Welcome to the Travel in Style series, in which we interview seriously stylish travelers from around the world how they travel in style.
Travel is such a personal experience, and everyone’s trip preferences are so unique that no two people are the same. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty particular when it comes to travel. Having said that, I still believe that there are certain experiences that, when shared, would positively affect most of us reading this. Which is why an Architect Abroad came to fruition in the first place, so that by sharing my travel experiences with the world, the world can then experience them too.
In our travels, we’re looking for genuine places, not tourist menus in a hundred languages.
And above all else, we want to ensure we travel in style, whatever that may mean.
In this instalment, we are delighted for you to meet Siffat from Icing & Glitter!
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?
I spent half my life in Bangladesh, and half my life here [in Toronto]. So I was born there and I moved here when I was in 2nd grade with my whole family until 9th grade when I moved back to Bangladesh for high school, and then I came back here for University.
I never spend the winter here, I can’t handle the cold. So it’s nice because the winter [in Bangladesh] is beautiful. It’s so nice, like 20 degrees.
It sounds like travel has always been a part of your life. Did you grow up traveling with your parents?
Oh yeah, all the time. We would travel together a few times a year. Both my parents love to travel and they tried to instil that view in us. So all throughout the year we’d go on holidays and then once a year was more of an educational trip, like if we were somewhere in Europe we would going on tours and learning the historical relevance.
All my life I grew up travelling so much that I think when I was younger I didn’t see the value in it. I still remember in my first year of University we went to Italy for the summer, and I was complaining about the fact that I couldn’t go shopping in Venice because we were so busy with our tours. But now I understand that seeing the place is my priority and shopping is the last thing on my list. I’ll pick things up if they’re interesting, but I am not going to spend and entire day shopping if I’m only somewhere for three days.
But I think the appreciation for different cultures and just the ability to travel didn’t kick in until a little later.
What do you do now and how do you generally spend your days?
I blog full time now, and I think every day is pretty different. In the mornings I always spend my days working in cafes. I start my day early because I think that sets the tone for how much work I’m going to get done. For me, it’s so important to have a makeshift workspace, which for me is always a café. I stay home if I am shooting content like product, and I’ll shoot outfits depending on when my photographer is free. Sometimes I’ll have meetings, and events are usually in the evenings.
Do you have a favourite place that you’ve been to?
I can give you top 3! I would say: Paris, Tulum, and Bali. Paris because I feel like it has everything: fashion, food, history, architecture. When I go there I always feel like I stepped into a storybook. Bali; I loved it because I felt like I was so connected to the Earth, if that makes sense? It was just beautiful. There are so many different parts to Bali, but I would say my favourites are Ubud and Umawatu. Ubud, it’s all like lush jungle, and you really get a way of Bali life.
I feel like when I’m travelling, creating content just comes so much easier. I would be taking pictures regardless of whether I was a blogger or not, it’s just so easy and natural.
And Tulum, I just love Tulum. From [Toronto], I feel like it’s the best place to get away. I went last year and fell in love with it. Their cenotes are amazing, the food. I also love that it’s a place full of other creatives.
Oh and I would probably add Prague to that list as well. It’s such a beautiful place, and I didn’t expect it to be that way.
Soon I’m relocating to Paris and London for a bit until the end of the year, so I’m super excited about it. I’m doing a month and a half in Paris, and a month and a half in London essentially. I just love Paris so much so I wanted to get a proper feel of the city, like every time I go it’s only for a few days. I’m actually going on my own. I have so many friends in Paris and London that I don’t mind it at all. Even my boyfriend and I do long distance for almost half the year. We’re super comfortable doing any sort of long distance, so we’re very used to it, travelling away from each other. We’re also similar in that we’ve both lived in several places.
Do you have a favourite travel memory?
I could give it to you for this year. Probably, I want to say Bali. So I went to this one Airbnb, and my brother and I drove out to this village – literally a village – two hours outside of where we were living in Ubud. And this place had this swing that literally goes over this cliff. So if you were to swing on it and fall, you would kind of die…But it was stunning. So that was a really cool experience because it was exhilarating. It was literally a wooden plank and two ropes suspended from two palm trees. I was so scared. My brother had to push me because I was so terrified and pull me back because I wasn’t able to able to land back again on the top of the cliff so I was like “oh my gosh, I am going to be swinging forever!” So that was a really cool memory.
What’s one (or three!) things you never travel without?
My camera, my DSLR. I won’t include my phone because I feel like that’s a given. Sunglasses. And sunscreen. I cannot go anywhere without sunscreen, I’m terrified about ageing badly.
What’s your go-to in-transit outfit?
I picked up these kinds sweatpants-looking bottoms from Zara, like varsity pants with the two striped down the side and they are ridiculously comfortable. So I will wear them with a tank top and a blazer or just a hoodie. But that’s my favourite travel look because it’s not sloppy but it’s still super comfortable. I also like wearing slip dresses with a kimono as well so I have something to keep me warm, or like a denim jacket. But basically, things that are loose, not constricting. I’ve done jeans, and it’s terrible.
Do you have any packing strategies you swear by?
Honestly speaking, I am a pretty terrible packer, because I love taking everything with me. But this past time when I went to Tulum, I was gone for 4 days and it was one of the few times I’ve ever just taken a carry-on, so I just planned outfits that I could style in different ways. Like a kimono, I could wear with different things I was taking. I rolled everything, and one thing I like to do though no matter where I’m going is plan out outfits in advance. I’ll put looks together and then pack.
Do you tailor your looks to the place?
Yes, of course. Obviously, my look is going to be different if I’m going to Europe or Asia, the weather and also the look and feel of a place is different. You can’t shoot necessarily super bohemian dresses in a place with clean lines, it just doesn’t make any sense. So everything I pack I plan in advance. Especially if I’m just going for a few days.
Do you save room in your suitcase to buy things when you’re there?
If I’m taking a full suitcase then yes, but not if it’s just a carry-on. This past time my carry-on was so packed that I couldn’t fit anything else in if I wanted to. But yes, if I have a large suitcase and I find something I really love I’ll buy it. It also depends on the city. Of course, if I am going to Paris or to London, then yes, I am going to go shopping. But then if it’s a quick trip, even to New York, I don’t really bother, because the stores are so similar to Toronto, it’s nothing special. When I go travelling around Asia, I just love the shopping there, so I always leave some room. But to be honest, I’m not a big shopper on vacation. If I’m there for a few days, and if it’s a new city, I want to focus on seeing the city as opposed to shopping. Also, because where am I going to keep the souvenirs? I like a really clean look in my apartment so there’s nowhere for me to put souvenirs!
Do you have a favourite thing you’ve ever picked up on a trip?
Last summer I stumbled upon on this really cool shop in Singapore that I had never heard of, and I bought a couple of things like dresses, and I love them because no one has them anywhere else, you know? It’s not like they’re over the top or anything , it’s just very different. I also got my Gucci loafers when I was in Singapore as well. Those are probably my favourite things I’ve gotten while travelling. I wear them all the time. Oh, and my vintage Celine handbag I got in Amsterdam, which I love. I fell in love with this Celine. It’s so old, it’s an electric blue and the shape is so different, I had never seen it before. It’s really cool and I think it’s really special. I think it was my first big designer buy, and I liked that it was so different from what other people were wearing regularly. So I would say that’s probably my favourite thing I’ve bought while traveling.
When you travel do you plan everything out in advance?
Yes. I am as type A OCD as they get. There is no chance in my life. Everything is planned, as in where I’m shooting, where I’m eating- every single meal. I book in advance, and I request which table I want if I’ve been to a place before. I’ll figure out which restaurants I’m going to well in advance, which days I want to do what based on different factors. Like I won’t go to super touristy places on the weekends, and I’ll figure out where I’m shooting. For example, when I’m going to Paris, I’m shooting at the Louvre, so early in the morning, and I planned it three weeks in advance with my photographer. But everything is planned, to the T. It’s all laid out, I have notes on my phone for every single day, like Day 1: this, this, and this. I’m crazy! I have such trouble letting go. I can’t, it does not go well. My family is always like, you need to relax and just go with the flow. I’m like, excuse me, what is the flow, and have we met? There is no such thing!
Do you think travelling in style is important?
Yes, absolutely. I shop for my travels well in advance. My wardrobe is slightly tweaked to match the place I’m in. Everything is just really meticulously planned out. So yes, travelling in style is honestly so important to me, like half the reason I go is to be able to dress a certain way and photograph those beautiful places. And I feel like it’s almost a waste to dress sloppy in those places.
In Amsterdam and Paris I was probably the most comfortable with my own personal style. Because Amsterdam is super minimal and I love being super minimal. Paris is a little less minimal but still a great place to be. But there have been places that I’ve stuck out because I won’t conform to that style. For example, in Asia, people don’t really dress as minimal. They’ll be colourful, with a lot more patterns, and I notice that I am dressed a bit differently but I don’t really care. My style is my style and I’ll protect it. I don’t feel like I need to compromise based on what’s mainstream in a certain place. I’m comfortable and happy with the way I dress.
At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
You can keep up with Siffat here: