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The dreaded convertible pants!

I have traveled to Europe every year for the last 10 years because like most of you I fell in love with the people and the different cultures. Over the years I have seen other tourists wear clothing that I though was somewhat "tacky", an example is the wide brim sun hat that tourist wear yet 2 years ago I went to Italy and my wife talked me into getting a Tilley hat and it was a life saver in the several days when we were out in the hot sun seeing the ruins.

I have always thought that "convertible" pants (the legs zip off) were the epitome of "I am a tourist" in clothing but again my wife talked me into trying a pair when we went to Greece last summer and they are great because most the time it was hot but there were a few days that it rained and was cool.

This May we are heading to Sicily for 2 weeks and I've decided to take only two pairs of convertible pants for the whole trip along with 5 shirts, since I'll be wearing one pair of pants along with a shirt I will only pack 1 pair of pants and 4 shirts. So, I guess the take home lesson here is that when I listen to my wife good things happen!!

Posted by
2693 posts

Yup, That's the look-Tilley hat, convertible pants. Top it off with a vented shirt like ExOfficio makes. You'll have what my wife calls the full Indiana Jones look (minus the bullwhip). I do it, it works!

Posted by
1205 posts

Yes indeed. Good things do happen when you listen to your wife. Or else, in my experience.

I travel frequently in zip off trousers - it is a safe bet that shorts are not suitable for British climes (although there is a breed of Brit who will wear shorts all year, with flip flops, regardless of the prevailing conditions) but it's handy to be able to convert to shorts once the weather is warmer at your destination. Vice versa on the return trip too.

To date I absolutely refuse to invest (precisely the right word!) in a Tillley hat!

Posted by
2051 posts

Listen to your wife. Travel clothing is great. I have several pieces from Eddie Bauer's Travex collection. Everything is lightweight, washes out in the sink and dries in hours. It was a perfect choice for our recent trip to Switzerland. I admit that I have to smile when I see "Indiana Jones" storming the streets of Paris.

Posted by
2979 posts

Next step is for your wife to talk you into Ex Officio underwear.

Posted by
6934 posts

You should probably look into a ScotteVest to complete the look, not the sleek new ones they have, but the old style vintage ones.

Posted by
5103 posts

although there is a breed of Brit who will wear shorts all year, with flip flops, regardless of the prevailing conditions

Yes, that's me (mainly)!, although minus the flip flops November to February. I just don't feel the cold and I find shorts more comfortable than jeans or trousers.

Posted by
22982 posts

I got burned one time with two pairs of pants (wear one, pack one). Normally I always took three but rarely wore the third pair. So one trip I went to two. As lucky would have it we were at an outdoor concert on the third day and severely damaged the pant I was wearing. I was reluctant to continue with only one pair of pants so wasted the better part of a day trying to find a replacement pair of pants. So I am now back to packing two pair.

PS -- I still think convertible pants look tacky - very tacky.

Posted by
6912 posts

I don't think either the Tilley hat or the convertible pants are 'tacky', that's a harsh word. I do think they sometimes look quite out of place in certain cities. For some travel they are wonderful and even appropriate. But worrying about looking like a tourist wearing 'travel' clothes is unnecessary since you most likely look and act like a tourist even without those particular clothes.

Posted by
3520 posts

My husband and I bought our convertible pants while in Germany (Fussen) after seeing most of the Germans there wearing them. They aren't tacky but practical. People have to stop judging others because of what they wear. We wear what is comfortable, clean, fits properly, and is age appropriate.

Posted by
22982 posts

I agree. Not judging anyone. Just judging the clothing/style. I think the travel shirts especially with the zip off arms, and/or the vent backs, etc., are even more tacky. Just an opinion as to style. I would not wear it and do not. But i don't wear my baseball cap backwards either -- or even own a baseball cap. But do own and use a Tilley hat. Don't like that either BUT better than burning the bald spot on the back of my head. Have to make compromises in life.

Posted by
1283 posts

Emma, you are FUNNY!!!

(I almost spit my tea, English Breakfast, of course.)

Posted by
1205 posts

Frankly I'd be happy for people to judge me on a pair of zip off trousers, they'd (possibly) be overlooking a multitude of other sins. (I ever wear Uggs with them, nor to date, a Tilley hat. Baseball hat, maybe).

Posted by
3500 posts

I have a fine collection of what I call travel clothes -- all light weight, fast drying, fits me well, age appropriate, requiring no special laundry treatment. But not a single piece is from anyone marketing it as "travel clothes". And absolutely no zip off legs since I don't feel shorts are age appropriate for an adult male unless that person is at a beach resort.

I really don't care for any of the so called travel clothes out there. If I were to go on a week long backpacking trip completely off grid in a large forest, I might wear some of the stuff. But for me that stuff is uncomfortable in a normal civilized location. I just wear what I normally wear while not at work - jeans or Dockers khakis and golf shirts with a pair of well worn boat shoes.

Tacky seems to work as the word to describe travel clothes in general.

Posted by
9120 posts

oh Emma, that made me laugh!! But I was sure Cro-Magnon was going to criticize SOMEone for their UGGs!!

Posted by
31528 posts

flip flops? Never. Not British. Sandals.

Posted by
2348 posts

Here in the Bay Area it is my understanding from my gay friends that wearing a Tilley hat is a way for straight men who are working in their yards/gardens to announce that they aren't gay, they just like gardening.
Once this was pointed out to me, I couldn't help noticing how true it is amongst my neighbors.

The angle I take on convertible pants and other travel clothing is to consider whether I would ever wear it if I wasn't traveling.
For me, the Tilley hat is a borderline case: I do wear it in the yard or if showers threaten and I don't want to lug an umbrella, but I wouldn't wear it to (most) social occasions. This goes double for convertible pants or safari shirts -- do I want to announce loudly that I'm not from around here, or do I want it to come across through my actions and demeanor?

I will go so far as to use a different shoulder bag or laptop bag if I'm going to the city for leisure than when I'm going for work. I'm reminding myself of the change in status. I can see how while traveling you might want to mark yourself as out-of-place sometimes and you may may not want to sometimes, and for a range of reasons.

Posted by
650 posts

My husband wears zip off pants when traveling. I'm happy to be seen with him. Yes he looks like a tourist, but that is what he is. I don't wear them because I'm a narrow waisted hippy woman and the zip falls on an unflattering place on my thighs. That they would make me look like a tourist is neither here nor there. If I could find a pair of rip of capris I'd wear them.

I do wear special clothes for travel. Mostly, they are very light weight wool, which resists odor, is cooler than cotton in heat, and a warmer base later than silk in cold. It can have a dressy shien like silk and is sold in both athletic and dressy looks. But for the cost, wool would be my go to at home clothing too. As is, I do exercise and dress up in it.

I also take a cotton scarf to use for dress up, warmth, and a place to sit. It is definitely tourist garb as I wear silk scarves at home.

Posted by
1221 posts

I do have an issue with “travel clothing”. Unless you are going to the Amazon or Arctic there really is no need.

I dunno about having to go that far to find a need for travel clothing and such. All it took was a side trip to Snowdonia and rocky paths that left my feet sore for a week afterwards despite hiking shoes to convince me that I needed a proper pair of hiking boots before we went out to Moab this year.

I will also admit that, hey, I live in a beach town area where 'no shorts, no shoes, no service' has rather gone by the wayside based on the number of people only in swimsuits wandering the produce section of the Destin Publix supermarket. It's skewered my perspective enough that when I see someone complaining about convertible pants, it's like 'at least they're wearing pants at all'.

Posted by
149 posts

My trusty Tilley hat and I celebrated our 20th anniversary last summer. And yes, it's been to the Arctic, the Amazon AND the backyard. Pricey yes, but if it ever wears out, they really will replace it free. Hubby is on his second hat.

As for the "tackiness" of "travel" clothing, much depends on matching the style of the clothing to your destination and activities. I defy anyone to identify my little black dress as Tilley travel clothing. It's well-made, stylish and I receive complements every time I wear it. Bonus that it is as comfortable as a nightgown, dries in a jiffy and comes out of my bag wrinkle-free!

On the other hand, my North Face quick dry pants do give me more of a safari or jungle look, but if that's my destination or I'm heading out for a hike, you can bet I'll be wearing them for their practicality. Plus (@ Jen), they roll up to capris for warmer weather.

Posted by
344 posts

Thanks for the laugh Emma.

Judge me all you want...that's your right....and none of my, please keep your opinion of me to yourself.


Posted by
170 posts

Disclosure: I’m 65 so I no longer care how people judge my clothing style. I fell in love with convertible pants while traveling a couple of years ago and now have replaced all my regular pants with them. If you’re on the move all day you can start with long pants in the morning, remove the legs when it gets hot, and zip them back on in the evening. It’s also nice to respect the atmosphere of a church or temple by not entering with shorts.

Posted by
2526 posts

Ah, clothing...always a hot topic and deeply held opinions burst forth from every direction. Modest, clean clothing in good repair seems a standard we could all embrace. I purchase clothing billed for travel, but used the bulk of the year. For those cheering on behalf of certain hats and convertible pants, well, such are not in my closet. Am I therefore prohibited from offering further thoughts as to clothing?