I don’t know about you, but for me, being active outside is a blessing and a curse. I love actually being in nature–it’s where I calm my head and heart, and reconnect with what really matters. But… I pretty much loathe how I feel while outside when the weather is extreme. I know I am not alone here: feeling cold and damp outside while longing for my warmer/dryer sartorial options.
Why are women with any leaning toward the fashion world so underserved in the outdoor arena? To be honest, this question is at the core of my personal path winding away from runways and closer to the life I really live. I want to get outside and explore more than I already do (which is already fairly regular, like 3-6 times per month, depending on the season.) I want to be an active and adventurous grown-ass woman, hell… bombshell! I want to be around the boardroom table as much as I am around the campfire. And I’m not finding the clothes I’m looking for… so perhaps I’ve found my calling.
That said, or right now, anyways, I lean towards a ‘fair weather’ approach when packing for my weekend adventures. (I can’t lie, I am not so outdoorsy that I enjoy sitting – even if I’m warm and dry – in a soggy wet tent for the sake of being HARD CORE.) Current trends are making it a little easier to be what I consider appropriately dressed for a long hike and warm weather camping trip. I still think there’s a lot of room to fill the gap, and am unclear as to why so little attention has been given to the female adventurer who may actually like looking like a female when backpacking.
After all, personal style (be it outdoor gear or not) and enjoying nature do not need to be mutually exclusive. Below I’ve put together my ultimate packing list for getting outside in style.
Base layers are the key to happiness in the outdoors. These retro, but not too retro, pieces by Snow Peak rock my world. AND the top can be worn fashionably on it’s own to boot! To Buy: Long Underwear Top ($99), Long Underwear Bottoms ($140)
After a long day of being active, every woman wants to slip out of their gear into something more comfy - the elusive camp dress has been found! Snow Peak’s ‘Take Kanoko Sleeping Shirt’ is perfect for proper around-the-campfire chillin'. To Buy: Camp Dress ($160)
Military meets bohemian with these killer rehabbed & embroidered pieces by Bliss and Mischief! When hiking/camping, I want not-so-precious yet totally pretty pieces tha I can play hard AND feel cute in. I’d wear this uniform on the daily if I could! Added bonus: they look great layered with denim! To Buy:Field Jacket ($518), Camp Shorts ($348)
It’s important to have layers packed and ready for the outdoors. Not just because the weather may change, but for safety too. Having a long sleeve tee can save your skin from poison ivy/oak and sunburns. Why not get flirty with it and wear Clare Vivier’s ‘Oui’ Tee!? Just say "Oui" to adventure right? Oui Raglan ($115)
Living in the Pacific Northwest basically means one should always be ready for a little rain. At the very least, you’ll need a killer raincoat. And one that’s longer will save more than just your ass. I adore this Grunden’s version because bright white is a timeless AND fashionable way of staying visible in the greenery. To Buy: Raincoat ($349)
After a few days of showerless camping (especially when backpacking) a hat is a woman’s best friend! I’m particularly in love with this roll up version by Gamine because packing light and tight is the key to happiness on long[er] adventures. To Buy: Optimo Hat ($150)
The iconic Westerlind felt hat in WHITE (super sigh, j’adore!) is a fashion girls outdoor dream hat. It’s stiff enough to hold up in a rainstorm, but also a perfect length brim to shade you from epic sun rays. PLUS, it has a cord for fastening under the chin or around the neck, which makes for an uber-chic support in windy conditions OR hotter climates.
Even in the summer while camping I can get cold at night. It's always a safe bet to pack a beanie with you, trust me! The Fjall Raven beanie in dark olive is my go to.To Buy: Rain or Shine Hat ($98), Campsite Hat ($35)
Who says action sandals have to be ugly!? I mean... for the most part they are awful, but these OC x Teva collaborations are OFF THE CHAIN cool. Pretty certain these will look just as great in the city too. To Buy: Action Sandals ($99)
Casually cool and killer classics - the special edition Arizona Birkenstocks are a refined version on a traditional design. I love them because they up the fashion anti while giving your feet the comfort they deserve after a long hike. To Buy: Campsite Sandals ($225)
I’m pretty much over the whole Heritage trend. Let’s face it, when abused one can look like they’re wearing a vintage costume OR idolizing times of yore that were not as delightful as we all like to fantasize. BUT, when integrated into more modern aesthetics, some classics just don’t need updating. Danner’s traditional hiking boots are the epitome of functional meets fashionable. Just keep them on the trail m’kay? To Buy: Hiking Boots ($360)
Why in the hell is it as hard as it is to find cool, light socks for summer hiking? WHY!? I just want some cozy, breathable pairs for wearing w/ my hiking boots annnnnnnd, sometimes to pair w/ my Birkenstocks. (Break the rule alert! When done w/ care, socks and sandals can be a major fashion win.) Two Feet Ahead’s tweed socks give some fashion flavor in a not too abrasive way. To Buy: Socks ($12)
The Anne One Piece' swimsuit by Her the Label plays double duty when packing for an adventure. It can be worn as a tank (bodysuit style) AND swimsuit, offering a dual purpose use for summer days on the river or trail. PS - The cut of this suit includes added bra like support for the bust, making for a truly active woman’s dream and upping the style points big time. To Buy: Action Swimsuit ($150)
Fanny packs had some rough times until recently. Sure, they offer superior hands free carryall action, but they tend to make one look like a, er… doufus. Fortunately times have changed. When I’m outdoors, I want my knife, some matches and perhaps some Chapstick easily accessible. I also want them to be in a fanny pack that screams ‘I’m so rad and so is my bag.’ Marlow Goods offers a sleek, yet rugged version that works well for both my work week dresses AND climbing mountains. To Buy: Bum Pack ($205)
Backpacks are a vital piece to own [and use] when headed outside. But, most make me feel like I either have to identify as a super outdoorswoman OR they are "too hip to hike" city girl. Tanner goods offers some really fun options [the rucksacks are my fave] that make me feel prepared for epic adventures, while also complimenting my outfits. It’s a win win situation. To Buy: Rucksack ($425)
You don’t have go on safari to get wild! I’m really into the early 90’s style sunnies making a comeback. Which if we’re really being honest, are actually double throw-backs to sunglasses from the mid 20’th century. These classically cool shades by Crap Eyewear are fun additions to an outdoor look, but also perfect for city living. To Buy: Sunnies ($74)
The hottest accessory any active babe needs to invest in, by far, is a pocket knife. You’ll be amazed how often you’ll end up using it AND coming prepared on a camping trip is the sexiest thing a woman can do. I'm particularly in love with Portland, OR based company James. They make stunningly beautiful knives that are sharp as hell (in all intents and purposes). To Buy: Pocket Knife ($150)
p.s. Do you love Gretchen as much as we do? Then you must read her Icon interview!