Foolproof Travel Outfit

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.

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.

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  • Wow! I loved this post! I just got back from a long trip, and our “uniforms” are strangely similar! Thanks for including different cuts of jeans for the not-so-skinnies and thanks for including some REALLY comfortable (albeit not beautiful) shoes! Lovely!

  • Have a 5 day trip to Italy coming up at the end of March and you may have actually convinced my wife that she can carry on and still be stylish!


  • Love this blog and these shoes. Quick question, I’m on the shorter side and generally like to wear boots or oxfords with a bit of a higher wedge. Any ideas on taller shoes that would still be comfortable for a lot of cobblestone street walking?

  • hi! i really like the idea of your page!
    and though you wrote down all brands of shoes/jeans … what i’d really like to know is missing… where would i get that awesome brown bag in the center of the topmost pictures? 🙂

    kind regards!

  • I love the stylish travel outfits; is it possible you could post more ideas? Say a series of photos for a beach trip, a series of photos for a winter trip etc
    Thank you!

  • Wow! This blog is excellent for travel tips! I especially liked the Splendid Cardigan…it’s perfect for layering and really chic. I thought you might be interested in checking out Anatomie Wear clothing, we specialize in travel clothes for women. There are some really functional pants and tops that are great for traveling! We use Lycra so every piece is wrinkle free and very light-weight (perfect for packing!) Anatomie has a Product Review Program as well as an Affiliate Program. Let me know if you are interested! We would love to work with you…keep it up!

  • I LOVE this post, and blog! Could you please do one for hot weather outfits? I am going to Greece this summer and would really appreciate some ideas on how to pack very light (I’m only taking a traveling backpack) but have some good outfits! Thanks!

  • such a great post! im always on the look out for new ways to pack light because i travel alot!
    i love the cardigan with the buttons in the second full lenght picture!!! where is it from?

  • I love how all the outfits you recommend here are very comfortable yet still relatively smart – which obviously increases your chance for an upgrade 😉

  • Can you please give the source for the cardigan in the middle photo of the three travel outfits? That is fabulous! Thanks.

  • What about THE most traveled time of the year? Spring, Summer, Fall? I am looking for information about September. Winter attire is not going to work.

  • Oh I want those booties in the first and third picture…I don’t see them on the website linked to for the bag and cardigan. Anyone have an idea of the brand?

  • Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but
    I’m having a tough time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most
    blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I
    had to ask!

  • Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just
    your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all.
    Nevertheless just imagine if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with pics and videos,
    this blog could certainly be one of the best in its niche.
    Good blog!

  • I just joined in 2020. Nice post. I don’t like jeans – I think they look common. I have a casual life style, am retired, and have occasional appointments and events. My ‘uniforms’ for travel and at home / about town (Chicago) are:
    Corduroy Leggings, Long-sleeved tunic, merino or synthetic undershirt (sleeveless or short sleeve), zip sweatshirt hoodie or cashmere cardigan, merino wool socks, black boots (leather knee-hi or suede calf-hi or insulated snow storm boots).

    Spring / Summer/ Fall:
    Capris or shorts or leggings, tank tunic or short sleeve tunic, lightweight cotton zip hoodie, Crocs thong sandals – or cotton socks and trainers/sneakers.

    When I travel for footwear I pack 2 pairs of ‘bling’ thong sandals and black velvet ballet flats.

    I ALWAYS wear a scarf /shawl/ stole/ sarong / cowl whenever I walk out the door – I never leave home without something around my neck. And in the winter, I even wear a cowl to stay warm in the house!

    All my bottoms have pockets. If I wear a bottom that doesn’t have pockets, I wear a top that DOES have pockets. I try to only buy clothes that have two pockets – or more.