Adam: Can you offer some advice on packing for traveling and extended holidays? I will be on a 10-week holiday in western Europe this late summer-fall. I am at a loss as to how many sport coats, shoes etc I should pack. I know that I will be able to do laundry, which helps with some trousers and shirts. Given your obvious propensity for rigor and depth, the type and degree of information I am looking for would be something like: Can you recommend a shoe that is suitable for traveling and walking through museums etc. a lot? Some days will be touristy, while others are less packed. How does one look cool, wear cool shoes and not wear down shoes or kill one’s feet? Trainers/converse just won’t do. (Other questions: how many shoes? Should I bring my polish kit?)
Wow, that’s a lot of questions Adam. Specific advice on what you should take would require more information though – on your taste, formality of dinners or evening events etc. But I can certainly pass on some advice.
First, once you’re away for more than two weeks it doesn’t matter how long you’re away for. The amount of clothes is the same. You just have to look after them better and wash more.
Next, the key to shoes and jackets is to take a range that is flexible and, together, will fit any situation. So, for jackets I would take something like: navy cashmere blazer, checked sports coat (in perhaps a pale grey ground) and a corduroy or Harrington jacket.
The idea is that the blazer would be smart enough for anything, bar the opera; and the corduroy would be rough enough for anything (walk home across a field from a country pub, perhaps). In between these two extremes, they provide variety. And they can be alternated during the day as well – donning the blazer for a nice dinner out, for example.
Three is also a good number for shoes. You need at least two, so they can be alternated every day, and three means they can also be changed in the evening if they’ve had heavy wear.
Again, you want to cover all your bases. So at one end, perhaps a smart pair of Oxford lace-ups in chocolate calf, at the other a pair of desert boots in biscuit suede, and in between something for variety – monk-straps, perhaps, or slip-ons for easy days at the hotel.
These will cover all eventualities unless you want to go running, hiking, to the beach or to a business meeting. Unless there are any formal evening events, you won’t need black shoes. And the desert boots will be rough and ready enough for that walk back from the pub.
As to your more specific questions, a good pair of well-fitting leather shoes should be the best thing to walk around in all day. Lace-ups support you better than slip-ons or boots. And you probably won’t need your shoe-polish kit. Just brush the shoes down every day after you’ve worn them and take at least one pair of travel shoe trees, to put in after you’ve brushed them.
Make good use of good dry cleaners and cobblers where you are staying, and give all of your clothes some love when you get back home.
Any more specific questions, let me know. And enjoy your trip!