Dreaming of a Wardrobe of Joy Instead of Travel Outfits

I just bought a new pair of pants. Sorry, I’m in the British isles and that sounds salacious so I’ll rephrase – I just bought new leggings. They’re cheetah print and they have pockets and they were a non-horrifying price and that’s all I really need to know right now.

So now I own four pairs of pants. When I shop these days, which is incredibly rare, I look for a few key aspects: can it be washed in a hostel sink? Is it a natural fiber so I don’t sweat to death hauling my backpack around? Is it decent enough quality to last months of hard wear, without being so nice I’ll be sad when it inevitably gets ruined?

And that’s it. For someone who loves clothes as much as I do, that’s a deeply depressing checklist.

Yearning for the impractical

I want white silks! I want lacy pajamas! I want a strange lace-up jumpsuit that I can wear without thinking about how many bus station bathrooms I’ll have to use that day! (Why are the floors always so wet?!) I want fashionable frivolous fun. I don’t want more black practical shit.

But I don’t want them enough to have a bigger backpack or to wiggle out of my jumpsuit in that bus station bathroom. So instead, I spend my long bus rides imagining lives for myself based around a wardrobe item or two.

What lives could I be living, and what would I wear?

My latest new life plan came after seeing this caftan and its very beautiful friends in the new Liberty London resort collection (all their clothes are fantasy-life worthy tbh).

Solo female travel wardrobe
Hello, lover.

That beautiful silkiness! I want ten of them swanning around a Greek island and to afford this life I will need to find a Greek shipping magnate’s heir (like that time Paris Hilton dated one!) and become his mistress.

I’ll wear some wildly outrageously expensive Tom Ford fragrance to complete the vibe (Soleil Blanc, maybe? It smells like what I imagine this life would be like.). Marriage is too much commitment for this scenario as I need to be free to lounge in my caftans most of the day. This is a very foolproof plan, you guys.

Greece beach in Crete
The Crete beach of my caftan fantasies, though Santorini will also do nicely.

Another vague life plan is to move to Venice as a glamorous mysterious widow who mostly wears black lace and has a tiny veil to wear in church. I’m a single atheist so the practical parts of this one are challenging but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. My perfume would be Santa Maria Novella’s rose scent and I’d spend Sundays after church in Harry’s Bar drinking bellinis and flirting with minor celebrities.

Sunset over Union Hall in West Cork Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way
The little fishing village where my brother lives.

I sometimes go back and forth on moving to a tiny cottage in an Irish fishing village by the sea in West Cork. I’d wear mostly giant cashmere wraps and keep my hair wild and curly and have a family of cats who live nearby and come in to curl up by the peat fire sometimes.

I smell like my favorite Vanille Incensee – cozy and warm and a little rebellious. I go for daily walks over the fields with my pair of sad-eyed greyhounds in my Burberry and practical but chic boots and the townspeople think I’m lovely but a bit odd.

It sounds a bit ridiculous now that I think on it – escapism when I’m already on a long escape from my old life. But it soothes something in me that misses a few things of settled life: a comfortable bed that’s all mine with silk pillowcases and down pillows, a towering shelf full of actual books, clothes that are designed for beauty and coziness more than practicality and bus rides.

I find myself frequently lingering over shop windows full of fluffy sweaters and fuzzy slippers – things I love that don’t fit in my little backpack. I even had to abandon my only sweatshirt because it was too bulky, and so now I live in leggings and thin black merino sweaters. And Tevas with socks, which brings deep shame to my soul but is also comfy as hell and it’s too cold for just sandals in Scotland.

I love the few items I carry with me because they allow me to do what I’m here to do – explore, wander, walk – without thinking about them too much. And that’s exactly what I need right now traveling alone as a woman. My head and my heart are expanding as my possessions contract. But damn it’s fun to pick out silk caftans sometimes.

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