Or any royal, foreign diplomat, or conscientious celebrity on a world tour. October and November finds me traveling a lot out of the town for business and pleasure (not the same trip). As a keen follower of the British Monarchy and casual observer of other European Royals, I have picked up some packing tips . . . I have just never implemented them . . . until now. While Queen Victoria rarely traveled for diplomatic missions or even outside of the Great Britain for any purpose, her descendants are much more savvy about royal representation and the image of the monarchy.
Previous generations of Royals would occasionally incorporate some of these factors in their travel trousseau, but now it is de rigeur for the modern monarchs. I plan on using these considerations when I travel out of state and especially out of country. I find to incorporate this list for various cities within the state seems a bit silly and “too much.”
When packing a travel wardrobe things to be mindful of:
Are you traveling to Norway in the Winter? The Amazon Jungle in Autumn? Russia in Spring? Or Africa in the Summer? Practicality trumps all, sorry fashionistas. If you wear short-shorts in the middle of Winter in Scandinavia you are not going to look attractive knocking your teeth and knees together to keep warm. Instead you will look less than intelligent. Please pack accordingly! Even the 19th century Russian monarchy wore furs in the winter.
Does your itinerary call for you to a visit to a sheep farm in Edinburg (I’ve done this and highly encourage it–Puppies! Lambs! .. . Puppies!)? The White House Ball in DC? A sailing adventure in Barcelona? Cocktail party with the Mothers of Philanthropy (not a real organization) and their brood in Sydney? There is always a dress code for every occasion whether it is written on the invitation or not. Again, while you CAN wear 16″ platform stilettos to the sheep farm, the farmer and family will think you are not right in the head. Granted, it is always more acceptable to be more dressed up than to be underdressed for occasion. If you are not sure of the difference between black tie, cocktail, and business casual learn quickly! The Victorians were obsessed with the Code, there are rule books for this very sort of thing. A wealthy Victorian could not simply wear a day dress to tea nor a tea dress to a Court Ball.
For me this usually equates no shoulder baring tops nor plunging necklines during the day. I rarely wear shorts, skirts, and dresses while the sun is out. The night is for more revealing outfits. I also have my own philosophy of jewelry and accessories, which we need not get into. I am also a big proponent of ruffles, lace, yokes, and high collar blouses; basically Victorian-esque fare. I do not completely change my style when traveling, nor is one expected to. If the Duchess of Cambridge walked out in a meat-dress a la Lady Gaga, the Queen and half the world will have a stroke. Or from a historical standpoint, if Queen Victoria went out in something trendy and fashionable, her people would pleasantly shocked. Own your style/brand, but make some allowances for . . .
This is HUGE for modern royals. All forms of the destination’s symbols and signs are considered and incorporated as much as possible. What is the locale known for? What colors are associated with their flag? What other symbols are on the flag? The national/state tree, bird, animal, etc . . . you understand. Taking examples from The Duchess of Cambridge’s recent Canadian Tour: maple leaf brooch and hat and red and white/cream ensembles were a nice nod to her host country. I do not have any leads as to whether any aristocrats or monarchs from the 19th century employed this gracious tactic. As for me, I plan on purchasing an accessory; jewelry, scarf, reticle, or something indicative of the place I am visiting.
This ties in with symbolism as well as being mindful of religious or cultural sensitivity. Some places of worship call for women to cover their hair, wear their skirt at a certain length, or require certain footwear or none at all. Do not be an ugly tourist, be mindful and acquiesce assuming it does not infringe with your own beliefs (and if it does, merely do not attend!). A good host will be aware of these things and not force your hand to anything you find uncomfortable. On the other hand, one of the best ways modern royals honor their host country is to wear or be seen with items made by the host state/country. Celebrities, dignitaries, and royalty are aware they are viewed as taste-makers and walking billboards. It is a big boost to the local economy when a celebrity of any stripe wears a local fashion house, jewelry brand, or carries the purse from a street vendor. Thus said, no need to sacrifice personal style! If you fancy a certain silhouette find it in a more exotic fabric the host location is known for or color associated with place you are visiting. Again, this was not a real consideration of 19th century royalty. If they happened to purchase something while out of town, excellent, but it was not typically a premeditated decision as it is now. When I purchase local at a new place, I am more than likely in some antique shop or “old town boutique.”
Look for upcoming entries with how this all played out in my visits elsewhere.