What to wear in the desert

Earlier this year I posted about planning our travel wardrobe better and make it a point to travel in style.  I’ve been very good and have stayed true to the 5 rules that I listed out:

1.  Leave the gym gear at home.
2.  Wear colour.
3.  Get inspiration from your destination.
4.  Take a break from jeans.
5.   Accessorize.

In planning our trip to Jordan and deciding what to pack, I had to do a bit of research as it’s my first time going to the desert.  I was shocked to see that brown and khakis seemed to be the default outfit for the desert paired with chunky Timberland-esque hiking boots.  Given the rough terrain of rocks and sand, I fully understand that travelers would prioritize dressing for comfort.  What I don’t understand is why comfort is equated with such bland browns and khakis that make you look like you’re taking part in Operation Desert Storm:


And then I saw this photo from Sex and the City 2 which was set in Abu Dhabi and I knew that there was no way I’m going to Jordan in khakis:


And so, keeping the rules in mind, I’m proud to say that I put together a couple of outfits for the desert.  It’s not as outrageous as Samatha’s Cleopatra piece, but they’re definitely a few ranks above khaki overalls:


1.  Loose-fitting for maximum cooling:  I opted to wear loose-fitting clothes in Petra as I knew it was going to be extremely hot—it was close to 30ºC.  Unlike tight-fitting clothes, wide-leg pants and big tops let sweat evaporate faster and more efficiently, cooling you down quickly.  

2.  No knees in Muslim countries:  These wide-leg pants from Bershka are sheer without being see-through.  They covered my legs completely—a must to be respectful in Islamic countries—while keeping me cool.  They’re much, much cooler than wearing jeans—cooler in temperature and in style.  Plus, the print on the fabric reminded me of the patterns in mosques in Marrakech.

3.  Cover in colour:  I had to wear a sleeved top to cover my shoulders and not look like an ignorant, disrespectful tourist.  I got a bit playful in getting my ‘destination inspiration’—Princess Badroulbadour herself, a.k.a. Princess Jasmine.  ;)


4.  These trousers from Mango are loose around the hips and thighs—perfect if you have to sit for hours driving around.

5.  Blue top for Jordan’s neverending blue skies!

6.  If I wore khaki and brown overalls, I would have blended in with my background of sand and rocks in this photograph.  You’d want to stand out in your travel photographs and not disappear.


One thing that I’ve done more this year is shopping for travel-inspired accessories.  I feel it completes the circle of travel-inspired style:  Before going on our trip, I prepare my travel wardrobe with inspirations from our destination.  During the trip, I shop for a particular accessory that’s not a cliché souvenir—something that I can actually wear without feeling like I have a fridge magnet as an accessory.  Then I go back home and add something to my wardrobe that’s full of memories.  ’Travelista’ cycle complete.

In Jordan, I got this round ring that has been inspired by the beautiful circular patterns I saw all over the country.  I’m certain these beautiful images will come flooding in each time I wear it.


I’m packing for Munich at the moment and I’m having the hardest time getting inspired by Bavaria.  Have any ideas?

5 thoughts

  1. I love your travelling fashion rules! I don’t understand why people when travelling think they must dress like an explorer – zip of knee pants and quick dry shirts! I call it the travel uniform as every second person dresses like this! You looked great – colourful, fashionable and comfortable without a hint of khaki in sight!

    • Travel uniform – hahaha! I really don’t understand the khaki overalls. Sometime they even have hats and the hats are in a khaki tone, too! I’m really glad you agree. The fact that it’s coming from a Jordan local means a WHOLE lot! :)

  2. Haha love the Princess Jasmine reference! My desert dressing usually includes closed shoes if the weather is cool enough. I hate getting dusty feet!
    Bavaria = lederhosen?

    • I contemplated on closed shoes but I thought having sand in closed shoes (with socks) will be torture and the sandals will be easier to ‘dust off.’ It worked well for me until I took off the sandals and saw the straps of paler skin against the darker/burnt skin. So now I look like I’m wearing invisible sandals all the time, haha!

  3. Pingback: BERLIN: Inspired By & Inspired Buy | NOW WHAT'S THE PLAN?

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