Many thanks to all of you who have shared your Japan travel tips. They are very much appreciated!!
Though our trip to Japan is on the shorter side (just less than two weeks), we’ll be experiencing a variety of environments, from downtown Tokyo to a few days on my BIL/SIL’s sailboat, to some smaller cities and a few TBD activities. And we’re traveling on a seasonal cusp, which can mean weather that ranges from warm and humid to cool and rainy. (And as of this writing, it looks as though rain is the dominant theme, at least for the first few days…) So this 12-piece travel wardrobe has to accommodate changeable weather, a wide variety of activities, and a range of levels of formality.
As always…I don’t count shoes, accessories, outerwear, underwear or “underpinnings” as part of my 12 pieces. And I’ll allow myself an additional “wild card” that I’ll select at the last minute based on weather and my mood.
But first, the shoes…
The rainy forecast forced me to re-think some of my initial footwear choices. Balancing style and comfort is always the challenge. Normally I allow myself 3 pairs total for most trips, but needed to include an extra soft-soled pair for the boat, as hard-soled shoes are bad for the decks.
- Walking shoes. I wanted something that could go from day to evening, and handle wet conditions. I prefer slip-ons to sneakers or lace-ups, especially when I know that I may be required to remove my shoes in some indoor environments. After reviewing this summer’s Travel Wardrobe Recap from Europe, I noted that I wished I’d wished I’d brought ankle boots, so I’m going to wear my Aquatalia weatherproof Chelsea boots purchased earlier this year on clearance, lightweight and very comfortable. They’re no longer available but I found two very similar styles HERE (not weatherproof) and HERE (weather-resistant).
- Walking sandals. I wanted something a little fun and funky, and decided to bring my sporty platform sandals which have done well on past trips that involved lots of walking. They are sturdy, supportive and the rubber soles have good traction.
- Something dressier. I was going to bring my tassel suede sandals, but with rain in the forecast, I decided to go with a closed pair of wedges. These are Céline, purchased on deep discount during the January clearance sales. Similar vamp style with a low heel HERE. They’re polished but also edgy enough to go with the dress I’m bringing (see below). And again, slip-ons, no fussing with buckles required, and the wedges are comfortable to walk in. Another plus for wedges for travel: you never have to worry about heels getting stuck in grates, sinking into grass, or being chewed up by gravel or cobblestones.
- Something soft-soled and casual. (Similar style) These can also be a back-up pair for walking. Mine are Paul Green’s from an earlier season and no longer available.
The 12 Piece Travel Wardrobe
Yes, there’s a lot of black. It just worked out that way. The majority of the pieces I’m bringing are lightweight, and will dry fairly quickly if they get wet. I’m keeping it simple with a black/ivory/denim neutral base, and adding red as my accent color. I wanted to create a more polished-looking wardrobe this time, while still maintaining cohesion.
I think I should be able to get by with 4 pants…
- Eileen Fisher stretch crepe ankle pants. These are the best all-around travel pants, and comfortable in a range of temperatures (at least during warm to temperate conditions…during cooler months I switch over to the ponte knit pants). They dress up or down as needed. I can wash these in the sink, roll in a travel towel to remove excess moisture, and they’ll line dry overnight.
- J.Crew “Teddie” pants. These are a great option for dressing up a bit, and the cut is very current. I like these best when they hit just above the ankle bone, and for me that means the Regular length (as opposed to the Petite). If you’re of average height and have longer legs, you may want to try the Tall length.
- Cropped split-hem jeans. Again, a more current silhouette, and cooler. I know some of you would not pack jeans for this climate, but on our trip to Hong Kong two years ago I left jeans at home and missed having them.
- Relaxed cargo pants. (Similar style) Mine are a couple of years old, and intended primarily for the days hanging out on the boat. The fabric on these is very lightweight.
Tops and a Dress (!)
- Long-sleeve tee. (Similar) I’ve chosen one in a lightweight cotton that layers well. This will be worn on the plane and if the weather cools down.
- Casual tee. (Similar) For lounging and boat days.
- Embroidered 3/4 sleeve tee. I wore this often during my recent New York trip. It’s a great piece to look put-together on days when it’s too warm for a third piece or a lot of accessories.
- Cotton-silk lightweight shirt in cherry print. Mine’s the Regular length, and fits more like a tunic, which I like.
- Cotton gauze popover. (Similar style in plaid)
- Silk zip-front shirt. (Similar). This shirt (mine’s from Theory, a couple of years old now) has become one of my warm-season Wardrobe Heroes…it’s opaque enough to wear without a layer underneath, and is dressy enough on its own without a jacket.
- Lightweight silk jacket. Currently marked down. Dresses up, dresses down. It’s my bulwark against those High Intensity Air-Conditioning Situations. (Yes, it’s a bit pricey…but if you don’t mind synthetic fabric, here’s a similar style for less.)
- I spied this Babette dress online and was intrigued by the shape and that little bit of folding on the sleeves. It’s a fabulous piece! Hits me just below the knee, and the best part is that it can also be worn open as a lightweight topper. I’ve traveled with Babette pieces in the past, and they worked very well. This can be washed in the sink and hung to dry. The XXS was a good fit on me, easy but not oversized. Babette Draped Sleeve Shirt Dress
Bags and Outerwear
I decided to use bags to add color with this wardrobe.
- Nylon Le Pliage bag. While I know this isn’t completely waterproof, if it does get wet it will dry more quickly than a leather bag, and it’s lighter. This is the newer style that has a cross-body strap, a necessity for me.
- Slim crossbody bag for evening. (Similar style). Elegant, lightweight, very little hardware.
- Packable raincoat. Based on weather reports and what readers from the area have told me, I decided to go with a lightweight option that I know from experience can handle downpours. It does run large…I downsized a couple of years ago to the 00, and can still wear it over another light jacket. It’s reversible, too, and that pleated collar can be pulled up as a hood.
- Lightweight utility jacket. I regretted not bringing a casual, lightweight jacket along on my New York trip, and ended up purchasing this one while I was there. If we go up into the mountains or if the weather turns cooler at some point, I’ll be glad to have this.
Below you can see that everything (not including what I’ll wear on the plane) fits nicely into my carry-on. It’s full, but closes without straining.
See that plastic around the shoes preventing the soles from coming in contact with clothes? Those are hotel shower caps. I never leave those behind!
That said, because we are planning to bring back some gifts that will require space and being checked in a hard-sided bag, I’ll be taking my larger bag and checking it, rather than the carry-on. This wardrobe takes up only about 2/3 the space in the larger bag (1/2 if I compress) so there should be plenty of room. Le Monsieur is breathing a sigh of relief.
In my carry-on tote (trying something new and lighter), I’ll have my laptop, toiletries, scarf and sweater or poncho for the plane, my regular handbag items, a couple of protein bars, chargers and tech gear, my second handbag, compression socks, and (once I’ve cleared security) a bottle of water.
I don’t think I’ve forgotten anything…
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