An introduction to the problem at hand & the danger of the weekly shop.
For most of my life I have worked in, lived in and travelled abroad to hot countries. I have become accustomed to the most extreme of the warm climates; from the arid dust of the desert to the soggy humidity of the Far East. What I am yet to become accustomed to, what I still find perplexing, sometimes shocking, even upsetting is what happens to normally well put together people when they touch down at their holiday destinations.
I am not sure what it is that makes them decide to forgo the basic shorts and t-shirt combo? Why do they become unable to resist the urge to opt for a colour palette loaded with the lurid hues normally reserved for confectionary packaging? A newfound love for animal prints or oversized ‘jazzy’ patterns, often further embellished with the addition of diamantes, pompoms, tassels, or all of the above. Normally this ensemble will be fashioned in such ill-suited synthetic materials that are so hot and sticky that I feel uncomfortable even thinking about them.
And we’re not done…
This assault on the senses would not be complete without the obligatory oversized hat, sandals that are yet to be broken in, and the inexplicable urge to get ‘dressed up’ and put on a full face of makeup to carry out even the most mundane of tasks.
NB: I use the word holiday or vacation loosely because some of the same bizarre decisions can also occur on business trips to warmer climates.
I thought that this phenomenon was almost exclusively reserved for us Brits, and yet after some discussion with my peers I am somewhat relieved to confirm that this is not just another shortcoming of the awkward British traveler and indeed a global issue. Yes, there are some nuances, slight cultural disparities and such, but for the most part this flaw does not seem to discriminate.
It’s hard to establish the exact triggers for these peculiar lapses in judgement, it’s actually reasonably easy to avoid them, but to be able to do this you must first identify your particular violations.
I should also say at this point that these choices are not always mistakes. They can be entirely deliberate, some of us will look back at those holiday photos with fond memories, those carefree days of cutting it loose in Lanzarote, that favourite (sweaty) polyester zebra print, fuchsia plastic bejewelled, kaftan and, that is absolutely fine — you go ahead. Embrace that cover up the size of a tent for 6 people, swoosh those tassels proudly, slay that floppy hat with the huge stuck on faux flowers, and enjoy that crippling waddle to the beach in those thongs (Flip Flops to us Brits). If you are someone that can own these eye-bleeding ensembles — then I tip my hat to you, this bravery should be celebrated. If you are that person, then I cannot help you, you have reached the quantum supremacy of past holiday confidence, there is no need to read on, I salute you…
This is for the rest of us!
So who am I to dish out advice on how other people can dress? What experience do I have in this particular field that qualifies me to offer guidance? Well, a lot. I myself have been a victim of this cruel mistress, I too have made extremely regrettable ‘fun holiday purchases’ and when I have looked back at the snaps (or evidence as I prefer to call it) it has sent such a violent shiver down my spine that I have been forced to deal with the situation head-on. By head-on I mean to remove, delete, eliminate; throw into a flaming bucket of gasoline, expunge into the ether, never to be seen again, so I am sorry to say that at this stage I have very few photos of my good self and am relying heavily on the kindness of my friends to illustrate the problem at hand.
The Supermarket Sweep
We should acknowledge that a large part of the blame can be assigned to retailers, in fact, in my humble opinion supermarkets are especially guilty. I mean think about it; they strategically place giant banners of ‘the perfect couple’ frolicking on a tropical beach in their festive accoutrements.
Your primary objectives were originally cat litter, toilet paper and frozen peas, so it’s pretty easy to see how you could be lured into the fantasy world of white sand and palm trees, how in that setting, that (heavily staged and edited) photo, that gaudy kaftan looks perfect, stylish even, I mean she looks great right?
It’s not long before you’re sucked into the aisles of patterns, colours, beads (seriously pick any embellishment you like, I am pretty confident it will feature) and this ‘quick look’ has escalated to you throwing things into your basket with such blind abandon that you are now staggering around with a mass of leopard, neon, polyester, spandex, unicorn vomit spilling out, thinking how well prepared you have been and how fantastic you will surely look.
Good work! Go you!
See — see how they trick you? It’s evil, pure unadulterated evil.
Some of my most hideous holiday disasters originated in the basket of my weekly shop so it’s fundamentally important you are extra diligent in that particular environment.
There are some extremely basic questioning techniques that you can apply to help you to assess the item/s suitability. This should work in almost any retail location, and can also be referred to when shopping online.
Is it Neon, Pastel, Animal print, Patterned, Embellished, Synthetic, Sheer?
Would you normally consider wearing anything similar to this? A cold weather version if you will…
Do you have the same Features, Physique, Skin tone, Boyfriend as the marketing banners?
Do you sweat and what will happen to the fabric if you do?
Do you wear sunscreen, what will happen when it gets on this item?
How much frolicking do you plan to partake in, is this really the right thing to frolic in?
Do you like walking?
Do you like your feet?
How do you look in hats?
Do you need a hat to protect you from the sun?
How can you pack this hat?
This should help you to expose some of the most common misdemeanours immediately and force you to have a good hard think about what you are contemplating doing before it’s too late.
Does this mean prints and hats and sandals are wrong? Absolutely not, these can all be perfectly chic, flattering and comfortable when considered outside of your manic weekly supermarket expedition.
Does this mean all of these fashion faux pas are as a result of supermarket purchases? Again no, but we have to start somewhere, and as almost all of us will at some point be exposed to the universal danger that is the supermarket it seems as good a place as any…
Don’t worry I will instill lots more wisdom of how to dress in extreme weather in time for your summer wardrobe and holiday acquisitions!
You are welcome 😉
For more invaluable advice check out part two published very soon: https://thelittlesthobo.me/2021/01/12/part-2-the-perils-of-humidity/