My 15-Piece Summer Travel Wardrobe

A 15-Piece summer travel wardrobe for Europe or other mild climates. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

It’s Time To Pack…

It’s one thing to build a hypothetical summer travel wardrobe, and quite another to create one using my own clothing. At this point, I could pull together a capsule of solid, neutral pieces in my sleep. But my goal with this wardrobe was to add some fun to the mix, without sacrificing functionality.

I’m including a few more pieces this time, not only because I wanted more variety, but because we have a few nice dinners on the itinerary. Still “smart casual,” but dialed up a notch.

Some may think this is a lot of items, and for some people or types of travel it might be. Deciding on a travel wardrobe is always a balancing act between variety and simplicity, between style and utility. Each person has to find their own balance point and comfort level. And that might change from trip to trip.

Just a note: I don’t count shoes, outerwear, accessories or “underpinnings” as part of my 15 pieces.

This wardrobe does fit into a carry-on sized, bag, though I may take a medium-sized bag and check it so we have room to bring home wine and other goodies.

My Summer Travel Wardrobe

The latest forecasts are calling for mild weather for most of our trip, with more than a smattering of rain. I’d originally selected pieces based mostly on warmer conditions, so made a couple of last-minute swaps to accommodate. (But I’m also prepared in case of heat waves or cold snaps.)

Though I’ve included more color and pattern, this wardrobe is still primarily neutrals: navy, black and beige. I’ll also leave myself room for a “wild card” piece, based on weather forecasts and my mood.

So let’s break it down:

My 15-Piece Summer Travel Wardrobe for France and UK. Details at une femme d'un certain age.


When planning my selections for any travel wardrobe, I’ve learned to start with the shoes, and work up from there.

  • Weather-resistant ankle boots (similar). I went back and forth on whether to include these, but with rain in the current forecasts, I may be glad to have them. And they’re a good slip-on option for air travel days.
  • White sneakers. They’re almost de rigeur at this point. And I know this style is comfortable for me, as I wore the metallic ones all over Lyon and Paris last year. I’ve added some insoles for a little extra padding, and to make them comfortable to wear with or without hosiery.
  • Metallic loafers (similar). A “dress up” shoe option that I can walk in for hours.
  • Sandals (similar). These were winners last year, so why mess with success?


For travel wardrobes, I adhere to the concept of “tabletop dressing:” sticking to simple, neutral pieces on the bottom and adding variety, color, pattern above the waist.

  • Eileen Fisher stretch crepe slim pants. In just about every travel wardrobe recap, these are at the top of my MVP list. They are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, dress up or down, and are easy to style. They can be hand washed and will usually dry overnight. (Or you can wash/dry in a machine if you have access.)
  • Eileen Fisher lantern pants (similar in Misses / Petite / Plus ). When packing for last year’s trip, I threw these in at the last minute, and they also made my MVP list.
  • Dark wash, slim leg jeans. Easy to style, a versatile “polished casual” option.
  • Boyfriend jeans. A more relaxed, casual denim option. I can wear them full length or roll up the cuff on warmer days.

I seriously considered bringing white jeans, but after a try-on session with my other pieces, decided to leave them at home.


In reviewing my France travel wardrobe from last year, my “MVP” list included lightweight printed blouses. So I’ve included 3 of those this time. All will layer underneath the jackets/cardigan.

  • Silk floral top (similar). Yes, it’s one I wear often. While I’ve been searching for something in a similar cut and fabric in a lighter color, I haven’t yet found it, so this will have to do.
  • Tiger print top (similar). It’s a very light viscose fabric which is breathable and is wrinkle-resistant.
  • Terra cotta metallic print top (similar). Very light and gauzy. A couple of more budget-friendly options HERE and HERE (Plus).

I also included three tees and one shell. All can layer underneath jackets or be worn on their own.

One pullover…this one’s very lightweight.

Two light jackets and a cardigan.

  • Faux suede drape front jacket. (Plus) A casual option, great for cooler days.
  • Black silk crepe kimono-style jacket (similar, and Plus). It’s plain, but looks elegant, can dress up or down and works with any of the tops.
  • Silk/cashmere cardigan (similar). I’ll wear this on the plane, and if the weather takes a cooler turn.

And most days, I’ll be wearing one of these silk tanks as a base layer.

Outerwear & Bags

Summer travel wardrobe: outerwear, bags, scarves

Because I’m bringing a couple of jackets, I think the only outerwear I’ll need will be a light rain shell.

I’m bringing two bags.

  • The larger zipped coated canvas tote (similar) will be used for travel days, and for countryside / winery tours when we’re mostly traveling by car.
  • The smaller crossbody is my favorite bag for city sightseeing, and looks polished enough for evenings.

During our visit to France in June of last year, I wore almost none of my scarves. As I’m including more color and pattern with my tops, I’m only bringing two scarves, both solids.

  • A warmer wool wrap for the plane. This one (gifted) from the Chic At Any Age shop (will reopen July 1).
  • A lighter weight silk-cashmere wrap with embedded Swarovski crystals. This might come in handy to throw over my shoulders on cool evenings.

I’m making my final jewelry selections this morning, will cover in subsequent posts. Look for more travel posts here, and be sure to follow me on Instagram.

More Options For Your Summer Travel Wardrobe At My SHOP Page.

I think that covers it… 😉 🧳 ✈️ Away we go!

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  1. The great thing about your wardrobe is that it’s interesting with so few pieces, because all your patterns are in the tops.
    If you want to know what women here are wearing now, look at my blog today–street-style photos of regular women (not fashionistas). And many are wearing sneakers, even with dresses, at all ages.
    Re bags, cross-body is good and it’s even better if the zipper has an attachment. A friend (male) had a bandolier bag (like a fanny pack but worn diagonally across his chest), and his billfold was stolen from it–he didn’t feel a thing. He repeatedly encountered groups near the Eiffel Tower asking him to sign a petition for the handicapped. He finally agreed to, feeling pretty bad about being so callous, and discovered his wallet missing just after. So: don’t sign petitions, even for good causes, and don’t carry anything in your bag that you don’t need during your day. He lost his insurance cards, driver’s license and more, in addition to his credit and debit cards and a few hundred euros cash. Luckily they didn’t take his passport. LEAVE THAT STUFF IN YOUR HOTEL. Take an old ID to have something in case you pass out and somebody needs to know who you are (but in France you don’t need to show insurance to be admitted to a hospital, especially not in an emergency). Leave at least one of your cards in the hotel, so if the other is stolen, you aren’t like my friend at the mercy of others.
    Also, his bandolier bag had a feature where the zippers could clip, to make them hard to unzip–he hadn’t done that. When you are going to or even near a major tourist sight, take a minimum of valuables with you. You are very unlikely to be a victim of violent crime in Europe, but tourists are magnets for pickpockets.

    1. This is terrific advice. I never stop for petitions and have been called all sorts of names because of my brusque “no”. I never carry a traditional wallet. I have an rfid metal case with my license and a card in it – and that’s it. I carry coins and some bills in a small change purse and additional cash inside a Kleenex fold over bag. Works for me especially after I was almost pickpocketed on the Piccadilly Line in London. The guy had my wallet halfway out of my purse ( with a huge zipper and fold over top, no less) when I caught him.

      Your travel wardrobe is great – we’re the same age and I take about the same. I’m not a jeans person – go figure- but, I never have been my whole life. I bought my first pair of black skinny jeans this Spring! Black pants are my staple. I’m glad you decided to forgo the white jeans. Two years ago I packed white jeans ( my only pair of jeans!) and wore them to a museum and an outdoor market in Paris. It poured and poured, the jeans were wet and I could never get them to dry thoroughly the entire trip. They were so heavy, too! Enjoy your journey and thanks for the wardrobe updates!

    2. Just viewed your street photos (many thanks) and noticed that most women are carrying large unstructured handbags. Black still seems to reign supreme.

    3. Sorry, but my reply to you skipped down!
      Just viewed your street photos (many thanks) and noticed that most women are carrying large unstructured handbags. Black still seems to reign supreme.

    4. Yes, we always steer well clear of anyone with a “petition” or an opened up map “asking for directions.” That’s usually a way to distract you and hide what their accomplice is up to. In Rome at the ruins there was one group asking for signatures that was really aggressive, trying to block those who walked by. That was a huge red flag and they got a certain hand gesture from me that was unambiguous. 😉

    5. Those must be the same people (:)) that approached us at the Eiffel Tower in 2015. We demurred signing and didn’t even stop in fact. But we came away with our bags intact.

  2. Thanks for another timely blog post! We leave a week from today for 10 weeks in England. Susan, unlike your travel wardrobe that you ticked up a notch, mine will be ticked down a few notches as we spend most of our time in villages and walking the footpaths. My Emme toiletry bag arrived last week and I’m ready to pack it. Will begin laying out my clothing options this afternoon using this guideline as my starting point.

    1. I love that you are taking a lot of prints, florals and stripes. I’ve begun to do that for summer too as solid neutrals can seem so boring for warm weather. A white or blue denim jacket goes with all the prints. Can you really fit all of those items in a carry on? Do you use packing cubes or envelopes? I always wear my bulkiest pieces to the airport but I can never get 3 pairs of shoes in my carry on unless that are flat sandals.

      1. Hi Kelly, I use the packing cubes, and yes this all fits into a carry-on, minus what I’d wear on the plane and what goes into my “Personal item.” 🙂 (I tested it yesterday.)

      1. I have an old, lightweight dark charcoal rain jacket that I absolutely love (Woolrich) but needed something a bit longer and waterproof as opposed to water resistant. This past winter I found a pattern and copied the design elements I loved on my old jacket and added a few new ones. I’ve sewn all my life and, although time-consuming, I’m very pleased with the results.

  3. Thanks again Susan for another useful post. I was greatly anticipating this as we are leaving tomorrow and will be in the U.K. Channel Islands followed by St. Malo and later on to Paris. I’ve been watching the weather also and checked out your past post at roughly the same time of year ( looks like Mont St. Michel) back in 2016 which also had some windy, rainy weather, which is, of course not unusual by the Atlantic Ocean.
    Your blog has Ben so useful and I have been grateful fof finding some excellent EF ( mainly) items that will be coming along. Today is my try on and coordinate outfits day. I will be checking my bag but it will have room for potential finds in France. The benefit of knowing that all occasions, weather blips and that things coordinate has reduced the number of items, yet has increased my options. Bon voyage et merci !

  4. Am about to head off to the south of England, to my home area in Devon. Think it is even worse than Europe in attempting to predict or second guess the weather! I love Devon but hate having to pack for just about everything except snow. We are driving so while I do not have to consider weight and carrying practicalities, it almost makes it worse as I begin by being disciplined(!) but rapidly get to the “throw it in just in case” mentality. 10 pairs of shoes for 7 days anyone?? My excuse: some are flip flops.
    Keep writing Susan, it might just permeate my consciousness if I read it frequently…… Meanwhile, my resolution is to PLAN.

  5. So very lovely. I think you will like having color especially in summer. Would you consider showing us how this would fit in a carryon? Not doubting you or anything it just looks it would be challenging to fit once you add toiletries, etc. I am wanting to be more of a carry on traveler and would appreciate advice. Secondly, your purchases are always very lovely but I am a little on the taller side and often they may not work for me. In the comments I see many petite and shorter readers. If you could include a bit more of sizing info especially in relation to height that would be great. Thank you and good and safe travels.

    1. Hi Linda, one tip I’d suggest is to make the most of your under-seat “Personal Item.” Use a larger tote, and put your purse, valuables, toiletries, flight amenities, and a such in that.

  6. I cannot believe you can fit all this into a carry on! I just got back from 16 days in England: London, Penzance, Cowes and London again. I had trouble fitting into a 26″ bag and had to buy a small carryon for the trip home!!!!! I had just about the same amount of clothes and shoes. But, I do have to take all those additional small makeup bags for lotions, hair , etc. They seem to take up so much room. And then, yes, friends gave me jams and books, and then I keep travel cards and brochures from places visited so that adds up. (And I bring home loads of good teas!) Anyway, good to see what you take. I’m going again in September and will rethink!!

  7. I studied your clothing and though I have a capsule wardrobe of neutrals, this showed me how I can add some fun prints and still coordinate what I have! Great post! Thanks

  8. Thanks for such a useful post. I am going to be traveling to Scandinavia and Russia at the end of the Summer and welcome any advice. I plan to do carry on for a 12 day trip. I probably will go with a more neutral palate and my down coat which folds into its own little bag. I do need to replace my carry on and wondering if you and your readers had any suggestions.

  9. I notice you don’t take any longer shorts, skirts or dresses. Is this related to personal style or a travel convvenience? I am leaving soon for Paris and Prague and worried that pants will be too warm. Thx!

    1. Hi Andrea, that’s just my personal style. I’ve tried packing dresses/skirts before but found I didn’t wear them.

      1. Yes, I love skirts (not dresses for travel unless it is very warm). I never wear shorts except doing housework or gardening, except for hidden lycra shorts under a skirt while cycling in the summer. Mine would be two skirts and two trousers, probably black or other dark jeans. One skirt is a Prana travel skirt that folds up tiny. Another would be in heavier material.

    2. Hello Andrea, I’m currently in Budapest and have already traveled through Paris and Prague. I only wear pants as well, and find that oversized breezy shirts are helpful in staying cool. I haven’t felt too hot. The weather in Europe the last three weeks has been a mixed bag. Warm and humid one day and cooler and rainy the next. I have jeans, linen cotton blend pants, big bell crop knits and Athleta Brooklyn ankle pants for reference. Have fun!

  10. We are just home from a 3 week trip to Central Europe. It rained most days, but only really poured rain one day. Cold though. I had to buy a wooly cap in Ljubljana! MVP of my wardrobe was the light silk scarf I brought. I likely wore it 18 days of my trip. If it got warm, I could pop it in my purse. Also I brought the J crew rain jacket Susan featured a year ago. It did very well in all kinds of rain, including the downpour, when I did not have an umbrella. I really worked the layers. I brought a down vest that got lots of wear, along with my sweaters. My tee shirts were barely used. All in a carry on size bag. I do use packing cubes and they are terrific for living out of a suitcase. If buying, it is helpful to be able to see through them so you can quick find what you want. Sweaters in one, shirts in another…
    Thanks for all of the tips Susan. My back thanks you too!

  11. I love your choices and that you are adding color in your tops. I don’t wear jeans so I always have tan or neutral colored pants along with black, navy. EF is my favorite for travel. My favorite sandals are Arche, Taryn Rose, Thierry Rabotin for comfort and style. Packing cubes are the best and go from luggage to drawer and back to luggage. The clothes I put on wire hangers with cleaners plastic bags and overlap to eliminate wrinkles. I unpack in minutes. I check in one Tumi expandable bag and have a carry on with items for plane and items I want with me plus my purse. Thanks for introducing me to so many great items and especially French Kande.

  12. Thanks! This is very timely information, as I am leaving for Ireland tomorrow. Shoes to me are the hardest choice to make, as they are heavy and take up so much room in the bag. White sneakers, black sneakers, black ankle boots and a pair of silver metallic Birkenstocks are my choices this time around.
    I also never travel without a Chan Luu scarf, which is super warm and folds down into nothing.

    1. Mary Alice, I am currently traveling with a pair of Cole Haan Zero Grand lace-up oxfords. They are perforated nubuck and are super lightweight (and very comfortable). I pack them in the bag and wear a heavier pair of shoes on the plane. Think I might look for a pair for my husband as well!

  13. Love that point you made about creating a capsule with your own clothes. So much easier to do it hypothetically, isn’t it? You were my go-to site when we packed for France in 2015 and I was stressed about what to wear in Paris.
    I find it easier now, but always have the added burden of having to bring hiking clothes. I didn’t take my hiking boots to Italy last fall and I paid the price with sore feet (even though I was wearing really comfortable sneakers) the day we hiked the Path of the Gods in Amalfi. But I couldn’t bear to bring my boots for two days of hiking in a month long trip.
    Hope you have a blast on this trip, Sue. xo

  14. Susan, I’m sure you have posted advice before, but could you please show what you actually wear on the plane while traveling. I’m going to Paris in August and have been creating my wardrobe capsule according to your wonderful suggestions. I’m flying from Seattle, Wahington. Thank you so much.

  15. That’s a great travel wardrobe ( as usual 🙂 ). With the variety you could do a 6 week trip .
    I find patterned tops have the added advantage of being “food friendly”. I am not really a sloppy eater (!?!) but sometimes there’s a random splash which can leave you with a spot all day – ugh.
    And for those that might not travel often, remember that if you have a completely full suitcase, and wore additional items on the plane, those extra clothes will now also need to be worn/carried on your in country travel days.
    Thank you for posting!
    Suz from Vancouver

  16. Hi Susan
    I just arrived today in Paris. It was 28 C. So very hot. I like to travel with carryon only so have some Simpli pieces. Not sure if you know this brand. It Canadian made. And great for travel. My wardrobe is black white and red. I have a pair of black Audrey Hepburn style black cuffed pants, a pair of Up pullon white and silver animal print pants and a red skirt. I also have one summer cotton Grey and white striped dress with a matching grey jacket.
    A white Simpli and a black Simpli top, a white and black polka dot sleeveless top and a navy sleeveless Simpli TAnk.
    I discovered Fit Flop shoes and have a pair of black sandals and black mesh walking shoes. And of course a couple scarves red polka dot and a Ferrigamo animal print.
    We’re staying on the Seine at le Pont Neuf
    At a friends apartment. Looking forward to l’Orangerie and le Musee D’Orsay. And good food!!! Going to Poilane, le Grand Marche and lots of markets. I’m a foodie and looking forward to having some good food. This is our 6 or 7 the time in Paris and we love it.
    Hope you have a good time too!!

  17. Great post and variety of clothes/outfits. I have a question about material. I noticed most of the blouses are hand wash or dry clean. I assume then they can be successfully hand washed during and after travel. I’m always concerned about clothes that are of delicate material. However, don’t want to wear polyester or other synthetics, and noticed all of your options seem to be more natural fabrics that breathe. Do you like the Eileen Fisher pants the best for traveling on the plane, etc.? Thanks for all of the wonderful information. I hope you have a wonderful time on your vacation!

    1. Hi Gloria, thanks! I sometimes hand wash items in the hotel sink, and line dry overnight in the bathroom. You can also often machine wash on the delicate cycle in a lingerie bag. I used to wear my jeans on the plane (bulkiest item) but now wear my Eileen Fisher pants. They’re comfortable and always feel polished. And if I dribble any liquids on them, they dry in a jiffy.

  18. At last! Your packing posts are my favorites. The one I really look forward to is the wardrobe recap after you return. There is always something that doesn’t get worn and an MVP that surprises you (often that last-minute wildcard.) I usually stick to solids in France (the opposite of my colorful Florida florals), so I’ll be interested to see how your print tops work out.

  19. I love your blog; we went to Germany and Holland at the end of June – I followed a lot of your advice and was so happy with my choices – until the airline lost our luggage (but only for 24 hours) that made me rethink the carry on and larger tote – it was kind of scary not to have anything even if it was only one day. The one item I left out was the packable puffer coat that I bought just for the trip but decided at the last minute that I wouldn’t’ need it and I was so wrong! It was cold and rainy almost every day. I made do with a rain jacket and sweaters but will never leave it out again!

  20. One thing to remember when packing for a trip is that if you are a larger size, you might need a larger bag. A person who is a size four can fit more items in a carry-on bag than a person who is a size 12 or up. Your clothes are simply bigger and have more fabric. It is likely that your footwear will be bigger, too. Your options are to pack fewer items, pack lightweight items with thinner fabric, or just forget it and use a checked bag. I saw this demonstrated visually once in a magazine, snd the difference was signigicant. I accepted this. I am not size four any more. It’s okay.

  21. Timely for me as well as I am heading to Greece (Athens and then to Paros and Santorini) for two weeks next week. It will be hot, hot, hot so my wardrobe will look different from yours! Have been thinking about it/planning in my head for the past few weeks but this weekend is when the rubber hits the road and I am going to start packing! I admire all of you who can do carry on luggage for longer trips but at this point in my life, I know myself too well. I like to shop when I travel, what can I say!!!! Hope everyone has safe and enjoyable travels with some fun and unexpected adventures thrown in.

  22. Great travel wardrobe! I have learned so very much from your blog. I think it’s wonderful that your travel wardrobe is from your own closet. I would probably leave the boots and one jacket behind and add a skirt or dress. But that’s just me. That’s why this is the only fashion blog I follow. You are fabulous!

  23. In villages, more color works OK but in urban centers in Europe one is better off with neutrals!!
    I’m on my way to Europe for one month starting in Amsterdam and ending in Bucharest, Romania!! My travel wardrobe is full of linen, neutrals and some strong colors including flowing, flouncy skirts and loose, cool pants and tops I purchased at reasonable prices in Athens last year. Super Light rain coat and a couple tops with long sleeves just in case of inclement weather along the way. Sneakers, a couple of open toe ARCHE sandals and a pair of ARCHE dressy ones. One carry-on And one to check.

  24. This is great.

    It’s out of season but I just bought the Uniqlo down cardigan in off white because it’s on sale. You’ve recommended it for winter travel and the sale price made me pull the trigger.

    And FYI the Nic&Zoe ombré sea tie dye cardigan in your 5/13/19 post is on sale for $85 at zappos.

  25. I am traveling to Paris in about 10 days for my first time visit! I will take some shorts with me since we are stopping in Boston first and then onto Paris. Your travel packing is a great help to me! I plan to take mostly short sleeved tops and then a few dress up items. Do you roll your clothes in the suitcase? I found that that works for me. I always carry a bag that zips closed. We watched a program on pickpocketing in Paris and know what to look for. This will be a trip of a lifetime and I am really looking forward to the Food!

  26. You mentioned on Facebook that due to heatwave you have had to purchase some dresses and have learned a lesson. What do you know think you should have changed in your original selection?

    1. When we’ve previously traveled to France and the UK during this time of year, we’ve never experienced the kind of heat that’s predicted. In hindsight, I probably would have included a lighter weight pair of pants, like my tan trousers. And perhaps invested in an easy linen dress for the trip. (Back home, I’m able to wear jeans almost all summer because even when it gets hot in LA, it’s a dry heat. My wardrobe doesn’t usually have to accommodate heat + more humidity.)

  27. Thank you for the travel tips!I love your posts! What would you recommend for a three-day conference trip to Paris in late August when it could be anything weatherwise? I will be with other academics so it will not be too formal, however would like to look good! Coming from Scandinavia, I usually pack too lightly and my wardrobe choices are almost always wrong.I always think it will be warm as I go south but it always rains. The activities will be indoors but a bus trip is included in the programme. I guess I will need a smart jacket and pumps to wear with black jeans…or what? I would love to bring my denim jacket to wear with a nice dress but probably would also need a blazer. I love floral tops but I cannot be too summery or too relaxed. Please could you kindly help?