You guys, I’m headed to Greece on Wednesday, and I’m kind of freaking out for two reasons: 1. I’m going alone—what am I supposed to do with my hands and all those extra thoughts without an almost-four-year-old to wrangle? 2. Outfits!
Typically, I would basically buy a whole new wardrobe for my vacation, and this seemed 100% necessary and worthy of putting myself in financial distress. But now that I’m part of a family of four, I need to be reasonable. It has required some serious rewiring of how I think, but I’ve managed to control myself this time around.
Just in case some of you out there face the same challenge come vacation time, here are a few tactics that have saved my wallet (and probably my marriage) as I’ve navigated solo-vacation preparation:
1. Go Shopping.
Window shopping—either at brick-and-mortar stores (but who has time for that?) or online. If you’re shopping IRL, grab all the things you feel you must have and try them on. Take pics in the dressing room of the items that look amazing. If you’re shopping online, load up your virtual shopping carts with your “essentials.” The key here is: don’t buy anything. I of all people know this is equivalent to sending an alcoholic to a bar, but practice some serious self restraint and don’t click the buy button. (If you need some encouragement: studies show that people who can delay gratification are more successful.)
Take those photos and/or your virtual shopping cart (on your mobile device or print it out) and bring the data to your closet. What do you already have that’s similar or serves the same function? Kaftans pretty much defy trends—they are magnificent, mobile, chiffon tents. If, like me, you already have 10 in your closet, you probably don’t need another one. You might really, really want a new one, and it’s so fun to have a new one, but groceries are nice, too.
3. Speaking of trends…
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to buy something new to satisfy the current fashion fancy. If you’re as old as me, you may find that there’s nothing new under the sun. When Birkenstocks became a fashion it-girl obsession a few years ago (which seems to still be going strong, yay), I was thrilled because I already owned several pairs. Maxi dresses come in and out and I always own a closetful. It’s the same with platforms. I have a long history with them, and they currently happen to be back on the fashion scene in full force.
4. Practice styling.
You hear it all the time and it’s true: it’s all about how you style it. One of my favorite ways to while away hours I should be spending writing is to peruse street style galleries on Refinery 29, Elle, Vogue, etc. I get so much inspiration from these images. You’ll find that the women and men who catch the attention of photographers are having fun with their outfits, not conforming strictly to some trend report. Sure, there are trends to be found in street style roundups, but these women are creating something new with the latest hot thing—and many are creating future trends. Take their cue and style your outfits in a way that makes you feel like you having the best time ever.
5. Be Smart and Flexible.
If you’ve gone through steps 1-4 and find that you really don’t have the item of your dreams languishing in your closet, then you have permission to buy something new. But, again, be flexible and practice some restraint.
For example, I really wanted a pair of those Adidas Superstar sneakers that everyone’s been pairing with dresses lately. And they would be perfect for tramping around Athens—how lovely would it be to not have terribly sore feet? So I headed to Amazon and found them for $120. But then I remembered that I could buy big kids sizes (just subtract 2 to get your big kid size) and it would cost even less. I re-searched and found the big kid version for $70. Not so bad, really, but I hesitated to spend that much when I already had a few (ahem) pairs of sneakers in my closet. So I paused and thought for a moment.
I had noticed the pastel version of the Adidas sneaks making the rounds on Instagram recently, so I searched around Amazon for something similar in pink or blue. I found these Pumas in “desert flower” for $36. They would be fun with my shades-of-blue Ali Golden dress, my Mara Hoffman kaftan, jeans, etc.—done!
If you’re having a hard time letting go of that one particular style or brand you originally pined for, remember that adaptability is the key to happiness.
Don’t let the stress of vacation-packing pressure you into unnecessary spending—never mind that this is comically ironic coming from me. I’ve finally (mostly) come to terms with the idea that if it’s already in your closet, save your hard-earned dollars for poolside cocktails. Or rent.
[Photo by Inma Ibanez via Unsplash]