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As an avid sweatpants and hoodie wearer, I chose to bring along lots of cute little outfits for my recent vacation. Why?
I have always been a big fan of comfort. There were periods of my life when I would vehemently oppose any attempt to get me into pants with a zipper or button, only accepting those with an elastic waistband.
Growing up in private schools, I was forced into a daily uniform of polos and skirts, but would get out of those clothes as soon as possible. Now in college with my first dose of clothing freedom, I dress primarily in sports shorts, sweatpants, hoodies, and T-shirts. My rationale: who am I trying to impress? When is the best time to make the most out of comfy clothes if not my college years?
Packing for vacation is the only time that I wish I had more cute clothes in my closet than practical ones. The reason? When you’re planning on going on a vacation, you’re normally planning on taking photos. Do you really want to look back on your vacation photos with contempt for your fashion choices? I certainly do this -- on a European vacation in middle school I wore almost solely Hollister graphic t-shirts.
Thus, when I recently went on a second European vacation, I learned from my past mistakes. I put together outfits that I hopefully won’t be embarrassed by in a few years without sacrificing practicality (most still had pockets and I wore no shoes that would tear up my feet)
Besides looking back at photos with regret, there is another dreaded aspect to consider: looking too much like a tourist. High school spirit weeks tend to have “Tacky Tourist” days for a reason -- it is really easy to become one.
When traveling, there are a lot of factors to consider. Many people opt for tennis shoes in anticipation of a long day of walking and a big backpack full of things like sunscreen, documents, water bottles, and jackets.
The problem? People look like tourists for a reason. It’s hard to blend in with locals when you have different needs and priorities than the locals during your time there.
It seems that most people end up somewhere in the middle: cute enough for photos, but still probably toting a backpack or sporting some sensible shoes. Realistically, even if you have no “tourist” attire, constantly snapping photos and appearing lost or bewildered will probably give you away anyway.
The ultimate reason that we try to dress fashionably for vacation probably comes down to the recent trend of Instagram photoshoots. We are now pretty much expected to have extremely picturesque travel photos that look like something ripped out of a fashion magazine. If it weren’t for this pressure, a lot of us would probably be happy dressing like the average tourist (unless, maybe, we are trying to avoid pickpocketing). I know that I typically dress up a little in anticipation of my next great Instagram post, but I don’t think I would dress up at all, or at least not to the extent that I have, if I weren’t planning to post any photos.
However, even for those who normally opt for comfort over fashion, like me, it can be nice to have an excuse to break out the cute outfits. I normally reserve cute outfits for “special” occasions, and what could be more special than a vacation? For those who are full-time students or workers, having a reason to pull out your best pieces and accessories for a few days can be really rewarding (the Instagram or Facebook response can be rewarding as well).
Whatever our motivations, there is nothing wrong with prioritizing fashion when on trips, and there is also nothing wrong with dressing like a typical tourist. Dress how you want and you likely won’t regret it (too much).
Stephanie is an undergraduate student at Washington College. She is an English major with minors in Journalism, Editing, and Publishing, and Justice, Law, and Society. When not writing, you can find her either at a concert, reading a book, or petting a cat.