Creating a Travel Wardrobe

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Create a travel wardrobe with layering, coordinating pieces with a classic look. You’ll fit into any situation you encounter.

My first memory of going on a trip was when I was seven years old. Auntie Mary and Auntie Suzie took my sisters and me to see Mary Poppins at the movie theater so that my mom could pack. She had bought tons of new clothes for us and was organizing it all in gallon-size ziptop bags, each outfit had its own bag.

Traveling, even if it was across the country to visit relatives, was exciting — especially if you had cute clothes to wear!

I guess I’m no different these days. When we go on trips, I like to know that I have something cute to wear that will make me feel good about how I look. I hope I’m not too vain. But (usually) I like to feel put together. I don’t wear make-up, but I try to have a flattering hairstyle and some nice (read: unstained) clothes.

With the advent of summer and several trips planned, I spent a little time putting together a summer wardrobe that travels well. You might remember the ensembles I put together last summer and fall/winter.

I don’t buy expensive stuff — it’ll just get stained. And since I don’t buy a lot of pieces, I’m allowed to replenish my closet every so often. That’s a fun, little treat for me.

Here are some things that I’ve found helpful in building a wardrobe that travels well.

1. Coordinate.

I love clothes that mix and match. You can always find something that “goes” and look put together with very little work. If you’re going to be away from home, it’s even more important that the pieces you pack coordinate.

2. Dress up.

I’ve found that it’s better to err on the side of “dressy” than to look frumpy or grungy. This year I love wearing pencil skirts. They are cool, without lending to frumpiness like shorts often do. And they look a little classic, so I can blend well into any situation.

3. Layer.

Since weather can be finicky, especially when traveling, it’s nice to dress in layers. I chose several tank tops, tshirts, and sweaters to pull together this year as well as a scarf and rain jacket to work into the mix. I can be prepared for any weather or temp.

4. Pack it well.

In my experience, rolling each item you pack helps to reduce wrinkles as well as to fit more into a small sized package. Use a shower cap to protect your clothes from soiling from your shoes.

5. Keep a packing list.

I wrote my packing list in the back of my journal. I know where it is and can refer to it each time I want to pack up. In this way, I don’t forget anything — and I don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it’s time to load up the suitcase.

Now I’m set for the summer and into fall. I have a number of fun outfits that I know are in good condition and coordinate well with each other. Whether it’s a day trip, a date night, or a vacation away from home, I’ll feel good about the clothes I wear.

How do you plan for packing and travel?

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  1. I found a skirt last summer that I really enjoyed wearing in place of shorts. It’s a fun little pleated number from Talbots, machine washable, neutral in color, and makes me feel instantly less frumpy. This summer, I added a dress denim pencil skirt from Target, and I’m LOVING it. So cute with a t-shirt or a button-down, and instantly more put-together than shorts. I still wear my share of shorts, but I do enjoy having these thrown into the mix. In fact, I just wrote a post about this, last week. 🙂

    1. I know, I was nodding the whole time I read that. Skirts do make a difference. Now to find comfy sandals that don’t make me look frumpy!

      1. Jessica, I actually bought Crocs slingbacks for this summer. They have a variety of styles that are actually really cute (and comfortable — and easy to clean!), not just the “garden clog” thing. Might be an option for your sandals.

      2. We have a Bass outlet near us. Their sandals are a great investment. I have 3 pair. One pair I bought 10 years ago! They look great with skirts and Ts.

  2. Excellent! i needed this when we were in Wyoming for 5 weeks! i just kinda tossed in a skirt, a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts and a few tops. Undies, socks and flip flops and tennis shoes completed that action. Had to do laundry often but they had a sweet washer/dryer there!

  3. I never actually considered having a “wardrobe” for the seasons. I usually just have a bunch of clothes in the closet and pull out what I feel like wearing, lol.

    I would love to pair down the clothes I own, but I feel like it’s SO HARD to find clothes that fit me well, that it’s worth it to keep those items that do fit, in the closet.

    1. I got tired of having “nothing to wear” when the closet was full. So, I started doing this about a year ago. It has really helped me feel more put together.

  4. Ok, I just have to be goofy for a second. I got a kick out of this line: “Use a shower cap to protect your clothes from soiling from your shoes.” In my house, first of all, we all have such big feet I’m not sure our shoes would fit in a shower cap. Also, it would be the shoes that would soil the clothes. I figure that’s what you meant, it just sounds humorous the way you have it. I got a laugh–but with you, not at you! 🙂 I enjoy your blog!

  5. I really need to do this, not so much for traveling this year, but just for staying in town and not feeling frumpy in my haven’t-lost-all-the-baby-weight condition.

    And don’t forget your swimsuit!

    1. Great point! I didn’t swim on my last two trips, but that is a necessity in the summer that I forgot all about.

  6. After helping the kiddo pack (I tell her how many days we’ll be gone and how many outfits to bring — I add a couple extra for inevitable mishaps; she throws her outfits of choice haphazardly into a suitcase and coordinating all the other gear, I unfortunately rarely have enough energy left over to ponder my own travel wardrobe. But these are good places to start. And, hey, the idea is that if I start training her early, eventually she’ll be able to pack all on her own, right?

  7. I love wearing skirts in the summer rather than shorts. I have a bunch of Gap skirts that are light weight. I either throw them on with a t-shirt and white sneakers (Keds leather becasue they wipe off and last several seasons) or sandals and a golf shirt/button down shirt to dress them up. Most of my skirts have prints then just pair with a solid top.

  8. Great tips. We travel a lot and I’ve found sundresses to be the best thing to pack. They look cute, are cooler than shorts and can easily be worn with a sweater in the evening or an air conditioned restaurant!