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Not a scarf person - what to wear out for dinner in Spain (winter/spring)?

We are going to Spain for two months from mid February 2023. I try to pack light but always struggle with deciding what to take to wear in the evenings to restaurants. I usually take a black skirt and a couple of colourful tops, but I get really tired of wearing the same thing. I am not a scarf wearer, especially not for dinner as I seem to always manage to drape the ends of any scarf I wear into my dinner.

My husband finds this easy as he just takes a couple of long sleeve shirts and wears these in rotation with some super lightweight navy trousers.

Has anyone found a magical dinner outfit for a woman in her 50s that doesn't crush and fits into the packing light ethos?

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27357 posts

I don't eat out in restaurants where anyone cares what I'm wearing, but you might consider something like a garment I have hanging in my closet: a super-lightweight solid-colored (red in this case) top with a woven-in pattern. It buttons up but can be left open. It's so see-through I think it would be sort of immodest worn by itself, but over a black shirt/shell/T-shirt, the overall impression would be a bit dressy. This is a clearance item I grabbed during a 50%-off sale on the Coldwater Creek website ages ago, so I don't know where you'd find something like it now. On the negative side, it adds no warmth whatsoever.

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4555 posts

After visiting Switzerland, I am a wool fanatic. Wool base layers wick moisture away, dry well for laundry purposes, and of course excel at keeping you warm. You can layer under your usual stuff, or try wool leggings with a long sweater.

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302 posts

I haven't traveled (except for domestically for a funeral and a wedding) since before Covid- nor eaten in a restaurant! But in my minimalist tiny closet I daily see my lower-calf- length sleeveless black dress from when I went places!
It's a non- wrinkle fabric more "upscale" than jersey/t shirt type. With that and the simple gold necklace and very small gold hoop earrings I just wear daily it can "read" elegant. A shawl- you can hang it over your chair when you eat...and if you have a loosely woven crochet or similar light top you could add that sometimes- then the dress looks like a skirt.
Lucky you!!!! Safe travels!

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3961 posts

My favorite infinity scarfs, wraps, ponchos are from Dana Herbert from Portland, Or. I especially like the comfort of the Jersey material. She also makes cosmetic bags, etc. Quality made products, and light weight. The ponchos & wraps make a nice coverup for a long flight or cool evening. Can be dressed up or dressed down. Adding these to your capsule wardrobe would be great for winter & spring. I take either a basic lightweight black dress or skirt. Enjoy your planning! https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwix7J3yxIb8AhWmFzQIHeh4ATsQFnoECBAQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fdanaherbert.com%2F&usg=AOvVaw1Msi3h02Y1bs1gpkeZ61lt

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979 posts

After visiting Switzerland, I am a wool fanatic. Wool base layers wick moisture away, dry well for laundry purposes, and of course excel at keeping you warm. You can layer under your usual stuff, or try wool leggings with a long sweater.

My travel clothes are a mixture of plain colour wool and moisture wicking activewear tops. I have a black wool skirt with an elastic waist where I can adjust the length from mid calf to just below knee by folding the waistband over. I find wool leggings too itchy but do take leggings with me to wear with the skirt, under jeans if it's cold and as pyjamas.

How about a few infinity scarves?

I have tried them but still find they end up with spaghetti sauce on them. Maybe I never learned to eat neatly, who knows.

buttons up but can be left open. It's so see-through ... Second the sheer blouse. Can be worn open like a jacket, buttoned, or belted

A lightweight button up sheer blouse is usually what I take. I think I might just be bored with the blouse I usually take and need to find a new one. The challenge is finding one or at most two blouses that I am happy to wear for 60 dinners in a row!

my lower-calf- length sleeveless black dress

I have one of these. I took it on my last trip and only wore it twice, so this time it's staying home and I am relying on my black skirt and tops.

I am also considering this lightweight merino jacket: Merino Country short jacket

Thanks for the link. Teal is one of my go to travel colours and this cardigan looks very nice, but quite expensive.

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83 posts

I’m also an Aussie woman in my 50s trying to travel reasonably light. We’re planning a lengthy trip next year that includes a cruise on a small ship for 3 weeks or so, so I’m not really comfortable wearing the same one or two outfits to dinner every night. Have been avidly reading packing tips.
I’ve found it possible to find silk/chiffon/polyester/lightweight cotton tops that weigh less than 100g. I like 3/4 or full length sleeves, maybe it’s possible to go even lighter if you do sleeveless. So, I figure that for under 1/2 a kilo and not much space, I can have a selection of 5 tops in different colours and patterns, all to be worn with lightweight black or white pants. Also, I think a nice (inexpensive) pendant can dress up a plain long sleeve tshirt or knit enough for dinner.

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979 posts

I’ve found it possible to find silk/chiffon/polyester/lightweight cotton tops that weigh less than 100g

Where please Ethel? I have just tortured myself with 3 hours at Westfield pre-Christmas and gone to four op shops. All to no avail, no lightweight sheer/mesh tops to be found.

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83 posts

Oh dear Aussie Nomad, that sounds awful, and in the Christmas crowds too.
I have to say that some of my tops have been in my wardrobe for a while, others I have been searching out for the past year we’ve been planning our trip. I’m not sure any are current styles. Most of mine are Blue Illusion (I buy their silk on super sale, and when there are some of their more ‘subdued’ prints), also I have one from Veronika Maine, one or two from Regatta from Myer, and some very lightweight tops from Jacquie E in darker colours (the lighter colours are often lined and heavier.
Best of luck with your search. Hopefully there will be some post Xmas sales. And enjoy your trip. I’m sure others are right and people don’t really notice what you wear so long as it’s not too outlandish.

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1625 posts

Woman in her late 50's here..I was not aware that there are specific clothes for dinner. I usually wear what I wore that day, adding a light open cardigan if warmth is needed and a scarf (if you learn how to wrap the scarf it should not drape down). I always wear minimalist jewelry, hair and make-up are done. At night, I just reapply lip color and I usually look really put together, not like I have been out and about all day and if my hair is looking wild I just use a claw clip to sweep it up and back.

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139 posts

I’m always looking for sheer or mesh kimono jackets for travel. They pack to the size of a scarf. Some kimonos can look different, based on the color of the cami or shirt under it. Can’t guarantee that a kimono with big sleeves wouldn’t end up in the soup. :-) But you can find kimonos with smaller sleeves. They can be expensive (silk) or inexpensive (polyester).

I just found this one, which can be dressed up or down. Spiffs up with a statement necklace, or looks casual with a white tank. Packs teeny, and jazzes up my black pants and top. You can find kimonos on Etsy or Amazon, if you can find them elsewhere. Kimono

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979 posts

Woman in her late 50's here..I was not aware that there are specific clothes for dinner

I do like a change of clothes for evening meals as during the day I usually wear activewear t-shirts and jeans. I always take a black skirt and a colourful top, but get bored wearing the same thing for 6-8 weeks straight.

On our upcoming trip to Spain we are splurging on half board at a couple of Paradors and I wanted something a bit nicer than my well worn "dinner top".

I will be seeing my infinity scarf-wearing sister over Christmas and will see what I can borrow from her. I have also ransacked the depths of my closet and found a chiffon waterfall jacket that I had forgotten I owned.

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1625 posts

I am a t-shirt and jeans kinda traveler also, but with the right open cardigan (think knit tee-shirt material), jewelry and scarf (the infinity scarfs are fabulous) you can really dress up your look. I also have "kimono" type open tops, but more cardigan and less kimono type that are colorful and add a bit of dress up to an otherwise functional outfit. I agree wearing the same thing over and over can get old, but with carry on only it's one of my compromises. That is where the Jewelry/scarfs come in to change it up a bit.

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I do like to dress up my day wear with either a long sleeve button down shirt or a cardigan, depending on the weather Either can be worn as a top layer and you can wear them a number of ways by rolling up the sleeves, or buttoning the front. And they can be dressed up with pins, brooches and belts. I am not a scarf wearer but the one way that I do wear a scarf, is as a belt.

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979 posts

My sister gave me a gorgeous silk scarf for my birthday that coordinates beautifully with the burgundy and olive green mesh cardigans decided to take. So it looks like I am going to be a scarf person whether I like it or not. I also picked up a couple of super lightweight wood necklaces at a market.

So I am all set for Spanish evenings. Bring on the wine and tapas!

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27357 posts

Wooden jewelry is smart. I'm a single-bead-necklace person myself.

Good luck with the scarf. I took one with me. Once. It never left the suitcase.

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139 posts

@AussieNomad. How exciting! A new scarf. This video has ideas to keep your gift out of the soup, especially styles with the scarf tails draped behind the back, or tucked in around the neck.

I adore scarves, because they’re beautiful, pack small, and always fit. :-) Enjoy your trip!

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105 posts

One thing I discovered with scarves is they hide spills. I always seem to get something on my clothes, but when I wear a scarf, it usually gets on my scarf instead, and I save my clothes. When traveling, I usually have a multicolored scarf, so the print just hides the stain.

Large scarves work as a blanket on the airplane, as a head covering for when it is cold outside, a wrap to use during the summer when I am cold inside or need to cover my arms in a sanctuary.

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979 posts

This video has ideas to keep your gift out of the soup, especially styles with the scarf tails draped behind the back, or tucked in around the neck

Thanks for the video link. I will do some practising at scarf tying.

Large scarves work as a blanket on the airplane, as a head covering for when it is cold outside, a wrap to use during the summer when I am cold inside or need to cover my arms in a sanctuary.

I agree and I have a plain black scarf that is my plane wrap and it will be going with me on this trip. Everyone in my family takes a wrap of some sort after my niece was refused admission to the Vatican because she was wearing a tank top on her school trip.

My new scarf is super lightweight silk and packs down to almost nothing.

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AussieNomad, you asked about lightweight tops-Last year for my 5 week carry-on only trip, I found some great lightweight clothing at Chico's. Look online for the buzzwords of "slub" and "modal". I found that tops with either of those materials were lightweight and traveled very well. I also bought two great dresses from Chico's that took hardly any room in my suitcase. I was very determined to do only carry-on so I weighed my clothing in making decisions. Everyone on my trip could not believe all the clothes I had for the trip in carry-on only and I had to give credit to Chico's.

With respect to scarves, I try for the smaller ones that lay closer to my neck since I have the spillage problem too. I bought jewelry on sale from Chicos and put the items in the "chiffon like fabric" drawstring bags that they gave me so my jewelry dressed up my tops and made me feel like I had a lot of choices. If you get bored of your clothing, you could always buy a couple of items while on the trip since carry-on only luggage to me is less important on my return flight.

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@itsv

AussieNomad, you asked about lightweight tops-Last year for my 5 week carry-on only trip, I found some great lightweight clothing at Chico's. ... If you get bored of your clothing, you could always buy a couple of items while on the trip since carry-on only luggage to me is less important on my return flight.

We leave in two weeks so the Chicos suggestion will have to wait for another trip. I have two lightweight cardigan/jackets that the scarf and lightweight jewellery will jazz up for evenings out. We will have two significant events while away - a birthday and an anniversary - so are planning a couple of expensive restaurants at a minimum.

We will be in Spain for 60 nights and my issue is that I get bored wearing the same clothes all the time. While we don't travel with carry on only as Australian and European carry on limits are less than the US, we do try to travel light. I am also bad at shopping overseas as we seem to spend most of our time seeing historical sights and nature and avoiding shops.

We are independent travellers and use public transportation. My husband's definition of travelling light is being able to lift our bags into overhead train racks.

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1994 posts

Unless you are going upscale,I've found that black pants and a clean top/sweater are just fine for dinner in Spain. You don't need a whole fancy wardrobe unless you are going to five star. I've found black pants ,black walking shoes and a cardigan sweater look fine. Just another viewpoint. I'd rather save room in my suitcase for souvenirs or spices//candy.

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27357 posts

I've taken several 4-1/2 month trips. I am perhaps odd (well, there's not much doubt about that), but the only time I think about how boring my wardrobe choices are, is when I'm dressing in the morning. Once I have the clothes on, I don't give them another thought. If definitely makes for less packing angst. I do have to worry about whether my clothes will still fit at the end of the trip, though.

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979 posts

You don't need a whole fancy wardrobe unless you are going to five star. I've found black pants ,black walking shoes and a cardigan sweater look fine.

I am taking two very lightweight mesh cardigan/jackets, my new scarf and two pendants. My "evening wear" weighs 8 oz and packs down to about 3 x 4 inches. It will be worn with black pants/skirt, black hiking shoes and black tank top.

I just feel better getting changed for going out to a restaurant, especially as my day wear is super casual activewear tops. Also we are planning a couple of dinners at Michelin star restaurants so I want to dress up a little. My husband is taking a couple of long sleeve shirts and black jeans/navy travel pants, and will wear his North Face jacket.

As we are going in late winter/early spring I am not taking a dress this trip so am actually going to be saving space by taking my "evening wear".