“Don’t try to make your vacation your fashion moment.”
If you’ve seen Netflix’s “Queer Eye” series, you know you can trust Tan France with fashion advice. And if you haven’t and want to cry the most warm-hearted tears you are capable of on your next flight, I recommend you download an episode or two.
The reboot of the early aughts makeover show, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” lets viewers watch as a panel of lifestyle experts — the “Fab Five” — schools its subjects on grooming, style, interior design, cooking, and culture. France takes care of all things fashion. On the show, which premiered its second season June 15, he’s known for his confident and bold approach to style — but on the road, it’s all about comfort.
We sat down to talk travel with France, who’s on a plane “literally every two or three days” promoting the show, at a New York City launch event for Travelpro’s new Platinum Elite line, which, according to France, is some “next-level” luggage.
We’ve got the scoop on his favorite destinations, his super-efficient packing strategy for men, and some refreshingly real travel style tips.
Travel + Leisure: Let’s start with your packing philosophy. How do you approach style on the road?
Tan France: “Keep it simple and make it as versatile as possible. I watch my husband pack and it’s infuriating. He tries to pack every darn thing for every circumstance, and I’m like, pack a light pair of jeans, a dark pair of jeans, and a short if you’re going to the beach. Pack five different T-shirts, every color that you like. Pack a button-down shirt, just in case. And pack a suit, and then break that suit up and wear it a thousand different ways. You can look chic AF in super plain stuff that you’re rotating out and changing up.
“And pack [in a carry-on bag]. I hate waiting at the carousel, especially in New York. Sometimes it can take up to half an hour. You can fit a whole week of stuff in a carry-on if you think about it wisely. Don’t try to make your vacation your fashion moment.”
What does the actual packing part look like for you?
“[The ‘Queer Eye’ guys] are in a different place practically every week, so it’s very well considered at this point. I start with my shoes — I usually pack two pairs if I’m going away for four or five days and I’ll wear another one. I’ll put them around [the walls of the suitcase] and it creates a kind of valley. I’ll put my socks in my shoes to use the space wisely and I’ll put all my underwear in the top flap because you can lay it out and not use much room.
“And then, I don’t roll. I fold. I think it’s a common misconception that rolling will help you access more space. That’s not a thing. So I fold, fill in that valley, and on top I put the things I need to make sure don’t wrinkle. For example, a blazer, I’d fold it in half and place it on top so that when I open my suitcase up, it’s as wrinkle-free as physically possible.”
Do you have an ideal airplane outfit?
“OK, this is so not what people expect me to wear. I think people expect me to go in a floral shirt and my boots that I’m always in. That’s not the case. I think people who make the effort to dress up for a plane are insane. I want to look nice; I want to look stylish. But I will wear my most stylish sweats, sneakers, T-shirt, and hoodie. I want to be able to layer and to sleep on a longer flight — I fly between L.A. and New York a lot. If [the flight is] an hour or two, get dressed up, no big deal, but if you’ve got longer than a couple hours of flying, get comfortable. Wear sweats, but make them nice and clean.”
Is there one item you pack for every single trip?
“Sneakers, without a doubt. Really comfortable sneakers. These days, you can get really stylish sneakers like never before that you can wear and walk in all day. So, sneakers for sure.”
What would your dream trip look like?
“I already know — It’s something I had to cancel last year. It was my husband’s 40th birthday and we’d been wanting to go to Iceland for years; it’s our dream trip. [But] we ended up extending filming to finish up season two, so we had to cancel literally a week before. We were going to go on a trip of the whole island for three weeks: the blue lagoon, we were going to stay in the middle of nowhere in the forest in a cabin for four days, Reykjavik, the Northern Lights, the black sand beach — just everything that Iceland is known for.”
Are there any destinations you would go back to over and over again?
“New York [City], I used to come here every six months to a year for 12 years before I finally moved to America. And also, Berlin.”
What do you love most about travel?
“Internationally, I love to experience different cultures and see things I’d never see in the country that I’m from. And in the U.S., I love traveling because I love getting to see all that my new home has to offer.”
Note: The above interview has been edited for clarity.