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An Instant Way to Add Flair to Your Travel and Tourism

This sculpture in downtown DC goes with my dress!

This sculpture in downtown DC goes with my dress!

My dear friend Meg and I were sitting in an open-air Spanish restaurant in Washington DC earlier this month when we noticed it.

“Women here in DC dress well,” declared Meg as she chomped into a garlic shrimp and gazed onto the street. My friend was feeling particularly fashion-conscious that week, as an article had just come out declaring her native San Francisco one of the sloppiest-dressed cities in the U.S.

“I mean, look at that!” Meg exclaimed, pointing toward a gaggle of ladies gliding by in the hot sun. “Every DC woman has on a cute sundress. Sundress there! Sundress there! And another sundress there!”

“You’re so wrong,” I scoffed as I covertly stole the last bacon-wrapped sausage. “Look at that pack of schlubs over there with their baggy khaki shorts and cheesy old T-shirts. They’re not fashionable at all.”

Meg cackled triumphantly. “But that only proves my point that DC dresses well! Look at the cameras and maps those people are clutching… they’re tourists! And that’s why they look like slobs. DC dresses well. Tourists don’t.”

Pretty Meg, the White House, and a sloppy tourist.

Fancy Meg, the White House, and a sloppy tourist.

Ahh, yes! I flashed back to my nine months traveling around the world. It is painfully true that when you are navigating a new place, fashion is frequently the last thing on your mind. Moreover, if you’ve packed light, you only have a handful of clothes with you, anyway! During my time in Southeast Asia and West Africa, especially, I heard a boatload of complaints from locals about how disrespectful they found tourist clothing to be.

At that moment, Meg and I realized that WE, too, were slobby tourists in a fashionable city. And so, we decided to try an experiment: tourism in formal wear!

We were in DC for a wedding anyway, so it worked perfectly. The next morning, I donned my sleek cobalt blue dress and heels, and Meg slipped into a fancy ruffled orange number. Between wedding events, we would hit the DC sights in our full finery, and check out the difference fancy clothing made on the sight-seeing experience!

The results of our Tourism in Formal-Wear experiment were extraordinary. Here are the reasons why you, too, should try this sometime:

The Washington Monument and fashionable Meg.

The Washington Monument and fashionable Meg.

1. Our photos turned out abnormally well, given that we were dressed up! Indeed, the regal sights of Washington DC truly call for dresses next to them, not khaki shorts.

2. People were stunningly nice to us all day, thanks to our outfits. One of the solemn-looking guards at the White House took the time to tell us facts about the President’s home, using a far kinder tone to us than he did for the grubby other sight-seers.

3. Our fancy clothes made us feel an air of festivity and excitement the whole tourism-filled day.

4. A lot of folks we passed mistook us for important people on the way to something important, given our elite look, and so they sort of cleared a reverential path for us.

5. We fit in with all those sundress-wearing DC ladies.

Looking elite outside DC's historic Decatur House.

As polished tourists outside DC’s historic Decatur House.

Some downsides to Tourism Whilst Fancy:

1. Blisters and crippling pain from trudging miles in heels, duh.

2. Lots of walking-in-sun-induced sweat glooping up our nice duds.

3. Catcalls.

4. No pockets in fancy dresses.

So there you have it. Our experiments hereby prove that if you want to spice up your tourism for a day or two during travel, throw on a fancy outfit! You’ll feel special, your photos will look good, and others may treat you as special, too! Just make sure to also pack some sneakers and shorts for the rest of your trip. :)

Readers, chime in: what are YOUR experiences of the effects fashion choices have on how your travel day goes?

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Wednesday 8th of October 2014

We discovered the impact of dressing well on vacation quite by accident in Rome. With so many churches, you have to dress modestly in the first place, but we decided to do "fashionable" as well. I mean, it's Italy, after all! Not surprisingly, the selfies are some of our favorites because we actually look presentable! But also, you are treated with more respect and politeness when you dress the part - no surprise there. Even dressing in "vacation mode" can be fashionable rather than sloppy. There are such things as nice shorts! ;)


Thursday 9th of October 2014

Well said!


Sunday 26th of May 2013

Interesting read, which I read with a smile on my lips :) I take my cultural background advantage here: I almost often travel with an attire adjusted to travel, but still of my genetic origin i.e. Pakistan: I wear 3/4 pants or full pants with a comfy fit and a tunic to go along. Tunics have the benefit of always looking: nice, un-touristy, you are protected from sunshine on your skin and yet not too hot and being airy. I can walk like this into any shop, restaurant or turn up at a beach, go for shipride and will not be out of place. No religious place turns me away for improper dress. I usually have some kind of shawl with me, which will help in A/Cs, cathedrals,mosques etc. or at beaches :)


Sunday 26th of May 2013

Great fashion and culture tip! Love it!


Tuesday 23rd of April 2013

I once wore my crocs in Paris... what was I thinking!


Tuesday 23rd of April 2013

Hehe :) I'm sure I've done something similar, many times. Sometimes you gotta be comfy!

Kailee Bright

Wednesday 13th of June 2012

That's a really good idea. I remember when I was in Florida... Everybody was dressed well and I was in some old clothes. Oh! And did you visit the Nando's there? It's one of the only ones in America.


Wednesday 13th of June 2012

What's Nandos??

Pola (@jettingaround)

Monday 11th of June 2012

This was so much fun to read! :) I try to combine bringing something comfy with something fancy. When I travel, I explore the dining scene and am bound to end up at a restaurant where shorts and sandals are probably not encouraged... Now, it doesn't always have to mean dresses, but I am not a flip flop or gym shoes kinda gal. You can be comfy and stylish and that's what I try to do on the road. :) Dressing nicely generally puts me in a good mood - combine that with travelling and I'm one super-happy person.


Monday 11th of June 2012

Love it!

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