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Clueless about how to start building your travel wardrobe? Follow these five simple steps to learn how!
Travel Wardrobe Formula
Written by: Niki Landry
The more you travel the easier it is to fall into a packing routine. You become aware of what works best for you, taking into consideration your travel style, fashion sense, and planned trip activities.
Over time you develop a formula for shopping and packing, which can be applied to any destination. The basis to creating the perfect combination of items is to create a capsule wardrobe.
Take a look at TFG’s Signature Capsule Wardrobes!
If you travel infrequently then you may be at a loss of where to begin. To help jump start the process, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite packing and shopping tips.
These steps will assist in creating your own formula for packing stylishly and efficiently.
Start at the bottom.
The easiest way to begin your packing is to start with your clothing bottoms.
This can be a range of items depending on the weather at your destination. A safe trio to begin with is one piece of denim, black, and khaki.
This can be an assortment of pants, shorts, or a skirt. For instance I may bring black pants, jeans, and a khaki skirt. Sometimes I change out the khaki to other neutral colors like navy blue, chambray, or olive green depending on my preference at the moment.
Find out what are neutral colors!
For example, I’m packing for a trip right now and I have pulled black overalls, dark wash jeans, and a navy skirt. Starting with these pieces, in neutral colors, gives you the foundation to begin mixing and matching your tops.
Here are more tips on the bottom options:
- Best Travel Pants for Women
- Best Pants for Travel: Destination Guide
- Stylish Summer Shorts for Women
- Best Travel Skirts by Length
The next step is to pull your outerwear.
We suggest always brining two weather-appropriate outerwear options you can layer together if needed.
Similar to the tip above, establishing your more versatile pieces like your jacket, coat, or cardigan can help to sort out the rest of your packing list.
Gray, camel, navy, or black are favorite choices. I usually stay away from white because these pieces can sometimes get a lot of wear, and white can get dingy easily. A denim jacket is another good option.
These are few round ups of the best outerwear for travel:
- How to Choose a Travel Coat
- Travel Raincoats for Women
- Best Winter Coats to Brighten up Your Wardrobe
- Best Winter Jackets for Outdoor Adventures
- Lightweights Jackets for Summer Travels
Now that these base pieces are selected I move onto the tops.
In a ten piece capsule wardrobe always bring more tops than bottoms. Depending on whether you also bring dresses, five-seven tops is a good guideline.
One or two basic tees, a button-down, a couple of blouses and any other top that catches my fancy. I ensure that every top can work with all of my bottoms in terms of cut and color, and that they coordinate well with my outerwear.
Here are more tips on how to coordinate clothing!
Fill the holes.
Assess the pieces you’ve compiled and determine if there are any other items you need for the weather, activities, or personal preferences.
After I’ve thoroughly shopped my closet for existing pieces that work for my color palette and needs, it’s time to fill the holes.
Maybe I need one more v-neck tee or I want to bring along a trendy top. I figure out exactly what items I want to purchase new for the particular trip.
Have a definite idea of what you need to keep from over spending and buying items that don’t work with your existing packing list.
Want to know exactly what to wear to your destination? Read our packing lists!
It’s time to shop!
Now that you’ve established exactly what you are missing, it’s time to shop!
I’ve compiled a list of my favorite shops that I frequent when filling out my travel wardrobe. I normally buy relatively inexpensive items for travel because I ruin clothes easily on the road. The exception is performance gear, shoes, and outerwear.
- Old Navy : T-shirts and easy to wear day dresses.
- Gap : Button downs, t-shirts, shorts, and dresses.
- Loft : Outerwear, scarves, and jewelry.
- Target : T-shirts, socks, and basics.
- Jcrew Factory : Skirts, tops, and button-downs.
- American Eagle : Shorts and trendy tops.
- Steve Madden : Shoes.
- Athleta : Performance gear.
- Zappos: Shoes.
- Amazon: Shoes, performance gear, and travel accessories.
Shopping and packing strategically helps to save money and stop over packing. I almost shop exclusively online because I’m less likely to buy on impulse, and I can easily check when there are online sales and promotions.
All of the stores listed above have rotating sales and offer free shipping often. If you shop in advance of your trip then there is no reason to pay full price.
Read our full listing of the best online shopping sites including petite and plus size brands!
The last tip is to consider the clothing colors and styles you’ve chose. So you can select the correspsonding underwear.
If you need a specific bra to work with a top and you’ll only wear it once, then maybe they both should be left behind. My normal bra packing list always includes a nude racer back, gray everyday bra, and a comfy bralette in a neutral. (Here are wireless bra options for ALL cup sizes and band widths!)
Depending on the planned activities sometimes a sports bra will make it into my bag. The exception is if there is a special event or it’s a very short trip, then I’ll consider bringing along specialty underwear like a strapless bra.
Here are more tips on how to choose the best bras for travel!
Need help creating a capsule wardrobe?
Savvy travelers know that a capsule wardrobe is the secret to traveling carry-on only. Pack Light Stylishly is our eBook that shows you exactly how to make a functional yet stylish capsule wardrobe for travel.
Learn more about Pack Light Stylishly here!
Do you have anything to add? Comment and share below!
For more travel fashion tips,please read:
- Create a 10-Piece Capsule Wardrobe
- How I Mastered the Capsule Wardrobe
- Build a Timeless Travel Wardrobe
- Stylishly Chic Minimalist Wardrobe
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Author Bio: Niki is an interior designer and artist from Louisiana. In addition to her design work, she writes for local and online publications, sharing her experiences and passion for travel. Niki is currently adding stamps to her passport while building her design practice, Niki Landry Designs.