Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.
– Coco Chanel
Let’s face it: you, and yes I am looking directly at you with a smirk of approval, are fabulous. And if you were going to live abroad, “abroad,” or even just pop over to a city for a week or two, you would invariably have cause to dress up. Maybe the ambassador would need to invite you to a lavish supper because the country had no other citizens of your nationality to ask, maybe you do something heroic and save an entire city from destruction and have to sit for a parade in your honor, anything could happen, kittens, and like the Boy Scouts you should Be Prepared.
Admittedly in this scenario you are a lot more impressive than I, the best I am hoping for is the wedding of a friend, a Christmas party, or a night out on the town, but the principle is the same. If you’re going anywhere for several months, you are going to need a pretty frock that looks really good, travels well, and doesn’t break the bank.
Remember our cardinal rule: everything you pack must be able to pull double duty. I love a glam sequined dress as much as the next girl but consider, gorgeous as such an item is, you probably cannot wear it to a tasteful country wedding (unless you’re Scarlett). Choose something you could wear to both Christmas mass and a Christmas work party, a New Years Eve bash, a cocktail party, a night out, and – in my case – any graduation festivities that may arise.
As always, stick with your own tastes and don’t try on a new persona at the last minute. Knits are easier to travel with, but might not look as polished unless you really hunt for them, so put in the time to find a good dress you really love. If you’re really flush, I recommend both a Little Black Dress as well as another frock in color. Don’t forget that you can pop down to Camden Market or Portobello Road (or your travel destination’s equivalent) to find a fascinator for a wedding, thrown on a necklace and earrings to glam up for an evening out, and experiment with hair, makeup, and nail colors to change your look. With only two dresses, you may have a closet full of different different looks!
Have at least one pair of really nice dress shoes that you can wear with any formal frock, black is a good standby. It will save suitcase room and won’t let you down.