Over the years, I’ve picked up a few strategies for packing lighter and smarter. One of those strategies is to build my travel wardrobe around a few core basics.
When selecting my travel clothing, these are the pieces I’ve come to rely on for style, comfort, practicality, packability and versatility. They’re the foundation that I’ll build upon for variety and to accommodate different weather conditions. I may switch up the fabrics and cuts depending on the season and destination, but will always include at least one version of each.
These are also the types of clothes that I wear most often at home. I don’t maintain a separate wardrobe for travel, but rather have learned to shop with an eye toward styles and fabrics that will be travel-friendly. So when it’s time to pack, I have a good sense of what works with what.
Little Black Pants
I’ll pack a slim ponte knit for cooler weather, and a stretch crepe for warmer days. (For Spring and Fall when temperatures can fluctuate between chilly and balmy, I’ll usually bring both.) I find a slim cut is easiest to style, and most practical.
And if you don’t like black, here’s a pair in navy.
If you prefer skirts to pants, I’d recommend a knit that allows ease of movement like this one.
I know that some people don’t like to travel with jeans, but I find them versatile, easy to style and appropriate for most venues. For travel, I stick to darker, mostly non-distressed washes in lighter fabrics with some stretch. Look for blends with some polyester, lyocell or rayon in them; they’ll be lighter and dry more quickly. As with the black pants, I stick with a slim, straight cut. I may include a pair of grey jeans in my Spring travel wardrobe, TBD.
Depending upon the season, I’ll bring cashmere, merino wool, and/or linen. I prefer pullovers or cardigans that are lightweight and fitted enough to slide easily underneath a jacket or outerwear, but with enough ease to layer over a tee or blouse. I’ll usually stick with a neutral (black, navy or grey) though may add a second sweater in a color or print (usually stripes).
As with sweaters, the most versatile tees can be worn underneath a sweater or jacket, or on their own. I’ll usually pack both long-sleeve and 3/4-sleeve tees. I find that I rarely wear short-sleeve tees so have stopped packing them. If you prefer to tuck your tees, go with more fitted options. I like silk jersey and linen jersey best for travel, but modal, viscose and other blends can work well too.
Lightweight blazer or jacket
A soft jacket can dress up a simple outfit, or function as outerwear on milder days. I’ve learned to choose one that isn’t too bulky to layer underneath my outerwear if needed, and prefer styles that fasten in the front (zip, snap or button), if needed for warmth. I usually choose black, but you could also go with navy, camel or grey. Knits or a good quality tropical weight wool will travel well, resist wrinkles and adapt to a range of temperatures.
What are your Must-Pack pieces?