Entertainment Style Hot and bothered in Bali: The problem with holiday style

Hot and bothered in Bali: The problem with holiday style

Dressing for holidays has become all about the Instagram photo. Photo: Instagram/Allana Booth
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I love packing for a holiday.

It’s probably one of my favourite parts of the trip, full of high expectations and nervous excitement, a state of mind that can rapidly diminish, especially once you’ve checked into your room to find that it’s next door to the resort’s rattling air conditioning unit and there’s a giant gecko in the bathroom.

I like to lay each outfit on the floor, and then add the accessories. The white shirt, navy and white striped shorts, red canvas espadrille, hoop earrings, tick. Long floral dress, flat sandals, coral necklace, tick.

I add different lipsticks and fragrance for each look. Various evening bags. Baskets and straw hats and sunglasses for strolling in the markets. Three swimsuits, three different sorts of sun block. I can amuse myself for hours.

Lastly, what to wear on the plane? What style of carry on luggage is suitable for Bali? Do I need a light wrap? What shoes are appropriate for the lounge? Etc, etc. It all starts out brilliantly. I could start a style blog.

Then you emerge into the surprisingly intense, wet heat of Denpasar airport. The hotel pickup hasn’t arrived and the pants that you wore on the plane have started to stick to your legs. Your light Italian linen wrap is tightening around your neck, choking you. Your hat looks stupid.

After a thrilling 30 minutes in standstill traffic at the airport roundabout, you are finally on your way to the hotel, sucking in the busy street scenes around you and realising that no one is wearing anything more than a pair of shorts and a tank top.

After checking into the villa, which unsurprisingly looked much, much nicer in the online photos, I immediately started doing a Blanche Dubois, throwing the six sarongs I brought with me over various chairs and sun lounges.

Then we decided to head out for dinner. My companion and I had a long chat about which shoes to wear. A flat? A heel? Could he wear sandals, or did he need a loafer? Was it okay to wear shorts?

We finally set out, the heavens opened up and suddenly the snaggly footpaths of Seminyak became one long grey puddle. My espadrilles swelled with water. He didn’t want to discuss what was happening to his leather sandals.

We rushed, dripping, into the restaurant, where everyone was just wearing rubber thongs and shorts and knew we had some readjusting to do. Fashion is often far better in theory.

W for weekend vibes. 📷: @bri_benson & @daniellefisser. Via @thespgtraveler

A photo posted by Snapchat 👻: w_bali (@wbaliseminyak) on

There is much shade thrown at the Bintang T-shirt brigade, the drunk and rowdy tourists with the leg tattoos and the Havaianas, but I don’t think they look any worse than the crowd that can be found at the beach bar at the W during happy hour. I spent an hour rubbernecking. It was horrific.

There is so much fashion information in the world now, so many blogs, and Instagram feeds, and style stars and self appointed influencers, that no one actually knows what to wear or what’s appropriate. I don’t know what the crowd at the W represents, but it’s not Bali.

It is people dressed up for endless selfies, in the most baffling, awful outfits – one young woman was in a turquoise tube top, red frilled high waisted undies, a floppy black hat, gladiator sandals, mirrored aviators and a full face of makeup who literally took duck-face selfies with her peroxided boyfriend in silver wraparound sunnies for one hour straight.

As we were walking the next day in the steamy heat, a group of Balinese women perched side-saddle on motorbikes drove past, carrying cane baskets of offerings they had prepared for the temple. They were a vision, their pretty sarongs, and bright white lace kebayas, shiny hair swept up in French rolls. That’s who has the real style.

These are the people with the real style in Bali. Photo: Getty
These are the people with the real style in Bali. Photo: Getty

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