July 22, 2024

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Travel Style Tips From ‘Queer Eye’ Star Tan France

8 min read

As Queer Eye’s fashion expert, Tan France built a reputation on the Netflix reboot for giving transformational makeovers, possessing sharp style sensibilities and leading a relentless campaign for people to French tuck their shirts.

Forbes Travel Guide caught up with France as the Fab Five shoots season nine in Las Vegas, and the Emmy winner revealed that he’s working on his first scripted role. He couldn’t say more about the project, other than it will debut this summer, but he did share plane outfit tips, the two travel destinations he visits on repeat and why castmate Antoni Porowski may have some competition in the kitchen.

What should travelers wear for a long-haul flight while still looking chic?

Here’s my take: I don’t get dressed up. I just wear the nicest version of travel clothes I can find. I like to keep it really slick and just wear all one color. I kind of fall into a rotation where a couple months at a time, I will wear a certain color palette. Right now, I’m in my camel era.

I have these Guest in Residence camel pants that you could liken to pajama pants, but they’re solid. They’re cashmere. They feel gorgeous. And they look dressy enough where I could see Gigi [Hadid, the luxury knitwear brand’s founder] in her heels wearing these. They’re very chic. And then I wear a camel-colored T-shirt that is from Uniqlo and a camel sweater. Those things combined create a really sophisticated look.

Sometimes, I’ll put a large black overcoat over it, a duster coat that comes down to almost my ankles. Then as the flight gets cooler, I’ve got layers I can take off. And no matter how many layers I take off, I still look chic underneath. And that’s my that’s my tip in general, when layering: Don’t forget that the layers underneath aren’t just there for comfort. You may need to take off the outer layers, and you still want to look sophisticated, like you’ve got a full look underneath.

When considering essential fashion pieces, aside from the little black dress, what’s an item that should be in every woman’s wardrobe?

Any leather jacket that works for you. And this doesn’t have to be leather. It could be a vegan leather. Something that you can dress up or dress down very easily. My go-to is a moto jacket and has been for 25 years. That is the thing you can add to your rotation to help you have your own vibe.

What’s a fashion item that you’re obsessed with right now?

Gold jewelry. It doesn’t have to be real — it can be costume. I have plenty of costume jewelry. My castmates on any show I’ve ever done call me the “Persian Prince” because my hands and wrists are typically stacked in gold jewelry. I just think it’s the most beautiful way to dress up a look.

Even if I’m just in my travel outfit, which is, as I said, a pair of very nondescript pants, a simple tee and a sweater, I throw on all of the jewelry, and it looks very intentional that this is the way I dial up my look. As opposed to the “it” bag or shoe, get jewelry that you can build up or take away, so you’ve got minimal or maximalist looks that make it clear that this is very uniquely you. That’s all in how you style that gold jewelry.

You’re shooting season nine of Queer Eye in Vegas. Have you discovered any spots there?

I went to a place called Lotus of Siam. I had one of the best Thai meals in my life. We’ve been told by so many people that that was the place to go. They weren’t wrong — it was gorgeous. We had a lot of Thai food in Vegas. It has been wonderful.

There is a boutique that we’re shopping at within the next couple of weeks. It’s called Vasari, and their offering is amazing.

What are some of your favorite travel destinations?

These two places I’ve now been multiple times because they are my favorites. People and my friends say, “Well, there could be other places that will be your favorite.” I know there’s much more to discover, however, I’m a creature of habit. Once I find something I love, I stick with that.

The first one is Iceland. I love Iceland so desperately. I think it’s beautiful, and the landscape is like no other place. The people are so kind. The crime rate is so low, so I feel so safe. And I just find the food wonderful. I love how isolated it is — I feel like I’m on another planet.

I like Reykjavik very much, but what we like is doing the Golden Circle. My favorite thing to do is not book a hotel for the first or the last night, and then drive around, and when we find a place we love, we get a hotel.

Iceland is No. 1, [tied with] Japan. I love Tokyo so much. I went last month for a quick trip and that was my fourth time there. I love Tokyo, I love Kyoto — those are the two places I’ve visited in Japan.

It is truly my favorite place on earth. I love everything about it. I think that it’s so peaceful and the people are so incredibly civilized. I love that culture. I just think it’s magical and light years ahead of the rest of us.

Are there any places that you still want to visit?

Seoul, Korea, that’s my next one. I love Asia so much and Seoul has been on my list for a while. I was going to go last month. I choose my own wardrobe for Queer Eye, but I only have two and a half to three days to shop. So, I went to a place where I knew I could get everything I needed, which is why I went to Tokyo. I wanted to go to Seoul instead. But I want to leave that for when I have a week and Rob [my husband] can join me as well, which is hard right now because we have two very young children, a 2-year-old and a 10-month-old. And so we’re going to wait a couple of years so we can experience it together.

When you travel, what do you use as your carry-on?

I use a brand called Away, and then I will also carry a backpack. For my trip to Japan, I only took carry-on. I can fit three looks on a carry-on and another couple of share options, like tops so I can rotate. I will rewear a pant and a shoe.

I also like a waterproof toiletry bag that was gifted to me by Byredo. I use it as my Dopp kit and fill it with these stackable, refillable containers that take up little space and put moisturizer, night cream, face wash and eye cream in those.

You recently documented building your dream Tudor-style house in Salt Lake City on the video series Home at Last with Tan France. When unveiling the kitchen, you said, “This L’Atelier stove — I’ve dreamt of having something like this for about 20 years.” Why did you covet this range?

It feels so grand. It feels like the person I desperately wanted to be, which is chic, sophisticated and just so bold. I always dreamt of being the kind of person who had a focal point in the kitchen like this because, for me, it just oozes sophistication. And I’m such a keen cook, that it’s the most practical range for me.

I have friends over for most Thanksgivings and Christmases, and I was always having to really figure out timing for everything I’m cooking. I know that’s a problem that most people experience, but because I’m such a keen cook, I wanted to finally get to a point in life where I could arrive by having a much larger stove. And that’s what I have now.

We moved in a week before Thanksgiving and we did a Thanksgiving and then a Friendsgiving meal, I was able to fully utilize both of the ovens in that stove. That week really solidified why the L’Atelier was so important to me.

What is your dish to cook on the range?

For the stovetop, many things, but in particular, a dish called daal. It’s a South Asian version of comfort food. It’s lentils. The West would liken it to soup, but it’s very thick. That is my favorite thing to make, it’s my husband’s favorite meal and it’s my son’s favorite Indian meal. I make it in large batches — I can also freeze it. This gives me the space to be able to make enough for 20 meals, which is wild.

And then for the oven, I love to make a chocolate cake — in particular, Ina Garten’s chocolate cake that I tweaked, so now it’s a ginger chocolate cake. It’s my favorite thing to bake.

When out-of-town guests visit you in Salt Lake City, where do you like to take them?

There’s a bakery that I love, Tulie. They do the best bakes in Salt Lake for sure, but some of the best things I’ve had in the United States. They do a wonderful job, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Salt Lake local. When it comes to baked goods, I don’t give credit if they’re not formidable, and they really are.

There’s an Indian restaurant that I really like called Mumbai House. That is wonderful.

And then I like taking them on hikes. I’m very outdoorsy. We hike something called the Bonneville Shoreline. And then there’s a place called Antelope Island, which is about a 20-minute to half-an-hour drive out of Salt Lake, and it’s gorgeous, magical, and there’s an island that has a bunch of antelope and mountains to climb. It’s surrounded by the Great Salt Lake.

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