When we signed up for a Thailand missionary trip, the inevitable question of “What do we wear?” was on our minds. We were anticipating working with many different organizations, and each of them had suggested dress codes. And then there was the issue of weather. Hot, humid weather during Thailand’s rainy season (although I often carried an umbrella, we never did see rain).
I researched various websites for tips on what to pack. The conclusion I came to is that everyone feels comfortable in something different. Some people like polyester. Some like cotton. Others swear by linen. I wanted to share what I packed AFTER THE FACT. After visiting and cruising around Bangkok, Pattaya, and Korat for two weeks, I have a better grip on what is most comfortable for ME to wear in humid weather.
I think it’s important not to get too obsessed about it, and not to spend a bunch of money trying to figure your wardrobe out. You probably have things in your closet that will be perfect for your destination. Try to think of your current wardrobe in a new way. A tip my Aunt Judi received from a fellow-traveler: Coordinate everything so you can mix and match. Make black your ” focus” color. Make brown your focus color. Make orange your focus color. Chances are you already buy a lot of one color because it’s your favorite. Go with it. I have no idea why, but blue seemed to be my preferred color of choice this year. If you pack a few solid bottoms and a few solid tops, then surely they will go with one of the patterned pieces!
(“MYO” means Million Years Old and it’s too old to find in a store right now.)
1. Blue rayon shirt, Old Navy. 2. /3. Black and coral rayon peplum blouse, Old Navy. 4. Navy rayon banded blouse, JCP. 5. Blue sleeveless chambray top, Old Navy. 6. White Boho Blouse, Old Navy 7. Silk blue/white patterned cap-sleeve blouse, Cynthia Rowley from TJ Maxx. 8. Black/cream rayon cap-sleeve blouse, Old Navy, MYO. 9. Cream cotton tunic, Old Navy, MYO. 10. Ethnic print cap-sleeve cotton blouse, American Eagle, Thrift store, MYO.
My favorite fabrics turned out to be rayon, woven cotton and silk. Dark colors, white and patterned fabrics also hide the most sweat. Not that it really matters, because everyone is sweating and it’s just a part of life. Something else that’s fun about traveling is finding clothes when you get there. That’s my favorite type of souvenir: an article of clothing that reminds me of my travels each time I put it on. (Check out my Thai pants, below!) I invested in a few new things for this summer, but a lot of it I already had in my wardrobe. I really lucked out when I went shopping, because EVERY SINGLE THING I bought was on MAJOR sale!
*A little tip when buying rayon-it shrinks! I hand wash all of my rayon clothing in cold water and line dry and it STILL shrinks. It is annoying, but I took a chance this year and bought a size up and it seemed to work well.
Now for the bottom half:
1. High-waisted, wide-leg rayon pants, Alythea, Dillard’s. 2. Blue/white print rayon palazzo pants, Dillard’s. 3. /4. Rayon “Jeannie Pants” (as my mom calls them), street vendor, Thailand. 5. Pink sheer cotton skirt, Lux, Urban Outfitters, MYO. 6. Army green cotton knee-length skirt, re-designed from dress to skirt by me :), Old Navy, MYO. 7. Printed rayon ankle-length skirt made by me, Fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics. 8. Green ankle-length skirt, redesigned from dress to skirt, thrift store, MYO. 9. Black cotton cargo capris, Arizona brand, JCP.
I also vacillated between what kind of shoes to wear. I took sandals and tennis shoes, but I didn’t wear them. I wore my Crocs every day, and flip-flops in the evening. LOTS of Thais wear crocks. You can buy those types of shoes everywhere in Thailand. We only went swimming a few times, but I am glad I had my suit. Next time I go somewhere tropical, I will for sure pack two bathing suits to rotate!
1. Arizona halterkini top, JCP. 2. Black ruched ruffled swim bottoms, Target, MYO. 3. Geometric bandeau top, J.Crew. 4. Brown flip flops, shoe outlet, MYO. 5. Black crocs, style: Jayna.
If you’re headed to a tropical location, I hope these tips helped. If you are going on a mission trip, here are some reasons behind what I packed:
1. Sleeveless will keep you cool (spaghetti strap tanks tops are not acceptable with most organizations as appropriate attire and although are accepted in some touristy areas, it is better to leave them at home).
2. Long skirts keep you cool in places like church and in schools where it is not appropriate to wear shorts. (Also, remember that you might be sitting on the ground a lot).
3. Shorts should be kept at knee-length for modesty sake.
4. A long-sleeve over blouse is a great thing to throw in your day bag if you want some protection from the sun or need to cover your arms for any reason.
5. When pants are allowed, I loved wearing my rayon “Jeannie” pants. They are loose and flowy and much cooler than jeans. But everyone in Thailand wears jeans too. It just sounded too hot to me!
6. A few cool cap-sleeve blouses cover your upper arms without having to wear a full sleeve.
7. Make sure to check ahead of time if you are going to visit a temple, as they often have dress-codes. I saw a lot of men buying rayon pants from vendors across from the The Grand Temple. They pulled them on over their shorts because they were dressed inappropriately.