Looking fashionable while traveling doesn’t have to conflict with packing in just a carry-on. If you pack the right items and pay attention to a few details you can look great with less.
1. Quality coat/jacket
During fall and winter travel your outerwear is the layer that is most visible and crucial to your comfort during travel. If you want to look stylish while traveling then attention to your choice of outerwear has a big payoff. It almost doesn’t matter what you wear underneath since it’s not visible most of the time or until you take your coat off. Your outer layer also protects you from the elements like cold, wind and rain.
There are so many choices when it comes to outerwear. Let your personal style and the weather of your destination guide you. Traveling during fall or winter means options range from lightweight jackets to heavy weight coats. The best coats for travel combine fashion and functional elements. A lightweight wool coat can be versatile but difficult to pack if you have a travel circumstance when you aren’t wearing it. Classic coat options can be versatile but always look for the lightest version possible.
Lighter weight coats serve two purposes: You will also have a base and mid-layer working for you to keep you warm so a bulky, heavy coat may not be necessary. Also, if at some point during your travels you would have to pack your coat (for example multi-climate trips) you don’t want to worry about getting it to fit in your suitcase
Lately, I’ve been a fan of what I call a “Packable Puffer”. This can come in many versions from fashionable to functional. In addition to providing warmth some versions are easily stuff-able and pack-able in your luggage. For more on Cold Weather Packing read here.
Wool Blend Boucle Coat.
2. High Quality Footwear
Quality footwear not only looks great but also takes care of your feet while you log the tourist miles. There’s nothing more un-chic than hobbling around an unfamiliar city in uncomfortable shoes (been there, done that-no fun). The right footwear can add versatility and style to your travel outfits. Check out these posts on Footwear. If you are looking to invest in your travel wardrobe, footwear is a good start. Boots and booties give you the most versatility in your cold weather travel wardrobe. Go for a waterproof version if you’ll be encountering snow or rainy weather.
If you want the biggest fashion bang for you carry-on capsule, you will want to pack a scarf. Scarves serve as a fashionable punctuation mark for your travel outfits. Best of all they don’t have to take up much room and add an instant chic factor. It’s easiest to build a mix and match travel wardrobe around neutrals. Scarves give you the opportunity to introduce color and / or pattern to your travel outfits.
Scarves also are an added layer of warmth during cold weather travel. Pack a warm version and a lightweight version. Keep the warm version with you on travel days and use it to wrap yourself up in when plane temperatures drop or roll it up and use it as pillow or lumbar support. Try and choose styles that keep bulk to a minimum. If you go to Europe, don’t even second guess it, bring a scarf! Everyone will be wearing one. Or you can always purchase a scarf once you are there, they make great souvenirs for yourself or others. Read my 12 reasons to always pack a scarf.
Color Block Shawl.
4. Flattering jeans/pants
If you are a pants/jeans person, a well fitting pair will give you much fashion mileage in your travel capsule. They are truly the foundation of your travel outfits. Pair them with simple and / or inexpensive tops and you will still look fabulous. They can make even a simple tee shirt ensemble chic, because fit is one of the subtle secrets to stylish dressing. Bottom layers in your travel capsule have to go the distance because you will are relying on just a few to get you through your trip.
Some basic fit tips:
- Make sure you have some room in your waistband so that pants aren’t that tight
- No bunching in the crotch area (pants are too big) or sagging in the derriere area
- The zipper should zip all the way up
- There should be no little/no sagging after wearing them (because you won’t be able to wash them as often when you are traveling)
- You should feel comfortable in them and not be constantly tugging on them or pulling them up
If you are unable to upgrade your pants that don’t have an ideal fit, no problem just try and minimize the problem areas. For instance, I wear longer tops with jeans/pants that don’t fit so well in the waistband.
5. A high quality knit sweater
During cold weather travel a sweater can be a travel wardrobe workhorse. Of course it keeps you warm but a high quality knit can also add an air of casual luxe to your travel outfits. The right style can easily take you from day to evening travel activities. Stick to classic cardigan, crewneck or v-neck styles. Play with shape and go for an oversize silhouette as long as it’s not too bulky.
Cashmere and merino wool will provide a functional and fashionable mid-layer because they are an insulating layer yet lightweight. Chic and simple pullover sweaters can be worn with jeans, pants, skirts, and dresses. They can also be layered easily with with tee shirts or button down shirts. For more details on cold weather layering check out my article here.
6. Proper fitting bra
Sometimes what’s going on underneath your clothes is just as important as what is visible. A properly fitting bra can help accentuate your waist and lift your “girls” so they provide a flattering silhouette to whatever top you are wearing. The right bra can even help improve your posture. This is another subtle style secret and important to looking and feeling your best. You can get a bra fitting at most department stores.
Triumph Underwire Bra.
7. A light suitcase
Of course, what most fashionable travelers have discovered is that you don’t have to pack a suitcase full of clothes to be stylish. So, how do you pack light? The key is the carry-on capsule. Why is this? Because ideally your carry-on capsule consists of the greatest hits of your clothes that are appropriate for your trip. If most of the items in your suitcase are curated, then you are as fashionable as you can possibly be. You should select those items of clothing that make you feel your best.
Want to know how to build your own carry-on capsule? Get started here. Related to this, you also want to choose the lightest possible, carry-on size suitcase. What good is paring down your travel wardrobe and toiletries if your suitcase unpacked weighs 10 pounds? You will be struggling with it all the time, which is not not the effortless and fashionable vibe we are going for.
8. Versatile travel dress
A versatile travel dress is a wardrobe “unicorn” as far as I’m concerned. If you find it, hold onto it, take care of it and love it. I’ve got one “travel” dress that I’ve packed on multiple trips and I’ve been unable to find it’s equal to replace it. The perfect travel dress can take your stylishly and seamlessly from day to night travel activities and works with a variety of footwear and outer layers. If you are really lucky, this comes in a compact style that takes up little suitcase space.
Belted Shirt Dress.
Jewelry also can add interest and a bit of shine to your travel outfits. Don’t let cold weather layers get in the way of adding a few finishing touches to your carry-on capsule. A few carefully chosen pieces can elevate your travel outfit.
Don’t go overboard when packing jewelry, go for pieces that will match most of your looks, that way there is less to keep track of. I’ve lost jewelry before because I just packed too much of it since it takes up very little room- but that also makes it easier to lose in the midst of re-packing.
Your jewelry should co-ordinate with your travel outfits but also be appropriate to your travels. For instance, you don’t want to wear blingy or expensive jewelry anywhere where it would make you a target for pickpockets.
A super easy and fashionable way to finish off your travel outfit is to top it off with some super sunglasses. Winter weather doesn’t necessarily stop the sun from shining so be prepared and pack a pair of sunglasses. Just take a look at any celebrity leaving the airport, they all are wearing gorgeous sunnies. Now, I can’t promise that the paparazzi will be chasing you down because you look so darn fabulous- but if they do, just pop on some glam sunnies.
Tory Burch Sunglasses.
Do you have any easy tips for looking fashionable while traveling with just a carry-on?