Sunday 5 August 2012

Safari Looks Part III Styling the Safari Look

This is an easy post because the safari look is really simple. It's a rough but "efficient" look. It's a great look for cold and rainy summers. It says you've stored away your winter style even if you're working in an air-conditioned office through August. You are still are ready to negotiate over a conference table but you are also ready to hop on a plane for Kenya, Singapore or Sydney.

Warning: Indiana Jones did not spend his mornings matching hat to satchel. And it's easy to get this look wrong if you mix your references or go too far.
You want to look summery, chic, sexy, adventurous and even dangerous.
You don't want to look like you're auditioning for The Lion King or a Tarzan remake.  Or worse, that you're the mother of a lost Cub Scout outing. No pith helmet (I was joking in Part I) or matching cargo pants, please. If your total pocket count has reached double digits, you're ready for the Style Crocodiles.

Personally, as I worked as a foreign correspondent in Asia for twenty years, I know for a fact that newbies wearing flak vests with loops for their bullets, or big photographer vests with a thousand pockets looked like turkeys. You only get to wear one of those if you actually shoot in war zones.

Shoes should be sandals, leather platforms or if you're really irreverent, desert boots, as above. You'll look dorky in ballet flats, stilettos, office pumps or rubber flipflops.

If you're a safari beginner, stick with leather or straw elements. I know, Michael Kors gave us gold cuffs and chunky jewellery, but that goes horribly wrong if your jewellery is too twee.

Notice in Part II of my safari posts that even on the Paris catwalk, Givenchy's black and white "urban safari" accessories were straw, sandals and an ethnic print handbag. And that lady was ready to lunch at the Ritz.

You're off and running if you immediately throw on a suitable scarf or cheche in linen or cotton. Leave the Gucci silk squares at home. You need something that looks like it could double as a turban or sand guard. Something that would keep the grit out of your teeth if you were escaping a desert storm in the arms of Ralph Fiennes. Something that might double as a skirt when your pants wear out on that desert island in Year Four.

Sunglasses are a must. I didn't have to tell you that, did I?

Please don't overdo the jungle/batik/Hindu Kush prints. If your scarf is busy, make the bag leather casual. If your scarf is plain,  go wild with the bag or belt. It's a knowing reference, not a bargain basement souk haul.

As the waist is usually somewhat defined, the belt is key. Self belts are the norm, canvas belts with a metal buckle are good and ethnic belts better. If you want to tamp down the uniform effect, try mixing the jacket with a frilly skirt or feminine dress underneath for the "I borrowed it from my Desert Rat boyfriend" effect.

Or reference, "I've lived here so long, my bottom half has gone jungly with a sarong skirt.

Perhaps the most important accessory is a good tan and a healthy body. (And yes, a fake bake covers both bases.) If you don't look like you could survive the fashion trek, you may be left behind in the dust.


  1. I do love the safari look but browns and khakis just don't work for me. This has been a most instructive 3 part blog posting!
    But now I am worried.
    Will the style crocodiles get me if I wear a white safari vest or jacket with something that is not brown or sand or khaki on the bottom!?

  2. Great series of posts! So much to think about. Now, I have to decide, white or tan jacket? You've made this feel like a must have item.

  3. Sewingelle,
    Givenchy paired his white with black for a very upmarket look. I would avoid any primary, neon or nautical blues, reds, yellows or greens, and just find the secondary version of the best color for your features, e.g. raspberry, coral, turquoise, aubergine, etc.

  4. Just catching up after a week with almost no Internet access at all and really enjoying these. Not a style I've been drawn to in the past but you've convinced me I should give this a try!

  5. Great series of posts! So much to think about. Now, I have to decide, white or tan jacket? You've made this feel like a must have item.Desert Safari Dubai is so popular place.
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