My Ever-Changing Travel Fashion

by Brenna Holeman
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Happy (and Comfortable) in Cusco, Peru
I love to travel, obviously. I also love fashion, and I love to dress up. Sometimes it’s very, very difficult to merge the two, as, as a traveller, one’s wardrobe is often dictated by the fact that it must all fit inside a small backpack or suitcase. Add rapid changes in climate and constant movement, and it becomes harder and harder to dress fashionably while on the road.

Instead of throwing my hands up in the air and donning a pair of dreaded tear-away trousers (you know the ones), I’ve decided to embrace my surroundings and take notes from the places around me. The clothes in my backpack are constantly changing, then, shifting from culture to culture.

Fashion in Russia

Moscow, Russia
In Russia and Eastern Europe, it was all fake fur and red lipstick, warm coats and long braids. Yes, the warmth was a necessity, but if one can’t wear red lipstick in Moscow, where CAN one wear it?

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Amritsar, India
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Varanasi, India

Fashion in India

Bhaktapur, Nepal
Fashion in India 2

Jaisalmer, India
In India and Nepal, I wore bright colours and loose layers, and piled on the jewellery. I even bought a few saris to wear for special occasions. If I could shop in any markets all over again, they would be the ones in these countries.

 Fashion in Cuba

Havana, Cuba

Fashion in Colombia

Popayan, Colombia
Fashion in Colombia 2

Cartagena, Colombia
In the hot and humid climates of Central America and Colombia, I felt the need to wear bright dresses in simple colours, my hair down, and bold pink lips.

Fashion in Japan

Tokyo, Japan
Japan is a culture of cute, so I tried my very best: flirty skirts, feminine tops, and pink sunglasses. Beer optional.

Fashion in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Fashion in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand
In Southeast Asia, I wore genie pants, glittery skirts, lots of beads, flowers in my hair, and as many bracelets and anklets as I could pile on.

Fashion in Peru

Lake Titicaca, Peru
Fashion in Ecuador

Otavalo, Ecuador
And back in the chilly countries of South America, there were alpaca scarves, knit hats, ponchos, and a mash-up of as many patterned items as I could find.

And now I’m in Brazil, where I’m once again tempted to wear red dresses and my hair wild. Do I wear berets in Paris? Yes, I do. Cowboy boots in Texas? Absolutely. A peacoat on a chilly night in London? Why not? I never mean to mock a culture, or look as though I’m wearing a costume – I just legitimately love to dress in the typical manner of the culture I’m in. I also try to support local businesses by purchasing things from markets and locally-owned shops.

But which one’s really me, you may ask. Well, I’m all of these styles, they’re all my own. When I’m in Canada, I wear an amalgamation of them all, bits and pieces of different styles that I’ve collected in my travels. I may not always be the most fashionable, the most sexy, or the most cool, but I sure do have fun wearing what I do. I live by the same rule in fashion as I do in life: I’ll try anything once.

Jumpsuits (and Laughter) in Seoul, South Korea

For more on how to feel fashionable while travelling, check out this post.

What about you? Do you dress the same when you travel or does your style change according to the country you’re in?


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Audrey Bergner December 4, 2012 - 3:03 am

Love this post! I was all about the Aladdin pants, bangles, and scarves when I was in India, and I also had quite a bit of fun with my purchases in Peru and Bolivia. I’ve got a hat like the one you’re donning and some crazy pants too. 😉

Valerie December 4, 2012 - 3:20 am

I’m always amazed by how cute & stylish you manage to look while living out of a backpack!!

Steph Lloyd December 4, 2012 - 3:34 am

sounds like it’s time to head back to india and nepal to hit those markets again!

kay* December 4, 2012 - 4:29 am

i absolutely love your style! you always look so stylish – i remember the first time we met on a chilly day in toronto – even then i thought “now this is one stylish gal” 🙂 can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!!

liveletlive December 4, 2012 - 4:38 am

loved this post! You are one stylish backpacker!

Sue @ SimonsSistaSaw December 4, 2012 - 12:39 pm

I envy your ability to always looks stylish whilst travelling. I’m not the most stylish girl at the best of times but even less so when travelling & living out of a pack. I’ve got some specific travel wear that I do love (icebreaker leggings, skirt, a couple of their looser non-tech tees & a cardi) but they’re all things I’ve been known to wear in London or at least mimic my London clothes. I’m a huge merino fan. As for dressing like a local, I guess I just don’t have the guys but I do always embrace the scarves & jewellery on offer. The exception was Ukraine, when after my experiences in Russia, I packed everything I owned with sequins, fitted in & had a fantastic time!

Unknown December 4, 2012 - 3:47 pm

Love love love! I definitely tend to be more “stylish” and put together when traveling in Europe–especially France–and a lot more laid-back with sundresses and sandals in Southeast Asia and South America. Envy all of your bracelets and lipstick, even when traveling in “laid-back” places! Great looks 🙂

Christine loves to Travel December 4, 2012 - 4:17 pm

You are the the most stylish traveler!! I am so amazed on how you manage to look amazing while only traveling with a backpack! Wish I can do that.

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures December 4, 2012 - 8:41 pm

You are simply fabulous!!!! LOVE your looks! Just gorgeous!!! My favorite pics of you are when you are in Cuba.

Kerri Strothard December 5, 2012 - 6:29 pm

you, beautiful creature, are the best dressed traveller i’ve ever seen (or had the pleasure of seeing so many exotic locations with!). i personally love your Japanese adorable-ness best, either that or wild beach dresses… and i also love the quotation “bindis were the norm” – only brenna!!!!!

Antastesia. December 5, 2012 - 7:38 pm

You look soo beautiful!
You’re gorgeous no matter what,
and oh. The ‘india outfits’ just made me want to add few pieces to my wardrobe!

This Battered Suitcase December 6, 2012 - 11:06 pm

Thank you so much for your lovely comments everyone! I think I like my India clothes best, but I always have fun dressing up.

Agness Walewinder December 8, 2012 - 6:49 pm

You look absolutely stunning in the photo from India. My fashion’s also changing every time I go somewhere different and remote. That’s an awesome part of my travels 🙂

Alana Morgan December 10, 2012 - 5:01 am

So cute – I end up wearing the same thing three days in a row whenever I’m traveling… :/

Why London Deserves Love - This Battered Suitcase September 18, 2013 - 8:12 pm

[…] fashion. I’ve spent a bit of time on this blog and on other blogs talking about my travel wardrobe, so it’s no surprise that I love fashion, […]

Noemie September 7, 2016 - 2:44 am

Where are your tan tribal boots from???!!!

Brenna Holeman September 7, 2016 - 10:46 am

I bought them from a local market in Peru!

Tara Byrne December 12, 2016 - 8:52 am

I really like this article. The wording is lovely. Your last sentence, “ill try anything once” was a really eloquent way to pull the article together. I always love to read about travel, but I wanted to compliment your writing style in particular.


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