I find it helpful in my daily and travel life to have a uniform of sorts. When planning my travel wardrobe I like having a few foolproof outfits. A simple formula for packing and planning travel outfits takes some of the agonizing out of the packing process. It also makes it quicker and easier to put together outfits while living out of your carry-on. The formula I’ve laid out isn’t anything groundbreaking but sometimes it just helps to break down outfits into their basic components.
Take my basic guidelines and make it your own by tailoring it to your own style. When assembling your own version of this choose items that fit well and look for travel friendly, lightweight fabrications. Use the examples I’ve shown as a guideline but again tweek the formula to suit your needs.
Skinny jeans work well with either ballet flats, sneakers, or tucked into boots. Go with a straight-cut, slim boot-cut, or a trouser cut if a skinny fit doesn’t work for you. A jean legging packs easily and if you find them comfortable by all means bring them. Flared or bell-bottom jeans look best with a non travel friendly heeled or platform shoe so I wouldn’t suggest these cuts for travel.
Remember, it’s better to wear bulky jeans on travel days rather than to have them take up room in your suitcase. However, if you have packing room to spare wearing leggings on travel day can be a comfortable alternative to jeans. If you simply aren’t a jeans person then of course replace this with your pant (or skirt) of choice.
1. Joe’s Jeans always make it into my suitcase, they make cuts for all body types and are very comfortable.
2. Gap Skinny Bootcut modernizes a favorite fit. These particular ones come in a lightweight fabrication, perfect for travel.
3. Zara straight fit jeans give an effortless Parisian chic feel and you can now order Zara online.
4. Urban Outfitter’s BDG High Waisted Jeans don’t lose their stretch so these are my legging jean of choice and I personally like the high waist fit but they have a mid-waist fit as well.
5. The Loft’s Trouser Jean are a great choice if skinnies aren’t your thing.
TEE SHIRT / BLOUSE
A long drapey tee gives plenty of coverage during a travel day when you might find myself reaching into airplane overhead bins and just generally “on the go” more. A simple fitted thin knit tee works as a great base layer or can be dressed up with a scarf. If you want to go a little dressier, a blouse in a comfortable material and unfussy cut (ie. no voluminous bows or ruffles) makes for a chic travel look. Make sure the tee or blouse layers well under a sweater or blazer.
1. Zara Square Shaped T-shirt. I’m a sucker for striped tops, this one is roomy and gives plenty of coverage when worn over jean leggings. The viscose/rayon fabrication also makes this an excellent lightweight, quick drying choice for travel.
2. Stylemint Newbury Tee. I’m loving the three tees I’ve already ordered from Stylemint. The drape and fabrication of the tees go beyond their $29.99 price tag. This 50% supima cotton/ 50% modal blend tee in a classic fitted shape makes for the perfect lightweight layering piece in your travel wardrobe.
3. Zara Linen T-Shirt. One of my favorite tees to pack especially in warmer climates. This tee skims your body without clinging and looks good tucked in or out. (Only $19.90 too!)
4. Eze Sur Mer Trinity Top. This casual blouse would look great layered under a leather jacket or blazer.
The topper is the wildcard in this formula. Change it up to suit your needs and the weather conditions. I usually go for a lightweight cardigan on travel days. A pullover sweater layered over a tee works well in cooler weather. If you’re landing somewhere cold make sure to carry on a coat as well. Another option is a day blazer (one with a less structured cut than a business suit blazer) or a leather jacket.
1. Splendid Cardigan serves as a casual and easy top layer. The 50% modal, 50% cotton fabric means it will be lightweight and dry quickly.
2. Gap V-Neck Jersey Pullover also comes in a lightweight fabrication and is a great layering piece.
3. A blazer like this Oona Blazer adds polish to travel outfits. I like an unstructured one that packs easily.
4. A classic coat shape like this one from Nordstrom keeps you warm in cold climates.
If there’s one must-have for travel it is a scarf. You must always travel with a scarf. A scarf brings together your travel wardrobe and elevates even the most basic of travel outfits. Even a simple tee-shirt and jeans ensemble looks deliberate with the addition of a scarf. You can go with a pattern that co-ordinates with your travel palette or go with a contrasting or matching solid. I like to pick up scarves from markets or street vendors wherever I visit as a souvenir. If you don’t want to wear it as part of your travel ensemble tuck it into your carry-on so that you have an extra layer handy in case temperatures drop.
1. Zara Leopard Print Scarf. This scarf works well with neutrals especially with black and the pattern isn’t overwhelming.
2. Halogen Mercerized Wool Wrap. A wrap style scarf is practical and stylish, this one comes in several colors.
3. Madewell Faraway Feathers Scarf. This pattern would add a nice dose of color to travel neutrals.
4. O by Oscar de la Renta Stole. A substantial scarf adds drama while keeping you warm.
5. Zara Polka Dot Scarf. Scarves give you a chance to introduce trends into your travel outfits.
6. Theodora & Callum Paintburst Scarf. A bold scarf livens up travel neutrals.
Choose any stylish comfortable shoe. I love my flat boots, ballet flats, and sandals for traveling. Alternative options include Converse sneakers, loafers, desert boots, and oxfords. Keep in mind the amount of walking you’ll be doing when selecting footwear. If you don’t choose a comfort brand of shoe, customize your shoes with gel pads and inserts to get the most comfortable blister-free fit possible.
1. Clarks. These classic desert boots pair well with skinny jeans, dresses and skirts. I’m not a huge fan of cropped pants but these would give a nice edge to fitted cropped cargo’s or with rolled up skinny jeans.
2. Short, slouchy boots accommodate skinny and straight cut pants in a casually cool way. They are easy to get on and off and with a cushiony sock you’re not as likely to get blisters.
3. Softspots Adell Boot. I love a flat boot for travel, they bring a stylish touch to skinny jeans, skirts, and dresses.
4. Naturalizer Yadira Flat. A simple pair of black flats with a nod towards comfort are well suited for travel.
5. Look for Cole Haan flats that come cushioned with Nike Air technology for added comfort. This basic ballet flat serves as a versatile shoe for travel.
6. Dansko Professional Clogs. Not a sexy shoe at all but for many of my European trips I wore these and after countless steps over cobblestoned streets I never got one single blister. The platform gives extra height and they are waterproof. They pair well with trouser cut pants and leggings but not skinny jeans (at least not on me).
7. Leopard print adds some interest to these simple thong sandals by Sam Edelman.
8. The Gizeh sandal from Birkenstock gives a little boho touch to a comfortable fit.
9. If you’re going to do a lot of walking the Dansko Sissy Sandal won’t let you down. Once again not the sexiest shoe I know, but my feet were a lot happier for wearing them on my last trip to Thailand.
Hope this helps next time you pack your bags. Do you have any favorite foolproof packing outfits? Feel free to share them in the comments section. Happy Packing!
* Header images from Totokaeolo Boutique based in Seattle.