June 9, 2020
Watching lots of people wandering about with backpacks, this last weekend, I was wondering what everybody was carrying! I know, water bottles, spare phone batteries etc. but I wondered if they had any clothes with them…
And that got me to thinking about what you want to have handy if you’re going to be out for a LONG day. Say you start out with breakfast and sight seeing early in the morning. You’re going into areas that are air conditioned, and the weather might turn flat-out cool later in the evening. What to do?
This is something that I’ve tried to remember to do, when packing, for years – make certain that I’ve got at least 3 tops with me that can ALL be worn together, or in any various combination of 2, or of course each top alone:
This is NOT to be confused with a week’s worth of tops! (unless you can get laundry done really quickly…) But what it provides is a range of options for those situations with the weather is either completely unpredictable, or very changeable.
This is the kind of idea that might apply to a range of situations; what if you know you’re going out for a couple of “nice” events, but you’re not sure what you’re going to want to wear? Imagine these 3 tops, along with a nice pair of black pants, and a black skirt. You’ve got so many options…
To me, even if you’re backpacking across Europe, (heck, ESPECIALLY if you’re backpacking across Europe) this idea still works. These next 3 are the core of a million possible outfits:
If you’re preparing for colder weather, having the option of layer up, or just wearing a simple top, can make all of the difference between being constantly cold or being comfortable:
But this idea works just as well if you’re preparing for warm-weather activities!
When I travel, I’m particularly fond of being prepared with a flannel shirt and a warm sweater, along with a tank top that functions rather like long underwear. If you have these things with you, you might survive without the world’s heaviest parka!
It’s not necessary to include a printed or patterned shirt to make this work – this idea will be just fine with solid colors pieces:
Speaking of laundry, wearing a tee shirt under you silk blouse the first time you wear it means that it hasn’t been up against your skin much at all, and isn’t at all too soiled to wear again. And then the sweater, which had something worn under it, is ALSO clean enough to wear on its own…
Even if the weather seems far too warm for this little trick to be necessary, keeping this in mind can help you assemble a nicely coordinated family of garments. And if, for example, you’re stuck overnight in the world’s coldest airport (Norfolk Virginia), you can put on ALL your clothes, and have a fighting chance of getting some rest…
Are you daring enough to include 2 printed garments in your Triple Top Secret?
Of course, the logic of having these 3 pieces in your closet isn’t necessarily related to travel; you could certainly use all of these ideas in the comfort of your own home….
p.s. Nine years ago, I advised you to take a few photographs. I’m STILL advising you to take those photographs…
p.p.s. The Triple Top Secret for work, or for dress, was a topic for us back in 2013; as well as for casual packing….
Beth T says
Layering is essential for a day out in the UK. You should also add a coat/jacket/waterproof and umbrella and sunglasses, particularly if sunshine and showers are forecast. You might bask in sunshine one minute and get drenched the next. Temperatures can fluctuate wildly. I’ve known it go from freezing cold to very warm between morning and afternoon.
Just before lockdown, I bought a teal plaid shirt – a medium scale plaid with dark and light teal, grey and black. It is now the centrepiece of a versatile country walks capsule. I have tee shirts in grey and teal as well as camisoles if it’s really chilly. I find that cardigan sleeves are too narrow to go over plaid shirts and I need something warmer for country walks. I wear it with a light teal cable knit jumper, a dark teal cotton textured jumper and a light grey woollen jumper. On the bottom are grey or teal jeans.
The other three items I like are the pink shirt and floral patterned cardigan. I have several patterned cardigans which add an extra dimension to a wardrobe. By picking out two different accent colours for a top and bottom, the cardigan acts as a unifying element between two colours you might not wear together ordinarily. One of my favourites is an ivory cardigan with blue flowers and purple and turquoise butterflies. I wear it with a turquoise tee and purple trousers.
Beth, your country walks capsule sounds perfect!
You bring up a great point about cardigan sleeves fitting over a shirt, like a flannel one . I even struggle to put them over long sleeved blouses . And then there is the neckline — on me I don’t care for both upper body garments to have jewel necklines — one must have a collar !
Your floral and butterfly cardigan sounds lovely, especially with the pairings of top and bottom ! Being bottom heavy, I only wear neutrals on my lower half, but the idea of colored bottoms opens up a whole new set of options !
Beth T says
I’m pear-shaped so I’m also ‘broad in the beam’. I find that dark accent colours like wine or purple or dark teal work just as well as navy. If you go for more autumnal colours then dark brown, dark olive, dark rust would do fine as well.
If you could receive a nickel for every time that I have used your secret of 3 , you’d be able to buy a very lovely scarf ! This is such a simple. yet so very effective concept ! I use it for cool mornings that graduate into hot afternoons, and when traveling from a cold climate to a much warmer one , especially with travel by plane , which I hope shall happen once again ! It’s simple concepts like this that I wonder why on earth I haven’t thought of them myself, and makes me wonder what other limited ideas I have that could improve my life if I only looked from a different perspective !
What a great concept for the French 5 wardrobe, as it provides 3 pieces that all work together for many different functions, all also while introducing a new color. I’m one of those who struggles to buy shoes that fit my odd-shaped feet (wide front, very narrow heel, plus orthotics) and to find purses to my liking, so my French 5 would be the “triple top secret” plus earrings, a bracelet, and maybe also scarf and/or necklace, depending on season. Thanks for such a great tactic!
Beth T says
I too have very wide feet, narrow heels, weak ankles and a high instep. I’m technically 3.5 (36.5) EEE, though a 4 (37) is easier to find, and I wear orthotics.
My struggles to find stylish shoes to fit are legendary.
I live in the UK and I use a specialist company called DB Shoes based in Northamptonshire http://www.widerfitshoes.co.uk
Some of their styles are a bit ‘grannyish’ but they are catering for a wide age range. My daughter approves my choices! They are doing more stylish ranges with proper heels but still well-balanced. The great thing is the wide range of width fittings, removable insoles for orthotics and deeper toe boxes. They have good sales too. Since I found them, I’ve restocked my wardrobe with shoes and boots! DB shoes do ship abroad but it is a bit pricey plus you might have to pay import duties and taxes. You would also have to pay for any returns.
Another brand which fits me are Waldlaufer (a German make). German, Italian and Portuguese brands are often naturally wider fitting.
I just searched for ‘wide fit shoes’ on the internet plus your ocountry.
Hope that helps
Linda from Bluffton says
Hi gang. I could use some help … does anyone know of a great source for camis? As background, I’m short and on the busty side; as a result, I often need to put a layering piece under certain tops/shirts so my bra doesn’t show and/or I’m not inappropriate. I want some new camis that are thin (good for layering and not hot – I don’t want the bulk of thicker tank tops), not overly long, and come in a large variety of colors. Any thoughts?
Linda, have a look at https://www.kettlewellcolours.co.uk
They have a good choice of styles, lengths and colours – a bit pricey, but they last for years.
So grateful, Sharon! I’ve ordered several.
Hi Jan and Beth,
I too have wide feet and narrow heel. Most shoes in the US don’t fit that shape of a foot. They are either wide or too narrow not wide toe box with a wider heel. Thanks for the info.
I, 99.9% of the time use your triple top secret for travel, no matter where and often make “the secret” my “in transit” wear. Also it is great for long weekend travel with pants and skirt. Thank you for this helpful solution.
TWYLT3, Back again. That should be wider toe box and narrow heel.
The striped shirt and the floral tee grouping are particularly intriguing – I’ll have to give that a try to see how it feels to wear a similar combination.
I would enjoy seeing this post expanded by using the button down shirts as the core of 5 piece clusters suitable for warm weather. Of course, adding bottoms and accessories would be great for creating small packing capsules for the quick escapes we are all so fondly looking forward to when we are once again able to safely travel.
Linda P says
Hi Janice! Dressing in layers is a survival tactic for anyone familiar with the phrase ‘lake effect’. One can travel in a 5 mile radius and experience 4 seasons per hour.
I too, have used this excellent advice for years, especially for traveling! Now when I find a cute collared shirt, I make sure I have a few tshirts and a sweater that coordinate. It helps my wardrobe be more cohesive. Thanks so much for the refresher!