimes about shedding the frills of modern day life, and if that means leaving behind the buzzing smartphones and beeping pagers (1992 anyone?) then so be it. Surely wearable tech can only be seen as an enemy of all that? I mean, come on, who wants to get their notifications while checking out the sunrise over the South China Sea, or wondering up at Bali's colossal volcanos? Let's just try and get back to nature, shall we?
Cool: Walking boots
Anyone who's ever watched in awe at the exploits of Alexander Supertramp (check out Into the Wild) will probably have a certain soft spot for the rugged, rough and ready look that's offered by wearing a pair of worn walking boots in conjunction with your travel gear. But this clunky footwear isn't just about looking the part, it's also about being ready for a whole host of adventurous activities – think hiking through the jungles of the Krabi peninsula, or scrambling up the scree of Lombok's Mount Rinjani. What's not to love?
Not-so-cool: The Chang-branded onesie
Guilty! We've all worn one. Any veteran of the Southeast Asian circuit (and boy do we at LBW count ourselves veterans of the Southeast Asian circuit) will probably have donned the Chang vest in their time. They're sold everywhere from Khaosan Road to the night markets of Chiang Mai, and have become one of the travel threads of choice for folk in the Land of Smile. It's easy to see why. Who doesn't love a good old cold Chang, after all? Still, we simply can't bring ourselves to place them in the cool pile. Sorry: It's just too overdone!
It's crazy, it's kooky, it's colourful, which means there's pretty much nothing to dislike about a good old bout of eye-twisting, mind-boggling tie dye. Having gone full circle since the days when it reigned supreme in the likes of Woodstock circa Summer of Love, this awesome technique of making multi-hued threads is now firmly back on the fashion map again. For travellers it's worn as a testimony to free living and good vibes. Oh, and you can make it yourself – just grab a bucket, some white tees and couple of powder dyes and you're away!
Ah, come on! Seriously? Whoever really expected us to put these rubber footpads in the cool pile? Just the sight of the neon-coloured plastic soles is enough to make us run a mile down the beaches of the Thai Andaman, and that's not even mentioning the countless holes that make each pair look like some sort of Leerdammer cheese that's had a fight with a cobbler. What is it that Aragorn says? "There might come a day when Crocs are considered cool, but it is not this day!".
Cool: Maxi dresses
One for the ladies (although we're not stopping you from partaking, gents), the airy, billowing maxi dress has long been one of the top fav pieces of travel wear. They're particularly good for the sultrier reaches of the globe, when you begin to edge towards the tropics. That's not only because they seem to manage heat and humidity well, but also because they'll keep your legs covered (whether for ad hoc trips to temples or for fending off the mozzies) while looking darn elegant at the same time.
Yep, we know you might be anxious to keep undercover in the bush of Vietnam or the jungles of Costa Rica, but it's really not worth the excursion into the travel fashion sacrilege that is camo. If you're coming on an LBW tour, we can assure you that there's not going to be any surprise invasion of beachheads or Rambo-esque chases through the Cambodian wilds. And anyway, we'd prefer to see our guests in the undergrowth – not lose them!
We know we might have ruffled some feathers with our pick of not-so-cool pieces here, so if you disagree and have a love for Crocs or camo, we'd sure love to hear why in the comments below! Or, if you've got any more top travel fashion tips, be sure to leave them there too…