It’s been wonderful to be able to travel again, and it’s something I’ll never take for granted. We have another Europe trip planned this spring (more on this soon) and may go somewhere closer to home in the fall. If you’ve been considering a getaway (or two), a little advance planning can make assembling your travel wardrobe a breeze.
This post was published at a prior date and has been updated. I’ve left earlier comments in place.
Shown above: some ideas for a travel wardrobe “starter kit” in a cool palette. You can always add more color, pattern, and personality to a foundation like this one.
shirt (similar) | jacket (similar) | scarf (similar) | tee (similar)
jeans (similar) | bag | suitcase | raincoat (similar)| pants (similar)
boots | loafers (similar) | sneakers (similar)
Packing Lighter And Smarter
When we first began traveling overseas some fourteen years ago, I was clueless about how to pack. I overpacked, I brought lots of bulky “just-in-case” pieces that were never worn, and realized after our first couple of trips to Europe that I’d worn most of the same few things over and over.
Over time I’ve learned to pack more successfully (up to 3 weeks one small suitcase) and have not invested in a separate travel wardrobe.* When it’s time to pack, I pull from tried-and-true pieces I’d normally wear at home. First, it makes putting outfits together easier; I know what goes with what. Second, travel can be a disorienting experience. I find that wearing familiar, comfortable clothing helps me feel more like “myself” when I’m away from familiar surroundings.
So when I shop for my everyday wardrobe, I keep packing in mind. Not everything I purchase is intended for travel, but I’ve learned to prioritize travel-friendly features, especially with regard to my core basics.
5 Tips For Building A Travel-Friendly Wardrobe
(I don’t think I can emphasize this one enough 😉 )
Do you have a pair of shoes in your wardrobe that are comfortable enough to walk in for hours, and that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear to meet friends for lunch? If not, that should be your top priority.
To keep my luggage light, I prefer styles that can go from sightseeing to dinner. Ankle boots, loafers, brogues, Mary-Janes, and sleek sneakers are all good options.
Some don’t like to travel with sandals, but in hot weather I’ll opt for a supportive and well-fitting pair. No matter what type of footwear you bring, be sure there’s enough padding in the sole for comfort and that the shoes are stable on a variety of surfaces.
Chances are you won’t need anything formal for most leisure travel, but if you do, a lower-heeled pair of pumps should cover it.
I build my travel wardrobes around a core of basic pieces that can be dressed up or down, and re-mixed in multiple combinations. I find separates provide the most versatility, as long as most of the tops can be worn with most of the bottoms.
I’ve found that neutrals (black, navy, grey, taupe, brown, white/ivory) work best for the core. The goal is cohesion; you want pieces that work well together in multiple combinations. Don’t worry, you can always add more color and pattern to this foundation.
Think lightweight layers. Temperatures in any destination can fluctuate, and being able to easily add or remove layers is key to staying comfortable. Bulky, heavy pieces will not only be more difficult to layer, but will take up more space in your luggage and add to its weight as well.
(If you’ve ever had to shlep around a heavy coat for several hours while sightseeing because a chilly morning gave way to a sweltering afternoon, you’ll understand. 😉)
In addition to light weight, look for fabrics that breathe, are washable, resist wrinkling, and aren’t too delicate. I rely heavily on knits for travel.
- I love silk jersey and Tencel jersey for base and mid-layers. (Good quality silk is actually very durable.)
- Merino wool handles temperature fluctuations well and doesn’t absorb odors
- Linen jersey or knits are a good option for warm weather travel. Cotton can be light and breathable, but can take longer to dry when wet.
- Modal is a soft, breathable, and sustainable fabric that lends itself well to tees and tops. And it dries more quickly than cotton.
- If you’re going to travel with denim, some of the modern fabric blends that include rayon, tencel , and even polyester will be lighter and dry faster.
I find the best travel clothes are cut fairly close to the body, but with some ease. You want to be comfortable and able to move, but don’t want a lot of extra fabric flapping around. Again, this is where knits often perform best.
Pieces that can layer over or under other pieces, or do double-duty (e.g. a cardigan that can be worn open as a top layer or buttoned as a mid-layer) will help you get more from your travel wardrobe.
Find more travel and packing tips at my Travel Wardrobe Resource Page.
*For those whose travel includes activities like mountaineering, horseback riding, kayaking, etc., of course you may need to bring special clothing or equipment that’s not part of your daily wear.
More travel wardrobe building blocks…
What are your favorite pieces for travel?
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You have a versatile wardrobe here. While you might get tired of wearing the same few things over and over, nobody else is going to notice–you’ll be seeing new people all the time. All the more reason to focus on quality over quantity.
You have taught me so much about comfortable travel and what to wear. Thank you.
Love all the cool colors…..thank you!!
What happened to the Eileen Fisher cap sleeve, scoop neck T? The cream and black were perfect on their own and exceptional as a base layer. A few months ago I searched online to replace the cream, but apparently EF does not make them anymore. Any suggestions on entering a plea with the company to resume production?
Rose, I love them too. I think they tend to bring them back later in the spring. But I’ll check with my local store to see what they know.
I’ve seen your Aquatalia ankle boots in multiple posts and finally bought my own pair. I love them! Comfortable out of the box and so easy to walk in; mine have Vibram on the toe and heel area which gives a lot of padding. I wore them to teach in yesterday and didn’t think about my feet at all, which is my gold standard for comfort. I will be taking them to Paris next month. Thanks for the tip!
I get compliments on these boots every time I wear them. Stylish classics.
Two of my travel musts are my Mycra Pak jacket and black San Miguel sandals, depending on the season.
This is so helpful, thank you, as your blog always is. Now, what about le Monsieur’s packing? My poor hubby relies so heavily on denim jeans for everyday wear, but denim takes forever to dry after rain. And men’s footwear is extra heavy and bulky. Could you do a post on that, please, or point us to any good men’s blogs? Thanking you in advance!
Try khaki pants (you can get a darker color, like black, too if it is winter) and a light pair of driving moccasins or deck shoes. However, there is not too much you can do if your pants and shoes get wet period, male or female. It is best to try to avoid getting too wet in the first place. A longer rain jacket, a pair of rain shoes, and indoor activities, like museums, should help. I always carry an umbrella in my handbag and I bring rain shoes if the forecast says it is going to rain at my destination. I made the mistake once of not bringing rain shoes and it started pouring while I was walking around Krakow, Poland. Needless to say my driving moccasins were soaked through, I was freezing, and it took days for my shoes and jeans to dry out.
My husband had the same issue. I purchased a pair of khaki style pants from Duluth Trading that are made of some sort of synthetic that is very lightweight, quick dry and wrinkle resistant. He liked them enough to purchase a two more pairs. His bag is has lost over half the bulk and a third of the weight. FYI my love is not fashion forward, so the pant I purchased is a very dull old style chino type, but still, less bulk, less weight. The other thing I did for him was to insist that he waterproof any shoe he brings, as he wears sneakers, this only involves hanging them in the garage and spraying them down a few times.
Try something like golf pants; my husband is a big golfer, so he has multiple pairs of those already, and they work well for travel. Lightweight and wrinkle resistant, but they’re styled like khakis, and come in basic neutral colors.
I bought these for my non-golfing spouse, for travel, as well. Excellent, as you can find them in a nylon or poly with a bit of spandex for comfort: they are very lightweight, despite being wearable 9-10 months of the year in most of the world. And they come in flat-front or pleated, to suit the taste of the individual. Many lines of clothing for guys offer this kind of pant these days, and it means men can fit their clothes in a carry-on, not just women, as they take up far less space than traditional menswear!
My husband is a fisherman and Orvis is his favorite store. They sell shirts in tech fabrics that look fabulous and don’t wrinkle. He’s also bought lightweight khaki colored pants there too. He always looks stylish in a casual way and usually wears a hat, a nice Panama in summer. Our tour guide in France mentioned him it the shop girls when we went into a designer shop, high praise indeed from a Frenchwoman.
Tell your husband to wear coated denim; rain resistant not water proof. Should repel most rainfalls well.
My husband just discovered Eddie Bauer’s travex line and purchased The chinos in black and light khaki. They are lightweight and have a bit of stretch in them so are extremely comfortable but are also very versatile! Nice enough looking to be a bit dressed up but not so much that they look overdressed for everyday.
Eddie Bauer has great travel clothes. By looking at Susan’s travel wardrobe, she encouraged me to buy a light grey rain foil trench coat that I absolutely love. Their clothes are very good quality and often have great sales.
Oops! When I had problems with my comment (and didn’t see it anywhere) going through – probably operator error – I reposted in error.
Love this idea!
These are perfect tips for travel. You have mastered the art of travel packing and looking chic when you get there!
I’m replying to a comment that was posted a few years ago ( and showed up today, but which you deleted). I have some Eileen Fisher crepe pants that I bring when we travel, but my workhorse pants are J.Jill’s knit. In particulars, her Ponte knit pants….slightly heavier than her regular knit pants, so they hold their shape better and are a bit dressier..perfect for dinners out with pretty tops.
Susan, I love your blog and thrilled you’re posting the travel wardrobes again..,they were what drew me to your blog in the first place..still one of the best fashion blogs out there!
I love having your wisdom distilled so neatly here! And as I am traveling more often these days, I am encouraged to emulate your strategies (three weeks in a carryon – what a goal!). Thank you.
Susan, thanks for this post and the links to your other travel packing posts. I second the motion made earlier (by Nan) about packing for the men we love and travel with. Admittedly, I still overpack more than he does. But he’s a big guy. And yes, his Farragamos are heavy!
Susan, I’m not used to long periods of travel, but this year, I’m going to Japan for 2-3 months (August – October timeframe) and will be staying at my daughter’s home on the naval base south of Tokyo. Remembering that you toured Japan in the recent past, I went to your archives and read both of your Japan posts related to packing/ recap. Both were very helpful, especially since you traveled there during the warm part of the year. My question is – if you were to have a months long stay in Japan that time of year, if you were not constrained by luggage size (or carryon requirements), and had a washer/dryer to use, are there components of your travel wardrobe that you’d expand?
Hi Pam, if I knew I’d have access to laundry facilities, I’d probably pack a few more woven shirts in linen and lightweight cotton, and some linen or tencel pants.
Well, here is a third vote for a “male traveler packing” post. Everything DH purchases is heavy because it will “wear forever”, but he’s willing to look at some options for our trip to London/Edinburgh this summer.
While I have not yet convinced le Monsieur to go the carry-on route, I have helped him whittle down his packing quite a bit. Here’s a post I did a few years ago: https://unefemme.net/2014/05/pour-les-hommes-2.html I’ll work on an updated version over the next few weeks.
I’m in for a male packing too. My husband takes a large suitcase and fills it almost to overflowing with pants, dress shirts, polo shirts. and a blazer. Last time we were in Rome visiting my daughters we had to take three suitcases for a 10 day journey. I don’t know where he thinks we’re going. plus my girls have access to laundry facilities. Some of our itinerary does include some upscale restaurants as my daughter is a publicist and represents a few but it’s gotten ridiculous. Going back to Italy in May. HELP!!!
So useful, Susan. I have learned over time that for sightseeing hols I eat during the day and only return to the hotel to sleep or relax, so don’t change for dinner and just wear one outfit each day. I pack slip off footwear or thick socks for travel and hotel lounging.
Lots of very helpful tips.
I haven’t quite got the knack of travelling for a month through several climate zones with only carry on but, I am working on it!
I have a lovely linen cardigan which is great for travelling with and also a light wool blazer which I can use to a lot. Layering is definitely the key. .
Our frequent trips to Bali ftom Oz are a doddle with hand luggage as sarongs, bathers and sandals are about all we need
The one thing I always pack in my hand luggage is my cashmere wrap. It is great on the plane as a blanket then I can use it as a wrap or a scarf as needed. I don’t travel carry on although my bag is small enough it always weighs too much. I find it simpler to put it in the hold. I generally travel Sydney to London direct so once I am through immigration the luggage is ready.
Chico’s also has a collection of travel clothes that work well, especially the pants.
Yes, I’ve included some of those in the widget at the bottom of the post. 🙂
With a newly retired monsieur of my own, your travel wardrobe tips are proving to be invaluable and with SusanAfter60 also giving me great clear out ideas, I think I’ve finally nailed it!
As an experienced southern hemisphere traveller of many years (I also used to travel long haul for work), to travel long haul I always wear:
1. Jeans in dark navy or black, with the fabric mix mostly heavyish cotton with a bit of synthetic for stretch – the safest leg covering (or wool pants) when flying in the event of a crash/accident (yes, nowadays it is possible for passengers to survive some crashlandings as plane interiors have been redesigned for improved chances, but sometimes there’s fire to get through and synthetic materials flame or melt into the leg, neither scenario is good. A colleague was in this situation in a terrible crashlanding in Asia and I’ve learned from that.) It may not be pleasant to think of crashes – but they do happen and it’s important to face up to this and be as prepared as possible. Have once been in a situation myself on a plane that had catastrophic engine failure just before take-off. We all survived thanks to a brilliant pilot.
2. Smartest possible comfortable black leather sneakers – again both for comfort and safety reasons in event of a crash or the need to evacuate in an emergency. Then great for walking over cobblestones and all day sight seeing marathons.
3. A white long sleeved cotton shirt.
4. A knitted jacket/cardigan in wool/mohair, maybe a black background with colours. This can be taken off and wrapped around waist or stuffed in a light weight bag I keep for the purpose in my carry-on when landing for refuelling in a tropical Asian city like Singapore or Bangkok) – it’s always late autumn when we fly north from the southern hemisphere and can be chilly when we leave – and when we arrive back months later it’s winter and early morning – always quite cold. The wool/mohair doesn’t crush and can be very useful if you run into a cool spring/early summer in Paris or elsewhere.
5. A ribbed knitted cotton tank top over the shirt, if it’s a bit chilly on the plane but not cool enough for the jacket.
6. A silk scarf and some jewellery.
7. A pashmina in my carry-on. But I don’t wear it on the plane during the flight as I prefer the blanket they give in Business Class as it also protects against drink or food spills during any turbulence.
I don’t attempt to wash the jeans myself except when we’re staying in an apartment with washing machine in Paris. Instead I give them to the hotel laundry service. Not exactly cheap – but we budget for it. Husband does the same.
Best wishes, Pamela
Lots of useful info here Susan and many thanks, Pamela. Some things I do already but I hadn’t thought about evacuating the plane in a fire … although I do always consider evacuation when deciding on footwear!
Thank you for these tips, Pamela. Friends who worked for the FAA, remind me frequently of your safety advice to wear natural fabrics and well-fitting shoes in case of an emergency. None of us like to think of these things, but depending on where you’re traveling and on what airlines, it bears remembering.
Pamela, great additions to this blog! I like to make PDF files and keep them as reference when shopping/packing so your info is attached to Susan’s from this blog. Thanks so much!
What’s a good site for finding a
Hi Roberta, this company makes some of my favorite wraps and scarves, and they’re currently marked down: https://bit.ly/2DpdpMn
This is almost identical to my travel wardrobe, although I would swop the sweater for a cardigan, the trousers for a skirt or dress, and add a scarf, necklaces, and maybe a jacket.
Great packing advise! I will have to bookmark your post. I get into trouble with the hats, but I do have my strategies!
Excellent post! It’s so true though–as you become a more seasoned traveler, you really pare down on the clothing. We will be returning to France in June and I’ll definitely be able to throw everything in a carry on because my wardrobe will be minimal!!!!
As always, a great selection. Shoes like that don’t work for me so I stick to my oxfords and patent leather loafers for warmer weather. I always enjoy seeing your travel collections!
Hi, Susan! Could you please show stylish ways to wear Mary Jane’s? They are generally so comfortable, but they always look so frumpy to me!
Sarah, good question! I have the same issue but some wonderful Naot Mary Jane’s I seldom wear.
I dress for dinner if I’m eating with friends, whether at their place (not very dressy, just clean clothes and some earrings and other chic touches), or a restaurant or other event. If not, I’m not particularly interested in eating out. There a lot of good eat-in options nowadays, not just sad sandwiches or junk food. This was certainly the case when I had a beau. I compile lovely little larders of yummy food, not too heavy overall.
Don’t wish to offend any Mary Jane lovers, but for me, the only way they don’t look frumpy is maybe if your pants are long enough to cover them up
I can’t do the Mary Jane’s either. They look like kids’ shoes to me. It’s a shame because I had some really comfortable ones — I just couldn’t make myself wear them. I felt ridiculous.
Susan, I can honestly say that since subscribing and reading your blogs – my travel packing has greatly improved. I have my travel packing nearly ‘down pat’ and am more discriminating with my clothes choices at my destination. I usually arrange my holidays at least twelve (12) months in advance so I ‘research’ my destination(s) well ahead so I have a good idea of what to pack. I don’t subscribe to ‘carry on’ luggage as I find this type of packing ‘invasive’ to others space in aircraft cabin overhead bins – My personal opinion.
I have a 52 kg travel allowance and I have a suitcase weighing 14kgs (on trip average) for 1 person for 3 weeks and a handbag. I am required to place my handbag in an overhead bin which is full of other people’s carry on luggage.
I’m one of those people that always includes outdoor activities on my trips. That’s why my absolute favorite pants are the Royal Robbins Discovery Pencil Pants. I can get them totally muddy hiking, wear them into the shower, and then wear them the next day to a dress dinner. I have the pants in khaki, navy, and black. I’m a very curvy person (tiny waist) and these are very flattering. I do have to get the waist altered to fit me, but I’m thrilled with the result.
I was just thinking that we are outdoor lovers too. When we travel most of our “excursions” are outside. The challenge is packing our hiking gear. Our hiking shoes take up a lot of space. Plus we often travel when it’s hot and packing for hot weather and looking nice is tricky.
I’m going to Prague for 6 days and am considering taking only 2 pairs of shoes. Both are great walking shoes. Do you think I’ll regret not taking more? I am doing a carry-on bag only so space is limited.
Hi Marcia, if the shoes will cover you for the weather and the activities you have planned, there’s no need to take more. If there’s a lot of rain in the forecast, you may want to be sure one of the pairs is weatherproof, or use a weatherproofing spray before you go. Have a wonderful trip!!
My rule is that I don’t take more than two pairs of shoes. Broken it once or twice when we’ve had formal events, but it’s generally doable.
Totally agree with you Susan that Eileen Fisher is the way to go! Items are pricey but you just need a few, and a carry-on with black EF basics that can be hand washed (LOVE the stretch crepe ankle pants and jackets!), along with a few of her colorful stretch silk jersey tanks and sleeved T shirts – that can be rolled up and thus take up little space – will serve any traveler well! Bring along some jewelry and a couple of scarves. Done!
Love your blog!
Great post! Very helpful. Cheers and Happy Holidays!
LOVED your article about Napa and Sonoma, and I’ve learned so much about packing in general from you! Would you consider an entry about packing for really warm destinations such as a week long Caribbean cruise? Thanks in advance.
One item I always pack which you haven’t mentioned: a t-shirt dress. It looks good with sneakers and/or sandals and with a denim -jacket added it can really go anywhere.
Your 12 piece travel wardrobe is genius and I have used it on many occasions. I have even returned from a 10 day trip and not worn a thing or two! That, of course, depends on laundry facilities….. I do want to weigh in about outerwear. Firstly, a compressible down jacket in a neutral color has been a real game changer for me. When you transition from chilly indoors to toasty indoors, you just stuff it into your bag. Schlepping a coat draped over an arm is no fun in a crowded museum! Also, I have taken fancy trench coats to serve as rainwear when my trusty Patagonia torrent shell jacket would have served me much better. Packs down into next to nothing, feather light, and does the job. You are absolutely spot on about taking tried and true items!
I just bought that Eileen Fisher navy jacket you include here. It fits great, not too loose, not too tight, and I love the front pockets. I also like the stand collar because I hate fighting my crossbody purse strap against a shawl collar. It hasn’t been on a trip yet, but I have great hopes for it.
LOL! I just returned from a lifetime bucket-list expedition cruise to Antarctica, preceded by a week in Santiago, Chile (fabulous city with incredibly kind, hospitable folks!). Southern hemisphere summertime temps were 90F in Santiago and at or below freezing on the Antarctica Peninsula. Needless to say, my polar gear was substantial and quite different from the sundresses and bathing suit I wore in Santiago. But obviously, that’s not the typical packing challenge we all grapple with.
However, there was one piece of clothing I did manage to wear everywhere–my bathing suit, given that I did a Polar Plunge! Now, there’s a wonderful travel experience no one should miss, no matter what you’ve packed to wear!
I have “travel only” lightweight sweaters because I prefer heavier ones for day-to-day
Hi Susan I need your help. I’m going to London at the end of February for 10 days and I’m not quite sure what to do about outerwear. It rains quite a bit and I don’t really have sturdy rain gear being that I live in So Cal and drive everywhere. The temps in London will be in the 50s during the day and 40s at night. Is a raincoat enough? A rain shell over a coat? A have one of those small Uniqlo down jackets, and I have the Lands End puffer coat but they’re not waterproof. Will booties be enough protection? Any advice you or your readers can give me will be appreciated. Thanks.
Hi Cindylou, I’m actually working on a Travel Outerwear post for tomorrow…stay tuned! 😉
A raincoat over a Uniqlo down jacket will take you almost anywhere. It’a a great combo. The jacket packs so small and light, there is no reason not to take it.
I’ve found good travel pants for both men and women at Costco. They frequently have travel pants (either advertised as such or sometimes as hiking pants) that wash and drip dry and are lightweight.
Would you comment about packing make up, hair care, and body care items? I have the most trouble in this department. What should I pack these items in? How can I limit these items? Thank you:)
Here you go: https://unefemme.net/travel-diaries-travel-hair-care.html
I’m 30 (plus) years old and a full-time crossdresser, i prefer to be called Samantha. I’m 5’9″ and I weigh inat 125lbs, I wear a sizes extra small to a small that covers sizes 3 to a size 5.
I adopted my outfits and suggestions from all my female friends, I take their comments and compliments very strong so I don’t overly exposed myself in certain areas or other ways.
I live in Southern states of USA, so I know it gets cold for about 2 no more 3 weeks. Most of the year I find myself in the most comfortable and easiest pair of dresses for office wear. Heels of any height doesn’t cause any problems on my feet, I don’t sit at a desk, I’m usually standing 8 plus hours a day. During off work hours after showering I find myself in jeans and sandal heels. If going to a bar or clubbing, I dress accordingly to the event, a family and friends party I wear either 5 of the following bottoms: dress no higher than knees, skirts no higher the lower thigh area, tight ankle jeans, slacks (ankle length) and depending if I’m stopping by for a hour or 2 hours leggings also ankle length.
With the bottoms in mind 4 out 5 can pair with a nice sleeveless silk blouse to spaghetti strap (workout blouses). Most of my outfits complimenting each other but an outfit can go all wrong depending on what style type of shoes you put on.
Most women work from the bottom of their feet up (at least my mother and 3 of my sisters did) to make sure nothing will crash into each other.
Finally (not my best part), makeup. I don’t and won’t overdo my makeup, I use lipstick and mascara. I don’t do fake eyelashes.
Allow me to point this out, there is a difference between crossdressers and drag queens, crossdressers are the ones that use little to no makeup to make them pass as a female, drag queens use a lot of makeup, crazy accessories that make them look like a clown.
With that said I have lipstick for every season, mostly in red and pink color and different shades. Christmas and valentine’s day is when you see me wearing bright red (Christmas) lipstick and bright to a magenta pink (valentine’s day) lipstick. All other holidays or just normal days are a softer and warmer red lipstick, something that is at an appropriate shade, in a business type setting.
Traveling for me is easy, I will never ever go back into cold climates like New York City (born and raised) where the cold can hang around all the way into the 1st week of June, so I don’t have scarfs, sweaters, or coats. My suitcase (i have more than one suitcases to go through depending on the event and location) is already packed from the trip before and every year I travel I make sure everything still fits properly.
If I miss a year of traveling, I still go through my suitcase and try on my outfits.
It is very tempting to travel with just a carry-on but how do you bring back the products that you buy from City Pharma or wine, food and little gifts?
We usually put gifts, wine, CityPharma haul, etc. in our hard luggage and check it on the way home, and put clothes and other soft items in an expandable duffel which can be checked or carried on.
Excellent idea.. I will try it on my next trip..hopefully in the near future! Thank you.
I’d like to share, another option is to mail home your larger items. Some countries have special mail boxes for a set price. As example we found this in France. Also some stores will offer to mail for an extra cost. We will also travel for up to 3 weeks with Only carry on. Schlepping heavy suitcases is not an option hence if we find something, especially early on, we mail it home. I normally try to research each country before travel so I know my options. Like Susan, a spare foldable, very light, duffel has been found to be helpful.
Another thought for readers, the quality and weight of your suitcases make a difference! Plus we are big believers in packing cubes. The cubes help to compress and do keep you organized with your perfect traveling wardrobe as you enjoy moving about.
I agree about the packing cubes!!! I have a suggestion I would like to share. We live in Ohio and usually drive to Florida for a cruise in February and usually take a couple weeks to visit friends also. It can be really cold when we leave and hot on the cruises. One year it was 2 below F when we left and over a hundred in St. Martins. I have been taking my packable puffer and leaving it in the bag when we get where it is warm. it has been a big help for me and it is compact! One year we drove down to Key West after the cruise and they were having cold temps. One guy tried to buy my hubby’s gloves!
Good posting and helpful tips, but I’m confused about comments from 2017 and 2020.
Hi Laura, thanks. I’ve updated and re-published this article.
I’m an efficient packer like you and agree with your tips. Any words of wisdom for me if I’m packing an entire year’s worth of clothing to live in southern France? I want to try to stay within a larger suitcase It’s hot there in the summer and can get into the 30’s in winter. I’ll definitely leave the heavy coat at home and bring booties instead of boots. But is there any sort of capsule wardrobe guideline for a year’s worth of coordinating that you’d recommend?
Love this travel “wardrobe”, Susan. These are my colours & styles.
Did you know today’s comments go back to 2017?
As a frequent traveller (before Covid), I relied on knits, like those from Eileen Fisher & clothing that can be washed in hotel sinks, rolled in a towel & dry by next morning. I love concerts, ballet & opera, so this is how I dress up: everyday black knit pants & long sleeve black knit “t-shirt”-like top with a large silk muted colour shawl. Shoes are ones I wear sightseeing-black supportive ballet flats with a little wedge heel and then add sparkly shoe clips (I use costume jewellery clip on earrings). Evening bag is a flat medium sized zip closed metallic “freebie” make-up bag you get as a bonus at department stores. This stuff barely takes up any room in my suitcase/carry-on. Add some dangling earrings & bracelets et voila, you’re ready for a night at the opera!
Does anyone have experience with how the JJill Wearever pieces travel? I too am traveling smaller and. lighter for trips. I enjoy all this input and love Susan’s blog.
Very well – I have the pants and skirt.
Royal Robbins makes truly outstanding travel pants: black or navy for evenings; khaki for day. I have them tailored (5’3″, 105 lbs.). As a former backpacker with carry-on only — to make certain that my gear arrived with me — learning to pack light was essential. Always wear one’s heaviest shoes on the plane, a packable down sweater; layer, etc. A GoreTex jacket w/hood is a costly initial purchase but stands up to heavy rain, and many companies offer lifetime guarantees/repairs (Patagonia, ArcTeryx). One knit dress or skirt for a night out! Bring older clothes and leave them behind while en route, arranging travel so that warmer or cooler wardrobe pieces can be left when that portion of the trip ends. For example, leaving sandals & lighter clothing at the coast, before heading into higher elevations. In many countries, gifts of preferably natural-fiber clothing or shoes are welcome, and allow me to then “support the local economy,” having room for new purchases 😉
I like to take a few neutral tanks in cotton/modal. Talbots have good ones. They take up no room and can go under a blazer or sweater or even a blouse worn open. If u stain something, they can be a lifesaver to have on hand. I also recommend a small sample size bottle of Eucalan hand wash detergent, because it needs no rinsing.
So fun to think of travelling again! Susan I can’t wait to see how your travel wardrobe will change now that your colours are updated. Lighter coloured clothes show dirt more easily than the blacks and blues you’ve worn previously, whether it’s in pants or shoes. What will your new base colours be??
Hi Wendy, probably navy and maybe some brown, but I’m still figuring it out. That’s why I’m starting to think about it now. 😉
To another poster … the JJill Wearever pieces are great for travel and I see them as a less expensive alternative to to EF. Chico’s travel is good too. The JJill will eventually pill a bit and need to be defuzzed a few times per year , but not on a trip. The black pants can pick up some hair. I have a lot of this in my wardrobe and take it to travel in all the time.
I have a black pull-on JJill skirt that takes up almost no room when rolled up that has been a very useful travel piece.
I sing the praises of Tencel. The fiber lends itself to knits and woven fabrics. It’s light, silky, washes well and dries fairly fast. EF has some great pieces, but I find Tencel is turning up in other designer lines, too. I have a “chambray” shirt of Tencel and it looks like the cotton version but washes so much better. It doesn’t wrinkle as much either. It goes on trips (or did when I did way back when in 2019!)
A raincoat over a Uniqlo down jacket will take you almost anywhere. It’a a great combo. The jacket packs so small and light, there is no reason not to take it.
Wonderful post and great tips!
I am so happy to have found some waterproof but attractive women’s pants (and I’ve seen male too.) As one of your readers said, they are made of some sort of synthetic that is very lightweight, quick dry and wrinkle resistant, and they have a slight sheen to them that is fine even for dressing for dinner or a concert. And even better, I found these at Old Navy. I know some of your readers wear only the top lines of clothing, but these are well made, comfortable, and have lasted well for more than a year now without showing any wear. I’m going back soon to see what they offer for this summer.
This was such a find, since we travel during my husband’s breaks from teaching at college both in summer and midwinter, and gone to many places where it rains almost constantly. These pants have come through every time. I’ve worn them (with various dressy tops and jackets) for speaking engagements, church, the theater, and also worn them with casual tops and boots too.
I am going to Europe September 26 to October 4, 2022. I plan on taking dark wash jeans black pants leggings. I have found the Sketcher’s pants and jackets to be very comfortable. Please advise me on how to wear the athletic leisure wear to Europe without looking to casual. I am over 50 and like to look chic stylish but comfortable.
Hi Jacqueline, it depends on where in Europe you’re going and what your activities will be. In the cities, you usually don’t see people in athletic/active wear unless they’re exercising. If you don’t want to appear too casual I’d advise breaking up the athletic jackets & pants. Wear a more structured blazer with the pants, and trousers with the jacket.