Travel Wardrobe Recap: Europe 2015

what to wear in Europe
travel wardrobe in action!

We’ve been home a couple of days now, and both had to return to work right away so I feel as though I’m still catching up, adjusting to the time zone difference and settling back in. However I wanted to get this jotted down while my notes were still fresh in my mind. 🙂

Overall, this travel wardrobe worked out well, especially considering the length of the trip and the varied weather conditions. I wore each piece at least once, and some (like my jeans and the silk camisoles) daily.

I did sink laundry three times during the trip, and we each had a pair of pants laundered twice. My lightweight layers worked well for fluctuating temperatures, and other than the sandals which I purchased in Bordeaux, didn’t feel as though I’d missed anything. I did wear a couple of other purchased items during the trip: the Zara top in the middle photo, bottom row, and a lightweight sweater purchased in Amsterdam which I wore one evening. (I’ll share purchases in detail in another post next week.)

15 piece travel wardrobe

The original 15 items planned are listed here. At the very last minute I decided to leave the ponte knit jeans at home, and did not miss them.


  • silk camisoles. (Plus size option.) Though I did not count these as part of my 15 items, but rather as “underpinnings” they were indispensable. I wore as my base layer daily, on both cool and warm days. On the first couple of days in Amsterdam that were a bit chilly and blustery, I added my long-sleeved Adea tee and then the linen sweater.
  • jeans, here and here. Wore one of these almost every day.
  • linen sweater (similar)
  • cotton gauze top. This was my go-to top on warmer days.
  • ankle boots (similar). Yes, really. Wore these most days in Amsterdam, on travel days, and even on a couple of cooler evenings in Paris.

Pinch Hitters:

  • crepe ankle pants. These were perfect with one of the dressier tops and jacket for the theater in London, as well as a couple of evenings out where jeans felt just too casual. (Plus size option.)
  • tuxedo jacket (similar). Wore this both for dressier evening attire and during cooler but sunny days. (Plus size option.)
  • silk sheer hem tunic. Perfect dressier top, needed no pressing.
  • cashmere cardigan. Lightweight but warm layer for air travel days, and some of the chillier evenings early in the trip.
  • linen shirt. This worked both as a tunic shirt, and as a lightweight jacket on warmer days. (Plus size option.)
  • ankle strap wedges. Dressed up my jeans a bit for a few evenings and perfect with the black ankle pants.

Future Trades:

  • while the sneakers came in handy for bicycling and wine touring, I find that I’m having trouble walking in shoes this flat, and will look for a pair with a slight heel for the future.
  • while the cotton popover was a nice mid-weight shirt and a dark color that I didn’t have to worry about around coffee or red wine, after seeing myself in photos concluded it’s not a flattering cut on me, and will retire it.
  • sheer silk collared blouse (similar). Wore once but not needed.
  • the white linen long-sleeved tee was only worn once, could have done without.

I’ve had a few questions about the luggage I used and how to deal with packing gifts/souvenirs for the trip home, and will cover in a separate post next week. You can see my prior travel wardrobes and recaps here (or just click on the “travel” image in the right sidebar).

When you travel, do you track and assess what items you wore most and least? Has it helped you to plan better for subsequent trips?
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  1. Hi ! I love your blog which I found by accident. Although my husband says the person with the least luggage does not win, I disagree. Like you, I have my favourite travel pieces. I never leave home without jeans, EF black stretch crepe pants. I love Old Navy stretch tanks ( they come in many colours, go on sale and do dry quickly) I wear them under everything. I always take a large square pashmina to wear on the plane, use as a pillow ,a blanket, a robe over my Pjs . Shoes , now there’s an issue. I take FitFlops on every trip. They double as slippers . I’m unable to wear Birkenstocks or naots, I also bring a pair of Fly London shoes with ankle straps. Yes, they are bulky but look great with everything ,day and evening, and I’ve managed 15 hour days walking on city streets in them. I’m also a big fan of Sketchers Go Walk slip ons and sneakers. They are truly comfie and dry in a heartbeat. They, and I, got soaked at Iguazu Falls and we both dried in about an hour. I also love Lululemon Street to Studio Pants II. They are not your typical black yoga pants. Wash in the sink, dry by morning,
    I’m going on a Baltic cruise early August. Can anyone recommend shoes or clothing options? Also, weather? I have no idea of the climate. Reading about it is not the same as hearing from friends.
    Sorry this was so long.

    1. Shelley, the Baltic cruise route is like a box of chocolates. You will go through a variety of temperature/weather changes so embrace layers and toss in a few “extremes” like a pair of shorts/bermudas and a rain jacket/umbrella. Bring a wrap. Comfy walking shoes are a must. Hope this helps…and of course, if your cruise line is more formal, you will need “all that” too…we cruise casual small lines like Oceania so no evening gown/tux for us…I brought black pants/tunic and jewelry instead.

      1. Thank you for the tips !
        It’s Oceania for us, too. I usually take a pair of leopard print jeans for variety. Have you considered ribbons instead of laces for your fly London shoes? Gives them a dressier look.

    2. Shelley, I’m happy to see another Fly London afficionado. However, I have narrow feet, and the only style that fits me is the one that laces up. Regretfully, they’re open-toe, so I don’t think they’re right — nor will they go with everything — for a month-long trip to Europe in September. But, I too, have walked for hours and hours in my Fly Londons.

  2. Even though I rarely comment on your blog, I read it faithfully:-) When I read that your trip included Paris I wondered if you would be there when my husband and I were there. Lo and behold, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting you and your husband on a street behind the Orsay as we both were looking at menu’s for a cafe break. What are the chances of that happing!!!? What a lovely person you are! Afterwards I had so many questions to ask you and was sorry we did not get a picture together. We share an interest for Eileen Fisher clothing, travel and fashion. Who knows….maybe some day our paths will cross again even though we live on opposite coasts:-)

  3. Enjoyed your article and your trip! My trips are often based on riding a motorcycle/hiking so, I plan my clothing based on where I am going and also include any rain gear, MC outerwear, heavy boots, helmet, gloves, etc. I mostly wear black with color in scarves or a top…It is certainly easier to look clean! My shoes are also based on mc riding and due to feet issues, I do not pack flats…but a pair of stylish but cushy Crocs! For any dressy occasion, I bring a long black tank dress that can be dressed up with scarves,etc.

  4. Glad you had a great trip. I think you had better weather than we did…especially in Paris, as we were a couple of weeks ahead of you. I’m so glad that I decided to wear my long, red, light wool cardigan on the flight over….I needed it under my raincoat in Paris on several days. Like you I use one trip to help plan for the next…what worked and what didn’t. But mostly what I don’t wear (shorts and sleeveless top this trip) is the result of unexpected weather, especially when we’re away from home for a long time. So I’d still have to pack them anyway next time.

  5. Welcome home! I have a question about the NYDJ Clarissa jeans that you took with you. I’m interested in trying them. Nordstrom’s true fit suggests a certain size for me but the item details suggests sizing down one size because the jeans stretch out easily (I guess). Did you size down?
    GREAT recap. I never seem to get my wardrobe right for overseas: always seem to take the wrong things…..but your blog is helping me. Thanks! Sally

    1. Sally, I’m always searching for the prefect pair of jeans that won’t stretch/bag out. I recently bought a pair of NYDJ (capris) in a size 0. (I take a 2 or 4 in other brands.) They still stretched out on me, and looked messy. I’m very disappointed.

      1. Thank you SO MUCH for your answer to the jeans question. I’m finding that even the Eileen Fisher Jeans stretch and bag with the first wearing! I will pass on the NYDJ and look into the AG jeans perhaps. The quest goes on! Thanks again 😉 Sally

    2. Sally, I find that some NYDJ’s stretch out more than others, and that sizing can be inconsistent. I find the lighter the fabric, the more they stretch out. With the regular denim (cotton and 2-5% lycra), I tend to go down one size. I haven’t found the Eileen Fisher jeans to stretch out that much, but again I think it may vary by wash and the weight of the fabric.

      1. Thanks Susan! That makes sense. My EF jeans are so comfy but they seem to stretch out after one day. I think I’ll have to find a tailor who would be willing to take in the back just a little…..

  6. Love your great blog! I’ve never commented, but when I read that you were probably going to retire your sneakers, I had to speak up and thank you for letting me know about them, as they have been a fantastic addition to my shoe wardrobe. I’ve tried so many sneakers over the years – Superga, Converse, Keds, etc., and could not stand the way they reduced my walk to an uncomfortable waddle. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that such sneakers were just too flat for me. But I find that this is not the case at all with the Taos Freedom! At first I was mystified – they look as flat as all of the other sneakers I have tried – why am I not waddling? Then I took the foot bed out to see what arch support looks like, and discovered that the foot bed not only has great arch support, but also has a wedged heel! Mystery solved and another pair promptly purchased (white) – these are my sneakers for life!

  7. I have to agree with Caroline: I bought the Taos sneakers also and love them. My Superga’s wrecked my toes and there was no arch support. My main problem with sneakers is finding a no-show sock to wear with them. I’m going to try the Nordstrom lace ones that you recommend, Sue, and see if they stay up in the heel for me. Thanks!

    1. Two comments: you can buy wonderful no show socks at Nordstrom…I have them in black and while. I realize my next comment will probably give everyone a headache, but I have tried sneakers of all sorts and I find Cole Hahn lace ups with the Air Nike component to be amazing. Mine are black suede with some patent leather trim. But, quite a lot of the time I wear my exercise/walking/jogging sneakers which now are Brooks but have been Nike and others through the years. Yes, some of them are wild colors and some have been white, but they lend support and at least from the ankles up I’m stylish!

    2. Styles1, I agree that finding a no show sock to wear with sneakers is a challenge! I recently found Reebok Footie Athletic Socks at Dick’s and love them.
      They are much lower profile than “no show” athletic socks. They do not show when worn with the Taos sneakers, stay put on my heel, and because they are “athletic socks”, work very well for the kinds of activities I engage in when wearing my sneakers. If you have a small foot (size 6 or below), I recommend the Size Small (for Youth Shoe Sizes 10-4). I wear a size 6, and that size works perfectly for me.

  8. I’m so obsessed with travel wardrobes – travel a lot for work (from home in Aust to the US several times a year), and hate checking in luggage. Can do 4 week round the world business trip this way – but find holiday travel more challenging. I am addicted to lists – I keep a spreadsheet with what I wear every day, along with another worksheet with wardrobes items and how many times they get worn – family think I am insane but it makes it easy when working out what to take. Love Eileen Fisher clothing, which forms the foundation of my wardrobe (all that travel to the US has spoilt me for local shopping). And totally in agreement with you about her silk tanks – can’t think of a day when I’m not wearing one as an underlayer. Also can’t get excited about flat lace-up shoes – my feet ache after wearing them all day. Low wedge heels are definitely the go. Love your blog.

    1. I’m a huge fan of Fly London shoes. They may look clunky on your feet but people have stopped me all over the world asking where to buy them.

  9. I pack similarly to you and I do also evaluate what worked and what did not work during the trip. After doing so, I’ll type up a quick Word document and save it for my next trip (we’re already planning a trip to Paris in 2016 for the Euro Cup).

    During my last trip, my MVPs were my black Old Navy Pixie pants (wore one pair on the plane and packed another), my Vince slip-on sneakers (they feel like slippers yet have a lot of support – these may work better for you than Converse) and my hip-length Burberry trench coat. Pinch hitters were a dark chambray shirt, a beige linen sweater, and a green cotton military style jacket; the shirt was worn twice, by itself and under the sweater, the sweater was worn three times, on top of shirts and by itself over a camisole, and the green jacket made a nice change from the trench and made me feel very “in” as I saw jackets of this type all over Paris. What I did not wear was my black suit jacket; the trench made a nice formal cover-up on cool evenings and the jacket was never unpacked. What I wished I had brought was a skirt and sandals; it was very hot on our last day and it would have been nice to have had something other than pants to put on (I also noticed that the majority of the Parisian women wore skirts or dresses to beat the heat).

    I used your packing list as a guide and was grateful to have had it; thank you so much for sharing this with all of us.

  10. So glad you had such a lovely trip and your travel posts have definitely helped me “up my game” regarding clothes for travel! I keep detailed packing lists for each trip along with an evaluation of what worked and what didn’t. Still searching for comfortable pair of sneakers – but got some good ideas from the comments listed here!

  11. Have so enjoyed following you on your travels. I discovered your blog a couple of months ago and you have inspired me to clean out my closet and step up my game to make my life easier in terms of clothes and travel. We have our first-ever month-long trip to Europe in September and I hope to do carry-on only. Can you share what you wear on the plane? It’s hard to tell from the photo.

  12. Before retirement, I used to travel every week of my life for work, so always had a bag nearly ready (with duplicates of everything I used, except clothing.) When I retired, I didn’t want to travel – at all – for a few years and lost my knack for wardrobe planning and packing. I’d emptied my closet of all the more formal business attire and changed my wardrobe to a more versatile/casual collection which includes many EF pieces. Since I’ve started to travel for pleasure, I’ve found your blog to be most helpful!! I’ve had the tendency to over pack and struggle with culling items, so the up front planning and recaps you write about are terrific for me and my lifestyle now. It seems especially challenging to plan a wardrobe for transitional weather and long periods of travel. Really appreciate your thoroughness, explanations and photos!!

  13. I am a faithful follower of your wonderful blog and look forward to your travels and wardrobe inspiration. Like you, part of the joy of travelling for me is in the planning. You inspire me! With your guidance and expertise, I’ve honed my skills at packing and paring down my wardrobe, which has been life-changing in terms of simplifying my busy days. This Sunday we leave for a ten-day trip to Negril; I’m already packed and my mate will have the bulk of the one suitcase we’ll be taking. I typically stick with a twelve piece wardrobe no matter how long the trip, and it’s worked for me since I first travelled to Israel for a month over thirty years ago. Twelve interchangeable pieces and I never wore the same thing twice! Thanks to you my bank account is a wee bit smaller (lol) since you’ve enlightened me about the virtues of Paul Green boots, Eileen Fisher pants & tunics, and French Kande jewelry, but they are worth every penny! Welcome home.

  14. Your packing posts really helped me travel with a carry on when I went to Paris.
    I love how you lay everything out and it all goes together…you are so clever!
    Eileen Fisher should have you on the payroll!

  15. As always, you are s wonderful example of how chic one can look when travelling carry-on. Actually, what I admire most about your system is the behind-the-scenes part. That is, I’m impressed by how your systematic packing and your use of packing cubes obviously make it easy to pack up several times in a short trip. We always do carry-on only as well, at times for 6 weeks or so (this fall it will be 7! Not sure that will work), but that generally includes at least one extended stay in the same place, laundry facilities included. For the shorter stays along the way, I’ll admit to a sense of dread each time I have to fit everything back into my case again….I think I may have to pick up a set of cubes and try them out.

    1. Frances, I think what you may sacrifice in a few cubic inches of space using the cubes (depending on how much you use them for compression) is more than made up in ease of staying organized and re-packing. My suggestion is to start with the smaller to medium cube sizes, which I find more useful and easier to “tetris” into your suitcase space. I think especially with hard-sided luggage, you may really like these. Experiment with folding or rolling clothes that go into them. I find both are effective.

  16. I used your Paris capsule as a template for a recent weekend in NYC where it was considerably warmer. I tucked in a comfy black pair of cotton leggings in addition to the EF black crepe ankle pants. It took up no space and was a nice evening option. Unfortunately I discovered a small hole in a woven EF vest so I went to the EF store and ‘donated’ it to their green campaign and received a $5 credit. Of course I promptly spent many times that! A nice outcome though.

  17. I always reassess as I unpack, and I think I pack one less thing each time. I love packing cubes. I have a lot now, including some “soft” ones with no wire frame, and use those for underwear, socks etc. You can get the name brands quite cheaply at TJMaxx.

    I mix and match the insoles of my shoes, including sneakers till I get the support I need. I love Taos.Wore them all over London and Paris last fall, but I had replaced the insole and added my own orthotic.

    Chris : for future reference, did you know that you can take damaged EF clothes to any EF store, and they will have them mended for free at their own workshop. The turn around time is very long, so now is the time to take in items you would need in the fall.

    And for anyone who cares: JAG jeans seem to never stretch out, no matter how long the trip or the plane ride. Plus, the pull on sort are super comfortable when you sit in coach a long time, with no hard button or thick edge to poke in at the waisr, and the tummy tuck panel keeps you looking svelte.

  18. I rarely comment but am reading your blog with pleasure.
    I traveled a lot before and sometimes now, so I have my lists ready. As time goes by they became better and smaller,and I always make a reevaluation,for the next time.
    It is nice to compare ( I check my Samsolite,but that’s a different story) and get inspired. Btw,my choice for sneakers are Nike airmax( very sensible feet ) and they are not completely flat
    Have a nice weekend

  19. I read your and other bloggers’ descriptions of their capsule travel wardrobes with envy – I never seem to stick to it when packing. I just feel the need to have lots of items to choose from once I get to my destination. Of course, I end up not wearing most of the stuff I pack, but at least I have options!

  20. Thank you so much for your detailed thoughts on travel wardrobes: what works, what doesn’t, and why. Your colors won’t work for me, as I’m saying au revoir to noir (not flattering on me), but the styles and combinations are spot-on. I’ll be going to Spain in October and am slowly putting together a packable, squashable, wash-in-the-sink-able mix and match travel wardrobe in blues, greens and browns (including tan and ivory). Thanks so much for helping me with this project. And seeing your travel photos really lifts my mood; I get so homesick for Europe sometimes, especially France, and your photos are lovely.

  21. I like a bit of a chunky or wedge heel even for urban cycling, which is often combined with walking. And I have short legs, and chunky heels give me a bit more height when coming down on street or curb for stops and getting off the bicycle.

    I’m much more of a skirt wearer than our lovely pseu, and have at least two packable travel skirts, and leggings or tights for chilly weather, and one pair of jeans or other trousers.

  22. I’m an avid reader and learn so much from your blog. Right now I’m focusing on packing for a September trip to England and noticed that you wear the Soma pj’s. Since you’re such a thorough researcher, I’m sure you had a reason for choosing them. Are they very lightweight and fold up really small? Also looking forward to hearing your after thoughts on your recent trip.


  23. Forgot to mention that you’ve opened my eyes to the wisdom of a hang-up type bag for toiletries and other small stuff. Looking around the ‘net I can see that the Emme bag is going to work well for me. Love the zip off plastic 3-1-1 component and the see through pockets. The Eagle Creek Wallaby was a possibility but the pockets aren’t see through and I can’t waste brain cells on memorizing the contents of each one 🙂

    Thanks again, you really are amazing.

  24. I really appreciate you posting what you packed for your trip. I am absolutely the worst packer – I always overpack and then only wear a handful of the items. I dread packing. So, seeing other people’s packing tricks is so helpful to me, so thank you! So glad you had a fabulous trip!


  25. Hi Susan
    I think what I like about your packing tips is not only your choice of clothes, but also the way it shows you to have such an organised and pragmatic mind – I am full of admiration
    I’m looking forward to your piece about the shopping trip with Tish – such a happy day
    take care

  26. Susan,
    I stumbled upon your blog while googling “Packing for Paris,” and I can’t thank you enough for your practical advice about packing and planning ahead for an overseas trip. I bought several Eileen Fischer pieces, including a lightweight sweater and scarf, and the Taos sneakers based on your recommendations. (Loved the sneakers for walking around Normandy’s cobblestone streets and beaches.) The vacuum-packed ziplock bags worked wonderfully and kept me organized on a trip that involved several overnight stops. My daughter and I checked out the Ines de la Fressange boutique as well. I’m now your faithful follower!
    Keep up the good blogging!
    Constance in San Antonio

  27. Just back from a three week Paris – London – NYC trip and I used your blog to help travel light. I also did a review after I unpacked to check out what I didn’t wear and that will be helpful for the next trip. Your recommendations were right on and I used everything I brought. I used a small roller bag and soft sided carry on bag for everything.

  28. I have lived in Europe for 10 years now and became a citizen, (heck who wouldn’t with more than 4 weeks vacation a year!)
    Anyway, this last year I traveled for pleasure 5 times. (yep got my priorities straight finally at 47 years old)
    I refuse, refuse to pay luggage prices, but I also refuse to look like a backpacker wearing the same clothes constantly when traveling.
    I have made a game of it, how can I beat the airlines at their own game? I travel dirt cheap on Ryan air (think less than 40 euro round trip from NL to London.) But hey a girl has gotta shop right? I mean hello??!!! London, Spain, Berlin, Poland?? Shopping heavens.
    So I pack carry on for the flight there and on my return flight I make my carry on check in (still lowest weight and only cost 15 euro extra) and inside that carry on I have a special fold up bag that becomes my carry on for the flight home.
    The key is light weight underwear that washes and dries quickly, I hand wash for any travel longer than a long weekend and I coordinate my colors, all very basic solids and accessorize with a scarf or two and jewelry. It is so much fun, a challenge and I feel like I beat the airlines at their own game.
    My toiletries are all in travel size, my body wash of course I use more than that so I just by when I get there. I use baby wash, I have for over 30 years as it works with sensitive skin, and hey that you can buy world wide:)
    The hubby always does check in bags, he never wears or uses half what he brings but he hates hand washing and is paranoid he won’t have enough. He isn’t a fancy dresser, just never throws anything away and wants to be prepared for whatever he thinks will happen. Is amazing because he has always had double the closet space, but wears the same things all the time, drives me nuts…..
    But I love your style, you got the packing thing down pat and still look elegant and comfortable, meaning comfortable with who you are which is a chicness in itself.

    1. Melissa, my husband and I traveled for the month of September in Europe — 4 weeks + 2 days. It was my first time ever doing carry-on only and I’m so glad I did. I had purchased inexpensive lace undies a I read they dry quickly … and do they ever. I haven’t found the right bras that dry quickly, however.

      1. Hi Valerie, I am so glad you were able to do the trip carry on only. It is so much more freeing not to have to lug all the weight, especially if there are multiy destinations. BTW another tip I keep a running excel sheet for different type of trips on my work PC. (Hey who doesn’t day dream at work about the next vacation?) Anyway, during lunch I read great travel packings lists like these and think what I have and what worked/what didn’t and adjust my list. To the one lady from Aus saying her family thought she was nuts, I bet you don’t forget important things, looked great, and were less stressed. Besides all that packing is half the fun gets me excited about my trip.