Adding Color To A Spring Travel Wardrobe

Spring travel wardrobe outfit combos. Details and tips for adding color to a Spring travel wardrobe at une femme d'un certain age.While I’m happiest in neutrals, some of you love to wear brighter hues. I’ve received many requests for a travel wardrobe with more color. Here are some ideas to create a Spring travel wardrobe that’s both colorful and cohesive.

Above:

Left: earrings | scarf | cardigan | shirt | watch | pants | bag | shoes
Right: scarf | earrings | shirt | sweater | bracelet | pants | bag | boots

Spring Travel Wardrobe Guidelines

Of course you can always add items to the 12-Piece Capsule I presented last week, but if you want to keep the number of pieces about the same, I’ll suggest a few swaps you can make to incorporate more color. As with a neutral wardrobe, I’ve tried to adhere to a few parameters:

  • If you’re trying to pack lighter, wardrobe cohesion is the most important factor. You want most of your tops to work with most of your bottoms (and everything to work with your footwear).
  • Therefore this color-added travel wardrobe still follows the concept of “tabletop dressing,” e.g. keeping the bottoms simple and versatile and creating variety and interest in the top half of the outfit.
  • Two accent colors that can be worn together will add plenty of variety while still providing cohesion. Here I’ve selected blue and coral. (I chose these colors because there are versions that flatter most skin tones, they’re easy to wear, and usually widely available.) You can also use a scarf to tie colors together as I’ve done in the collage above.
  • I’ve tried to stick to pieces that rise to the level Smart Casual. This will maximize their wearability across a variety of venues
  • Simple, basic styles will be most versatile. You still want to be able to layer. I’d leave the statement sleeves or bulky, oversized pieces at home.
  • Don’t forget to factor in outerwear and accessories. Coats, scarves, jewelry, hats etc. can all add color, variety, and personality to your look. I’ll cover outerwear and accessories in a future post.
  • For this exercise, I’ve used items that are currently available. (I have not seen all of them in person, and am relying on online images and descriptions.)

To review, here’s the mostly neutral 12-Piece Capsule:

12-piece Spring travel wardrobe capsule. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Color Swaps

To add more color, try any or all of these swaps.

Easy swaps to add color to a Spring Travel Wardrobe. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

blue dot shirt | blue sweater

Adding color to a Spring Travel Wardrobe. Details and more travel tips at une femme d'un certain age.

peony cardigan | coral shaped cardigan

Here’s what the color-updated wardrobe looks like as a whole…

12-piece Spring travel wardrobe incorporating color. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Top row: tee | shirt | tee | jacket
Second row: shirt | sweater | cardigan | tee 
Third row: jeans | jeans | pants | skirt
Shoes: boots | oxfords | sandals

And here are two more combos…

Spring travel wardrobe outfit combos. Details and tips for adding color to a Spring travel wardrobe at une femme d'un certain age.

Left: earrings | scarf | tee | shirt (worn over tee) | bag | jeans | bracelet | sandals
Right: earrings | scarf | cardigan | tee | watch | jeans | bag | shoes

How do you incorporate color in a travel wardrobe? Which colors do you wear the most?

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34 Comments

  1. March 22, 2018 / 3:28 am

    This is a lovely, practical collection.
    I have to say that unless one is washing the car, cleaning out the garage or digging in the garden, one should be dressy casual. No? Although I must say I’ve come upon neighbors gardening and they are very chic, with matching boots and gloves and pretty silk scarves around their necks (it’s true that a neck scarf should be safe even while digging in the dirt). A little effort feels good.

    • March 22, 2018 / 4:31 pm

      Well, there are some heavy kinds of housework that get me in old, ratty clothes. I don’t have a car or a garage, but there can be some nasty surprises inside a house or flat. We (my housing co-operative) do have gardens fore and aft, as do many condos in our Montréal triplexes. I love the pretty scarves French and Italian women (PSST, also the men!) wear while gardening.

      I keep my ratty painting and dirty work clothes in a little bin apart from the presentable ones.

      • Sheri C
        March 22, 2018 / 6:48 pm

        I stayed in an Airbnb in Paris in the fall—it was clearly a bachelor’s apartment—and he had the most amazing collection of scarves! I took a photo of them, and it was all I could do not to pull one out to wear each day!

        • March 23, 2018 / 7:12 am

          Scarves are big here in Montréal as well, for men as much as for women. Heavy winter ones to summery light ones. I use them a lot while travelling, especially if I’m facilitating at a conference.

  2. Jan W.
    March 22, 2018 / 4:54 am

    The link for the peony cardigan doesn’t seem to be working. Would you be able to fix it as I’m very interested in more information on that piece?

    • Susan B
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 6:21 am

      Updated, thanks!

  3. Kathy
    March 22, 2018 / 5:11 am

    Love the addition of color. However, I’d probably only add a little. My color is RED so it would go with your existing capsule (before added color) well. I think your regular mix allows for more versatility but I like the idea of scarves in more vibrant colors.

    • March 22, 2018 / 4:35 pm

      Mine would be various reds – I think I own five red bérets, from cotton to warm angora and from pepper red to a deep violet-red, greens, mostly forest (not the yellow-greens that make me look like ****) and violets. I’m not at all fond of pastels, but I understand that this changes with the light in warmer climes.

  4. Addison Husted
    March 22, 2018 / 5:17 am

    Love this! Thank you for sharing how easy a few simple swaps can change the look of the whole wardrobe. It’s so valuable to feel put together when living out of a suitcase.

  5. Alexandra Martella
    March 22, 2018 / 7:57 am

    Thank you! Am considering getting the boots from Nordstrom for a May trip to Paris. Are they comfortable??

    • Susan B
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 8:14 am

      I haven’t tried this particular pair, but I’ve seen Blondo boots being rated well for comfort.

      • Karen
        March 23, 2018 / 4:48 am

        Blondo boots are quite comfortable

        • Alexandra Martella
          March 27, 2018 / 12:29 pm

          Thanks!

  6. Judy Whitten
    March 22, 2018 / 8:37 am

    I absolutely love the updates!!! It is versatile, fresh and fun! The combinations seem unlimited. I love the coral over the white and black stripes with a gorgeous scarf. This post is so inspiring. I will use this and modify for my upcoming trip to San Diego in a month ( I am from NH).

  7. SusanG
    March 22, 2018 / 8:52 am

    I love color in my wardrobe, but when traveling to urban centers such as New York or Paris, I tone it down. I use scarves or jewelry for color.
    Take me to a beach? It’s white and turquoise as neutrals, then lots of intense colors.

    • Jannie
      March 22, 2018 / 3:23 pm

      Love the beach as it is my favorite place. But do love New York and all the action for a few days. Do as you do with the scarves!

  8. Angela
    March 22, 2018 / 11:02 am

    Must be mindreading. Yesterday I bought a lightweight, orange cotton cardigan in an end of lease sale. We have slipped quietly into Autumn in New Zealand and I’m reluctant to pack away my colours. When I tried it on I was wearing a black and white striped top and black pants so the impact was immediate. Looking forward to teaming it with navy and also grey. Must have a rummage through my scarf drawer now. Ha…..wouldn’t it be a shame if there’s nothing that works and I have a very flimsy excuse for a shopping excursion!

    • Alison
      March 22, 2018 / 8:38 pm

      Yes isn’t it great that even down here in NZ we can get inspiration. The styles shown are so universal and wearable. Makes me look harder to see what’s available here.

      • Kathryn Celia Parker
        April 3, 2018 / 7:43 am

        I also live in NZ. I have great difficulty finding similar items here. Where have you had success finding items Alison and Angela?

  9. Kay
    March 22, 2018 / 1:03 pm

    I totally and completely love that coral cardigan.

  10. March 22, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    I feel so stylish, as I just added a coral cardigan to my packing list for Seoul next week! It will go with all the black and white in my suitcase, and also ensure I don’t want to burn everything I own when I get home, like I did with my grey/black wardrobe from a trip to London in November:)

    Thanks for all your capsule wardrobes!

  11. Jannie
    March 22, 2018 / 3:20 pm

    Love the colors. For many of us who allot a lesser amount for clothing, I would suggest Chicos and JJill for pants. I am 5’3″ and find many of their pants quite nice, especially Chicos. I wear regular there but petite at JJill. In addition they wear and wash well for travel, depending on the style. I rarely take jeans when I travel but love casual pants. Oh, by the way Chicos has a style with a panel to help pull in the belly!! and they work!!
    Safe travels!!

  12. Kathryn V. Livermore
    March 22, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    I love these added colors. This makes the travel capsule much more workable for me. I’ve just bought the pale pink and navy floral print scarf. Great practical suggestions. Kaye

  13. Laura
    March 22, 2018 / 4:52 pm

    Nicely and tastefully done! I tend to follow your travel wardrobe suggestions and then add one favorite color for a pop. My go to is burgundy, but I have also been known to add indigo, coral or blush pink to go with the other neutrals. Always following your rules of everything should go together… especially in the added color palette.

  14. March 23, 2018 / 4:37 am

    Love the color pops! Question: How do people pack a classic collared shirt for weeks of travel? I always take soft knit tops that don’t wrinkle. Seems like the crisp fabric shirts, even the “ wrinkle free” variety, would be a bit of trouble.

  15. Jane2
    March 24, 2018 / 10:41 am

    Oh the irony! As a rule, I wear brighter colours than you do and relegate neutrals to pull them together. However, after reading your travel tips, I took only neutrals (seasonal black/grey) on a late-autumn Paris trip, using scarves and accessories to add the colour. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to have a “uniform” – never even thought about what I was going to wear, just put it on and went out the door. For me, it’s just the ticket…from then on, neutrals have become my travel staple.

    • Susan B
      Author
      March 24, 2018 / 11:30 am

      That ease of getting dressed is one of the reasons I personally prefer neutrals for travel.

  16. Lisa
    March 24, 2018 / 3:10 pm

    You are such an inspiration. Thank you for your extremely helpful/stylish suggestions!

    I’m going to Bordeaux (staying in a country home with a pool — no idea if it will be warm enough to swim) for a week in late June followed by 3 days in Dublin. Would you consider advising me on weight of clothing/jackets?
    I’d be over the moon if you’d do a travel capsule with black, white, olive green and mustard.
    Also, what size suitcase do you travel with for 10 days in Europe?
    Merci, Lisa

    • Susan B
      Author
      March 24, 2018 / 6:33 pm

      Hi Lisa, I haven’t been to Dublin, but our experience of Bordeaux in the spring was that it varied between quite warm and cool/wet. My advice would be to keep an eye on the forecasts, and pack lightweight layers, adjusting the weight/warmth for the forecast. For most trips I pack a carry-on size bag. The one I currently have is a few years old; here’s the current version: http://bit.ly/2pDTu4R

      • Lisa
        March 24, 2018 / 7:11 pm

        Merci mille fois, Susan. Very helpful. Wishing you well,

        • Susan B
          Author
          March 25, 2018 / 6:19 am

          You’re very welcome, and thanks for reading!

  17. March 29, 2018 / 4:43 am

    Thanks, Susan. Great ideas. Colour makes me happy! Red, blue, green, orange…. That’s one reason I prefer spring and summer clothes, they’re more colourful.

  18. March 30, 2018 / 1:02 am

    I liked your blog very much, I like to watch blogs that have something to do with fashion and clothing.

  19. Elle
    April 18, 2018 / 11:44 am

    I like how you have address both neutrals and color to fit various preferences. I personally stick to neutral, sophisticated pieces and try to add accessories for a pop of color. I have taken a love to a few colors: burgundy, blush and indigo…. so, I start with your neutral palette then add one color in as many pieces as are practical. Usually a scarf, belt, and cardigan/sweater do the trick. If I have a blouse or tee with that color, I will work that in as well. Thank you for all you do! BTW, what app do you use to keep track of your digital closet? I have heard of Stylebook, but I’m sure there are others.

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