If you’ll be traveling this summer, it’s not too early to start thinking about your packing list. A little advance planning can prevent both overpacking and those “nothing to wear” conundrums.
A 12-Piece Summer Travel Wardrobe Capsule
Packing for city travel in summer (or any warmer months) can be especially challenging. You may be spending lots of time on foot, using public transit, and moving between warm, humid exteriors and chilly air-conditioned interiors. Comfortable clothing that breathes and can accommodate a range of temperatures is essential. For that reason, I’ve tried to stick to fabrics with a high percentage of natural fibers.
Top row: Jacket | Tee | Shirt | Cardigan
Second row: Tee | Tee | Blouse | Shirt
Third row: Bag | Hat | Sunglasses
Fourth row: Pants | Pants | Pants | Dress
Shoes: Sneakers | Sandals | Loafers
I’ve created this capsule predicated on consistently warm-to-hot weather. You may want to adjust the weight of some pieces for destinations with milder summers, or where temperatures may fluctuate. I always include at least one “unseasonable” piece, this time a lightweight cashmere-blend cardigan, which may be handy for the plane or if conditions turn unexpectedly chilly.
This wardrobe would be appropriate for both city and country sightseeing, and accommodate day to evening activities. If you have a fancy occasion (such as a wedding), or will be doing “outdoor adventure” type activities (e.g. hiking, horseback riding), you’ll need to add pieces accordingly. Otherwise, we’ve found that for most venues, “smart casual” is as dressed up as we need to be.
Although I will be including a few black pieces in my own summer travel wardrobe, I wanted to create this hypothetical one without any black. Navy is the primary dark neutral; beige and white lighten up the mix. I’ve attempted to provide maximum variety without sacrificing wardrobe cohesion. Any of the tops should work with any of the bottoms.
- I included both an unlined linen jacket and a warmer cardigan as optional top layers. I find a light jacket like this a lifesaver in heavily air-conditioned restaurants and theaters. You could substitute a linen cardigan if you prefer.
- When it’s just too hot for an outer layer, tops with color and/or pattern add visual interest. I’ve kept colors mostly neutral here, but you can always go for more color if you prefer.
- I’ve included both short and long-sleeved tops. You can adjust based on your preferences. When considering longer sleeves, look for those that can be pushed or rolled up to provide more options.
- A button-front shirt can also be worn open over a tank or tee, increasing your options.
- Travel-Friendly Linen Pieces
Bottoms & Dress
- I’ve included 3 pairs of lightweight pants. All are ankle length or shorter, which will be more comfortable in the heat.
- You can always swap out one or more pairs for skirts, if you prefer.
- I included a midi-length shirtdress, which can be worn belted as shown, without the belt, or even worn open as a duster. It’s all about the options! 😉
Shoes & Accessories
- Usually 2-4 pairs of shoes will be all you need. I’ve included one sneaker, one sandal and one loafer in this capsule, but you can change up to suit your preferences.
- Unless you’ll be attending a wedding or other “special occasion,” leave the heels at home.
- Be sure all of the shoes you’re planning to bring have been “road tested” and are comfortable.
- How To Choose The Right Shoes For Travel
- You may want to add a lightweight scarf or two, and a warmer wrap for the plane. A light cotton bandana not only adds color, but can keep the sun off your neck, or be used as a hair tie.
- Jewelry can be another way to add color, but I’d advise leaving your precious pieces at home.
- I’ve included my favorite travel handbag (other colors available) but if you need a larger handbag, this one is lightweight, and has a crossbody strap.
This 12-piece Summer travel wardrobe should easily fit into a carry-on. I like to use packing cubes to keep everything neat and organized, and to minimize wrinkles.
More Summer Travel Wardrobe Ideas
Will you be traveling this summer? What’s your destination?