neutral travel wardrobe pieces

Or, “round up the usual suspects…”

Above: a few contenders…jeans (similar) | pants | top | tee | shirt

Though I won’t finalize my travel wardrobe for another week, I like to give myself time to go through potential picks, try things on in as many combinations as I can, and be sure everything works well together. And reviewing pieces a couple of weeks out gives me time to take care of any washing, cleaning or repairs needed. A few years of traveling and trying to pack light have taught me which types and styles of clothing work best. These comprise my travel wardrobe foundation; they’re easy to style, versatile, and layer well. But weather this trip will likely be warmer than when we normally travel, so I’m trying to gauge how much I’ll need to adjust my usual formula. (I don’t know about you, but I find it far easier to look put-together in cooler weather than in warm!)

“Start With The Shoes…”

  • Unless the forecast shifts toward cool and wet, I’ll probably go with either my Taos sneakers in pewter metallic, or a pair of comfortable and supportive slip-ons (TBD).
  • While some don’t like to travel with sandals, I consider them a necessity in warmer weather. For walking sandals, I’ll be packing my Mephisto’s (similar style here).
  • I’ll probably bring a 3rd pair of footwear that can dress up a little bit in the evenings, also TBD.

The lineup…


  • one or two collared longer shirts or tunics in linen, or lightweight cotton or rayon. I find that when it’s too hot for a Third Piece (jacket, sweater, scarf, vest), a top with a collar looks more polished than a tee. it’s also nice to be able to pop up that collar to keep sun (or an air-conditioning draft) off the back of the neck. And some styles can also be worn unbuttoned as a lightweight jacket.
  •  at least one 3/4 sleeve linen tee.
  • As I tend to get cold on flights, I’ll be bringing/wearing a cashmere cardigan. And if the weather turns unseasonably chilly once we’re there, I’ll be glad to have it along.
  • I’ll probably include a couple of lightweight knit tops, TBD.

The lineup…


  • Though some eschew jeans for travel, they’re the basis of my wardrobe at home and I usually bring at least 2 pair. Looser fits and/or lighter-weight fabrics will be more comfortable in warmer weather. (Rolling up cuffs just past the ankle also has a cooling effect.)
  • Of course I’ll bring a pair of stretch crepe black knit pants, (Plus here) probably ankle length. These are magic in a travel wardrobe. They dress up or down, and are comfortable even in the heat. I usually wear mine with a longer top for a polished look.
  • I’m debating about whether to include a pair of white jeans; they’re more summery but will show dirt more quickly.

Toes on the line, face forward…

I’m also planning to pack my lightweight long silk jacket, for cooler evenings and for dressing up my separates.


(I don’t count these as part of my 12 items, as they’re worn as base layers.)

  • silk tanks and camisoles. I’ll wear these as a base layer in all but the most muggy conditions. The weave of this silk jersey fabric seems to breathe well. Wash in the sink, hang to dry overnight.
  • one long-sleeved layering top, if needed for warmth (you never know!)

You know the drill…

Beyond these, I’m waiting to get a better sense of the weather, and will add the remaining few pieces accordingly. Look for my final travel wardrobe next week!

I’ve updated my SHOP page with some warm weather picks, either for travel or home.

What are your foundation pieces for a summer travel wardrobe?

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