Road Warrior: As American as Apple Pie. Sort of.

As you read this, I am in Ohio and on my sixth day of speeding across the country in a bit of a mad dash to get to Providence and my new job in Boston. Because Michael and I were very interested in an adult move, we located jobs before we even left California and we start those jobs the Monday after we arrive. We have 1.5 days to set up our house. We will do plenty of deep breathing  in the car, that’s for sure. Adulthood!

Speaking of, it occurred to me that car travel presents a unique set of sartorial challenges. When I moved out to California, I did it in four days. I don’t remember what I wore. I don’t even remember showering, which I really hope I did. I do remember playing slot machines in Vegas with a bunch of sad old alcoholics at 4 AM in January and spinning out during an ice storm in the awful armpit town of Amarillo, Texas but that’s about it. (Have you guys been there? My friend and I stayed at this super sketchy truckstop motel where we had nightmares all night long. We were convinced someone had been murdered in the room. Fucking creepy, man!)

Anyway! Now that I’m an adult, I am not in the grips of an insane youthful fuck-all. My considerations:

Comfort

Physical safety from an assortment of Billy Bobs

Aesthetics

(not necessarily in that order. We all know what T McBee puts first).

So, what to wear on your cross-country road trip?

Topman Green Triblend Striped Crew

I love Topman. I buy most of my clothes there because they’re cheap, cool and pretty well made. This shirt is the perfect summer shirt–a bright twist on blue/white nautical stripes.

Do you have a million dollars? Awesome! Buy this shirt from Comme Des Garçons:

Comme Des Garçons SHIRT Contrast Pocket Tees

And if it gets cold, throw this on:

Topman Grey Pattern Drawstring Jumper

Presuming your road trip involves warm, windows-down stretches as you rush headlong into summertime, you might want a pair of shorts. Please, no cargo shorts. Or cargo pants. I’m really confused about why this is a thing again. Try these:

Topman Brown Curved Pocket Shorts

And, duh, don’t forget a pair of beat-up jeans that fit you perfectly. That’s what’s up!

You obviously need shades. You need them to fight the glare and you need them because, without sunglasses, you are a not on a road trip. I am a Ray-Ban guy myself, and my #1 question is to Wayfarer or not to Wayfarer? Road trip = definitely Wayfarer. Try these on for size:

Ray-Ban Wayfarer in Tortoise

Tortoise makes you look a little more classy without compromising any of Ray-Ban’s cool legacy. It is impossible for 99% of the population to not look excellent in Ray-Bans. Really.

What shoes are you wearing? If you’re sock-less, you should obviously submit to the espadrille craze sweeping the nation (I have a theory that SF actually was ground zero for this trend–since TOMS are crappier versions of espadrilles and people there wear them everywhere). Anyway, go nuts and buy a pair of white ones:

Topman White Espadrille

If they get dusty, they’ll look even better. Plus they’re perfect to kick off when you make an impromptu stop at a beach. Or the Great Salt Lake, if you’re us.

Maybe you plan on making your way across plains states. To fit in with the locals (sort of) and prepare yourself for in-between temps, check out this chambray shirt from J.Crew’s slim (!) shop:

J.Crew Slim Vintage Chambray Utility Shirt

This will pair nicely with those shorts above. Part of the trick of a road trip is to have a bunch of pieces that you can mix and match, as you’re not going to launder anything and if you get too fussy with your outfits you’re going to be annoyed later. Also, you will miss the point of a road trip, which involves rolling out of bed a little dazed and spending long periods of time staring thoughtfully out the window while listening to classic rock. Or is that just me? Anyway, you don’t want to be worried about your outfit, you want your clothes to compliment your open-road experience.

Relatedly, bad hair day? Wear this!

Maiden Noir Summer 2011 ‘Battlefield’ Collection

Not with the striped shirt though–that would be precious. So disregard my earlier advice re: outfit planning for the sacrifice of this cap. I know it edges close to over-the-top with the little anchors, but I can’t help it. I love it. If you have a beard, especially, you can pull this off. If you look dirty/greasy/etc., you cannot.

Okay! One other road trip tip:

Plan your overnights in cities and college towns, especially if you have dietary restrictions. Load up at the co-op, Whole Foods, etc. so you’re not stopping for nasty roadside junk food* along the way. You will find better restaurants, bars, record stores, etc. in college towns, as well as less Billy Bobs.

Well, folks, next time I see you I’ll be officially an East Coaster again! Criss-crossing the country by car twice is definitely a pretty epic way to begin and end a tenure in the Golden State. See you on the flip side.

*Disregard for a greasy spoon that serves pie. Obviously. 

About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here: www.thomaspagemcbee.com

4 comments

  1. Good luck in your travels and new starts!

    Thanks for the tip on Topman. What’s the fit like? I love striped t-shirts, and there are several on the site I would snap up, but I couldn’t find information on fit. What’s your experience? I’m a curvy girl… usually a women’s large and a men’s medium or large, depending on the cut… Any thoughts would be appreciated!!

  2. Thomas Page McBee

    Thanks! I wear a men’s xs in Topman, which is similar to American Apparel xs. I can’t really speak to the larger men’s sizes but I bet they’re comparable. I would guess they run a little small compared to other American companies, if that helps.

  3. That does help. Thank you!

  4. Foxy

    Aaah! I have equally un-fond memories of Amarillo, Texas. On a road trip from ATL to PDX, my ex-gf’s debit card was stolen by our server at Outback Steakhouse (hey, it was next to our grody motel, and it had been a long day) who then had a 1:00 am field day at the local Wal-Mart!

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