When planning a travel wardrobe, there’s continuum of priorities with packing light on one end, and having the most options on the other. Where you fall on that continuum is really up to you and how you travel; there is no right or wrong position. Because I fall somewhere toward the “packing light” end, I look for clothing and shoes for travel that offer the most versatility.
Traveling In Style
Since my previous post about travel shoes, I’ve received a few requests for some styles that will go from day to evening.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when we began traveling overseas was packing the wrong shoes. I brought a few cute styles (including a pair of 3″ heels) but wound up wearing a pair of simple black loafers almost exclusively. The most stylish choice? Maybe not, but they were the most comfortable pair I’d packed, and I quickly realized they were perfectly appropriate for most venues. Since then, I’ve kept an eye out for footwear that’s both comfortable and meshes with my style.
Think “Smart Casual”
Unless you have an actual Event like a wedding or cocktail party, or are going on a cruise that includes formal dinners, you really won’t need a pair of heels or dressy shoes. “Smart casual” is usually as dressed up as you’ll need to be, and I’ve found the most versatile day-to-evening shoes have these attributes:
- A dark color. Black, navy or charcoal will be your most sophisticated choices. I find black easiest to coordinate, but any darker color in a non-distressed finish will work.
- OR a metallic finish. If black footwear feels to heavy to you, think pewter, platinum or other soft metallics.
- While “athleisure” looks are popular right now, styles with a sleeker design will be more venue-versatile.
The style of shoe will work best for you will depend on your personal style, any foot issues (bunions, orthotics), and the climate where you’re headed. There will always be compromises, though the one thing I’d urge you to never compromise on is comfort.
Ballet Flats and Mary-Janes
If your style is decidedly classic, you might prefer a ballet flat. The trick with this style is to find one with sufficient support and cushioning in the sole. Some may find styles with a low heel or wedge more comfortable than a true flat. Many of you have recommended this style from AGL.
More ballet flats:
Mary-Jane, ghillie and ankle strap styles are another alternative if ballet flats don’t provide enough support and stability. Almond, pointed, and squared off toe shapes will look less “little girly” than round toes. A little bit of heel or wedge helps too. Above, an ankle-strap flat from Earthies.
More strappy styles:
Loafers and Slip-Ons
In all but the coolest months, I’ll usually pack a pair of low-heeled, slip-on shoes. Loafers are a classic choice, but there are a lot of comfortable and good-looking options. Be sure they fit snugly and that your heel doesn’t slip when you walk. Above, a patent leather penny loafer from Paul Green. (This brand is pricey, but makes some of the most comfortable and durable shoes out there.)
Sneakers and Oxfords
Sneakers in all shapes and colors are now worn (and often considered fashionable) in most parts of the world. For some people with finicky feet, they may be the only style of shoe that’s comfortable enough for the demands of travel. I think a simple, sleek style offers the most versatility for day-to-evening wear. These from Cole Haan are subtle enough to fly under the radar when worn as part of a smart casual outfit.
If a sneaker feels just a little too casual, an oxford is another option. The slightly thicker soles that are on trend now can also offer some additional cushioning. Above, this fun and funky style from L’Amour des Pieds is incredibly comfortable and has removable insoles to accommodate orthotics.
More sneakers and oxfords:
I’ve found that ankle boots can be one of the best styles to go from day to evening, and unless I’m traveling someplace very warm, I’ll almost always include them. They can also provide a little more protection in rain and on travel days. Above, these from Paul Green snake-embossed booties are sharp-looking and comfortable. (They run about 1/2 size smaller than other PG styles.)
More ankle boots:
What footwear do you find most versatile in your wardrobe?