The fashion guru from Queer Eye opens up about holiday spending, travel hacks and being on the road. Plus the one member of the Fab Five most likely to blow the budget when they’re on holiday.
Tan France does not roll.
Sincerest apologies to the Queer Eye star’s Netflix stablemate Marie Kondo, but when France is packing his carry-on suitcase for one of the 12 trips he makes every single month he folds his clothes. No Konmari-approved shirt-burrito rolls in sight.
“Here’s the thing,” he says. “I know that people say that rolling saves more room. I do not think that is the case.”
France’s packing hack is relatively straightforward by comparison. “I do stuff my shoes with my socks so that they keep their shape, and then I’m saving some room also. As far as the rolling thing goes, I don’t know if I’m convinced.”
We caught up with the fashion guru during a break in filming on the fifth season of Queer Eye in Philadelphia to talk holiday dressing, travel hacks and which one of the Fab Five is the most likely to over-pack whenever they’re on the road. (One guess who it might be.)
Stylist: There was a statistic this year that people in the UK were looking to buy 50 million ‘throwaway’ outfits over the summer for holidays, weddings, festivals and more. What is your advice to women who feel that they have to spend big on a holiday wardrobe?
Tan France: I’ve never understood the notion of buying a specific holiday wardrobe. I take the clothes that I already have [on holiday], because they’re the ones that make me feel good. I’m not going to bash the fast fashion industry. That’s something that we’ve all benefited from at some point in our lives, but I do like that people are more aware of the damage that it causes.
S: Do you like to shop on holiday?
TF: I don’t go for souvenirs usually. I’m somebody who enjoys a lot of sugar and so I buy a lot of sweets and chocolates and candy. Like local candy that’s local to the region, I will often stash that and bring it back. I don’t often shop for clothes abroad. I feel like I can get that online, and why stuff my bag with things that are going to weigh a tonne… I travel a lot. A lot. A lot. I’m usually in the air at least two or three times a week and I travel internationally probably once every month or two. So I travel with the Transferwise debit card so that I’m not charged a fortune for shopping in a country that’s not my own.
S: With all that travel, do you still enjoy getting away or do you find that it’s sometimes a bit of a chore?
TF: Erm, that’s a good question. If it’s for work and only work, and I’m in and out in a heartbeat – the answer is no, I don’t love to travel. I will go to the place for a day or two, do the job that I am required to do and then leave. If it’s an actual vacation I’m more than happy to travel, so it depends on the situation. The majority of my life is travel these days and it’s often for work and that’s not my favourite part of the job. Usually twice a year I get to go away on holiday, and that’s the bit I love.
S: What’s your advice for packing well for a holiday?
TF: Go for a capsule wardrobe in your suitcase. Stick to as many simple colours that complement each other as possible, and wear the heaviest things that you plan to take with you on the plane. Even if you end up taking your coat off and putting it in the overhead compartment or taking your clunky shoes off and putting a slipper on instead. I always carry light slippers in my backpack, so that way if I’ve got heavy shoes on, clunky shoes, I can take them off and chuck on some slippers instead.
S: What’s your best packing hack?
TF: As far as how you pack, there’s no miracle way of putting in more than you ever could. What I will say is just pack smarter and really make your suitcase work for you. Don’t think, even though you’re going away for seven days, that you’re going to have five elaborate outfits. Don’t make your vacation an Instagram moment at every turn – actually enjoy your vacation and wear things that are going to be appropriate for where you’re going, not just an Instagram look.
S: Which of the Fab Five members is the worst at packing?
TF: Jonathan’s always got too much because he loves an Instagram look. He brings a lot of pairs of shoes with him. Whereas I will wear the same couple of pairs of shoes for about three or four days, he will not. The other boys… I think their closets are relatively simple, their wardrobe choices are relatively simple, and so they don’t really carry a lot. Antoni’s probably the lightest packer of us all. The only thing is that he carries a lot of fragrances and candles with him. He likes to make it feel like home in his hotel room.
S: Candles are heavy!
TF: They really are. I think he chooses to use the weight of his suitcase on those, whereas I would always rather take extra clothes, just in case we have a press thing.
S: What about when it comes to travel budgets? Who is the most likely to splurge on a nice dinner or a souvenir?
TF: The biggest spender is probably Jonathan. He does love a shoe! I’m the most frugal for sure. I was a business owner beforehand, so I can stretch a dollar better than most.
S: How is season five going? What can you tell us about the new season?
TF: It is in Philadelphia and that’s all I can tell you. Honestly! The one thing I will say, which is my personal feeling, is that I thought five seasons in it might have become stale. Like oh, the story’s told, they’ve heard everything we have to say – and it’s shocking how that’s not the case and that we’ve all got so much more to say and that there are still so many more stories to tell. Personally, I think this might be our best season yet. We’re getting better and better at what we do.