A Dress of Definite Shape

First things first: We are in Chile and these early photos were taken in Santiago.

As I mentioned in my last post, I relied heavily on dresses for this trip. My thinking was:

Fourteen days is a long time; that’s a lot of tops, pants, and smart jackets. Perhapsleberry, too many tops, pants, and smart jackets to fit in standard suitcase. Dresses take up less space.

Voluminous dress takes up almost no space in bag

My good side

This dress is made of an extremely light cotton-silk fabric. It is so light that it is see-through when backlit and therefore requires a slip.

That brings me to my second requirement. I chose dresses with long sleeves for two reasons: first, I thought the temperature would be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit; second, I didn’t want to have to worry about sunscreen for my arms and shoulders. Yesterday’s yellow dress, with one long sleeve, is the exception.

How fun are the sleeves?

More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

It did occur to me, though, that I might look to a stranger — or a country full of strangers — like a refugee from a religious cult that requires ultra-modest dress of its women.

My bad side

These balloon sleeves are managed with elastic smocking that runs across the shoulders down the bicep and in a deep cuff around the wrist. In between all that elasticized stitching, it’s free range.

In the middle, the sleeves are shouting at the top of their lungs

The smocking runs across the entire bodice down to the natural waist. It’s a clever way to get a tight fit through the top to balance the full skirt, which bells out from the natural waist.

Smocking so clever

Come closer and take a gander at the sleeves.

These sleeves are: lanterns, balloons, accordians, hard candies wrapped in cellophane
Sleeves are having the time of their lives on this trip

And now, enough of my yammering about clothes. Let’s take a look at Santiago.

It’s alive; a shaggy building next to our hotel

We stayed in Barrio Lastarria.* This shaggy building looks like an art installation, but it’s not . . . although the Museum of Visual Arts was next door and both buildings were just steps from our hotel.

The Museum of Visual Arts was a beautiful space showing contemporary art, including several large installations. Opposite is one of three rooms showing the work of Bocso Sodi, inspired by the mystery and power of nature. In particular, lava.

The Photographer tells the Directrice to incorporate herself into the piece

One of the other exhibits in the space was a collection of archeological artifacts suspended in an enormous (20 feet long and 8 feet high) display case; the suspension of objects was intended to represent the illusion of possession and movement of material things through time. I think. It was visually stunning and intellectually provocative.

And now, I must ask the question that may touch off a flame war that lasts 100 years.

For a long trip (10-14 days), do you think it’s better to travel with two smaller bags (e.g., a checked suitcase and a carry-on duffel or courier bag) or one huge suitcase? We each packed one suitcase to check (22″ x 16″ x 9″ — expanded by 3″ for a total depth of 12″) and then carried on board collectively one small suitcase, a courier bag, and our personal bags (a handbag for me, a manly satchel for him).

I think smaller bags are the better approach for three reasons: (1) I (personally) can lift each bag; (2) airports provide trolleys for corralling the bags between baggage claim and a taxi, and; (3) risk is diversified — the airline can’t lose all the bags. But I am interested in your strategies and am open to persuasion!

More photos of Chile — photos without me and my dresses – and travel commentary to come.

Dress: Ganni; Shoes: Doc Martens

* Note to Linda: We did go to the Providencia, but we didn’t stay there.

15 thoughts on “A Dress of Definite Shape”

  1. Ooh, that dress is deceptively magnificent (the smocking made me swoon, but you can’t see it from a distance) and looks comfortable/practical to boot. Well done. You’re reigniting my desire to travel to Santiago… Buen viaje!

    p.s. I agree with the small bag approach in principle, though I’d carry aboard only two, not three, separate bags if I could help it to avoid the hazard of looking for whatever thing I need in the wrong bag. And I like to shop when I travel. So maybe I like the large checked bag in practice.

  2. The dress is perfection with those sleeves and watching sun exposure is best. Nothing cuts the fun of vacation like sunburn. The smaller bag theory is how I’ve always traveled since your assessment that they can’t lose it all is fundamentally correct. The travel pictures are so fun as I have not traveled there. Do have a great time.

  3. I try to avoid checking a bag whenever possible. When I travel, I like to shop, so I travel with a carry-on bag that is not filled to capacity AND a backpack. I may pack the backpack inside the carry-on or carry it (with my purse inside). For the return flight, I usually check the now full carry-on bag.

    After many trips and many suitcase configurations – regardless of the length of the trip, I now try to pack the absolute minimum. Next month, I go to Paris for 5 days and am only taking the shoes on my feet and one additional pair, maximum.

    Have a grand time! Thanks for sharing your vacation with us loyal readers!

    • Similar. I never check a bag. I have taken several 2 week vacations with a carry on and a backpack. I use a very small purse that fits inside of the back pack.

  4. Love the idea of sticking to dresses. I’ve started shopping for my wedding in Western England and then a 2 week honeymoon and the goal is dresses that can be 1. reworn and 2. easily packed!

  5. I agree with your packing approach for long trips — one checked suitcase per person (though not enormous; more like the largest possible size that qualifies as a carryon), one tote/briefcase per person, and then one duffel bag carryon that has essentials (PJs, toiletries, and enough underwear and clothes for the first 2 days of the trip for both of us).

    For trips where shopping is likely, I pack an empty duffel which would become our 4th total carryon item if needed.

    I like to pack efficiently and carryon-only when possible (e.g., easy warm weather beach trip) but enjoy wearing a variety of pretty clothes on vacation far too much to be the virtuous “light packer” who heads to Thailand for two weeks with nothing more than a backpack full of Orvis’s washable-in-the-sink finest.

    Your trip looks fabulous — looking forward to more.

  6. Love love love. And even better the dress is still for sale and I am buying one right now. Great way to make all your black basics work without wearing black head to toe. In too much of a hurry to get one to answer the bag question!

    • Lee — I forgot to mention! The dress was original a maxi, or very long midi, length. I had Fatima cut off a foot or so of fabric and create a deep five inch hem to add a little weight at the bottom – just below my knee.

  7. Fabulous photos!! Thanks for the update on Providencia – it really is lovely! Barrio Lastarria is also spectacular. I lived in Providencia but worked in Barrio Lastarria and walked most days so I could take in as much of the city as possible! Enjoy!!
    Also not sure if Como Agua para Chocolate is still open in Bella Vista, but it was great food and a very interesting atmosphere when I lived there – well worth a trip!

  8. Thank you for that update about the length. I suspect I will be heming as well. The super long length limits its wearabilty. Have fun!

  9. Bag checker here. I go for baggage I can lift myself.
    If the going gets tough you won’t be looking around for someone to do it for you. You can do for yourself.

  10. I check a large suitcase, and only carry on the essentials in a backpack. I know I am taking a chance, but I like being hands-free in the airport and not worrying about over-head bin availability. I do regularly travel with my small child, so I am typically chasing/carrying/dragging her through the airport.


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