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The Ultimate Multifunctional Travel Dress: Review of the Chrysalis Cardi by Encircled

This post may contain affiliate links.

Please read my disclosure for more info. 

Whether you are an expert traveller or totally new to travel all together, packing for a trip (particularly packing the best clothes to wear in Africa) can be difficult! Even after nearly 50 countries, I still find it painful tough to pack. It can be hard to find a balance between looking fashionable and packing garments that will actually be practical in diverse climates and social/cultural contexts.

The biggest lesson I have learned over the years, is to avoid overpacking — both literally and figuratively, it WILL weigh you down. Now, regardless of whether I use a carry-on or a larger backpack for long-term travel, I aim to pack convertible and multifunctional clothing.

I think I have finally found a solution to the fashion vs. function dilemma: The Chrysalis Cardi by Encircled.

A Multifunctional Travel Dress for Africa: The Chrysalis Cardi

Encircled is an ethical clothing brand based in Toronto, Canada, offering minimalist and sustainable garments that are both locally sourced and sewn. With a simple 2-snap system, the Chrysalis Cardi can be worn in 8 different ways (though in my experience, I was able to wear it in EVEN MORE ways to suit my body type and the situation).

Image curtesy of Encircled

Get 20$ OFF your Encircled order! 

the ultimate Multifunctional travel dress

Recently I travelled from Cape Town, South Africa all the way up to Mwanza, Tanzania by land — with one backpack containing everything for one year abroad (hence the need for multifunctional clothing). If you are wondering about the best clothes to wear in Africa … well the Chrysalis Cardi has been my absolute go-to essential!

In Cape Town, I wore the one shoulder dress exploring the historic and colourful neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap…

…and the grecian tunic version of the Chrysalis Cardi while strolling through the beautiful Kristenboch botanical gardens.

Wondering what to pack for a safari in Africa? While road tripping in Namibia, I wore the scarf styled as a double-looped infinity circle on my self-drive safari through Etosha National Park. I also discovered how warm and comfy it is while sleeping  camping in the back of my car in the Namib desert.

I glammed up in this daring halter variation to enjoy a glass of wine at a restaurant overlooking the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe.

In Malawi, I found numerous ways to style the cardi for swimwear by the pool and lake. The halter top variation, one strap dress and single loop scarf are super easy swim-suit coverups (depending on the amount coverage you want).

I also wore the cape as lake-side lounge wear (though in colder climates, I think this would be comfy to throw over leggings and boots).

Encircled the pink backpack

…and I styled my black bikini with theChrysalis Cardi’s belt over my pony tail.

I even created my own variations: the criss-cross dress and the backless dress– the options of the Chrysalis Cardi are endless!

best travel dress for africa

best clothes for africa

More versatile ways to wear the Chrysalis Cardi while traveling:

– Wear the one loop scarf to cover your head and shoulders in a mosque or temple, or for sun protection.

– Get cozy in the cocoon cardi or wrap on a chilly flight, or use it as a blanket (I’m not pictured in these variations as I was traveling in warmer climates).

– Glam yourself up in the X-back halter for a night on the town (this one didn’t work with my body type but looks oh-so pretty).

– Use the cardi as a beach sarong, clipping or tying it at your waist.

– Wear the double or triple-loop scarf in colder climates, over a top or under a parka.

So is the Chrysalis Cardi really practical for travel in Africa?

If you are looking to pack light for Africa, then yes, I would highly recommend you bring along the Chrysalis Cardi based on its versatility. The continent of Africa is SO diverse, meaning you need to be prepared for the climate and culture of each country to be different from the next. For example, in Namiba, I was FREEZING in the desert at night and was so happy I had the cardi as an extra layer to throw on. In Tanzania, the climate is much hotter, so the tunic dress has become a go-to that I can throw on and not worry about sweat, yet also not draw too much attention to myself in its relatively conservative style.

But isn’t black a poor choice for hot climates or safari?

Yes in theory black attracts and absorbs heat…but it’s also the best colour to hide dust and dirt (which is a HUGE annoyance in African overland travel). After the 3575 miles of travel by land that I just did across the continent…I would personally choose the black cardi again if I had the choice, just to avoid dirt and sweat stains (and honestly, when the weather tips over a certain point you will feel hot and sweaty regardless of the colour you are wearing).

The only time I would recommend to avoid wearing black, is if you plan to safari in areas known for teste flies. These flies are attracted to the colour black and will torment you. I have only personally experienced the flies in the Namib desert of Namibia and in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania. If you are unsure whether flies will be an issue for you, ask your safari company or guide for more details.

Overall, this garment by Encircled is a win!

Whether you are planning to backpack on dirty buses, camp or hike in the bush, relax at Lake Malawi or explore an urban city centre – the Chrysalis Cardi is a solid choice as a multifunctional travel garment to pack for Africa (and anywhere else for that matter).

Get 20$ OFF at Encircled now! 

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the ultimate one-piece travel garment

This post was sponsored by Encircled.

As always, I only recommend brands and experiences to you which I have personally tried and loved.

Thank you for your support!

Read Next:

Sustainable Gift Ideas for Female Travellers

5 Tips for Minimalist Packing

The Ultimate Ultralight Backpacking List for Women

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thepinkbackpack.com said:
Oh no, how frustrating! I know the owner of Encircled has actually stopped shipping to South Africa for the same exact reason so unfortunately that is a huge barrier :( Have you ever considered social shipping methods? You would receive the item from abroad via a traveller coming from that destination through yours? Instead of paying for shipping and customs, you pay them and then meet them when they arrive. Again, there is an issue with trust but I think these ppl are be verified with reviews. Google Buddy Express, Piggy Bee or Sjipit.
April 9, 2019 at 9:47 am
Trish Westgate said:
Where can we buy this amazing dress in South Africa. We cant import it due to the huge tax we are charged at customs or it is stolen in customs . Have had bad experiences with buying from out of SA
April 9, 2019 at 8:49 am
Kate K. said:
I always see ads for things like this and I'm never sure whether to believe they're as versatile as they say. Having you to demo it is so helpful! It's so cute and so multi-functional!
July 14, 2018 at 7:34 am
Bridget said:
This dress looks awesome! Love all of the different looks.
July 14, 2018 at 5:07 am