A Fall Travel Wardrobe Capsule

A navy-based fall travel wardrobe capsule with dark green and burgundy accent colors. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

In the past, I’ve often built my own travel wardrobes around black because it’s easy. Easy to find pieces that pack and travel well, and easy to mix and match. But many of you have requested travel wardrobes that aren’t based on black, so I’ve created one* with navy as the primary neutral.

Top row: Sweater | Blazer | Cardigan | Scarf
2nd row: Shirt | Tee | Top | Trench
3rd row: Jeans | Jeans | Skirt | Pants
Bottom row: Sneakers | Loafers | Boots

This Fall travel wardrobe capsule is based on navy with forest green and burgundy color accents.** All of the tops work with all of the bottoms, and most of the tops can be layered. Most of the time, we’ve found that “smart casual” is as dressed up as we need to be, so this capsule reflects that. If you have events on your itinerary that may require more formality, you can always add more pieces.

Travel Wardrobe Capsule 101

  • Shoes: choose styles with support and plenty of cushioning for walking. 3 pairs should cover you for most venues. Here I’ve gone with sneakers, a pair of black patent loafers, and navy suede weatherproof boots.
  • Bottoms: I usually travel with a couple pairs of jeans, because I find them versatile and easy to style. Plus, they usually can be worn several times without laundering. Here I’ve include one slim-leg, dark-wash style that looks more polished, and a more relaxed style for casual days. If you don’t wear jeans, you can alway substitute different pants or an additional skirt. The skirt is a midi style in ponte-knit. The navy trousers are more structured but have a good bit of stretch, and are the same fabric as the blazer, so you can wear together.
  • Tops: I’ve shown a variety of styles here that can be layered and worn in different combinations, depending on the climate and venue. The idea is to create wardrobe cohesion; when all of the tops work with all of the bottoms (and with each other), you’ll need fewer pieces. A lightweight jacket or blazer can work as outerwear on mild days, or elevate a simple outfit to Smart Casual.
  • Outerwear: You may need to be prepared for some rain. I’ve shown a water-resistant trench here because it’s a classic, versatile style. But depending on your personal style, destination, and climate, a mackintosh or parka could work just as well.

General Considerations

Because “Fall” weather can vary widely depending on location and month, I’ve tried to create a capsule that will accommodate a broad range of temperatures and conditions. Depending upon your destination and weather, you may want to adjust the weight of some of the pieces, but simple styles that layer easily will be most versatile. Leave the heavy, bulky pieces at home. Lightweight layers will better adjust to temperature fluctuations and take up less room in your suitcase.

Travel Outfits

You can always add more pieces, as well as using accessories to add more color, pattern and texture. For example…

Fall travel outfit with green sweater and accessories, classic trench, black patent platform loafers. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Scarf | Bracelet | Bag

Casual fall travel outfit with floral blouse, plum cardigan, navy watch and rain jacket. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Earrings | Watch | Bag | Raincoat

What neutrals do you usually pack for travel?

*Except for one of the pairs of jeans, these are not pieces in my wardrobe. I selected items for this collage based on style, cut and color to provide ideas and inspiration.

**If you don’t like these colors, you can always swap out. Hint: use a favorite patterned top or scarf as a reference point to create complementary combos.

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49 Comments

  1. September 18, 2018 / 4:14 am

    The brown and beige are really nice with the navy. And the burgundy, too–it’s more autumnal than red.

  2. Lisa B
    September 18, 2018 / 6:00 am

    Thanks so much for the post on navy. It’s made me rethink my fall/winter wardrobe. Ordered a blouse I normally would’ve ordered in black in Coastal., VINCE’s name for navy. On another note, wishing VINCE offered petite sizing. Great fall dresses and skirts with lovely asymmetric pleating but all much too long.

    • Susan B
      September 18, 2018 / 6:32 am

      I wish they did too! I love Vince, but most of their clothing just swamps me.

    • Nicole Kowalski
      August 20, 2019 / 11:56 am

      I have so many pieces in Vince Coastal! It’s the only navy I can seem to wear. The Midnight of EF is too purple and something is off with the J Crew Navy for me. Agreed that I wish they had petites, but I’m such a fan of their tees and sweaters. Pants are hit or miss, but that’s always the way. I also really love Vince shoes.

      Vince also has a new program kind of like Rent The Runway, where you can rotate their pieces through your wardrobe without purchasing permanently. It’s called Vince Unfold. Has anyone tried it?

  3. September 18, 2018 / 6:56 am

    My spring/summer travel wardrobe was based on navy and olive, but I haven’t yet given much thought to what I’ll be packing this fall — should get on that soon though! The palette you’ve put together is great — it’s got me dreaming of a navy pleated skirt and whether, if I found/bought one, I could wear it with my brown cashmere v-neck. . . and navy with my new pale-pink oxfords. . . hmmm. . .

    • September 18, 2018 / 7:31 am

      Navy with pink oxfords floats my boat:).

      • Heather M
        September 18, 2018 / 8:00 pm

        Agree! Love brown and navy together.

  4. Elizabeth
    September 18, 2018 / 7:37 am

    Susan, this is the best travel wardrobe you have posted! I’m off to Austria next week and am still working out what to pack. Your picks are just what I need to help settle some decisions between “this one” or “that one”. The weather is still quite warm in the Vienna area, so I’ll have to consider including a light top and a pair of light khaki and/or beige ankle pants and sandals. Any suggestions would be SO appreciated. Thanks!

  5. Sheri
    September 18, 2018 / 7:57 am

    I am in love with this travel wardrobe! Now I need to plan a trip!!

  6. Kathleen Ludgate
    September 18, 2018 / 8:54 am

    Susan, I love the navy! Think I could pull this together from my current wardrobe.

  7. Jill
    September 18, 2018 / 3:12 pm

    Navy and brown equals an interesting combination. Would you please do an article about using dark brown as the main color for a travel wardrobe.

    • Nancy
      August 20, 2019 / 5:52 am

      I wish there were more chocolate brown clothing options…if you have any resources…please share.

      • Susan B
        Author
        August 20, 2019 / 6:18 am

        There are warm and cool chocolate browns. If you like warm, check out Eileen Fisher’s “Nutmeg” pieces. For cool chocolate, try “Clove.”

        • Nancy
          August 20, 2019 / 6:30 am

          Thank you for the suggestion Susan but unfortunately E. Fisher is out of my price range…any other suggestions?

          • Susan B
            Author
            August 20, 2019 / 6:33 am

            Haven’t seen much chocolate brown this season, but will keep an eye out.

          • Joanie
            August 20, 2019 / 10:42 am

            J.Jill has quite a few pieces in chocolate brown, the color is Kona and most of the items are currently on sale.
            Sign up for their mailing list, they just had an additional 40% off sale items promotion

          • Nicole Kowalski
            August 20, 2019 / 12:00 pm

            Nancy-I don’t know if you follow The Vivienne Files? I found them through the list of blogs Susan follows. She does posts with a lot of brown and features items from Land’s End and LL Bean quite a bit which are more affordable. You can search her website for “brown” and get ideas.

  8. September 18, 2018 / 4:46 pm

    I like the colors in this travel wardrobe!

    I usually stick to black, white and some pops of color for my travel wardrobe. I have lots of black and white pieces in my wardrobe, so it’s easy. But it does get a bit boring at times…

  9. Agnes
    September 18, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    Check-out the J.Crew “Going Out” blazer in Navy. Love it as an alternative to the J.Crew blazer above.

  10. September 18, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    I’m in the process of perusing my closet and planning a travel capsule much like this one for our upcoming trip to the BC coast! I think my colours will be mainly navy, grey, and cream.

  11. Cindy
    September 19, 2018 / 4:30 am

    Love, love, love the uniglo compact jacket – I have three and take one everywhere. So lightweight, pack down to nothing, and warmer than a sweater but never too hot.

    • Katrinka
      August 20, 2019 / 10:47 pm

      Cindy, I’m kicking myself for not getting one last month when they went on sale! I guess I’ll have to pay full price now.

  12. Cindy
    September 19, 2018 / 6:23 am

    Thank you so much for doing a navy wardrobe! Black ages me, so I chose navy and taupe as my capsule colors a couple of years ago. I stray a bit now and then, but I now always take a smaller suitcase than my husband. 😉 Love the deep burgundy pop; I just bought a sweater that color. I will consider some brown after seeing your choices.

  13. Ann in Missouri
    September 19, 2018 / 1:17 pm

    Usually I choose black and white as my travel basics. But right now I’m visiting Great Rapids, Michigan, for their fall arts festival, ArtPrize Ten.

    And rather shockingly, this trip I packed browns, navy, denim, and numerous shades of tan, rust, orange, burgundy, olive, white, as well as (blush) some black and white to fall back on.

    At the center of this travel trousseau are dark brown Eileen Fisher slacks and a dark brown EF crepe zip-up jacket, my trusty 501s, and a Uniqlo navy ultra light collarless parka and a Uniqlo navy raincoat.

    I think we’re all feeling a love for navy and brown this fall.

  14. Anon
    September 19, 2018 / 5:52 pm

    I started following your blog when you were planning a fall travel wardrobe for a trip to Lake Como. This is very different. It’s fictional, but very do-able. I have the brown ankle booties, and navy, so now it’s time to put them together.

  15. DLP
    September 22, 2018 / 6:20 am

    I am planning a trip to Spain, Portugal and Paris in November and think I have found my perfect travel wardrobe!!! I am an autumn and have some similar pieces, but will be ordering some of your suggestions asap!! Thanks so much – love your blog!

  16. Debra
    September 22, 2018 / 9:26 am

    Susan, would you ever consider doing a post featuring no-cruelty options such as faux leather and down alternative fillers? There are many vegans out here and our passion for cruelty free living often reaches beyond the kitchen. Thank you!

  17. Ainsivalavie
    August 20, 2019 / 5:06 am

    Being somewhere between winter and summer navy gets minimal space in my wardrobe and rarely brown. I do love my navy striped tees and have two pairs of navy trousers that the tops get worn with but often wear them with red and khaki too. For fall my beige-ish J.Crew sweater blazer with the navy striped tee or black and white stripe top will work but so will my cherry red sweater blazer! Never wine, burgundy, dark green, gray, teal, gold etc in my closet. No yellow tones, any beige is carefully curated so that it handles strong contrast with black, red and les marinières (that sweater blazer being pretty much the only item making the cut!)
    I have found that having an aversion to certain colours or combinations is a good sign! In all likelihood I won’t feel comfortable wearing it. Ever bought something you ‘loved’ but detested it after a few wearings and couldn’t quite figure that out because it looked so great on the mannequin/friend/online etc? Me too!
    On me combos of brown and navy look dull as my colouring seems to need strong contrast and clear colours to really pop. I am the lady in Schiaparelli pink and black!! On another that combo might read licorice All Sort!!
    I love Susan’s capsules and knowing that these colour ways are not my jam means I would consider the garment but in colours that work for my colouring, personality, shape etc.

  18. Addison Husted
    August 20, 2019 / 5:33 am

    I love your travel wardrobe postings! You’ve guided my last three trips abroad. Thanks for providing the links to the clothes, not just an image.

  19. Diana
    August 20, 2019 / 6:46 am

    The last few years I have been collecting Eileen Fisher pieces in midnight. Leaving for Europe in a few days, using navy as the basis, with cream and aqua accents.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 20, 2019 / 6:59 am

      I love her Midnight pieces too! Very nice navy.

  20. Rondi
    August 20, 2019 / 6:57 am

    Great travel wardrobe! Interesting and not the least bit boring. The navy seems very practical to me. Since jeans are also “navy” the whole wardrobe is going to coordinate easily.

  21. Lyn
    August 20, 2019 / 7:10 am

    Your pine green sweater confuses me. It looks spectacular on you even though it appears to be a rather cool green. I thought you were supposed to stick to warm colors as a Spring.

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 20, 2019 / 7:14 am

      Hi Lyn, the colors shown in this travel wardrobe aren’t in my palette (except the navy). I get many requests for cool colors, so built this wardrobe based on that. The pine sweater I wore last year was a bit warmer, and I did often wear a scarf with it near my face.

      • Lyn
        August 20, 2019 / 7:39 am

        I hope you haven’t purged it — it looks wonderful on you. In fact, that is my favorite picture of you.

  22. SusanBT
    August 20, 2019 / 8:15 am

    Thank you, Susan, for this cool travel wardrobe. I wear only cool colors (I even stay away from brown because so few of them are truly cool and look just terrible on me) so I really appreciate this one. One question: How many days would you say this particular capsule would be good for? I will be taking a 3+ week trip in October and I really don’t want to spend my vacation at the laundromat – LOL. I do follow your advice about wearing a cami or tank under tops to help keep them clean. Thank you!

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 20, 2019 / 8:24 am

      Hi Susan BT, these pieces should all be able to be worn several times between washings. Merino wool (green sweater) is a good travel fabric as it doesn’t pick up odors. Some fabrics can be sink washed and hung to dry overnight (lightweight viscose or rayon, silk knits). And of course there’s always the EF stretch crepe (esp. pants) which is brilliant for travel. For a 3-week trip, you may want to add a couple more tops for variety. But unless there are spills this wardrobe could probably do three weeks with just a single wash for the tops (not sweaters).

      • SusanBT
        August 20, 2019 / 10:41 am

        Hi Susan B! Thank you for your response – it is very helpful. I think I will add 2-3 more tops, maybe one more sweater/jacket, and one more pair of pants. Sink wash everything else in between (except the pants, sweaters and jackets, of course), and hopefully no spills! 🙂 And, I agree about the EF stretch crepe pants – I have 3 of them which I love for travel and for home! Do you ever sink wash those?

        • Susan B
          Author
          August 20, 2019 / 10:45 am

          Yes, I have and they do brilliantly!

          • SusanBT
            August 20, 2019 / 10:48 am

            Great, thanks!

  23. Téa
    August 20, 2019 / 10:43 am

    Thank you, Sue! I went to Dublin and then Northern Ireland in July. We had 2 different weathers – moderate/warm and then damp/misty rain. I’ve been following you for years and thankfully packed smart, stylish and COMFORTABLE! Not to mention, that I looked adorable in all of my warm, autumnal colors! It’s liberating for me to focus on the color story that brings out the best of ME! You’re blog/IG and advice is an inspiration every day! Better because of YOU!!

  24. Julia
    August 20, 2019 / 12:05 pm

    When we receive your email, there are some very nice items pictured ( a cream quilted jacket, a navy spotted blouse, a tan bag, brown suede boots, dark jeans and a watch) but when we click on the email » to continue reading, they are nowhere to be found.
    I tried clicking on the items individually but no luck, that just takes you into today’s post.
    Am I doing something wrong?

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 20, 2019 / 12:12 pm

      Sorry, that was my fault…I forgot to set a flag and the email program picked up an image from a similar post from last year. The jacket is still available HERE, and the bag HERE. And a similar shirt HERE.

  25. Kristi
    August 20, 2019 / 12:51 pm

    Love this post – will sub in my own colours for an upcoming trip to France -brilliant as always, Susan. Thanks for all your hard work on this blog!

  26. Kay
    August 20, 2019 / 1:56 pm

    Are jeans considered “gamine”?

    • Susan B
      Author
      August 20, 2019 / 2:33 pm

      Yes, some jeans are. The idea is to stick to neater styles and avoid heavily distressed finishes.

  27. Patti Cee
    September 3, 2019 / 12:17 pm

    I’m going to the Eastern Mediterranean beginning of November … looking at the weather, this seems a little too “wintery” for that area, but Summer wardrobes are too “summery” I think. I’ve got most of mine planned around navy/white so denim additions have been easy!

    Never been in that part of the world before. Greece, Italy, Israel and various islands. Historical weather says 62-72 daytime range. Any thoughts?

    I just test drove part of what I thought I would take while I was in Krakow last week, but it was in the high 80’s and humid there, and really everything I brought wasn’t breatheable enough! Weather is so unpredictable. My feet got so swollen that none of my walking shoes worked and I ended up wishing I had brought flip flops!

  28. Dianne Kraxberger
    September 8, 2019 / 12:42 pm

    Would you take white jeans on a cruise late September-early October? We are going from Bergen to Barcelona. Earlier in the summer, it looked like the weather on the last half would be warmish. Now now it’s around 77 in Barcelona (predicted by 9/22). Concerned about shoes and feet being cold. I had planned these Ecco Woven sneaker type slip ons sightseeing but not sure they’ll look good if I have to wear socks.

    • Susan B
      Author
      September 8, 2019 / 4:33 pm

      Hi Dianne, that’s tough to answer with a simple yes or no. It really will depend on your activities, how much and what else you’re planning to pack. Regarding the shoes, have you tried Smartwool Secret Sleuth socks? I find them warm enough at temperatures of 60F or above. And Europeans don’t have the hangups we have about visible hosiery, so you could pack a pair of fun socks that coordinate with your outfit for cooler days.

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