It’s also - literally, don’t laugh - the post that seems to get (unscientific assessment here, I’m terrible at all of this blog stats stuff) the most random Google searches (yes, I'm working on my SEO, people. look at me, I'm a blogger).
What to wear to an amusement park is apparently quite the style dilemma.
Therefore, and because I’m stealing a few minutes between deadlines in the DayJob, I thought we’d revisit. Why now, you ask? Well, 3 reasons:
1) People apparently want to know. You ask, I answer.
2) Because people want to know, I re-read my post. And while I think I assessed the situation fairly and accurately, I’m perplexed at some of my own response. Linen gauchos? I literally don’t know what the heck I was talking about. Forgive me? It was 2006.
3) We’re going to Sesame Place this weekend. We’re going to the park 2 days. In my off moments (like driving home at 10:30 at night, driving to the office at 5am) this week, I’ve been mulling it over. And over. And over.
So let’s take a look at what I said before, and we’ll update. We’ll also update it for “What to Wear to an Amusement Park When You Have Kids.” Because it does, no matter how hard you try, make it different.
In 2006, I assesed the situation as follows (yes, I’ve been writing proposals all week):
There are a couple of issues at hand
- Feet - walking around all day on asphalt gets hot and uncomfortable. Breathing feet is key
- Hair - keeping it cool & not dissheveled
- Skin - too much sun = bad
- Heat - sweaty = bad On target, right?
Stuff - how I didn’t address this back then, I have no earthly idea. Except that I probably wore my favorite cargos with 23K pockets and carried my teensy little J. Crew Magic Wallet in the pocket. So what to do?
I hate backpacks. They are immensely practical, but no matter how hard they try, they are just. not. stylish or chic. Let’s not talk about those pseudo-dressy ones that hang horribly and look like a dead animal slung to your back. That being said, a tote bag is about the least practical option at an amusement park, especially when chasing little ones around. You need 2 hands. You also need another grownup (or friend old enough to stand alone) to wait with said bag while you’re on the ride.
So, my friends, suck it up. Take the L.L. Bean, Jansport, or Land’s End backpack you have stuffed in your closet (I know you haven’t thrown it out yet because it’s just plain old too useful and still in very good condition, despite all of the ballpoint pen you have scribbled all over it). Drag it out, and use it. It’ll let you be hands-free, store all your stuff (think changes of clothes, see next item), and it’s 2 days. At an amusement park. You can deal.
You know what else I’m a fan of? Rides the kids can go on by themselves where I can stand below and take pictures.
Onward. Next up New Issue?
Water Rides - Last time I was there (ahem, at least 30 years ago), Sesame Place had some water. Slides and sprinklers and such. Apparently it’s now got a full-fledged water park. This means bathing suits and changes of clothes. (See above where I tell you to suck it up on the backpack.).
I’ve debated this in my head. On one hand, a full-coverage racing suit, or at least a one-piece that stays in place seems like your best bet where this many random children are involved. But there are 2 significant issues with the one piece:
1) It’s an additional layer. Of synthetic material. It’s August. Do the dripping wet math.
2) Access. It’s a long day, it’s hot, and you should be drinking loads and loads of water, which translates to, of course, many pit stops. It’s hard enough undoing yourself if you’re wearing a t-shirt and shorts over a suit. Try doing it while keeping The Beans from touching any surface at all (why in God’s name are those random bathroom surfaces so attractive?).
My solution, which, quite frankly, may not be for everyone:
For a water-ride-friendly ensemble, don well-fitting shorts (don’t listen to what I said in 2006 about shorts), a fitted, lightweight T-shirt of your choice, and either a bikini (we are talking about access here) or regular old underwear (in this case, I’d recommend something other than cotton, because it will get wet, and you need it to dry quickly) and a sports bra or exercise tank with a built-in bra. Important? Quick-drying materials. This is the one and only time (feel free to come back and taunt me if I contradict myself in another 6 years) I will recommend you wear gym-gear outside of your workout. If it’s not a cotton T (see my WW friend’s ode to Lycra), it will dry much faster, and you will be much more comfortable all day.
Counter clockwise, from top right: Phillies Women's Lonnie Cleanup Adjustable Cap (I have a very similar one I wear all the time), C9 by Champion Seamles Racerback Tank (I've just bought a bunch of the C9 stuff at Target, and while I haven't worn them much, love the fit, the colors, and the styles) Women's Converse One Star Neon Oxford - Pink (my missing ones are grey, and have a Really Cool Print Double Tongue), L.L. Bean Deluxe Book Pack (mine has lasted me more than 20 years, 2 years overseas, and now 2 Beans), Great Adventure's Green Lantern (yes, that's Great Adventure. I couldn't resist putting it in just for my dear Tri-State-Area readers), Sesame Place (wish me luck), Purell Hand Sanitizer (the little hang-on-any-bag tags rock. an absolute must. Or wipes. After every. single. ride.), Neutrogena Wet Skin SPF 70 (do I have to explain?)
So what did I get right in 2006? Well, to quote myself:
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. There's nothing less stylish than a girl stranded in "lobsterland" because she "forgot" (as H is wont to do) to slather it on. Never mind there's less of a need for the fridge-cooled aloe vera when you get home.
2012 update: yes. Also, spray-on sunscreen is the best invention ev-ah.
Ballcap. This would be one of the very few times (the other would be when you're whooping it up at a homecoming game) I'd say: forget hairstyles, pull it back in DC's-best ponytail, toss on a cap, and leave it be. It'll keep you cool & sun-free.
2012 update: yes. I’ll likely sport my plaid Phillies cap. Who cares if they’re in last place? I am not, I repeat, not, a fair-weather Phan.
Layered tops. Cami [removed “sweat-wicking cotton” comment. Again, what was I talking about in 2006?), and a beach-inspired thin cotton button-down. A tunic would work well, here, too. Airy, light, and layered is key. An interesting t-shirt might do, too, but you'll be cooler if you're layered.
2012 update: if you really think you can avoid the water rides, this layered look is absolutely the way to go. It’s cool and chic. But water absolutely requires something, well, less fashionable.
Shoes. This is hard. My comfort inclination is to tell you to screw fashion & go tourist by throwing on the running shoes. But I'm going to pull back from the edge and say: if you don't already have a pair in your closet, get thee to any store worth it's salt (my cheapy fave, Target, will do) and grab a pair of what department stores so eloquently call "fashion sneakers." Puma, Nike, Michelle K, and every other brand known to woman now have fun colors that won't kill your feet.
2012 update: I’ve been debating this myself. I literally can’t find my favorite grey lowtop Chucks, and have no other “fashion sneakers.” While I’m absolutely 100% sure my suburban Target has a pair that will work, this is one day I really don’t think I can squeeze in a Tar-ZHAY run. So guess what? Running shoes. This is not the time (since we’ll be in the waterpark mode) to wear my trusty gladiator sandals or even flip-flops. Soggy feet and blisters will ensue.
Also, for the record, stop rolling your eyes. Amusement parks are one of the funnest things ever. And if you disagree in some sort of snobbish, I-refuse-to-admit-I’m-an-American way, well, you’re un-American. Go. It’s like laughing out loud for no reason at all. You’ll feel better, you’ll be happy, and you will find a little bit of joy you didn’t realize you had.