When you grow up in Italy (Florence, to be specific), are well-traveled (she’s been to Antarctica!), and speak multiple languages, the world, as they say, is your oyster—or at least it is for W Magazine’s Rickie De Sole. Here, the American-born, fashion-saavy globetrotter talks to us about childhood summers spent driving through Europe, lost luggage, and her habit of always packing too many shoes (ummm, ya, we’re sort of guilty of that too!).
How often do you travel?
I travel for work three times a year—first to Milan and then to Paris for the collections in September, as well as again at the end of February—and in July I go to Paris yet again for the couture shows. For vacation, I take a week in August and a week between Christmas and New Years. My husband and I are also always traveling on weekends—to weddings, to escape the city, to visit friends, etc.
My favorite destination is any place I haven’t been yet. I love the adventure that comes with traveling to a new destination.
Where’s your ‘happy place’ to visit?
Italy! I grew up in Florence so it feels like going home. The food is pretty amazing too.
Which brand of luggage do you carry?
I carry Tumi Tegra Lite luggage in graphite. I have this luggage in every size they make it in—it’s truly the best because it is so light weight. My friend George Esquivel became the brands Creative Director a little over a year ago and I love what he has done with the company by making it more fashion forward. Now when I travel to Europe for the collections all I see are editors carrying Tumi luggage!
And for your carry-on bag?
My carry on bag is always the biggest tote I can find. I should use a roller bag to avoid lugging so much weight around on my back but I love tote bags. My current go-to is the Tom Ford “Jennifer” bag, which is a large zip tote. In the summer I usually carry a big L.L. Bean tote or my favorite Figue tote that doubles as a beach bag.
Do you travel with a camera?
My iPhone has replaced my camera.
Delta. I love Delta—they have the best rewards program.
The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. It is so small and quiet….the opposite of NYC airports!
What are your in-flight essentials?
Aisle or window?
The window. Mostly so I can lean against it and sleep.
Preferred in-flight beverage?
Water, no ice.
What’s the one item you never leave town without?
My iPhone—I’m truly dependent on it!
Do you use any travel apps?
I use the Delta app all the time. It’s great for checking-in enroute to the airport, checking flight status, etc.
How do you entertain yourself at 35,000 feet?
When I’m on airplanes I love catching up on the movies I missed in the theater. I always manage to choose the sappy one that makes me cry—I look insane sobbing in my seat! Most recently I watched The Fault in Our Stars and The Theory of Everything. Both made me weep!
What’s your go-to uniform for the plane?
I tend to wear the same thing when I travel—black jeans and a black cashmere sweater (my favorite is an oversize one from Derek Lam) with a scarf. I think layers are important on a plane. I can also take my scarf and use it as a pillow if I need to.
How do you deal with jet lag?
I actually love jet lag when I come back from Europe—I get up early and go to the gym. Plus, I have a great excuse for staying home at night as I’m too tired to go out those first few days back.
Do you exercise while you’re traveling?
In Milan I have a great yoga instructor that a friend introduced me to (she also teaches designer Brian Atwood). She is an American that lives in Milan and comes to my hotel room super early before the shows begin. In Paris I just use the hotel gym. It’s hard to get motivated, but once I get to the gym I’m always happy I went.
How do you manage your health + eating routine when you’re traveling?
I manage my eating when traveling by not snacking. Knowing I’m going to be eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner means I don’t need to waste calories eating between meals.
What’s the first thing you do when you get into your hotel room?
I set up my phone charger and I unpack. Everything is better once you are unpacked and settled in.
Are you an under-pack or an over-packer?
I’m an over-packer. I always bring too many shoes!
Do you have any packing strategies?
I make lists but never stick to them. What I think I want to wear on a certain day always changes with my mood, the temperature, etc. I used to pack all my clothes in one suitcase, and my shoes, toiletries, lingerie in another until one time a piece of luggage got lost and I was stuck with no “extras” only my clothing! I realized I needed to mix everything up to ensure that never happened again.
What items always make it into your suitcase?
I always travel with workout clothes—Nike Flyknit sneakers and Lulu Lemon pants. My rule is: if I pack it, I must use it!! Other must-haves in my suitcase are Tom Ford sunglasses, Jo de Mer swimsuits, and multiple phone cases by Mophie and Vianel. I also love bringing hats!! My husband makes fun of me because on every warm-weather trip I hand-carry at least 3 hats on the plane with us. They are usually all from Sensi Studio—I just love their hats. I live in black jeans. J Brand has a great straight-leg, black jean that I take with me everywhere. I don’t wear blue jeans as much, but when I do they are Current Elliott. I still have yet to find the perfect blue jean for my body (I’m quite short so lengths are always a challenge).
What beauty products do you pack in your toiletries case?
Biologique Recherche P50 Lotion—my facialist at Aida Bicaj in New York swears by it!, Mila Moursi cleanser and face lotion, Estee Lauder Night Repair Serum, and Dior Cleansing Water to remove my makeup at the end of the night. To be honest, when I want to make it easy on myself while I’m traveling, I purposely leave behind all my large jars of makeup remover and just bring Sephora makeup remover wipes instead. I also bring Giorgio Armani tinted moisturizer, a Tom Ford eyebrow pencil in Taupe, Tom Ford bronzer, Chanel blush, Diorshow black mascara and a Sephora eyelash curler. Avene tinted sunscreen in the summer is also a must, as is a good rolling-brush. Of course I bring the basics like a travel-sized Colgate toothpaste and Dove deodorant. Actually, I usually always forget my toothpaste and have to use my husband’s—it’s the thing I always leave behind…I’m good about remembering to bring floss though. I don’t travel with a hairdryer because it takes up too much space in my suitcase. I have very straight hair that dries easily so the hotel hairdryer usually works just fine. David Mallet, in Paris, gave me a travel-size jar of Shampoo No.1 L’Hydration that I’m obsessed with. Another thing I love to take with me is Oribe Dry Texturing Spray. I also pack the little things like Advil (always!) and band-aids, if I can remember.
Favorite item from the hotel mini-bar?
Water. I hate to take anything from the mini bar because it’s always 10 times what it should normally cost! But if I’m taking water from the mini bar it means I’m really thirsty and need to do it!
Favorite item to order from room service?
Vegetable soup. If I’m staying home and ordering in it means I’m taking a night off and want to keep my meal light.
Have you ever had a travel nightmare?
Losing one of my two pieces of luggage during Paris fashion week for 5 days was definitely a nightmare. They forgot to put the luggage tag on my bag leaving Milan. Air France gave me 150 euros—I needed to buy lingerie, makeup and shoes with it! Needless to say, I did a lot of shopping that trip.
If your luggage was lost, what are the 5 items you’d buy at the local drugstore?
I’d buy clean underwear, a toothbrush, a hairbrush, Dior cleansing water, and Tom Ford Black Orchid perfume!
Favorite find/souvenir from your travels?
I love to buy kaftans on my travels. I love summer cover-ups and so often you can find great one-of-a-kind styles at small beach shops that no one else has.
Favorite childhood memory of travel?
When I was 10-years-old my family moved from Greenwich, Connecticut to Florence, Italy. We didn’t know how long we would be there so that first summer my mom packed us in the car and we drove all over Europe. My dad would fly in on weekends and we had the best time seeing all of Europe that way. We ended up staying in Florence for six years and my parents were great about traveling every opportunity we got. We traveled to China, Japan, Bhutan, Indonesia, Antarctica, Cambodia, Africa, and so on. I have seen the world but hardly traveled within the US!
Destinations on your bucket-list?
The Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park are on my bucket list. Im also dying to go to India!
Rickie De Sole photographed off the Amalfi Coast