Last month my partner and I went on a trip to DC and NH. He went to college in DC and I hadn’t been there before, so we did all the tourist stuff, ate a lot of great food, and met up with his old friends. I’ve never seen New England fall before, so we went leaf peeping (that’s the technical term, apparently) in White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire afterwards. Truly, it was the most fall thing I’ve ever done, and I didn’t even drink a single pumpkin spice latte or wear a chunky sweater the whole time.
Going with “perfect is the enemy of done” for this travel post. I actually made it a point not to take outfit photos every day to help with actually relaxing, but I did photograph one look post-vacation and in the end I had photos for more than half the days, so I figured I might as well do a post. The rest I made collages for, which I know is not nearly as helpful, but I’m not being paid for this so you get what you get ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Rocky Gorge scenic area in White Mountain National Forest, NH
What I packed
For my general method of choosing what to pack, see Travel Clothes: How I create a packing list
Didn’t do anything too new here, and based the DC items on what worked well on my Portland trip earlier in October. For the whole trip I made it a point to bring a variety of colors / color values / prints since I’ve found that having that dimension have a wider spread makes the smaller amount of clothes feel a lot more varied. I choose things so that for each location, everything should pretty much go with everything else even with the different colors and prints. But that’s the beauty of travel wardrobes – they’re tiny! Not so hard to make a neat collection of 2-3 tops and 2 bottoms.
Activities and Weather
It was going to be about 95F and humid when we landed in DC, but a bit milder with highs in the mid 80s and lows around 60F for the next few days. In NH we were going to be driving and hiking around a forest in 40-60F weather with the first two days being rainy and we were expecting to experience even colder weather at the summit of Mt. Washington (via train, not hiking). Definitely the widest range of temperatures and activities I’ve had to pack for! I made sure that both my tops for DC were made of breathable fabrics (linen / cotton here).
I went for 2 tops 2 bottoms for the DC leg and 2 tops 2 bottoms for NH, with an extra pair of joggers for travel days.
In DC we planned to mostly do casual sightseeing at the Smithsonians but also had scheduled in one Fancy Dinner and one show at the Kennedy Center, so I wanted to pack something dressy. NH was just straight up activewear.
I realized after I made this that I forgot to include the Birkenstocks and puffer jacket, but I’m too lazy to redo the collage.
For bags I packed one medium sized black faux leather convertible clutch/crossbody and one large fabric tote bag.
- linen button-front camisole (BP)
- stretchy cotton yellow square neck top (Anthropologie)
- (x2) black long sleeve scoop neck “extra warm” Uniqlo heattech shirts (worn for layering and as a top, since these are thicker)
- ruffled daisy print midi skirt (Chicwish via consignment)
- tan pleat-front culottes (Uniqlo, hemmed)
- printed fleece pullover (Patagonia “Snap-T” via eBay)
- green leggings (Athleta)
- gray leggings (Athleta)
- gray raincoat (Patagonia, from old employer)
- puffer jacket (Patagonia)
- black faux leather moto jacket (New Look via ASOS)
- socks, underwear, bras (not pictured)
- loungewear t-shirt and shorts (not pictured)
- black Birkenstock Mayari sandals
- black pointed toe pumps (Franco Sarto) – I’d previously worn these in a bridesmaid outfit so I knew that I could handle standing/walking in them
- hiking boots (Keen)
- white cable knit beanie (Amazon)
- gray cotton scarf (CottonMood on Etsy)
- “fallen petals” earrings (Madewell)
- gold fake gauge earrings (Forever 21)
- I planned to buy gloves on the trip
Spent most of the day getting from SF to DC. SFO had a vending machine for puffer jackets, which seems like the most appropriate thing to vend to SF tourists. (I didn’t check to see if the prices were inflated much.)
After checking in at the AirBnB we took a stroll through the city to get dinner at Founding Farmers (my partner’s favorite restaurant). Besides the delicious food, it was refreshing to hear the random table conversations be about something other than tech or UC Berkeley.
The jacket and scarf were for the plane. Mostly a function oriented outfit, although I did feel very vacation-y with the culottes and sandals.
Didn’t get an outfit photo, but to get an idea of the silhouette, here’s a similar one that has the same outerwear, pants, and shoes. It’s a boxier silhouette, but the contrast between the structured jacket and drapey pants helps break it up a bit.
Walking to the restaurant without bug spray was a MAJOR TACTICAL ERROR. I am a mosquito magnet, and I got several clusters of bites on my feet/ankles, hands, and back, which then proceeded to swell together overnight and stay that way for the entire leg of the trip, because on top of being a mosquito delicacy, I’m also allergic to the bites. We purchased an ice holder bag but it still sucked because it hurt to walk/stand/exist for the next few days. It was rough and I used a lot of cortisone gel and ice.
FF had the greatest cornbread I’ve ever tasted though. Probably it was one of the best breads I’ve ever had, period.
I wore the yellow top, moto jacket, daisy skirt, and Birkenstocks. We visited the National Portrait Gallery / Smithsonian American Art Museum (they are in the same building).
Then we ate at Hill Country BBQ (I was impressed that their turkey breast was tasty even without any sauce or gravy) and hung out with partner’s college friends.
We were in the subway (Dupont Circle to Arlington) during the evening commute rush and boy I have NEVER SEEN SO MUCH BUSINESS CASUAL IN MY LIFE. Like, catalog business casual complete with well groomed hair and nails on most people. It was amazing. I’ve been to NYC and Boston and while both of those areas struck me as dressier than SF, but the median formality of outfit here seemed much higher. In Portland basically the same outfit was definitely on the dressy end, but in DC even with the blouse and skirt I felt like I should have gotten a pedicure and done some actual hairstyling.
The grooming in particular really struck me. Even in the FiDi area of SF, the majority of women don’t have their nails and hair very “done”, but there it seemed like the default in DC (scruffy looking guys were also much rarer). There were a lot more flats in women’s outfits than sandals or sneakers (or people were wearing sneakers but it was clearly a commuting shoe, because it was paired with a sheath dress and full kit of accessories – something I’d heard of but rarely see in SF), and statement necklaces seemed popular. There were of course plenty of people wearing t-shirts and jeans, but it seemed that most people who had an office-y look were fully bizcaz compliant, not these-are-my-dark-wash-jeans-and-good-allbirds smart casual.
I limped through the Museum of Natural History, which had recently opened the Deep Time hall with all the dinosaur fossils. The hall was the most well put together museum exhibit I’ve ever seen. Every exhibit displayed something AWESOME in the original sense of the word and I really liked how the whole hall was arranged chronologically so it felt like there was more of a direction/point to it, and they had a little review station at the end/beginning.
I’ve worn basically this same outfit before for non vacation wear, and it’s basically one of those elevated loungewear looks (particularly when worn with clogs or pumps) thanks to the square neckline and pleats.
Got drinks with the friends, and then went for a dinner date (see Day 4 for outfit on) to Blue Duck Tavern, which was my first time eating somewhere with a Michelin star.
Columbia Room was the most hipster bar I have ever been to. It was one of those places where every drink has at least one item you’ve probably never heard of, and one of the drinks had the name only written in Japanese (it is not a Japanese bar). I got this mule drink which had rum and earl grey tea which ended up being pretty tasty.
The food at Blue Duck was appreciably fancier than anywhere else I’ve eaten even being in the $30 entree tier. Which was nice because I’d previously had the vague impression that Michelin places were mostly hundreds of dollars per meal like the ones in SF/Napa.
Partner’s Dragonfruit avocado cocktail:
A vegetable pot pie:
Ended up just sleeping / vegging out most of this day though we had originally planned to see the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I was pretty bummed about that, but I didn’t think I would be able to handle the hours of walking that it or any of the other things we were interested in would have required because my ankles and feet were so swollen. But I think that’s okay – this was a longer trip and having one veg-out day was nice.
Went out of the AirBnB for a late lunch at Farmers Fisher Bakers, to which I wore this hippie-pajamas outfit and felt slightly underdressed.
This is far the best outfit picture I’ve ever gotten in terms of resolution and color correctness and made me wish I had a full sun area for photos at home.
Also, we encountered a fashion blogger and her (presumed) Instagram boyfriend/photographer doing a photoshoot in front of our AirBnB’s #aesthetic porch when we got back 😂 They had the whole kit, including fancy camera, hat, pumpkin prop, and heeled sandals in the outfit photo that she did not actually wear to get to the location. No shade, that’s a perfectly legit hobby to have (speaking as someone with a style blog!) but it was just hilarious because it was so stereotypical and they seemed a bit sheepish about it.
Here’s an action shot of the dressy outfit from The Improvised Shakespeare Company’s show, which is exactly what it says on the tin (rhyming dialogue included) and was very entertaining.
The main plot drivers were some aggressively meddlesome witches, hence the pose.
Traveled from DC to Boston, then drove up to the AirBnB near White Mountain National Forest in NH but met up with partner’s mom and sister for lunch first at a random mall near their house.
(See day 8 for actual photo of the same outfit)
Since we were at a mall, I bought some gloves since the cheap ones I got last year had holes in them already. I also got another raincoat, since I’d been looking for a longer brighter one (with a consistently working zipper) for a couple of months, it was a light item, and I’d be able to use it right away. I was also quite jealous that a random suburban mall in Massachusetts had a brick and mortar Free People while there isn’t one in either Berkeley or SF.
We did the Kancamangus Scenic Highway drive with a few stops for walks and rode a steam train at the Mt. Washington Cog Railway.
It was raining pretty much the whole day, so I looked like this:
It was like being in a Bob Ross painting of fall! I’m really glad the timing worked out and there was a lot of color when we were there since we had to book everything back in July.
Mt. Washington is so steep the engine has to push the coach instead of pull it, and it’s set at an angle at the base station so that it’s more level once the grade hits 20-30%.
The top of Mt. Washington is above the treeline
Observing solid fog at the observatory deck
Even though we couldn’t see anything, it was a fun (short) experience because that was probably the windiest place I’ve ever been. I think it was 40-50mph gusts and low 30s F temps when we were there, which is actually relatively nice because on average they get hurricane force winds 100+ days a year. They had a small but informative museum at the top explaining how the geography results in the terrible weather.
I wore my originally packed jacket here because the looser fit was more comfortable to stuff the puffer jacket under.
Hiked the Welch Dickey Loop, visited Moulton Farm to eat donuts and drink cider.
I used to be one of those all-black-athleticwear people but I’ve settled into more of a colorful look.
The trail starts off super cute with lots of trees and little streams but then you have to climbft in like 2 miles up smooth granite, and there are two summits so you have to go uphill twice.
So much granite. Guess that’s why it’s The Granite State.
FALL! FALL AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE!
View of Mt Dickey from Mt Welch:
Frankly the hike was out of my comfort zone (to my credit, AllTrails does actually rate it as hard) because I have a hard time with heights and ledges and I would 100% not do it again. But since I didn’t actually die I’m glad we did it the one time because the views were epic. It rained the day before and we didn’t realize the extent of the grade and smoothness of the terrain – a good bit of it required arms to haul yourself up, and I ended up doing a lot of butt-scooting on the downhill parts. I was really impressed with how the green leggings held up. They didn’t even pill!
Afterwards we went to this touristy/market sort of farm and had some snacks and picked up dinner. They had by far the best donuts I have ever had, and I also learned that any other (nonalcoholic) apple cider I had was nowhere close to actual fresh cider. The stuff from there was so good I almost cried.
Driving back down to Boston, flying back to California. This felt a tad costumey (like I was about to roll into an action-adventure film) but I enjoyed it and it really wasn’t that out there in terms of travel wear. I’m never really concerned about looking like a tourist clothingwise, since by definition of the activities I’m doing I will obviously be a tourist.
I know that some people find moto jackets too constricting to fly in but I was fine with it.
I liked having the moto jacket as a more fashiony element instead of ending up in head to toe athleticwear the last 4 days straight (since it wasn’t a camping trip). I think it would have also worked with leggings, but I liked having actual pants with pockets for practicality and I feel like these did a better job bridging the hiking boots and fashion jacket.
I had the lightweight scarf mostly for the plane, but I also liked that it broke up the black and also pulled the boho texture into the top part of the outfit.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much wear I’ve gotten out of these pants, simply because they were orange joggers 🤔. I figured they’d mostly end up as fun house loungewear, but they’ve been a great option for errands and such because they’re duper easy to wear + have pockets and go well with all the neutral and olive green stuff that makes up most of my wardrobe. The embroidery makes them feel more like a boho piece than a loungewear item so they’re a great bridge for athletic and fashiony pieces like here.
- Wore everything
- I liked the DC mini capsule, easy to dress up/down with shoes since the bottoms were not just jeans/leggings and the moto jacket worked with casual and slightly dressy things too
- Things ended up being appropriate to the weather and activities
- Scarf was good for plane and museum AC
- Yoga leggings held up well to hiking
Could have been better
- Birkenstocks had a hard time keeping up with the workload – after day 2 they definitely started to smell (not to the point where it was so bad I would have bought another pair of sandals on the trip), and I’d never had a foot odor issue with them before despite wearing them for touristing in other places or just running lots of errands. I think the sheer continuous wear + humidity was not a good combo. I think for similar trips in the future I’d bring two sandals and swap out.
- Ankle strap shoe with swollen ankle was not great. Next time we go anywhere I’m checking the mosquito forecast and bringing repellent, a cortisone stick, benadryl, and an ice bag if there’s even a moderate chance of mosquitoes. I’ve had enough bites on trips before to the point where it did make walking painful, but not to the extent of the bites on this trip where I basically lost a day to it.
Overall it was a really great trip despite the bugs, and I liked all my outfits. I’d definitely be down to revisit DC soon since there was so much to see and so many thing we didn’t get to eat. NH fall was also amazing but given how the timing is a bit of a crapshoot I’m okay waiting a couple years to do another leaf peeping trip, given how many other parks I haven’t seen yet.