The 12-Piece Travel Wardrobe

summer travel wardrobe 12 piecesEven though it’s almost July, the current conditions at our destinations look almost more like Spring than Summer. Forecasts for our London days are looking cool and wet, but by the time we get to Paris, the weather may have turned warm and sunny. The right mix in this summer travel wardrobe has been quite a moving target! But I needed to make my final choices and pack, so here it is.

I’ve used black, white, grey, and navy/denim for the neutral base, and I’ve added some blue and olive as secondary colors. All of the tops work with all of the bottoms. On the off-chance that it’s still cool enough for a lightweight scarf, I’m bringing three to add some pops of bright color. (The lightweight cashmere wrap is intended mostly for chilly airline cabins, but you never know.)

Some caveats…I don’t count shoes, outerwear, accessories, sleepwear or “underpinnings” as part of my 12 items. And I give myself the option to add a “wild card” piece (or two) at the last minute, based on weather forecasts and my mood. I’ll also be bringing several items for a special project that aren’t part of my regular travel wardrobe, so am taking a larger suitcase this time that I’ll be checking. And, I’m sorry the color in these photos is wonky…even with natural light it’s hard to get the balance right. One of these days I’m going to invest in a professional lighting set.

So let’s break it down….


12-piece summer travel wardrobe

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to include at least two lightweight collared shirts for warmer days. I’ve also included a lightweight silk blouse for evenings, one lightweight sweater and three long- or 3/4-sleeved tees. I usually plan for twice as many tops as bottoms.

Left side, from top to bottom:

  • Linen button-front shirt, Eileen Fisher (similar). This is a fuller, longer shirt, but nicely fitted through the shoulders and arms.
  • Lightweight cotton button-front shirt, J.Crew (similar).
  • Silk zip neck blouse, Theory (similar).
  • Linen side-button sweater, Eileen Fisher (similar).

Right side, top to bottom:


  • Cashmere wrap
  • Cotton/silk print scarf, (similar). (I purchased this scarf in Paris a few years ago, and it’s been one of my favorite “souvenirs” ever.)
  • Not shown but packed, my Ted Baker cape scarf (similar).


Europe travel wardrobe, pants


summer travel wardrobe shoes

I always “start with the shoes” when planning a travel wardrobe, and because the weather’s been so changeable, selecting footwear for this trip has really been a challenge! I usually limit myself to three pairs (including what I wear on the plane) but may sneak in a fourth, something that will be better suited to wet days. Stay tuned…

  • Metallic sneakers, taos.
  • Wedge sandals, Mephisto. (These have adjustable bands over toe strap as well as ankle, and nice arch support. I often find a low heel more comfortable than a flat.)
  • Wedge pumps, Belle by Sigerson Morrison a couple of years old, (similar). These are evenings-only shoes, but we do have a few planned activities that call for a step up from casual.

Wild Card and Outerwear

summer travel wardrobe outerwear

At the eleventh hour, I stumbled upon this linen dress and it’s PERFECT. It will be lovely on warm days, and if cooler I can wear over my black knit ankle pants. Yes, its rumpled (right out of the dryer), but I like it that way. Linen Expressing Its True Nature. It can also be steamed out a bit. The sleeves roll up with a tab, but can also be worn down.

  • Organic linen henley dress, Eileen Fisher (similar). (Petite | Plus)
  • Water-resistant utility jacket, Sandro (mine’s a few years old, similar here)
  • Long silk jacket (top image and below) Eileen Fisher, similar.
  • I’ll be using this Goyard tote for flights and for days when we won’t do as much walking. More pre-loved Goyard here.

All Together Now…

12-piece Europe travel wardrobe

Whew! I don’t think I’ve forgotten anything. I’m still making my final jewelry and eyewear selections. I’ll post some outfit photos from our destinations, and recap how this wardrobe worked after we return. You can see all of my recent travel wardrobes and recaps here, and more travel wardrobe suggestions here.

Do you have a formula for packing light, or do you prefer to have more options when you travel?


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  1. And…pocketses, it has, Preciousss!!! This sentence made my day!!!! Gollum, gollum…Great looking travel wardrobe. Comfortable and classy. Have a wonderful time and eat some fish and chips for me!

  2. Great travel wardrobe!

    I also stick with neutral colors and tops and bottoms that all go with each other. I spent a lot of time thinking about my travel wardrobe this year, and it has really become a summer capsule wardrobe of sorts as I’ve been trying everything out.

    Have a most fabulous trip!

    Andrea’s Wellness Notes

  3. Susan, you introduced me to Eileen Fisher a couple of years ago and I’ve been obsessed with EF ever since! I’m not sure if I should thank you, but thank you. 🙂 Look forward to seeing your outfits and enjoy your trip.

  4. Looks like a very well thought wardrobe, and we will all look forward to the photos of how you put outfits together. So fun to see your posts, and esp when some of your pieces are already in my closet! You have given me new ideas for ways to combine my own clothes and pieces to add. Have a wonderful time, you deserve it! And be safe.

  5. It’s always interesting to see what others pack. I find summer trips the hardest to pack for when the weather can be so changeable. I remember packing for Ireland in July when it was 32 degrees Celsius here and 18 there. It was so hard to NOT pack shorts and sleeveless tops. And a light scarf I threw in at the last minutes saved me on cool rainy days when I would have liked a turtleneck.

    I’m curious what you will wear if the temperature skyrockets and it turns really hot when you’re in France. Also pretty darned curious about that “special project” you’ve mentioned.

    1. Hi Susan, the linen and cotton shirts and the dress should be good for the heat. I wore a similar shirt to the white one almost daily in Hong Kong when temperatures were around 85F/30C and humid, and was quite comfortable. Special Project will be revealed in time. 😉

  6. Lovely selection. Like you I always start with the shoes/footwear.
    Thank you another great packing post!

  7. The weather range you’re facing is tough to pack for, but as usual, it looks as if you’ve got it covered (although like Sue Burpee, I wonder how you’ll fare if you get five or six days in a row of 85/30 plus temps — worst that might happen is you’d have to buy something — not so horrid an option, really . . .) Really looking forward to following your travels and seeing that Special Project unveiled.

  8. One question I don’t think you have touched on: what do you wear on the plane? And, do you wear that outfit/pieces again during trip? I am SO tired of a travel outfit that I generally cannot bear to look at it again! So, are any of these pieces (the bottoms..) what you will be wearing for the long haul? Would love to know your thoughts on that!

      1. I’m beginning to wear/take both a lightweight merino cardigan and a linen overshirt (in colors compatible with each other and my base shirt & pants) with me to work in a variable-temperature office in the summery upper midwest. I commute two miles on foot in the morning, adding sometimes a midday walk, sometimes a mile walk on the commute home. “Be prepared . . .”

  9. July weather in London and Paris can really go to extremes. If it rains, you can be miserably cold. If it’s hot, it’s humid there (unlike the south, where it just stays hot but dry and surprisingly comfortable). You might be wearing two tops and a jacket every day or never touching a jacket. You really need maximum versatility and not beat yourself up if you have great weather and end up having packed things you don’t wear.
    Also, keep space in your luggage so you can buy things during the trip. With the weak pound, London is finally not so outrageously expensive. And the soldes are going on in France. Clothes make great souvenirs!!!!

  10. I have been following you for a few months, and thoroughly enjoying your posts. Little did I know then that I would soon be traveling to Paris, as well! My daughter received a scholarship to study in France for a few weeks, and I am meeting her in Paris for 10 days. This is my first time visiting. I will be about 2 weeks behind you, and I am LOVING seeing your wardrobe choices. It does look like the weather is hard to predict at this time. Yours is the only blog that I read and enjoy every single time. Thank you, and have a wonderful trip!

  11. Those EF stretch crepe pants are black, right? They look like midnight on my computer so does the EF jacket, and I know she makes them both in midnight, but You’ve always referenced them in the black. Just wondering if you’ve added midnight to the mix.

    Last trip I took to London Paris was in late June early July, a river cruise on the Rhone, Saone and Seine. Provence was quite warm, like an inland CA valley, Paris was comfortable, and Rouen was rainy and chilly. I had followed one of your capsules, and found that I had everything I needed, although I did check my bag so that I could take extra pieces.
    I can’t thank you enough for the guidance you have provided over time, in many more things than simply clothing advice.

    1. Hi Jacqueline, yes mine are black. That’s part of the wonky color issue. 🙂 And thank you; I’m so glad the posts have been helpful!

  12. We likes pocketses! And what a lovely wardrobe!
    I’ve had the best wardrobe success when I’ve packed for the hottest temperature I’ll encounter. If it gets cooler I’ll add filament weight silk underlayers to the warm weather clothing. I’ll bring a thermal singlet, a silk 3/4 sleeve undershirt, leggings or silk long johns. I’ll usually start off with these as a base layer. If it gets warmer during the day I’ll sneak into the ladies room, remove the underlayers, and put them into a quart sized Baggie I’ve stored in my purse.
    I always have to restrain myself when packing. I’ll usually limit myself to 4-5 shirts, 2 pants, a skirt, a dress, and 2 sweaters. I’ve found that creating a wardrobe on Polyvore and sticking to it keeps me on track.

  13. Bon voyage and have a wonderful time. We just returned last night from 2.5 weeks in France and it was humid in Paris, chilly and a tad humid in Mont St Michel and Normandy, and hot and humid in Avignon and the French Riviera. My family joked that we sweated our way through France. Enjoy the food and the sights!!

  14. I have two comments to share -having been in london 2 weeks ago, I thinks it’s smart to pack enough warm stuff. if you don’t (like I didnt ) it will be hard to find in the stores, whereas picking up a summer tip in case it’s warmer than expected is easy. coming from California also, I found the temp of 65, when it’s cloudy and damp to feel much cooler than 65 does in my hometown.
    My other tip is to download the Mobile Passport app for your return to the usa. We sped through immigration in a special line and were out in no time!
    if you are in Chelsea, I highly recommend the Ivy Garden for a meal. good food and a beautiful garden in back.


    1. Hi Anne, thanks! As a matter of fact, I’ll be having lunch at the Ivy Garden next week, and I’ve just downloaded the app.

  15. We traveled to London in late June two years ago. I found that I enjoyed having a lightweight trench coat which kept me comfortable for cool mornings and evenings. The coat I took was black and went well with everything. Since I don’t wear jeans when traveling, I especially enjoyed several pairs of knit Eileen Fisher pants–including the crepe pants you mention.

  16. This is a a great travel wardrobe, Susan, with many exceptional pieces (EF sweater with side buttons, the cashmere wrap, the silk long jacket). Have a marvelous time…Bon voyage!

  17. I love your blog. You have style and elegance and an engaging online presence. I especially enjoy it when you inject your subtle clever humor into your posts. I get the impression that you would be incredibly pleasant to be around with wit to spare. Thanks for making unefemme a daily destination!

  18. My $.02: was just in London last week. I didn’t pack exactly right. We spent 4 days in London, then 5 days in Portugal. I got the Portugal clothes right, but London was chilly and rainy; I didn’t have the right footwear, for one thing. I had never been there before in the “summer”, only in early spring and late fall. Ended up buying a lightweight trenchcoat at Barbour (which I love, so not complaining), but will now be on the hunt for summery, yet comfy and sturdy, footwear for NEXT time. Thinking a slip-on perforated leather shoe in a light neutral might be the ticket. That said, there were some awesome sales on, so if you need to pick up anything…..

    I had one day mostly to myself, but it was raining hard, so I just went to Selfridges on Oxford Street. You can spend hours in there & still not see it all. Plus they have at least one restaurant or bar on each floor! And the food hall…..WHY don’t we have those in the States?

  19. Although your choices all go together I must say I find it just too neutral. I would include more than a “pop” of color but something that really is another color. For example, there are cute, comfortable Capri or shorter casual pants out there (jag brand for instance). A rose or peachy shade would go with every top, every jacket and every pair if shoes you are taking but add some variety to the mix without taking much space. Practical is good but travel is about adventure and new things too! I travel a lot for business(and pack small) and always, always get compliments on a pair of orange/ peach pumps I wear with a conservative navy business dress. Have a lovely trip! Regardless of the temperature, I’m sure it will be great.

  20. This is much like what i would pack for a similar trip, and in fact, I took just this trip a year and a half ago (wet and very cold in London, unseasonably hot in Paris). I would never wear such a jacket when traveling (although I rarely wear jackets at home either), and I would never take a trip anywhere without a cardigan sweater (linen seems not warm enough for the possiblility of damp coldweather in London, and while cashmere seems to warn while you sit in LA, it is a year round fabric in the UK). Mine would be a longer, boyfriend style cardigan, with pockets, and I would wear it on the plane because they are always freezing, and I would wear it in the hotel room over my sleepwear, as well as on the street if if was cool.

  21. I greatly admire your disciplined approach to packing, Susan, and your control of items. I’m just back from a trip to Copenhagen and I am ashamed to say that I wore only 20% of what I packed, which means I packed way too much. Silly me, when will I learn?!
    I don’t see a cardi in the pics – good luck with that. It’s grey with below average temperatures here in Sussex at the moment, I’m wearing a cardi – indoors! But I’m sure it will warm up again soon.
    Wishing you a great trip, Mary.

  22. Susan, I bought that EF linen Henley dress (or an earlier version of it) last year on sale and love, love, love it! I’m wearing it tonight to a Canada Day dinner party and will take along lightweight-white-skinny-ankle-length jeans to wear under if it’s cool outside. My only issue is what to wear over it in cooler weather. The 3/4 wide sleeves don’t fit that well under shirts or sweaters. What have you tried that works?

  23. This so called summer in Europe has been more like fall than spring: Very wet and windy. I would definitely consider another pair of walking shoes for rainy days and definitely take the water resisitant coat.

  24. Do you any suggestions for traveling one week to China? August in Shanghai and Beijing, it’s going to be extremely hot and humid.

    1. Hi Joan, I’m a fan of loose-fitting linen pieces. An oversized linen shirt has become one of my warm weather travel “musts.” If you’re going to wear sandals, choose a comfortable pair with an absorbent footbed, and straps that can adjust.