Recently, a friend who is new to caravanning asked, with a furrowed brow, “Tell me, do people in caravan parks wear dressing gowns?”
Clearly, she had trips back and forth to the amenities block in mind. At home you might opt for a ratty old pair of tartan sleep pants and a favourite vintage (alright, old) t-shirt, but maybe it was different when people could actually see you making a dash for the shower?
I had to fight off the temptation to tell her that nobody would be seen dead without their hair combed and a demure dressing-gown buttoned to the neck. Images of sending her to Bras ‘n’ Things to buy something lacy and sheer also came to mind, but my conscience wouldn’t allow it. In the end, I had to confess that faded old PJs teamed with a sweatshirt would fit right in. In fact, some travellers might consider that overdressed. (Hello, the beer-bellied gent I spotted making for the showers clad only in Circa 1980 Warwick Capper-style shorts. Eek.)
I’m sure that British style gurus Trinny and Susannah would be able to come up with a long list of what is okay and not-okay, but I doubt they’ve spent much time in RV parks. So here’s my shortlist of acceptable Aussie Nomad wear for the Better Half.
WHAT TO WEAR ON THE ROAD
- Whatever Keeps you Warm
It really doesn’t matter whether you sit in the sun sipping your morning cuppa in a flower-sprigged dressing gown and pink slippers or a jacket pulled over trakky daks and Ugg boots. Nobody cares. Everybody knows that the important thing is to keep warm. If a jacket is really fashionable but too thin for chilly days, leave it at home.
- Whatever Keeps you Cool
What’s this deal with racks and racks and racks of clothes that DON’T BREATHE? I am ready to start up The People’s Movement Against Elastane. Some genius (had to be a skinny chick or a male) came up with the brilliant idea that if you make something from elastane, it will expand to fit any body size. Oh come on now. Elastane is an invention of the devil. For one thing, it is sweaty and uncomfortable in hot weather. For another, since when does ‘stretches to fit’ mean that it looks good? Who needs every excess kilo on show to the world?
When you are in the tropics and it’s nudging 40 degrees, you need cotton. Donate the nylon, acrylic and elastane pieces to your nearest Vinnies.
- Whatever Suits Your Personal Style
Does it really matter what anyone else thinks? Buy what you like. Wear what you like. Most people in van parks and campgrounds wander around in jeans, shorts, cropped pants, tee-shirts, tracksuits, assorted weights of jackets and cardies. Their feet are clad in crocs, thongs or joggers.
I did once see a woman emerge from her caravan attired in a skirt, formal jacket, high heels and pearls. I blinked and shook my head a few times to clear my vision. Then I decided she must be going to a wedding, and carried my cup of tea outside to sit in the sun in my completely tasteless leopard-print flannelette PJs, Ugg boots and mud-coloured jacket. This elegant combination was (a) warm, (b) breathed and (c) fitted my personal style – which is kind of Kmart-meets-grunge.
- Rules are Made to be Broken
Even if you dress to suit your personal style, there will sometimes be a good reason for breaking the rule. Case in point: I am more of a plains-or-stripes gal (except for the moment of insanity when I bought leopard-print PJs.) However, when I saw a dressing gown that had an oh-so-convenient zip up the front instead of a tie belt, I bought it immediately – even though it was powder-blue and (deep breath) had roses embroidered on the front. It looks kinda weird with the PJs, but the zip trumped everything else.
THREE TIPS FOR THE OTHER HALF
- Short stubbies went out years ago. Yes, I know Lowes still sells them, but trust me, this is not a good look!
- Quick rule of thumb: socks should match either your pants or your shoes. Socks of any colour with sandals is a no-no. Of course, if you really want to look preppy, you can forgo socks altogether
- If you are cheerful, kind and have a sense of humour (or look like George Clooney) you can ignore all the rules. We’ll love you anyway.