Travel Wardrobe Recap – Hong Kong and Phuket

Travel Wardrobe: Hong Kong in October

This trip was a learning experience for sure. We had two moderately tropical environments to accommodate: one urban and semi-casual-to-casual and one more rural and very-casual/resort-to-just-a-little-rugged. Overall I’d give the wardrobe I packed a score of 6 out of 10.

First, let’s look at what worked well. (Using baseball metaphors again, go Giants!!)


  • The ECCO sandals (similar) were perfect for Hong Kong and some of the Phuket leg. They were comfortable enough for all-day walking without looking clunky. I felt perfectly appropriate wearing most evenings too. The only downside was when we were visiting temples or other spots that requested removal of shoes prior to entry, unbuckling (and then having to re-buckle once back outside) had me wishing for a slip-on style.
  • For the Hong Kong portion of the trip, I found the Eileen Fisher linen button front shirt was what I kept reaching for. With a tank underneath, it was comfortable even on the warmest and most humid days, and looked just a bit more polished than a tee.
  • In Phuket, the Marketplace India “Divya” top was the one I wore most frequently. Even though a darker color, it was so lightweight and airy, it handled heat+humidity beautifully, while being appropriate for visiting temples and other sites with a “modest” dress code. The fabric is opaque enough that no other layer was needed, another plus.
  • The Eileen Fisher slim crepe ankle pants were surprisingly comfortable in the heat. (Plus option). They were also hand washable and dried overnight. On the warmest days I rolled them up just a little.
  • The tencel ankle pants were my go-to’s most days in Hong Kong, due to the pockets where I could stash my Octopus card for easy access when exiting the MTR.
  • The Longchamp Le Pliage bag with a cross-body strap was Just Right.
  • My straw fedora. Despite being crushed/abused a bit, it held its shape quite well.
  • My Jord wood watch. Very comfortable under hot conditions.
Enjoying one last coconut water in Phuket before departing to the airport.
Enjoying one last coconut water in Phuket before departing to the airport.


  • The Eileen Fisher silk tanks (here and here) were perfect under lighter weight linen tops or underneath a jacket in the evenings.

Beach time in Phucket

Pinch Hitters:

  • The dresses (here) and skirt were each worn once. Neither took up much room in the luggage, and I was glad to have them in each instance.
  • Likewise, the asymmetrical skirt (similar) was worn once, for a casual evening. (Plus option.) I probably could have made do with one dress and the skirt.
  • The heeled sandals (similar) were nice to have on the evenings I didn’t have to walk far, but wanted to dress up a little. Next time would probably leave at home, though.
  • The Teva sandals while too rugged for the city, were perfect for some of the excursions in Phuket that required a bit of hiking. I didn’t have to worry about getting them wet or muddy, and they provided great traction for some rocky trails.
  • For air travel days, an Everlane Seed Stitch sweater, which is warm enough to mitigate chilly airplane cabins but lightweight enough not to be sweltering. Also a pair of zip ankle boots, loose fit (similar), which keep feet warm on the plane and are easy to remove and put back on when going through airport security. (Worn with a pair of wicking athletic socks, they weren’t sweltering for the periods of time I spent outdoors.)


  • I didn’t wear the short-sleeved tees as much as I’d anticipated. (See above regarding the Eileen Fisher linen shirt.) I’d pack maybe only 1 or 2 on a future similar trip.
  • A second bathing suit. Didn’t need it.

Future Draft Picks (wish I’d brought):

  • More linen or lightweight cotton collared, button front shirts. These are a better dress-up/dress-down option than tees, and the sleeves can be rolled up or down as temperatures require. I’ll be on the lookout for options for future travel.
  • A low-heeled closed-toe shoe to wear with in evenings with dresses instead of the heeled sandals.
  • A laptop. For blogging and reading work email attachments, I really need the full-on functionality of a laptop. I can make do with the iPad, but its limitations are frustrating enough to make me willing to shlep something heavier.

I did sink laundry twice on the trip, and in air-conditioned interiors had no problem with clothing items drying overnight.

What have you learned from travel wardrobes that didn’t quite achieve a 1000 batting average?

Oh, and GO GIANTS!!

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  1. I have also learned that buttoned lightweight linen shirts are often a better option than tees especially for urban travel. I try to keep a few in my wardrobe; not just for travel, but because I live in a place that gets very hot and humid in the summer. I’m always on the lookout for Eileen Fisher sales this time of year.

    BTW it ain’t over yet. GO ROYALS!

  2. Love your blog. Please, if you would, name of the sandals and the hat in the photo
    with the 2 bathing suits.


  3. Just love that Divya top on you! I’d even wear it in evening with necklaces and flowy pants. Looks like you could have omitted around 25% of what you took, but I would advise against adding a laptop… they get heavy fast and you really have to watch where you leave it. (I had one taken from hotel and a near miss on another trip whenmreturned unexpectedly, to find it under a towel on a housekeeping cart.)

  4. Those Eileen Fisher crepe pants work in every climate, I swear. I’ll be packing them for Provence/Paris in November. Ditto her silk tops. I’ll be wearing them with me-made Chanel jackets or cashmere sweaters with Hermes scarves. When I’m traveling with my “senior” husband and teen boy, unfortunately travel dressing is pretty much “grab and go.”

  5. I also like buttoned lightweight linen shirts. The long sleeves are great for sunny exposures as they allow less sunscreen application and alternately can also be rolled up.
    For the super hot days, I bring a cotton scarf that can be immersed in cool water, wrung and then worn around the neck. It really helps regulate the body temp.
    And I am not sure if you or your husband have one of these, but a Grid-it is a wonderful “gadget” organizer.

  6. I’m glad you see that a closed toe shoe (or closed toe sandal) might be needed in addition to sandals. I am very protective of my feet when I travel — I’ve suffered a foot injury while traveling in the past and it’s a bummer not being able to walk — down the street, through the temple, across the hotel room, etc. I’ve gotten pretty far on crutches and a foot cast but I’d rather protect my feet before trouble happens.

    1. Susan, the answer is mostly yes. From the perspective of personal style and how I normally put outfits together, it felt like trying to have a band without a drummer. I did see women in jeans in Hong Kong, mostly younger women in skinnies and the occasional woman in our demographic in dark wash straight legs. I probably could have managed a looser-fit pair weather-wise on some days, but for the most part they probably would have felt too heavy for the climate.

  7. This is very useful information, thanks. I have also found the Eileen Fisher silk tanks good for hot weather. Another option is H&M’s designed-for-hot weather underthings (called airism, I think.) You could also use your EF linen shirt as a pattern and get a dressmaker to make more.

  8. As someone who has read your blog for several years, I think you do a super job of exploring fashion from a thoughtful and useful perspective. Brava from a fellow traveler!

  9. Good posts from your vacation as usual. For me warmer weather is more difficult to pack for than cooler weather. “More linen or lightweight cotton collared, button front shirts. ” – Check out JJill for these shirts. I wear these in our summer heat and you can usually get matching cotton tanks for underneath. They do look more polished than most t-shirts.

  10. Thank you — I always appreciate your thoughtful (and helpful!) posts. Just one amendment I’d suggest to this one: Go Royals! 🙂 (Sorry, my dear, but you know how strong feelings run about the World Series!)

  11. Great tips, thanks for your feedback on how the wardrobe went. I find crepe pants are surprisingly good in our Aussie summer heat and it’s a huge benefit that they wash and dry easily.

  12. thanks for your great recap. I loved watching the wardrobe evolve, seeing you adapt suggestions to your taste and sense of style. I have also abandoned cotton tees for all types of linen shirts. I’ve been able to find new EF on EBay for a fraction of new / sale prices. In many Asian countries the women dress in a more tailored/ modest fashion and I find that the linen pieces bridge the comfort/ style question well. The linen shirts also provide sun coverage to neck and arms in a way that tee shirts don’t.

  13. Great post and thank you! The problem with linen is that it crushes so easily. I know it’s cool and I know that some people believe the crushing is part of its charm, but I struggle with wearing crushed clothing.

  14. Thank you for the great “sports round-up.” I wondered if the darker wardrobe would work well in the climate you headed off to (I was a little anxious for you; I’d have packed lighter colors on instinct!). So glad the pieces worked well. I had those EF blend pants on my trip recently and although they were very-no, extremely comfortable, they shrank after washing them in the most delicate wash, cold water and line drying. They came up to above my ankle bone (and I am short) and I was no longer comfortable in them. I took them back but miss them for the comfort. I’m finding that t-shirts aren’t my most flattering look any more without something to dress them up for my age (sorry to add that qualifier but it feels like la vraie raison). Question regarding the Everlane sweater, what size do you wear? Do they run true to size?

    The only things I wish I had not packed on my recent travel were the tops that fit me “ok” (as I reached for the comfortable wardrobe every day, duh) but packed JIC I needed them, and a beach towel. The towel took up too much room and I didn’t even use it (thought I’d bring it as a courtesy so as not to use my friend’s, who even told me I should not have packed that!). Live and learn.

    1. Hi Nicole, in the looser fit Everlane sweaters I find the X-small fits me best. True to size is hard for me to judge, as sizes are all over the map these days. But they do not seem to run small, if that helps.

  15. Because I go to Palm Beach about 3 times a year to visit my MIL, I’ve learned that tee shirts are useless there. Too hot and muggy to wear them. I really dislike packing for warm weather, unless it’s a total beach vacation – I have a hard enough time dressing for LA, taking layers on and off all day long. I love traveling to colder cities like NY, Paris and London, where it’s sometimes cold, but consistent.

  16. Susan…..a quick question of you please. Did you try the Vince Blair sneakers? If so would you recommend them? How are they for support?

    Pleased you enjoyed your recent trip. I rely upon your blogs and appreciate your advice and suggestions.

    Many thanks


    1. Hi Helen,

      I tried the sneakers on but did not purchase them as I ultimately decided to take sandals on this trip. They are comfortable, and might be appropriate for a cooler climate.

  17. Thank you for a great post! I would give you more than 6/10 for sure. You look great! I’ve found low heeled (mine are a 1 inch wedge actually) sling backs with the pointy toe INVALUABLE – they go with everything in fact and such a nice alternative to open toe sandals. They are also very easy to slip on and off. I’m on the look out for another pair.

      1. I’m afraid it’s not helpful because mine are by Sam Edelman (difficult to find in UK where I am) scored by chance on ebay in the Summer 2013 so they must be older than that and I don’t know the same of the style (beige patent leather and go with everything). The only ones I’ve seen that are similar shape so far are by D&G, Tabitha Simmons and Nicholas Kirkwood but they are very expensive!

  18. The most useful post I have ever found re a travel wardrobe – what worked and what didn’t! I am likely to be travelling to hot climes soon, and as a pale-skinned Englishwoman unused to heat, I have been wondering what to wear. You seem to have nailed it here, and I shall be making a few loose linen shirts before I go. Thank you, une femme.

  19. I still prefer knits over woven linen for travel. I don’t like the wrinkled look, especially if I’ve had to hand wash something. Over the past years, EF has made knitted linen/cotton tanks and tees which solve the issue. I think they are outrageously expensive, and look for them at a discount, but on the otherhand, I have been wearing one of them for three years and its as good as new. They have the addition plus of being able to be worn backwards; I know that sounds odd, but it changes the neckline to more of a bateau level and provides more modestly under a jacket or other topper should you need it, or in the worst case scenario, you just don’t want to look at that spot! The cottone linen blend doesn’t cling. On the other hand, I have had very bad luck with the ultra lightweight EF linen knitwear: they snag easily, and although I am competent at fixing snags, it irks me. One tore along the snag line before I could get home to fix it. Again fixable, but not acceptable in terms of investment. They are, however, comfortable in really hot weather.

    Reassessing my suitcase as I unpack is the most valuable lesson in packing that I have. Its the best way to train yourself to pack lean.

  20. Bookmarking this for future reference – so many thanks for such a scrupulously useful report. As a person with an completely unreliable personal thermostat, I recently rejoiced to learn that linen is the answer, wrinkles be damned. I even discovered unsuspected sewing skills when I actually patched/darned a hole under the arm of the big blue linen shirt that saved my life while traveling through various temperatures this summer. I will continue to refer to your very welcome suggestions.

  21. Where do the little booties in your pre-departure picture come from? I didn’t see them in your clothing list, nor do I understand how you could wear those in Thailand. I guess that explains your (very pretty) high boots in LA.

    I often wear a natural-fibre woven shirt OVER a t-shirt or camisole in hot weather. I’m far too busty to look nice in a closed woven shirt – it would have to be far too large everywhere else. That Indian shirt is beautiful, and seems a more elegant version of the Indian shirts we wore in the 1970s, in fine lawn. The nice ones were lined, so not too see-through.

  22. I love a brand called Fridaze for no- wrinkle linen. I discovered them three years ago and have bought one piece each summer (a little pricey). But they honestly don’t wrinkle and even go in the washer and dryer. Fabulous for travel.
    P.S. Discovered your blog several months ago and look forward to it every day!

    1. Oh, my. The Fridaze linen clothing line sounds great. I thought I’d like to see some more. So I did a Google image search on “Fridaze”. Yikes. I wonder if it’s too late to re-think their company name. . .(I suppose I should have been more specific and searched for “Fridaze Linen.”